Monday, September 13, 2010

Armored Cavalrymen

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The Serbian (left) and the Bulgarian (right) are armored cavalrymen fighting as horse-archers from mid-14th century manuscripts. There is no similar pictorial evidence of Byzantium cavalrymen using bows, though the fact that Byzantium archers were frequently brigaded alongside Cumans and Turks on the battle field and must therefore have been mounted indicates that they did; and the English chronicler Ambrose actually records Isaac Komnenos of Cyprus firing two arrows at King Richard from horseback in 1191. Certainly composite bows are depicted amongst the weapons of most military saints in late Byzantine art. It can therefore be concluded that, despite having fallen out of favor from 1150 to 1350 -- during which period Byzantine sources invariably describe their cavalrymen fighting only with lance and sword -- the bow clearly never entirely disappeared.

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