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10TH CENTURY BYZANTINE FRONT-RANK SKUTATOS

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

5.      10TH CENTURY BYZANTINE FRONT-RANK SKUTATOS

The military manuals claim that front and rear ranks were more completely armoured than other skutatoi. According to Leo they wore splint greaves called podopsella, while the Strategicon says that a mail hood was worn by the front rank and flankers and wooden greaves and knee-guards by the front 2 ranks. However the late-10th century Sylloge Tacticorum lists greaves and mail hood as standard skutatoi equipment, and iron, felt or leather greaves are elsewhere recorded worn by skutatoi in general as early as the 6th century.

Leo mentions a type of padded body-armour to be worn, when available, over the corselet - hence its name epilorikia - though it could also be worn on its own. This was a hooded, quilted or felt corselet reaching to the knees or lower, with thick, wide sleeves, and must have been basically very similar to the bambakion described above. It seems to have been worn chiefly by cavalrymen.



See splint greaves in 'Basil II's victory over the Abasgians in 1002' on f195v. Scylitzes Chronicle, Byzantine, c. 12th century.
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