DBA IV/1a Komnenan Byzantine

The Komnenan Byzantine army list (DBA list IV/1a) covers the Byzantine army from their catastrophic defeat at the Battle of Manzikert in 1071, through to 1150. It takes its name from the Komnenan dynasty, whose most famous emperor, Alexios I, did much to set Byzantium on its feet again. Manzikert resulted in the loss of units that had a direct lineage back to Roman times, as well as the loss of Byzantium’s recruiting grounds in Anatolia.

Because of the loss of territory, the Byzantines were more reliant than ever on mercenaries to supplement their standing army. My army contains figures representing Greeks, Normans, Pechenegs, Turks, the Varangian Guard (comprised of Rus, Vikings, and Saxons), and Slavs. As another result of the ethnic diversity, there are many different troop types in the army. In fact up to seven troop types can be fielded at any one time: 3Cv, 3Kn, 2LH, 4Bd, 2Ps, 4Bw, and a 4Sp or a 3Ax.

The Komnenan Byzantine army arrayed

The Komnenan Byzantine army arrayed

The army can contain up to four 3Cv. The command element (mine represents Emperor Alexios, who had inherited red hair from his Alan mother) can optionally be used as a 3Kn, based on macho behaviour described by Anna Komnena. These are all Outpost Wargames Services figures with home made shield decals.

The Kavallarioi

There can also be up to four 2LH in the army. These represent the Skythikon and Tourkopouli. Due to that odd Byzantine practice of referring to people as if they were those who inhabited the same region in Roman times, Pecheneg mercenaries were known as Scythians. Turcopoles were a mixture of christianised Turks and Turkish mercenaries. These are all Outpost Wargames Services figures.

Tourkopouli (in helmets) and Patzinaks/Skythikon

A 3Kn element can be fielded in place of one of the 2LH. These represent the Latinikon, Italo-Norman mercenaries. They might come in handy to support a Kn General. These are from Outpost Wargames Services.

Norman mercenary knights

Perhaps the most well known individual unit in a Byzantine army is the Varangian Guard. This Imperial Guard unit was made up of Viking adventurers and Rus, as well as Anglo Saxon refugees. It is perhaps the influx of Anglo Saxon refugees after Hastings that led to the Varangian Guard becoming axemen, rather than spearmen. These attractive figures are from Essex Miniatures.

The Varangian Guard – in need of a bit of a tidy up!

The remainder of the foot in the army (all of three elements) is something of a mixed bag. There is a choice of two 4Bw or 2Ps, and a choice between a 4Sp a 3Ax or another 4Bw. I think it will take me some experimentation to get the mix right. At some stage I should replace the javelin armed Psiloi with a bow armed one for this army.

First foot choice – Bows or Psiloi

Perhaps the most interesting element to choose out of the Sp, Bw, or Ax would be the 3Ax, as they represent Manichaeans, Slavs whose love of violence and banditry was described quite memorably by Anna Komnene.

Spears, Bows, or Auxilia

Anna Komnene’s Alexiad is pretty much the set text on this army. Anna was a daughter of Alexios, who wrote the book while she was living out her last days in a nunnery, having lost a power struggle with her brother. Although its bias is obvious, and quite understandable (eg Alexios usurped the empire in self defence), it is a very good read and in some places is quite charming.

Good inspiration for fielding a Komnenan army


5 responses to “DBA IV/1a Komnenan Byzantine

  1. Pingback: Another army page done « Small Sagas·

  2. Pingback: Friday night DBA – Komnenans vs East Franks « Small Sagas·

    • Interesting, yes, but a little difficult to use because of the number of different element types. I just used Essex Miniatures MID95 (which came with an Early Hungarian army pack) for the Manichaeans but they also have some suitable figures in their Asiatic Hordes range.

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