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10TH-11TH CENTURY BYZANTINE PELTASTOS

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

7.      10TH-11TH CENTURY BYZANTINE PELTASTOS

These appeared in the second half of the 10th century and though they are still recorded under the years 1081 and 1084 in the Alexiad of Anna Comnena there were probably never many of them. Their equipment, described in the Sylloge, was lighter than that of the skutatoi and they probably evolved as a result of cutbacks in military expenditure, the expensive armour of the skutatoi probably having become less widely available. They were to wear mail or lamellar corselets when they could be got, but otherwise had to make do with thickly-quilted cotton bambakia (also called kabadia) or horn or leather epilorikia. 'Peltastoi' therefore probably describes their equipment rather than their military function.

Weapons were kontarion, javelins and paramerion. They carried a 3-foot diameter shield which Leo earlier calls a thureos, also carried by some skutatoi.



See a quilted kavadion/kabadion on a Slate Icon of Saints George and Demetrius, Byzantine, late 11th - early 12th century. State Hermitage Museum, St. Petersburg, X-103
Next: 8, 9, 10 & 11. BYZANTINE PSILOI in Armies of the Dark Ages 600-1066 by Ian Heath