Descriptions of Byzantine Combatants in Written Byzantine Sources during the Reign of the First Palaiologan Emperors, 1259-1328


After the capture of Constantinople from the Latins in 1261, Michael VIII (1259-1282) had to face many enemies and conduct many wars. Byzantine forces lost many battles, however, the state managed to survive and to play a significant role in Western, Central, and Eastern Europe well until 1453. When Michael died, his heir, Andronicus II (1282-1328), had to deal with the gradual loss of the empire's territories, especially in Asia Minor, and with a civil war with his grandson Andronicus III (1321-1328). During those times, the defeats of the imperial army were numerous.

The first aim of the project is to investigate how Byzantine writers describe the Byzantine combatants acting in battles and how those descriptions fit into writers' agendas. For the sake of clarity, I divide the combatants into two categories: Professional and Occasional ones. The first category contains the image of the emperor as a military leader and combatant, images of various leaders of the imperial troops, images of soldiers, and of mercenaries who served in the army. The second category includes the clergy and the civilians who in some cases assisted Byzantine forces, while in other cases, they allied with the enemy or surrendered without a fight.

The second aim is to investigate the templates that the authors of the Late Period followed while creating images of combatants. Did they compose their narrations according to Classical models, or was there a combination of models and free writing? In this project, I will focus mostly on the works of rhetoric that describe the reign of Michael VIII and Andronicus II, and which were written in the 13th and 14th centuries, as well as on some documents, produced during the lifetime of those emperors.

The resultant work will present a repertoire of images of combatants that late Byzantine authors used in their work of rhetoric. The comparison of those images with similar images of previous centuries will shed light on the evolution of Byzantine military doctrine and Byzantine rhetoric alike.




Univ.-Prof. Dr. Johannes Pahlitzsch

Univ.-Prof. Dr. Jörg Rogge


DFG (RTG 2304)

The Byzantine cleric, scholar and historian George Pachymeres (1242 – c. 1310).

The Byzantine cleric, scholar and historian George Pachymeres (1242 – c. 1310).


Christos Zafeiropoulos M.A.