Army of Byzantium VI. Palace parts

We complete this work with a small cycle dedicated to the palace units of the Byzantine army in the 6th century. It will be about scholaria and candidates.


Miniature. Iliad. 493-506 Ambrosian Pinakothek Library. Milan. Italy



Scholaria (sholarii, σχολάριοι) - Warriors of the schola, a unit originally intended to protect the emperor, the imperial palace and carry the guard in the city. Schols were created in the IV. The privileged part of them received the name of the candidates. It was isolated from the schol in the VI. Much has been written about schols, this palace guard lasted several hundred years, but if in the 6th century AD there is a noticeable drop in the importance of these combat units and their transformation into palace guards, beautifully and powerfully armed, then in the next period one can observe the resuscitation of these regiments.

Initially (in V century) palace schol was eleven, numeric, the catalog composition (staff) consisted of 3500 scholaria, thus, the schol accounted for, in average, 300 - 320 regular units, and the schola corresponded to army tagme, arifme or gang VI century. Procopius of Caesarea affirmed this identity by calling them in the army manner tagma. His contemporary poet Korippe called them cohorts (500 warriors), but perhaps this was only an artistic comparison. At the beginning of the VI. the schols, unlike the catalog parts of the army, were or should have been parts of constant combat readiness: if the catalog warriors were recruited from their units into expeditionary units, then the schola acted in full force as a single unit. But gradually this principle was abolished, possibly with the aim of “saving” on military expenses, naturally, to the detriment of the army’s combat capability, and possibly because of the situation when the scholarius themselves did not rush into war. In 578 Mauritius, as we wrote, recruited soldiers for an expedition among the palace guards.


Silver dish. Kerch V century Hermitage. St. Petersburg. Russia

This corps was subordinate to the Magister of Magister officior (Magister officiorum), he was originally the commander of the cavalry under the emperor, in the VI. supervised foreign policy, gun workshops, mail, guard the emperor's palace, the city and the arsenal, in modern terms, was the first minister of the state. The master formally supervised offices: civil and military schols. The commander of a separate schola was a tribune or primcerius (primicerius). The detachments were located both in the capital and in the cities of Asia Minor, in Chalcedon, and were divided into "old" and "young." In the V century. soldiers who served in active service were credited to their ranks, they were paid more than catalog warriors, but the emperor Zeno, who was born in origin, included in his number his numerous tribesmen unfamiliar with military affairs. Later, under Justine I, his nephew and future emperor, Justinian introduced two thousand "over-standard" guardsmen, selling posts for money. Thus, any wealthy person who has no relation to military affairs could get into these units. Procopius of Caesarea wrote that under the pretext of sending them to the theater of operations, the emperor extorted money from the credited.

It is noteworthy that in Rome the western schols were dissolved by Theodoric, but with the retention of the pension to the soldiers and their descendants.

Agathias of Mirineus described these warriors. In 559, when the Huns threatened Constantinople, the scholaria was taken out to guard the city:

“Such terrible and great dangers seemed beyond doubt that on the walls, in Sikka and the so-called Golden Gates, lohagi, taxiarchs and many warriors were really set up to bravely repel enemies if attacked. In fact, however, they were incompetent and were not even sufficiently trained in military affairs, but were from those military units that were appointed to keep guards day and night, which are called scholaria. They were called warriors and were recorded in the military lists, but for the most part they were citizens, brilliantly dressed, but selected only to increase the dignity and magnificence of the emperor when he spoke in public ... These people, for lack of experienced in military affairs, placed on the walls, did the kind that guarded them. "


However, Theophanes the Byzantine reported that the Schola had engaged the Avars and many died.

The situation changes by the end of the century, when more and more the need arises for units of constant combat readiness and the schols lose their decorative bloom.

Candidates (сandidati) - “White” guard, sixth schola and officer reserve. This squad consisted of 400-500 warriors. It was created, as part of the schol, by Constantine the Great in the IV. Candidates were practically permanent participants in the ceremony of enthronement of emperors in the 5th - early 6th centuries. Candidates in the "table of ranks" stood in fifth place, and their barracks was located on the territory of the Grand Palace, next to the Hulk's Palace, opposite Augustus, next to the tricliniums of scholaria and excubitors. Naturally, as the "officer reserve" they were assigned the most important functions. Candidate Asbad, for example, was assigned in 550 to command a detachment of regular cavalry from the Thracian fortress of Tzurule or Tsurul.

Clothing. The appearance of the scholarians is understandable, known and traced for several centuries: it is found on images from the beginning of the 5th century, such as on a dish from Kerch and Madrid, on the column of Marcian (450-457) or on the basis of the column Theodosius. Researchers argue whether exubitors or skolars are depicted there. All these images were made before the formal emergence or restoration of the unit of excreters (468), which means it is a scholaria and there is no need for the soldiers depicted in Ravenna not to be identified with scholaria.




Silver dish. V century National Library. Madrid. Spain

Everywhere, where in the VI. we see the emperor with the warriors, we can assume that these warriors are scholaria.

As we know, the parade and combat equipment of the scholarius and the candidates consisted of spears and shields, excubiters also had swords, and protectors had axes.

The clothes of the palace guards date back to scarlet Roman army tunics, such as that of a guard from a miniature of the Syrian Bible of the 6th-7th centuries, but we see scholariums from Ravenna mosaics in multi-colored tunics.


Tunic. Egypt. III-VIII centuries. Inv.90.905.53 Metropolitan. New York. USA. Photo author

As for the candidates, their chitons and chlamyds were exclusively white. Tunics and white cloaks personified Christian purity. White color was very popular, and its combination with shades of purple was the trend of this period. No wonder the guards with mosaics are dressed and look like angels depicted nearby. The Archangel Michael of Saint Apollinare in Class VI., As the highest official, is dressed in a white tunic. In 559, the emperor Justinian I, at the parade exit, was accompanied by protectors and scholaria, possibly candidates, since they were wearing white cloaks. Justin II's candidates were dressed in the same way, and the guard of the retinue of basilis Theodora, depicted on the mosaic of San Vitale, is dressed in a white mantle.

A tunic or a chiton during this period is a T-shaped single-fabric or composite shirt, worn under it under one: linea or kamision (linea, kamision). It was made from wool, cotton, less often from silk. This "dress" was the main type of men's clothing: depending on the width and length, the tunics had various names:

• Latiklavia (laticlavia) - with vertical stripes (angels from San Apollinare Nova from Ravenna).

• Dalmatika - narrow clothes with long sleeves;

• Colovius - narrow clothes with short sleeves (Abraham sacrificing his son from San Vitale in Ravenna, a plate “Ajax Dispute and Odyssey” from the Hermitage);

• Divitisy - narrow clothes with wide sleeves (priests next to the emperor Justinian and Bishop Maximin from San Vitale in Ravenna).

Guardsmen wore chlamyda or lacerna (lacerna) over the tunic; this is a cloak or mantle, in the form of a piece of elongated fabric, often to the toe, fastened to the right with a clasp, so that the chest and left part of the body are covered with the cloak completely, and only the right arm and forearm remain open .

Signs of military distinction. Orbiculi and tastony. The tunics of the military were the same as those of the civilians, but they showed signs of military distinction, about which we know not much. Military belts and cloaks clasps also distinguished the military from the civilian.


Fragment of the orbicle. Egypt. V-VII centuries. Inv. 89.18.124. Underground. New York. USA. Photo author

Orbits were sewn on the shoulders of shirts. This is a big chevron, indicating a military rank. Cloaks were sewn on fabric squares, of different colors, with embroideries, including gold threads. Such a square patch is called tabula (tabula) or tablion (tablion).

We have reached a number of such stripes that can be identified with military ranks. The most common, of course, is the imperial "chevron" on the shoulder of the emperors Justinian II of San Vitale, Constantine IV and the Archangel Michael of San Apollinare in Class, who is dressed as a basil. We also have a distinctive badge of the master of offices (first minister, and formerly the commander of the whole cavalry), the stratilate (master millitum) from San Vitale and, similarly, from San Apollinare in Klass. Perhaps the stratilate of the regional army, but the orbicle on the shoulder of Pontius Pilate from Ravenna, can be defined as the distinctive sign of a comit or duca for the 6th century.


Christ and Pontius Pilate. Mosaic. Basilica of Saint Apollinare Nuova. VI century. Ravenna. Italy. Photo author

Belt. In Byzantium, as in Rome, the wearing of belts (cingulum militiae) was strictly regulated. The belt (cingulum, ζώνη) was a distinctive sign for all who carried public service: from a soldier to the highest ranks. The Code of Theodosius and Justinian regulated the rules of wearing belts, their color and decoration. The prefect's prefect's belt was made of double red leather, richly ornamented and with a gold buckle. The komits had gilded leather belts. The same were handed to foreign ambassadors. On the mosaics, we see that the scholaria wore gold belts.

The loss of a belt or a sash meant the loss of power or rank: this is how Akaki Archelaus arrives at the troops besieging the Sassanian Nisibis in 573, about which John of Ephesus writes, and deprives the commander of the siege, Patrick Markivian of the belt, using violence, i .e. performs a symbolic rite of deprivation of power.

Brooches and insignia. Among the insignia, fibula or cornucopia played an important role as both a utilitarian object and a sign of military distinction. The most expensive fasteners can be seen on the mosaics of Ravenna: in the cathedrals of Saint Vitale and Saint Apollinare at Justinian I and in Saint Apollinare in Klass at the Archangel Michael, as well as in Christ the Warrior from the Archbishop Chapel:
“A gold buckle is fastened to this mantle, in the middle of which is attached a precious stone; three gems of hyacinth (blood-red zircon) hung from flexible gold chains hung down from here.
Such a brooch could be worn only by the emperor, who even had precursor fibulas. The whole guard went with gold and silver brooches of various kinds. Several such gold brooches have come down to us. The army wore various brooches simpler, as we will discuss later.


Decoration. Byzantium. IV-VI centuries. Museum Island. Berlin. Germany. Photo author

Another important distinction from the Roman times, which at the same time was also the decoration, was the torques. Torquest was originally made of twisted gold (from the Latin. Torquere - twist), often with a bull having an enamel insert, Vegetius wrote about it in Vv. [Veg., II.7]. It was an ornament similar to the hryvnia, which indicated the status of the person wearing it. In the Palatin's regiments, the officers had a torquest; the "rank and file" wore gold chains. An ordinary candidate had a triple chain, in contrast to the campiductors or flag bearers of the army team, who had only one chain. On the mosaic from the church of San Vitale or from the guard of Pharaoh of the Vienna Code, on the bull torquest you can see the image of a bird: a crow or an eagle? The image of birds was often encountered during this period, as a unifying beginning for Romaic and barbarian military attributes. Perhaps each of the participants in this bird saw what he wanted to see: the Romans - the eagle, as a symbol of Roman military glory, once the eagle of Jupiter, and the Germans - the Votan crow.

Military symbolism. The court regiments were guarded and carried out in solemn cases by state and army symbols, which were kept in the palace in their barracks: labarum, crosses, banners, banners, icons, dragons, etc. In the Roman army, banners were the most important religious and sacral objects.

Christian apologist Tertullian certainly condemned this army pagan custom, however, the cult of army insignia and banners continued in the Christian empire. Speaking about general imperial military and state regalia, first of all it is necessary to talk about labarum and crosses. The cross, like labarum, became a military symbol in 312, when Emperor Constantine made it a sign of his legions: “Then Constantine, who hastily arranged a golden cross,” wrote Theophanes the Confessor, which still exists today (IXth century - V.E. ), ordered to wear it before the army in battle. " The cross was worn during ceremonies by the soldiers of the Palatine units. Several images of his images have come down to us: such a cross is held in the hands of Christ, in the form of a Roman warrior, from the Archbishop's Chapel in Ravenna, he is in the hands of emperors on coins of this period, in the museums of the Metropolitan and the Louvre there is such a gilded cross and its details from the city Antioch, and it dates from 500

We don’t know who exactly of the Palatinsky parts were. The same can be said about the banner-labarum.


Byzantine ceremonial cross. VI-VII centuries. Underground. New York. USA. Photo author

Labarum is a “sacred flag” or sacred badge (signa), first personally by the emperor Constantine, and later by all the emperors who were present at the theater of hostilities. This is, in fact, a flamula or a banner made of cloth with the image of a chrism or a hristogram — monograms of the name of Jesus Christ in Greek. Another option, such as depicted on coins, is a flaming with a topping in the form of a chrism. This symbol, as Socrates Scholastic reported, appeared to Constantine the Great on the night of 27 on 28 of October 312 in:

“... during the night that had come, Christ appeared to him in a dream and ordered that the banner be arranged according to the pattern of the seen sign, in order to have in it, as it were, a ready-made trophy over enemies. Convinced of this provest, the king arranged the trophy of the cross, which is still kept in the royal palace, and, with more confidence, he set to work. ”

[Socrat.I .2]

Researchers argue whether "X" was a symbol of Celtic legions or a Christian symbol, or both. For us, the issue of continuity in its use is more important. And she was, and it is obvious. Since Constantine, laburum has become the most important army state symbol of the late Roman and early Christian empire. Only Julian the Apostate refused to use it. When the emperor Leo was enthroned, a labar was used. There is a mention of the fact that in Rome at the beginning of Vb. there were two sacred banners. Stilihon, who was going to march on Constantinople, took in Rome one of two labarums. In the tenth century in the treasury of the Grand Palace was kept five labs. [Const. Porph. De cerem. S.641.]. The standard bearers or watch labarum called labaria.


The image of the christgram on the sarcophagus. Basilica of the Assumption of the Virgin. V-VI centuries. Pula. Croatia. Photo author

In the 6th century, as, incidentally, later, such an exotic standard, a legacy of the Roman era, like a dragon, was used as a state symbol. The imperial draconia were excubitators wearing gold chains around their necks. In addition to these symbols used banners of various kinds, it is likely the Eagles. The presence of a large number of images of eagles on the columns of the 6th century, as well as the finding of a silver eagle from the 7th century. in the village of Voznesenskoye near Zaporozhye, they testify that this symbol was present in the Romanian troops.


Silver plate. Byzantium. 550-600 vr. Underground. New York. USA. Photo author

Appearance and hairstyle. Sources VI. we are depicted long-haired, with haircuts à la page, and sometimes even curled-up warriors, as in the case of the Diptych Barberini or the Christ-warrior from Ravenna. It is believed that the fashion for such hairstyles comes from the "barbarians" of the Germans, the researchers, speaking of the images of the Palatine soldiers of the times of Theodosius I, indicate that they are young Goths. However, in the VI. long hair was not recommended to soldiers categorically. But the soldiers neglected these prohibitions, by the way, as in earlier periods, as Plavt wrote in the comedy of the beginning of the 3rd century. about a warrior - boaster, curly and pomaded.


King Theodoric. VI century. Medal. Ravenna

However, the appearance, as well as other moments of the behavior of warriors outside the barracks did not abolish their ability to fight.

Summing up the essays devoted to the palace divisions of the 6th century, we will say that many of them continued their existence in subsequent eras, participating both in wars and in political struggle. And we turn to the army units of this time.
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