Cataphracts: Knights of the Ancient Eastern Empires

Grub Street Publishers
Free sample

A deeply researched and page-turning history of armored cavalry in the ancient world from the Eurasian steppe tribes to the late Byzantine Empire.
 
Cataphracts were the most heavily armored form of cavalry in the ancient civilizations of the East, with riders and horses both clad in heavy armor. Originating among the wealthiest nobles of various central Asian steppe tribes such as the Massagetae and Scythians, the traditions and strategies of these proud warriors were adopted and adapted by several major empires—the Achaemenid Persians, Seleucids, Sassanians, and eventually the Romans and their Byzantine successors—from c. 4000 BCE to 1200 CE.
 
Usually armed with long lances, the cataphracts harnessed the mobility and sheer mass of their horses to the durability and solid fighting power of the spear-armed phalanx. Although very expensive to equip and maintain, they were a powerful force in battle and remained in use for many centuries.
 
In this compelling historical survey, Erich B. Anderson assesses the development, equipment, tactics, and combat record of cataphracts and the similar clibinarii, showing also how enemies sought to counter them. This is a valuable study of one of the most interesting weapon systems of the ancient world.
 
“A valuable study of one of the most interesting troop types of the ancient world.” —The Armourer
 
“The first comprehensive survey of heavy armored cavalry . . . that played a particularly important role in the military history of Late Antiquity . . . This is a good survey of the history of heavy cavalry in the ancient world, covering arms, equipment, organization, tactics, and battles.” —The NYMAS Review
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About the author

ERICH B ANDERSON is a freelance writer with a B.A. in history and anthropology from Northern Illinois University and a member of the Authors Guild. He has written numerous articles for History Today, Military History Monthly, Ancient Warfare, Medieval Warfare, Minerva, KMT, Strategy & Tactics, Military Heritage, All About History, History of War, Archaeological Diggings, History Magazine, Ancient Egypt, Renaissance and Katsujinken. He lives in Chicago, USA.

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Additional Information

Publisher
Grub Street Publishers
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Published on
Nov 30, 2016
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Pages
208
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ISBN
9781473889576
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Language
English
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Genres
History / Asia / General
History / Military / Ancient
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Content Protection
This content is DRM protected.
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Read Aloud
Available on Android devices
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Eligible for Family Library

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From the author's introduction:


Ancient battles seize the modern imagination. Far from being forgotten, they have become a significant aspect of popular culture, prompting a continuing stream of books, feature films, television programs and board and computer games... there is a certain escapist satisfaction in looking back to an era when conflicts between entire states turned on clear-cut pitched battles between formed armies, lasting just a few hours and spanning just a few miles of ground. These battles were still unspeakably traumatic and grisly affairs for those involved - at Cannae, Hannibal's men butchered around two and a half times as many Romans (out of a much smaller overall population) as there were British soldiers killed on the notorious first day of the Somme.


However, as with the great clashes of the Napoleonic era, time has dulled our preoccupation with such awful human consequences, and we tend to focus instead on the inspired generalship of commanders like Alexander and Caesar and on the intriguing tactical interactions of units such as massed pikemen and war elephants within the very different military context of pre-gunpowder warfare.


Lost Battles takes a new and innovative approach to the battles of antiquity. Using his experience with conflict simulation, Philip Sabin draws together ancient evidence and modern scholarship to construct a generic, grand tactical model of the battles as a whole. This model unites a mathematical framework, to capture the movement and combat of the opposing armies, with human decisions to shape the tactics of the antagonists. Sabin then develops detailed scenarios for 36 individual battles such as Marathon and Cannae, and uses the comparative structure offered by the generic model to help cast light on which particular interpretations of the ancient sources on issues such as army size fit in best with the general patterns observed elsewhere. Readers can use the model to experiment for themselves by re-fighting engagements of their choice, tweaking the scenarios to accord with their own judgment of the evidence, trying out different tactics from those used historically, and seeing how the battle then plays out. Lost Battles thus offers a unique dynamic insight into ancient warfare, combining academic rigor with the interest and accessibility of simulation gaming. This book includes access to a downloadable computer simulation where the reader can view the author's simulations as well create their own.
Most studies of ancient warfare focus only on the Greeks and the Romans, but this sweeping study covers the whole of the ancient world from Greece and Rome to the Near East, then eastward to Parthia, India, and China. Bradford transports the reader into the midst of ancient battles behind such great leaders as Thutmose III, Ashurbanipal, Alexander, Hannibal, Caesar, and the First Emperor of China. He details the rise and fall of empires, the role of leadership, and the development of tactics and strategy. One sees the clash of peoples: nomads against agricultural societies, infantry against cavalry, as well as the greatest technological change in history--the combination of the composite bow and the chariot.

This readable account analyzes ancient armies in terms of modern military doctrine, allowing the reader to make comparisons between the combatants. Recruitment, for example, varied tremendously with Romans drawing from a limited pool of recruits for service terms of twenty to thirty years and Chinese planners preferring a large pool with short-term service. While various types of governments prepared for and waged war in significantly different ways, Bradford finds that better organization led to success on the battlefield and that, for the most part, societal innovation was more important than technological innovation. The ongoing discussion of the lessons of ancient warfare around the globe will provide valuable insights for interested general readers and military professionals alike.

A comprehensive review of the development, geographic spread, and cultural influence of religion in Late Antiquity

A Companion to Religion in Late Antiquity offers an authoritative and comprehensive survey of religion in Late Antiquity. This historical era spanned from the second century to the eighth century of the Common Era. With contributions from leading scholars in the field, the Companion explores the evolution and development of religion and the role various religions played in the cultural, political, and social transformations of the late antique period.

The authors examine the theories and methods used in the study of religion during this period, consider the most notable historical developments, and reveal how religions spread geographically. The authors also review the major religious traditions that emerged in Late Antiquity and include reflections on the interaction of these religions within their particular societies and cultures. This important Companion:

Brings together in one volume the work of a notable team of international scholars Explores the principal geographical divisions of the late antique world Offers a deep examination of the predominant religions of Late Antiquity Examines established views in the scholarly assessment of the religions of Late Antiquity Includes information on the current trends in late-antique scholarship on religion

Written for scholars and students of religion, A Companion to Religion in Late Antiquity offers a comprehensive survey of religion and the influence religion played in the culture, politics, and social change during the late antique period.

NEW YORK TIMES BESTSELLER
The creator of the award-winning podcast series The History of Rome and Revolutions brings to life the bloody battles, political machinations, and human drama that set the stage for the fall of the Roman Republic.
The Roman Republic was one of the most remarkable achievements in the history of civilization. Beginning as a small city-state in central Italy, Rome gradually expanded into a wider world filled with petty tyrants, barbarian chieftains, and despotic kings. Through the centuries, Rome's model of cooperative and participatory government remained remarkably durable and unmatched in the history of the ancient world.
In 146 BC, Rome finally emerged as the strongest power in the Mediterranean. But the very success of the Republic proved to be its undoing. The republican system was unable to cope with the vast empire Rome now ruled: rising economic inequality disrupted traditional ways of life, endemic social and ethnic prejudice led to clashes over citizenship and voting rights, and rampant corruption and ruthless ambition sparked violent political clashes that cracked the once indestructible foundations of the Republic.
Chronicling the years 146-78 BC, The Storm Before the Storm dives headlong into the first generation to face this treacherous new political environment. Abandoning the ancient principles of their forbearers, men like Marius, Sulla, and the Gracchi brothers set dangerous new precedents that would start the Republic on the road to destruction and provide a stark warning about what can happen to a civilization that has lost its way.
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