Monday, September 13, 2010
Constantinople is under attack in this drawing. The drawing is taken from the Manasses Codes of 1344-45. The lower defender is armed with a crossbow, or "Tzangra" (crossbowmen were called tzangratoroi). The crossbow was considered to be a foreign weapon, often called the "Latin Bow";and it remained a rarity in the Empire even into the 14th century, when Byzantine writers still felt obliged to describe the bow to their readers in considerable detail. Normally, it was only used to defend a fortification and not in open field skirmishes / battles. However Byzantium troops who opposed the landing of Richard the Lionheart's landing on Cyprus in 1191 included a number of crossbowmen.
Ref. Ian Heath, "Byzantine Armies 1118-1461 AD." Osprey Pub., Men-At Arms Series - 287, London, UK, 1995 (ISBN 1 65532 347 8).