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The Varangian Guard 988-1453

The Varangian Guard 988-1453

Paperback Men-At-Arms (Osprey)

By (author) Raffaele D'Amato, Illustrated by Giuseppe Rava

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  • Publisher: Osprey Publishing
  • Format: Paperback | 48 pages
  • Dimensions: 188mm x 251mm x 3mm | 159g
  • Publication date: 22 June 2010
  • Publication City/Country: Osprey
  • ISBN 10: 1849081794
  • ISBN 13: 9781849081795
  • Illustrations note: Illustrations (some col.)
  • Sales rank: 104,949

Product description

The Varangian Guards were Viking mercenaries who operated far beyond their native shores as an elite force within the Byzantine Armies. Descendants from a legendary line of warriors, the Varangian Guard was formed after a group of Viking mercenaries made a major contribution to the Byzantine Emperor Basil II's victory over rebel forces in 988 AD. These 5,000 men were then retained as Basil's personal guard and would provide loyal service to many successive occupants of the imperial throne. Commonly referred to as 'foreigners' (Etaireia), they were nonetheless absorbed into a new Palatine regiment under command of an officer termed the Akolouthos, who was either a Norsemen or a Rus (Norsemen colonisers of Russia). The Varangians wore mixtures of their native clothing and armour together with a splendid formal Byzantine uniform. But most famously, they always wielded their own traditional battle-axes and in fact this became a sign that the emperor was on the battlefield in person. This is an insightful look of one of the legendary guard units of the medieval world.

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Author information

Dr Raffaele D'Amato is an experiencd Turin-based reseracher of the ancient world. He is an external professor to the Athens University School of Philosophy and Material Culture. He has previously written "Roman Military Clothing (3)" and "Imperial Roman Naval Forces 31 BC-AD 500" for Osprey Publishing.

Review quote

""The Varangian Guard 988-1453" shines a spotlight on legendary warriors who operated far beyond their native shores as an elite force within the Byzantine army ... Overall this48-page book is a slender but insightful look at one of the legendary guard units of the medieval world." -"Toy Soldier & Model Figure"