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Bucellarii (the Latin plural of Bucellarius; literally "biscuit–eater",[1]Greek: Βουκελλάριοι) is a term for a unit of soldiers in the late Roman and Byzantine empire, that were not supported by the state but rather by some individual such as a general or governor, in essence being his "household troops".

These units were generally quite small, but, especially during the many civil wars, they could grow to number several thousand men. In effect, the bucellarii were small private armies equipped and paid by wealthy influential people. As such they were quite often better trained and equipped, not to mention motivated, than the regular soldiers of the time. In the 6th century, Belisarius, during his wars on behalf of Justinian, employed as many as 7,000 bucellarii. By this time, the bucellarii were well integrated into the main Roman army, and soon the term came to be applied indiscriminately to well-equipped cavalry troops. Thus, in the 7th century, when the military recruitment areas formed the basis for the Theme system, one of the first themata was that of the Boukellariōn, in the area of Paphlagonia and Galatia, with its capital at Ankara.

Resultado de imagen para bucellariiResultado de imagen para bucellarii

Resultado de imagen para bucellariiResultado de imagen para bucellarii


Edited by Lion.Kanzen
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https://www.educacion-holistica.org/notepad/documentos/War/Men At Arms/Romano-Byzantine Armies 4th-9th Centuries.PDF


Techniques of Roman legionary combat half century IV. before the collision they threw the throwing arms According to their scope the spiculum, the plumbatae, and even stones and then loaded with the lancea or with the sword. The shield represents Hercules, then the soldier belongs to the herculani seniores or juniors. Author Sean O'Brogain


This is done, only you need have written source. like an introduction to 6th Century




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The ruins of Pliska.

@Alexandermb check the details. in the architecture.


Excubitore elite guard of Emperor.



Michael the Syrian, patriarch of the Syrians Jacobites in XIIth century described in his Chronicle the brutalities and atrocities of the Byzantine Emperor: “Nicephorus, emperor of the Romans, walked in Bulgars land: he was victorious and killed a great number of them. He reached their capital, took it over and devastated it. His savagery went to such a point that he ordered to bring their small children, got them tied down on earth and made thresh grain stones to smash them.” 


This is illustrated by the Chronicle of 811 which reports that the Emperor's camp was not fortified and the other Roman troops were spread out up and down the mountain road and unable to support each other.  One historian noted that nights in this period were dark and moonless.  Perfect for sneaking up to the Roman camp.

The Bulgarians did not wait for the Romans to reach the log barriers.  The Chronicle of 811 says they attacked in the dead of night:

  • "They fell on (the Byzantine soldiers) still half asleep, who arose and, arming themselves, in haste, joined the battle.  But since (the forces) were encamped a great distance from one another, they did not know immediately what was happening.  For they (the Bulgars) fell only upon the Imperial encampment, which they began to cut to pieces.  When few resisted, and none strongly, but many were slaughtered, the rest who saw it gave themselves to flight.  At this same place there was also a river, . . . . they threw themselves into the river.  Entering with their horses and net being able to get out, they sank into the swamp, and were trampled by those coming from behind.  And some men fell on the others, so that the river was so full with men and horses that the enemies crossed on top of them unharmed and pursued the rest."

According to the Chronicle there was but one log palisade and it was unmanned.  That may or may not be correct.  Certainly the Bulgars put this one on what would be the main road out of the mountain pass.  If it was unmanned or lightly manned that speaks to the lack of available Bulgarian troops for this part of the campaign.  The Chronicle says:




  • "Those who thought they had escaped from the carnage of the river came up against the fence that the Bulgars has constructed, which was strong and exceedingly difficult to cross . . . . They abandoned their horses and, having climbed up with their hands and feet, hurled themselves headlong on the other side.  But there was a deep excavated trench on the other side, so that those who hurled themselves from the top broke their limbs.  Some of them died immediately, while the others progressed a short distance, but did not have the strength to walk. . . . . In other places, men set fire to the fence, and when the bonds (which held the logs together) burned through and the fence collapsed above the trench, those fleeing were unexpectedly thrown down and fell into the pit of the trench of the fire . . . . both themselves and their horses.  On that same day the Emperor Nikephoros was killed during the first assault, and nobody is able to relate the manner of his death.  Injured also was his son Staurakios, who suffered a mortal wound to the spinal vertebrae from which he died after having ruled the Romans for two months."


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Resultado de imagen para nikephoros

Nikephoros I


The Bulgarian Kahn Krum is said to have made a drinking cup out
of the skull of Roman Emperor Nikephoros


The origin and development of Roman and Byzantine military terms have been the subject of numerous monographs, though the absence of an up-to-date comprehensive lexical work leaves many obscurities in this field. This study examines the fulcum or foËlkon, both as a significant Roman tactical development of intrinsic interest and as an exemplum of the historical and linguistic problems posed by Greek, Roman, and Byzantine military vocabulary.

The word foËlkon is first attested in the sixth-century Strategicon of the Emperor Maurice to designate a compact, well-shielded infantry formation reminiscent of both the testudo of earlier Roman warfare and the hoplite phalanx of classical Greece.  Maurice’s technical description of the fulcum permits its identification in contemporary historical narratives as the standard battle formation of the period.

Maurice’s use of a term drawn from military slang previously unattested in Roman sources, together with the superficial resemblance of the fulcum to the “shield-walls” conventionally associated with “Germanic” warfare, has accentuated its apparent novelty and “unRomanness.” 

The term foËlkon first appears in Maurice’s Strategicon, . . . . Writing in the 590s, the author (hereafter “Maurice”) of this comprehensive military treatise combined in deliberately simple Greek earlier written material with a thorough knowledge of the organisation, training, tactics, and everyday routines of the contemporary Roman army

Maurice prescribes principles of cavalry deployment and tactics modeled on the Avar armies of the period, the Strategicon is on the whole a “codification” or restatement of existing regulations, commands, and procedures in the form of an official “handbook” for officers

Maurice chose to write in a plain vernacular, sacrificing stylistic concerns to practical utility, “to which end, we have also frequently employed Latin and other terms which have been in common military use” . . . . the Strategicon is primarily concerned with day-to-day routines and often mundane technicalities, and is aimed at the middle-ranking field officers of the East Roman army, whose literacy is assumed throughout.

Maurice subsequently outlines in more detail what foÊlkƒ peripate›n involves. Before close-quarters contact with the enemy, about two or three bowshots from the enemy battle line, upon the order “iunge,” the infantry were to close in from both the flanks and rear, a manoeuvre Maurice calls pÊknvsiw or sf¤gjiw. Traditionally pÊknvsiw meant reducing the space allotted to each man in a rank to two cubits (three feet), creating a dense formation in which each man was still able to manoeuvre and employ his weaponry; this conventional “close order” appears to correspond to what Maurice describes. 

During this manoeuvre “the men deployed at the front come together side-by-side until they are shield-boss to shield-boss with one another”, while those in the ranks behind stand “almost glued to one another” . Maurice remarks that the rearguards should shove from behind, if necessary, pushing nervous recruits into formation and maintaining a straight battle line.

Thereafter, just outside the range of enemy missiles, the infantry formed a foËlkon:

  • Emperor Maurice:  "They advance in a fulcum, whenever, as the battle lines are coming close together, both ours and the enemy’s, the archery is about to commence, and those arrayed in the front line are not wearing mail coats or greaves. He [the herald] orders, “a d fulco.” And those arrayed right at the very front mass their shields together until they come shield-boss to shield-boss, completely covering their stomachs almost to their shins. The men standing just behind them, raising their shields and resting them on the shield-bosses of those in front, cover their chests and faces, and in this way they engage."

In operations against enemy infantry, therefore, the foËlkon was a compact formation in which the front two ranks formed a “shield-wall.” Maurice characterises this shield wall as “shield-boss to shield-boss”, which should be understood as a colloquial expression rather than a literal description. 

Although Maurice does not define specific measurements, he nowhere implies that the transition to a foËlkon involved reducing still further the intervals between the files, which after pÊknvsiw were already “shield-boss to shieldboss” at the front and “almost glued together” at the rear. This would in any case have fatally restricted the unit’s ability to manoeuvre and fight, and rendered impossible much of Maurice’s subsequent account of how the attack should develop. 

Each man continued to operate in the traditional “close-order” allotment of roughly three feet, so that the edges of his shield just overlapped those of the men to either side, but he retained sufficient space to advance, throw missiles, and slash to his front with a spatha.

It appears that “advancing in a foËlkon” entailed simply an additional defensive measure by the front two ranks, the pur-pose of which was to protect the front of the formation against missiles as it advanced. This would have been particularly the case when fighting the Persians, whose archery remained a tactical problem throughout the late Roman period. 

This last remark does not mean that the whole formation was covered over in the manner of the classical, shed-like testudo, merely that the rear ranks should take care to shield themselves from enemy missiles falling from a higher trajectory. This expedient relates to the changed dynamics of the fighting after closing with the enemy line. It is probable that at close-quarters with enemy infantry the Roman shield-wall was dismantled, having served its primary function as a protective screen against missiles. Maurice suggests that there was greater danger of casualties among the front ranks during the period of approach than in the subsequent hand-tohand fighting, when they would no longer be a target for enemy projectiles, but those to the rear remained exposed to continuous fire from overhead. 

The foËlkon was difficult to manoeuvre, but afforded protection during the last and most dangerous stage of the advance, while from behind the shieldwall the other ranks of close-order infantry and the light infantry to their rear could maintain a constant shower of projectiles. There would have been a concomitant reduction in the momentum in the attack, which perhaps exposed the infantry formation to a longer barrage, but as with the cavalry tactics Maurice describes elsewhere, speed of attack was sacrificed to the essential consideration of tactical cohesion.


Emperor Maurice:  "If the enemy [cavalry], coming within a bow shot, attempts to break or dislodge the phalanx, which is hazardous for them, then the infantry close up in the regular manner. And the first, second, and third man in each file are to form themselves into a foËlkon, that is, one shield upon another, and having thrust their spears straight forward beyond their shields, fix them firmly in the ground, so that those who dare to come close to them will readily be impaled. They also lean their shoulders and put their weight against their shields so that they might easily endure the pressure from those outside. The third man, standing more upright, and the fourth, holding their spears like javelins either stab those coming close or hurl them and draw their swords. And the light infantry with the cavalry [stationed to the rear] shoot arrows."


Assuming even large infantry shields of around a metre in diameter, a sloping “shield-wall” constructed by the front three ranks would reach a height of just over two metres, this additional height being necessary to counter the more elevated position of a mounted enemy. Maurice writes that the men of the third rank “holding their spears like javelins either stab those coming close or hurl them,” meaning they wield their spears overarm and projecting above the shield-wall, ready to thrust or throw them as opportunities arose. 

This arrangement of the first three ranks explains how the men of the third rank, with spears of about two metres in length, were expected to stab the enemy horsemen—in effect the front three ranks were so close together as to operate as a single fighting line. The men of the fourth rank, at a greater remove and unable to stab the enemy with their spears, participated by throwing their weapons over the heads of the first three ranks whenever a target presented itself, and presumably replaced casualties in the battle line.

When confronted by mounted opponents, sixth-century Roman infantry regularly arrayed in a compact defensive “phalanx” fronted by a “shieldwall” bristling with spears. The Syriac Chronicle of pseudoJoshua Stylites reports that near Constantina in 502 some Roman infantry units, abandoned by their own cavalry and facing large numbers of Persian horsemen, “drew up in battle array, forming what is called a ‘chelone’ or ‘tortoise’, and fought for a long time,” though ultimately unsuccessfully. The word the chronicler uses is a Syriac transliteration of xel≈nh, the standard Greek equivalent to Latin testudo; I shall return below to the relationship between foËlkon and testudo. A clearer and more successful example is the battle of Callinicum in 531. After the defeat and flight of the Roman cavalry, a small force of infantry and dismounted cavalry covered the Roman retreat in a manner strikingly reminiscent of Maurice’s foËlkon:

  • "the infantry, and few of them indeed, were fighting against the whole Persian cavalry. Nevertheless, the enemy could neither rout them nor otherwise overpower them. For constantly massed together shoulder-to-shoulder into a small space, and forming with their shields a very strong barrier, they shot at the Persians more conveniently than they were shot at by them. Frequently withdrawing, the Persians would advance against them so as to break up and destroy their line, but retired again unsuccessful." 

Holding firm in the face of charging cavalry was one of the most psychologically demanding tasks for infantry; not only was late Roman infantry capable of standing up to cavalry attacks but deterring cavalry was actually one of its primary functions. On the sixth-century battlefield infantry retained an important, albeit more passive role, serving principally as a firm bulwark, behind which Roman cavalry, employing highly fluid tactics, could withdraw and regroup if pushed back. Given sufficient training and morale, infantry possessed the potential for greater cohesion and more accurate firepower than cavalry, and when combined with archers and slingers the effects on enemy horsemen could be devastating.

Finally, it is to be noted that even late Roman cavalry, in moments of crisis or simply wherever tactically beneficial, transformed themselves into infantry and also arrayed in a foËlkon. A minor action in Lazica in 550 is instructive, where Roman and allied cavalry, finding themselves suddenly outnumbered by Persian horseman, dismounted and



  • "arrayed themselves on foot in a phalanx as deep as possible, and all stood forming a close front against the enemy and thrusting out their spears against them. And the Persians did not know what to do, for they were unable to charge their opponents, now that they were on foot, nor could they break up the phalanx, because the horses reared up, annoyed by the spear points and the clashing of shields."

There are numerous other late Roman examples of this tactical expedient and it is expressly what the Strategicon enjoins cavalry to do in these circumstances

Later Byzantine Development

Other than Maurice, the only author to use the term foËlkon in a late antique context is Theophanes Confessor (writing ca 810–814), in his account of Heraclius’ campaigns against the Persians (622–628), which occurred a generation after the composition of the Strategicon.

Theophanes writes that at the battle of Nineveh in 627 the Persian commander Rhazates “arrayed his forces in three foËlka”. Here Theophanes, who uses the word nowhere else, appears to mean simply a battle line divided into three broad divisions rather than Maurice’s testudo-like infantry formation. Theophanes himself elsewhere reports this tripartite deployment by Persian armies, employing non-technical language to designate the three “divisions”, and he notes that the Roman line was similarly divided into three “phalanxes”; indeed, sixth- and early seventh-century Roman sources indicate that this was a regular practice of Persian armies. Theophanes therefore uses the word foËlkon differently than does Maurice, as simply a generic term for a large body of troops, whether Roman or foreign.

. . . . two works ascribed to the Emperor Leo VI (886–912), the so-called Problemata and Tactica or Tactical Constitutions. The Problemata, the first work Leo composed in this genre, is preserved only in Mediceo-Laurentianus. It takes the form of a “military catechism,” in which the compiler poses questions which he then answers with excerpta from Maurice’s Strategicon . . . .  the Problemata genuinely reflect late ninth-century practice; continued references to Avars and Persians do not inspire confidence in its contemporary utility. For the present it suffices to note that in answer to the question “How do they advance when the archery is about to commence?” the compiler reproduces Maurice’s description of the foËlkon operating against enemy infantry with only very minor changes, though he omits his anticavalry version.

Leo appears not to understand Maurice’s reference to “shield-bosses”, which is almost certainly late Roman terminological usage; the limited evidence suggests that by the tenth century boÊkoulon had come metonymically to mean “shield” in toto. It is possible that Leo’s textual alteration also reflects changes in shield design and construction in the intervening period.

 . . . . . the treatise on guerrilla warfare Per‹ paradrom∞w or De velitatione ascribed to Nicephorus II Phocas (963–969). The author possessed a detailed knowledge of Leo’s Tactica and its tactical precepts. Yet throughout he employs foËlkon to designate a body of troops in formation, apparently infantry or cavalry, but more often the latter, sent out to protect smaller parties engaged in foraging and pillaging, accompanying them into designated localities in the morning, remaining at hand during the day, and escorting them back to camp in the evening. This sense is clear from the often-repeated formula “a foËlkon, whose role is to protect them while they are dispersed for plundering”.

A foËlkon might also be stationed outside the camp to protect grazing horses or livestock. The author mentions foËlka only in the context of invading Arab forces, and his recommendations for surprise attacks on Arab encampments or dispersed raiding parties are premised on the potential presence of such a foËlkon coming to the rescue and how Byzantine troops should counter it. These protective escorts were not unique to Arab tactical arrangements nor Arab in origin, however; the author merely uses a Greek term to describe what was a standard feature of both Arab and Byzantine armies.

(Mid tenth century military documents are nearly identical to those of Maurice.)

Again it is important to appreciate, however, that new terminology is not necessarily indicative of a new phenomenon. In the late sixth century Maurice clearly describes, and in very similar language, identical protective escorts guarding foraging parties:

  • Emperor Maurice:  "When some men go out on a plundering expedition, not all of them are to be occupied in pillaging, but they must be divided into two—those who are engaged in plundering, and the majority who escort them in close formation as their guard, whether the attack is against a country, an enemy entrenchment, a herd of beasts, a baggage train, or any other objective. Do this also when the whole army collectively undertakes a plundering expedition, again so that not all the men are occupied in pillaging, but if an opportunity for foraging supplies should arise, some must engage in foraging, others in close formation must escort them, otherwise, if all the available men were occupied in pillaging or foraging, some surprise attack or ambush would be undertaken by the enemy and our soldiers would not be able to rally themselves."

This type of escort in force, to which Maurice applies no specific terminology, is precisely what mid tenth-century authors designate a foËlkon. In fact this was a standard procedure for Roman armies dating back at least to the early Principate, and the later Byzantine usage merely reflects changes in terminology rather than practice.

Given the difficulties we have seen in the testimony of Leo’s tactical writings, it is impossible to be certain how and when foËlkon came to mean the mounted escorts or patrols attested in mid tenth-century military literature, distinct from the battle formation for infantry described in Maurice’s Strategicon, and the evidence of the intervening period perhaps points to long-term multiple usage, though the underlying concept of a compact body of troops arrayed for combat is consistent.
The variant meanings of foËlkon over this four-hundred-year period therefore correspond to the broad development of late Roman-Byzantine military vocabulary.

http://byzantinemilitary.blogspot.com/search/label/Army - Byzantine Testudo and Shield Wall

Edited by Lion.Kanzen
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In 821–823, the forces of the would-be emperor Thomas brought up “rams, tortoises, and some helepoleis in order to shake down the walls” of Constantinople. In addition to petroboloi, ladders, rams, tortoises, as well as fire arrows from his ships, Thomas ordered the engagement of some four-legged helepoleis. These last were obviously large, trestle-framed, traction trebuchets, the other petroboloi perhaps being smaller. “Every day large bands of soldiers brought these machines forward against the walls of the city”.

Constantine Porphyrogennetos compiled an inventory of the weapons and equipment assembled for the unsuccessful invasion of Crete in 949. For attacking a fortress, the ships were to transport large arrow-firing ballistae. Constantine lists this among the mangana, siege machines, together with petrareai and alakatia. There were four petrareai, four lambdareai, and four alakatia and, for these twelve engines, there were twelve iron slings, in addition to various nuts and bolts.

Constantine also recommended that the emperor take a number of books along with him on a military expedition. Among these were manuals of strategy, mechanical treatises, including the construction of helepoleis, the fabrication of missiles, and other works helpful in waging war and conducting sieges. 

Another military manual recommended that an army besieging a city should pitch camp far enough away to be out of range of arrows or missiles from the stonethrowing machines. But it should not be too far from its own siege engines, poliorkhtikå ˆrgana; otherwise, the defenders may sally forth and chop them down and burn them. The attacking troops should encamp close enough so that they can race out of their tents to protect their helepoleis.


http://byzantinemilitary.blogspot.com/search/label/Army - Byzantine Heavy Artillery

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@Alexandermb Some suggestion for barracks:


Middle piece of the structure overhanging the courtyard seems a little disjointed from the model, so I'd suggest integrating it as part of the building (see roof). The upper and lower half of the building also feel a little disjointed because of textures clashing. Letting the entire top story be made of brick reduces the clashing effect of the large beige patch (and makes more sense, structurally). I believe you forgot the sides of the roof. Added some windows to the front of the top story

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6 hours ago, Sundiata said:

@Alexandermb Some suggestion for barracks:


Middle piece of the structure overhanging the courtyard seems a little disjointed from the model, so I'd suggest integrating it as part of the building (see roof). The upper and lower half of the building also feel a little disjointed because of textures clashing. Letting the entire top story be made of brick reduces the clashing effect of the large beige patch (and makes more sense, structurally). I believe you forgot the sides of the roof. Added some windows to the front of the top story


  • Thanks 1
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10 minutes ago, Lion.Kanzen said:

Why not use white bricks stone like I suggested. I  can make similar to the example I give to you?


if you mean turn the salmon bricks to white it will be looking exactly to the 1st blacksmith attempt and will be rejected for his lack of city look

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  • Stan` pinned this topic

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