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10TH CENTURY BYZANTINE KLIBANOPHOROS

An extract from Armies of the Dark Ages 600-1066
by Ian Heath


15.      10TH CENTURY BYZANTINE KLIBANOPHOROS

These were a revival by Nikephoros II of the late Roman true cataphract and they were probably limited to the Tagmata. Manzikert in 1071 probably saw the end of them.

Their equipment consisted of klibanion or mail zaba with pteruges and elbow-length sleeves, vambraces, and mail-strengthened gauntlets, all joined by pieces of mail. A hooded bambakion or epilorikion of quilted cotton was worn over this, probably dyed in uniform colour. Legs were protected by greaves called chalkotouba, and it seems likely that the feet too were protected, probably with the metal overshoe covering toe and heel but not sole listed by Leo as general cavalry equipment. The face was covered with 2 or 3 layers of mail so that only the eyes were visible. In addition a shield appears to have been carried, but whether it was kite-shaped or round is a matter of opinion; because klibanophoroi were so heavily armoured the author personally favours the small round shield.

The first 4 ranks were armed with marzobandoula, once again the Roman martiobarbuli, in addition to the usual kontarion, sword and dagger. 15a shows a martiobarbulus; it was 12 inches long with a feathered wooden shaft, lead weight and barbed head. Klihanophoroi sometimes included archers, but these were less heavily armoured and would resemble 14. However, like the lancers they rode fully-armoured horses as described under 144.



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