By George E.Georgas, fencing coach and historical fencing instructor
I found a new source about the Byzantine Hoplomachia thanks to Mr. Nicholas Petrou who is member and historian of the Academy of Historical European Martial Arts’Leontes’. From the illustrations of the Joshua Roll I observe common stances and ways of fight with the ‘Sinopsis Historiarum’ of John Scylitze as I explained in my article ‘The Sinopsis Historiarum’ of John Scylitze declares the stances of Byzantine hoplomachia of the 11th century ‘ but also from the ‘Menologion of Emperor Basil II ’.
The Joshua Roll or Codex Vaticanus Pal. Graec. 431 is now at Biblioteca Apostolica in Vatican. It is a Byzantine manuscript with illustrations of 10th century.
The Joshua Roll is one of the magnificent surviving manuscripts of the Imperial Court School of Byzantium and represents the so-called Macedonian Renaissance. Its cycle of illustrations resemble a frieze, executed in grisaille painting. Both drawings and paintings contained in the book are the work of different hands, and the coloring was probably added at a later stage. The text is a mixture of Greek majuscule and minuscule forms, containing extracts from relevant Bible scenes. Nothing is really known about the origin of the roll, but the codex was likely intended to glorify the military success of the Byzantine people in the Holy Land as they reasserted themselves against the Arabs. The Greek Bible texts included correspond to the Septuagint. The Josua scroll has many guards, stances which used from Byzantine soldiers and is very useful for the reconstruction of Byzantine Hoplomachia.
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