Byzantine Heavy Full-Body Plate Armored Knights – As the Defenders of Constantinople in 1453 A.D. : the advantages and disadvantages of their heavy equipment as well as some additional weapons in the Byzantine Arsenal that were, most possibly, used by the Byzantines in the defense of the city (crossbows and the Greek Fire’s fueled flamethrowers and grenades).
By Alexander Koev (MA) ,historian and theologist , member and historical researcher of the Academy of Historical European Martial Arts’Leontes’
I dedicate my research article to the Leontes Academy as a New 2020 Year’s gift!
April, 1453 A.D. has started not very favorably for the last remnants of the once powerful and mighty – Byzantine Empire (395 A.D. – 1453 A.D.). (Haldon: Byzantium At War, p. 21-28) It has existed for more than 1000 years, whose existence can be even more, if one counts the History of the Roman Republic and the Roman Empire. (Haldon: Byzantium At War, p. 21-28) There is a legend that has circulated in the Ancient Rome and it was also related to Byzantium as the Rome’s successor;so the legend said that several people from Troy have survived their city’s destruction and the Trojan heroes have later founded –Roma, which out of a small village on seven Hills had a great destiny to rule the world – Pax Romana (Roman world/peace). (Oxford Dictionary: Ed.: Alice-Mary Talbot, p. 21-23) Byzantium as a term did not exist for the Byzantines, while they still called their Empire – Roman (Imperium Romanum or Βασιλεία Ῥωμαίων in Latin and Greek respectively). (Haldon: Byzantium At War, p. 21-28) Thus, the heart of the Empire’s last Bastion – Constantinopolis (the capital – Constantinople) (Oxford Dictionary: Ed.: Alice-Mary Talbot, pp. 508-512) was besieged in April 6, 1453 A.D. by vast Ottoman forces. (Oxford Dictionary: Ed.: Alice-Mary Talbot, pp. 523-524) The last defenders of the capital had a force of ca. 7000 soldiers, who had to face a real nightmare – a huge force of ca. 100000 soldiers of the Ottoman forces, which were led by Sultan Mehmed II (Oxford Dictionary: Ed.: Alice-Mary Talbot, pp. 523-524), who were also equipped by the newest discovery of the gunpowder cannons that could fire cannonballs via the gunpowder reaction. (A History of Byzantium: Thimoty E. Gregory, pp. 325-339) One cannon was specifically designed as a huge artillery model (8 meters in length and it fired cannonballs that weighted ca. one ton in weight). (A History of Byzantium: Thimoty E. Gregory, pp. 325-339) The defenders showed an extraordinary bravery and Ancient Honor by not capitulating and fighting to the death – a last man stand. (Finlay: History of Greece, Vol. 3, p. 186) One can say that the defenders of the city have accepted death as a sacrifice for their honorand they have decided to make theirlast stand be remembered in History with their heroic defense and code of honor. (Finlay: History of Greece, Vol. 3, p. 186) On May 29, 1453 A.D., both Constantinople’s Theodosian Walls and Constantine’s Walls have been breached and the last soldiers including the Emperor Constantine XI Palailogos (whose daughter Zoe later married the Russian Tzar Ivan III); (Encyclopedia of World History 3: Ed.: Marsha E. Ackermann, p. 183)/(Oxford Dictionary: Ed.: Alice-Mary Talbot, p. 505) were all killed on the streets of their beloved capital – Nova Roma or Constantantinople (Oxford Dictionary: Ed.: Alice-Mary Talbot, pp. 523-524).The defenceless civilians who have gathered in the Orthodox Church-Cathedral – Hagia Sophia were all slain, enslaved and most possibly physically violated by the Ottomans (I do not use the term, which the modern courts use, because an Orthodox church or chapel doesdemand a peace of mind for the Orthodox Christians, so to discuss these issues is inappropriate, here). (A History of Byzantium: Thimoty E. Gregory, pp. 325-339) and (Time After Constantinople: Joost van den Oever, pp. 27-36) and (Encyclopedia of World History 3: Ed.: Marsha E. Ackermann, p. 241 and pp. 290-291) As a result, the Byzantine Empire ceased to exist after the fall of the city, whose siege has lasted 53 days of a complete blockade on both land and sea as well as a constant bombardment by the Ottoman foes. (Oxford Dictionary: Ed.: Alice-Mary Talbot, pp. 523-524)
Byzantines (i.e. Romeans) had a vast arsenal at their disposal as well – they were equipped with a heavy full-body plate armor, which not only has protected them from the sharp swords’ blades, but I can also assume that this armor could protect from (back then primitive) bullet gunshots;the Byzantines also, most probably, have imported from the Western (Latin) Europe – the crossbows and they also had a small number of gunpowder cannons and trebuchets. (Encyclopedia of World History 2: Ed.: Marsha E. Ackermann, pp. Xxxviii-xxxli) Not last to mention, but most probably in a limited amount due to the secrecy and the limited ability to mine the required resources as the Balkan regions were lost, where the minerals could be mined; the Byzantines have still used – the enigmatic and famous Greek Fire, whose chemical formula was discussed by me in the Byzantium Novum’s electronic journal – Basilica, issue 26, page 13. (Basilica 26: Ed.: Baduila Chalkeus: What was the enigmatic formula of the Byzantines’ Greek Fire?: Alexander Koev, p. 13) I disagree on 100% with the claim, which some authors suggest that the Greek Fire is made of napalm-like gunpowder composition (Oxford Dictionary: Ed.: Alice-Mary Talbot: On Greek Fire, p. 873), because the chemical properties of the Greek Fire that the aforementioned scholars propose – exhibite deviations from the historical description of the Greek Fire’s power and the properties like the ability to burn on water as well as to reach tremendous temperatures, which resemble more plasma-like state of the elements – the Greek Fire is described in the Encyclopedia of World History and the Oxford Dictionary quite well, but the scholars there are on the wrong path to grasp the chemical composition of the Greek Fire. (Encyclopedia of World History 2: Ed.: Marsha E. Ackermann, pp. xxxviii-xxxli) and (Oxford Dictionary: Ed.: Alice-Mary Talbot: On Greek Fire, p. 873) In my research, I state that the Greek Fire’s chemical formula has involved Ferrum (Iron powder) and the Lanthanide element – Cerium (Cerium powder), which when both mixed together in some easy to set on flame aloe-oil like substance and when exposed, for example, to Oxygen (a single burning flame in front of the edge of the Byzantine flamethrower), then this chemical reaction could instantly change into a liquid flame that had the amazing 3000 degrees Celsius – a liquid flame with a temperature that was near to the temperature of the Sun’s surface. (Basilica 26: Ed.: Baduila Chalkeus: What was the enigmatic formula of the Byzantines’ Greek Fire?: Alexander Koev, p. 13) This formula was later (after several centuries) rediscovered in 1903 A.D. by the Austro-Hungarian chemist Carl Auer von Welsbach, but he did not see that this formula was used much earlier by the Byzantine Empire as their Super-weapon of the Apocalypse. (Basilica 26: Ed.: Baduila Chalkeus: What was the enigmatic formula of the Byzantines’ Greek Fire?: Alexander Koev, p. 13) As a result, Byzantium had in its arsenal with a high degree of probability– both flamethrowers and grenades (grenades could have used only the powder without the oil add-on) at their disposal to defend the city as well. (Encyclopedia of World History 2: Ed.: Marsha E. Ackermann, pp. xxxviii-xxxli)
As a summary, one can say that the weapons, which Byzantines possessed in 1453 A.D. have allowed them to defend the city for such a long time and be also technologically prepared against their much outnumbering enemies. In my opinion, the heavy full-body plate armor was specifically selected in order to be able to withstand not only the sword attacks, but also the bullet–shots from the primitive as well as long-time reloading shotguns back then (i.e. 1453 A.D.).
The purpose of this article is to examine the usage of the full-body plate armor and it aims to discuss not only its advantages and disadvantages, but also other weapons, which have been used by the Byzantines as well as the Western European (Latin) mercenaries who were led by the Commander Giovanni Longo who specifically answered to the aid of the fellow Christians in the defense of Constantinopolis in 1453 A.D. and his decision would cost his life as he got critical wounds, which did not allow him to participate further in battle, so these wounds de facto meant a certain death for him. (Oxford Dictionary: Ed.: Alice-Mary Talbot, pp. 523-524) and (Encyclopedic: Vol. 3, pp. 124-128) I also think that Giovanni Longo deserves to have a historical respect and it is unacceptable to call him a coward as some historians might falsely grasp and represent the necessity to evacuate him when he was a mortally wounded man from the field of battle.However, Giovanni Longo did all he could to save the city and the Byzantines looked at him as their hero who was the only one from the entire Europe alongside with his men who came to the call of arms in 1453 A.D.. Also, I strive to recreate the atmosphere of the defense in the siege period. I dedicate my article to the Leontes Academy in Greece where in summer, 2019 – I have the pleasure and honor to complete an intensive course in the Byzantine Martial Arts. I salute and express my respect to all people who I know in Greece with the Latin words: “Ego, mei amici in Graecia saluto! Ave et gratias multas!”. (I greet my friends in Greece! Salutations and I thank you a lot!).
2. Heavy Full-Body Plate Armor – its advantages and disadvantages.
One can say with 100% confidence that the Byzantine Empire was influenced by the Western European (called not Western, but Latin, back then) knight chivalry customs and code of honor. (Haldon: Byzantium At War, pp. 86 – 89). Thus, it should be no surprise to see the Byzantine soldiers who were equipped with a heavy full-body plate armor as the Crusader knights, for example. (Encyclopedia of World History 2: Ed.: Marsha E. Ackermann, pp. Xxxviii-xxxli) I think that it is no surprise to see the development of various sophisticated methods to update the knights’ armor in the Medieval Europe. (Encyclopedia of World History 2: Ed.: Marsha E. Ackermann, pp. Xxxviii-xxxli) I can conclude that the armor was finally made absolute with the more and more sophisticated gunpowder weapons. The gunpowder chemical formula, which is made out of Sulfur, Charcoal and Saltpeter (Potassium Nitrate KNO3) has allowed the usage of cannons, pistols and shotguns – initially primitive, but more and more complex, sophisticated and advanced in the progress of time as we can see with the automated machine guns nowadays. However, the Spanish Conquistadors have remained true to their heavy full-body plate armor and they have even perfected this technology. (Encyclopedia of World History 3: Ed.: Marsha E. Ackerman, pp. 229-230) Even nowadays one can see the ballistic vests that still resemble this old technology, but they employ carbon like armor, and sometimes mixture of metals including Titanium – I would assume that Aluminium can also be used sometimes as it is light in weight as Titanium, but Titanium is extremely expensive. One has to remain true inboth modern as well as Ancient and Medieval warfare to the cost balance, the numbers of the battle force, the training cost, the equipment cost, logistics, food and resources management, overall military management and etc., etc. We can see the aforementioned terms in the book by the Eastern military thinker Sun Tzu who discusses all relevant terms throughout his entire book (so I give all the parts of his book and not a single Chapter, section or page) for a success of a military commander in a military campaign. (Sun Tzu: Art of War, the entire book) The Art of War is indeed an interesting book, so one should read it from the first to the last page and he/she should do a reflection on all words carefully when he/she reads this Ancient wisdom and powerful knowledge.
One has to note as a given fact that the heavy full-body plate armor, the soldier’s backpack, their weapons and other equipment are de facto very heavy and one has to secure the heavy armored knight all of the following: mobility, agility, speed, long time endurance etc, etc. Thus, I can say with 100% confidence that the defenders of Constantinople in 1453 A.D. have used an amalgam of light armored and heavy armored troops, as well as many civilians helped in maintenance and repairs of the walls. (Oxford Dictionary: Ed.: Alice-Mary Talbot, pp. 508-512) and (Encyclopedia of World History 2: Ed.: Marsha E. Ackermann, pp. xxxviii-xxxli) Here, one can say the words of Veggetius that it is not the numbers, but the training and equipment that wins the day and he further adds that also courage of the soldiers in battle is important although initially saying it alone is not so important when referring to the Gauls. (Veggetius: Epitome of Military Science, pp. 2-3) This is also supported by Haldron in his work – Byzantium At War. (Haldon: Byzantium At War, p. 63 and pp. 86 – 89) The Byzantines as the direct heirs to the Hellenistic and Roman traditions as well as influenced by Eastern and Latin customs have used all availability of battle equipment in this dramatic period of their time – the siege of Constantinople in 1453 A.D.. (Haldon: Byzantium At War, pp. 86 – 89). They knew Veggetius, Taktica of Leo VI the Wise, Strategikon of Maurice, Julius Caesar’s Gallic Wars as well as tremendous other amount of literature on Military Science, which has not survived to our modern time unless more archealogical evidence comes to be known to us. I do not mention here Sun Tzu’s Art of War, because it was written in the Far East geographical region and although it might be possible that it was translated and it could have traveled a huge geographical distance like the Chinese silk worms (smuggled in the Early Middle Ages by the Byzantines in an intelligence operation that was orchestrated and personally supervised by the St. Imperator Justinianus Magnushimself) or the gunpowder, that is composed of Sulfur, Charcoal and Saltpeter (Potassium Nitrate KNO3) technology as discussed earlier in this paper. Gunpowder was invented in China as a fireworks pleasure time initially (I say it out of my common knowledge from reading many books earlier); I will not dig into analyzing was the Art of War military manuscript that was written by Sun Tzu – known or not known to the Byzantines – I believe this requires a separate study and analysis.
Another important point to my study, here is the following:we may find many leftovers of the Byzantine lost knowledge in Italian and German fencing manuals some corresponding to the time of the defense of Constantinopolis in 1453 A.D. like Die Blume des Kampfes (“The Flower of Battle” – transl. from German), which is published in ca. 1428 A.D. by the Italian Master Fiore de’l Liberi. As a way to study the knowledge of Antiquity, the Byzantines have most certainly reflected and preserved such works as the Homer’s Troy, Plutarch, Herodotus, Plato’s works, Aristotelian Science – it was also the leading thought of the Medieval Academic world. Alchemists have created many mixtures, studied the elements, their usage in the military warfare, they made the substances to color clothes and the textile fabric including the banners and the Alchemists have also created various substances for healing (i.e. medical purposes of the elements). However, one has to note that the technology back then did not have our modern machine calculations and the measurement-like technological equipment. Thus, we are more and more aided by the A.I. algorithms and Big Data ways to analyze millions,even billions not to say trillions of numbers and specimens. The Byzantines had to do all these by the help of their knowledge and wisdom as well as diligent work as back then – there were none of our modern technologies to aid them in their routine tasks and work.
Blacksmiths have raced day and night (the steel production, for example, does not allow the halt of the technological process) throughout the centuries to perfect swords and armors, shields and arrow heads. Cuprum (Copper) military equipment was gradually replaced by bronze – Copper and Tin (Stannum) mix – and later – Ferrum (iron); and even further by steel (iron and carbon’s alloy mix) technologies. (Encyclopedia of World History 2: Ed.: Marsha E. Ackermann, pp. xxxviii-xxxli) These events have taken place for several millennia. Some technologies are State of the Ark even nowadays as the Damascus Steel, which most probably uses an add-on of minerals that are known to each specific master who makes it and transfers the secret of the additional elements to the steel only to his disciples. (Encyclopedia of World History 3: Ed.: Marsha E. Ackermann, p. xxviii) Military technologies push the progress of mankind further and further. (Encyclopedia of World History 2: Ed.: Marsha E. Ackermann, pp. Xxxviii-xxxli) In 1453 A.D., two worlds have met together: the Ancient-Medieval and pre-modern/modern. In Constantinopolis, all kind of military equipment was used: cannons withgunpowder technology whose composition I have mentioned above in my study. I have already discussed earlier that in the decisive battle both the Byzantines and the Ottomans have usedsome variate of different types of swords as gladius and spatha, knives, bows, crossbows, various primitive shotguns and pistols, catapults, trebuchets, heavy full–bodyplate armor, light armor, most definitive that it was also used, but only by the Byzantines – the legendary Greek Fire-based flamethrowers and grenades. (Encyclopedia of World History 2: Ed.: Marsha E. Ackermann, pp. Xxxviii-xxxli) I mentioned earlier in my publication at the e-journal of Byzantium Novum – Basilica, issue 26 that the chemical formula of the Greek Fire was a combination of Ferrum (iron) + Cerium elements (Basilica 26: Ed.: Baduila Chalkeus: What was the enigmatic formula of the Byzantines’ Greek Fire?: Alexander Koev, p. 13), where Cerium was most likely produced from Bastnäsite mineral and this mineral is abundant in the Balkansas well as other parts of various Euro-Asia regions;both elements could have been mixed in some aloe-oil like substance – my educated guess on this substance would be a simple olive oil, which when sprayed could ignite when a high temperature is present (ca. 400 Celsius is needed for the olive oil to ignite, but when this mixture of metal powders is added, then this is instantly possible); i.e. by adding a mix of Ferrum/Cerium particles, then the reaction could reach the tremendous heat and power). Another aloe-oil like substance could have been a Spiritus with a high level of percentage that could have been used to mix the Ferrum and Cerium particles inside. Thus, when this mix was pushed out from a flamethrower like a deodorant spray and the spray mix has come into contact with the Oxygen supported flame – this could do the job, so the Byzantines had a long time period burning small flame on the top of the flamethrower’s edge – the flame instantly has reached the temperature of 3000 degrees Celsius when both the spray mixture with Ferrum and Cerium particles came into contact on the exit of the aforementioned spray mixturewith an Oxygen supported small permanent flame (a temperature of the Sun’s surface was instantly reached). The liquid flame has turned into a plasma-like state and this gave the aforementioned Fire its super liquid flame qualities. (Basilica 26: Ed.: Baduila Chalkeus: What was the enigmatic formula of the Byzantines’ Greek Fire?: Alexander Koev, p. 13) However, I leave the question of the olive oil’s as well as the simple destilated wine into strong spiritus’ role open for a further research. Thus, the questions of napalm/petroleum, which is difficult and costly to transport from the Caucasus (Colchis, i.e. the modern day – Georgia area in Caucasus) and the abundant olive oil and wine in Greece are open for further scientific discussion.
The siege of Constantinopolis has brought together several cultures in one place – theByzantine (Greek, Hellenistic, Roman and smaller ethnic groups), Western European (Latin) – Italian, French, English, German, Spanish etc., the Ottoman and other smaller ethnic mercenary groups as, most probably, Bulgarian, Serbian etc. (Oxford Dictionary: Ed.: Alice-Mary Talbot, pp. 523-524) In 1453 A.D., it was a point where History has been decided – A New World Order, which wanted to eliminate the Byzantines or Romeans as the inhabitants of Constantinople called themselves.
Also, the Romean military forces had also a full military support of their centuries-long trustful and loyal as well as tested in battle Intelligence Force that was established by the Ancient Roman pagan Emperor Diocletian under the name of the new institution – Agentes in Rebus (Данилов: Война, pp. 146-154), which was later named Logothetes tou Dromou (Oxford Dictionary: Ed.: Alice-Mary Talbot, Logothetes tou Dromou, pp. 1247-1248). They were, most probably, entrusted with keeping the city from betrayals from within. Not to allow someone to betray the Emperor Constantine XI Palailogos and to prevent inner foes to let enemies inside the city. They had to hide the secret of the Byzantine Greek Fire and other battle military plans and technologies. Also, there were naval battles going in the Golden Horn, which are also part of the story and I want just to briefly mention and give credit to them in my article, here. (Oxford Dictionary: Ed.: Alice-Mary Talbot, pp. 523-524)
Briefly said, the advantages of the heavy full-body plate armor are its better protection from death-like situations like gunshots and hits by the pike/sword/mace or axe, while its disadvantages are the decreased level of the unit’s mobility, agility, decrease in time to react in various dangerous reactions, increase in overall tiredness and sweating. In conclusion, the armor has a better protection, but more discomfort in the time progression constant. Also, it is very difficult to put it fast, so it requires time to equip it and it even requires help from others. In war, time is all (Tempora est Omnes!) and it is essential in the military planning. Thus, one can conclude that this is one of the reasons why the heavy full–bodyplate armors were made obsolete along the progress of History when the development of the gunpowder technologies and the artillery technology took place, which both havedemanded the units mobility in contrast to the Ancient/Medieval military logic.
3. Other Byzantine weapons: crossbows, small amount of gunpowder cannons, and the Greek Fire’s fueled flamethrowers and grenades.
The vast development of the military industry in the Middle Ages has ensured that the Byzantines had a vast variety of weapons at their disposal as very extravagant crossbows, which were developed in China and Greece at the same time initially and they were later reinvented by the Western European (Latin) part of Europe and, most probably, reintroduced to Byzantium, which has used them to defend not only other territories, but Constantinople – the capital itself in 1453 A.D. (Encyclopedia of World History 2: Ed.: Marsha E. Ackermann, pp. Xxxviii-xxxli), (A History of Byzantium: Thimoty E. Gregory, pp. 325-339) and (Time After Constantinople: Joost van den Oever, pp. 27-36)
Another usage of the Greek Fire was in the grenades technology, which I assume by looking on the illustration of the grenade was filled by the mixture of the chemical formula – just the powder without the olive oil – that I have proposed in my previously published research in Basilica, 26 and the grenade was covered above by a piece of cloth that was most probably put before into an easy to set on flame substance like very high percentage Spiritus alcohol extract. Then, the cloth was set on fire and the grenade was thrown at the enemy and when the grenade broke (it was made out of easy to brake at hit – clay or glass) or the fire has reached its inner core, then it exploded and set in motion metal sharp-like parts in order to cause body damage to the enemy, so the targeted foes can die from bleeding. However, most probably the grenades were used in the defenses of the city walls as the metal sharp-like parts could damage the one who throws them as well or other fellow Byzantines who fight alongside. (see the Illustration section Number 1 for reference, please).
As I have mentioned earlier in my article, there was a prominent usage of the gunpowder cannons in the Siege of Constantinople in 1453 A.D. Here, one has to give credit to the Ottomans who constructed more cannons for the battle and they even managed to bring one 16 feet cannon to incite fear into the defenders. (A History of Byzantium: Thimoty E. Gregory, pp. 325-339) I assume that it would most likely be scary for the untrained people, but for the Byzantine Imperial military forces who were vastly outnumbered and they have fought for so many days under constant bombardment – fear was put behind as their prime worry was to save the capital and the inhabitants of the city.
Lastly, I would like to mention the Byzantine flamethrowers that functioned with the chemical formula that I have mentioned in my earlier research – Basilica 26. Thus, the flamethrowers principal of work is like of a deodorant nowadays when one holds a lighter in front of it and he/she presses the button of the deodorant. I have stopped very in detail on the Greek Fire chemical formula compositionby discussing all aspects above in my research analysis. Here, it is important to note that one adds Ferrum and Cerium powder in a possible aloe-oil substance like olive oil or alcohol to secure the ignition with Oxygen-powered flame. I have mentioned very in detail my thoughts about it, above. Thus, the same deodorant-lighter principle applies to the Byzantine flamethrower. (see the Illustration section Number 2 for reference, please)
4. Reflections on all aforementioned.
I would like to note that the atmosphere of Constantinople at the time of the siege in 1453 A.D. was not one to be described with the words: “This is the end! We must surrender! All is over!” It was the contrary to these words and the entire heroic defense and sacrifice of the brave defendands supports my claim. The Byzantines were deeply religious people who believed in God and I am sure that they knew that the Fall of Constantinopolis (Κωνσταντινούπολις) is not the end to their legacy. I find it somewhat ironic, but here comes again the Legend of Troy and Roma to my mind. Thus, one can summarize the morale of the Byzantines with the Latin phrase: “Labor, patientia et fides omnia vincunt!” (Work, patience and faith conquer all!) Even today one can see the free nations of Greece and Cyprus as well as many minority Orthodox ethnic groups in Syria, Turkey, Egypt, Israel, Macedonia, Bulgaria etc., who can trace their heritage to the once Mighty Empire of Byzantium. These ethnic minorities can be summarized under the Greek term – Ῥωμαῖοι (Romeans). Orthodox religion is also the State mainstream religion in so many countries: Bulgaria, Greece, Macedonia, Romania, Russia, Serbia, Ukraine etc. etc. (I named just a few). Orthodoxy is a worldwide religion, which has a presence even in the USA, the UK, Germany etc. As a result, the Byzantines knew in 1453 A.D. that nonetheless their physical existencecomes to an end as their lives have been taken on 29 May, 1453 A.D., their legacy will live beyond. “Vita in aeterna!” (Eternal life!) – this Latin phrase quite well symbolizes all.
In regards to the weapons, one can truly see that all kind of weaponry’s amalgam was used: various types of swords and knives, light armor, heavy full-body plate armor, various types of shields, pikes, axes, maces, bows – both short and long, crossbows, fire arms that were based on the gunpowder technology, for example, primitive pistols, shotguns, cannons, catapults, trebuchets, most probable conclusion would be to say that the Greek Fire based weaponry was still present, but in much low quantities as the Cerium as well as Ferrum minerals’ mines on the Balkans and Asia Minor were not under the Byzantine control – these weapons were the flamethrowers and grenades based on the Byzantine Greek Fire. One should note that the Byzantium was always adaptive to all kind of matters not only this can be related to their finances; this very fact of adaptability has allowed Byzantiumto survive so long. (The Economic History of Byzantium: Angeliki Laiolu, p. 73) This was truly a clash of technologies, ideologies, knowledge, wisdom and faith. Thus, the Byzantines most probably knew that either a human or an army might sometimes advance and sometimes retreat.They would certainly like this principle of philosophical view and they might have adapted it or modified it vice versa: “Firstly to retreat and then, to advance!”. As it came to pass with the fall of the Ottoman presence on the Balkans – Greece’s independence was followed by the freedom to Serbia and later Bulgaria and so on. Thus, one could observe a general Ottoman demise at some point. However, History is always in motion and I have observed as a Historian that a general historical events occur in a circle like sequence that comprises 30 years – a period to grow one human generation, if it is educated well, then the nation advances, if not; then, the nation declines. In my opinion, adaptability is the key and on this view I could agree with Charles Darwin on the evolution and adaptability theory, here. As a result, the Byzantines were both religious and practical in their scientific thought.
In conclusion, I have noted the advantages and the disadvantages of the Byzantine Heavy Full-Body Plate Armor, which was used by both the native Byzantine Knights as well as the Western European (Latin) mercenaries. As I said above, the long time to dress the armor i.e. to make it fully operational and the advancement of the gunpowder firearms technologies have made this type of armor obsolete. I have also shown in my article here how various other weaponry technologies have functioned and were employed in the siege period by both sides. The chemical formulas behind the technologies and how to use them correctly in regards to the Ancient weapons; and last, but not least, what was the role of the Byzantine morale, mentality, Orthodoxy and the atmosphere in the days of siege in 1453 A.D..
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1. Byzantine “Greek Fire” grenades (Archaeological evidence):
Source of Image: Badseed,. (2017, November 13). Greek Fire Grenades. Ancient History Encyclopedia. Retrieved from https://www.ancient.eu/image/7617/
2. Byzantine Greek Fire based flamethrower (handheld):
3. Map of the Siege of Constatinople in 1453 A.D. (Military forces’ locations):
Source of image: https://yandex.ru/images/search?text=siege%20of%20constantinople%201453%20forces%20positions%20map&from=tabbar&p=1&pos=74&rpt=simage&img_url=https%3A%2F%2Fuserscontent2.emaze.com%2Fimages%2Fed11fae1-4e51-4a10-8ab1-db5360f0d7e9%2F26ff3a34-7128-4ac1-a4e6-fdd59437dd28.png
4. Turkish forces who carry firearms, which are based on gunpowder:
5. Emperor Constantine XI Palaiologos defends the city when the Walls are breached:
6. Byzantine Heavy Full-Body Plate Armor (Image is a Copyright of the Academy of Historical European Martial Arrs ‘Leontes’)
7. An external website link with information on the Greek Fire:
https://allthatsinteresting.com/greek-fire (An Internet website with good info and illustrations related to the Ancient Byzantine Greek Fire)
Author: Alexander Koev (M.A.)