BYZANTINE EMPEROR IN PARADE ARMOUR

An extract from Armies of the Dark Ages 600-1066
by Ian Heath

26.      BYZANTINE EMPEROR IN PARADE ARMOUR

This figure is based mainly on a portrait of Basil II Bulgarokronos (976-1025). He wears a hip-length klibanion and tubular upper-arm defences, both either gold or gilt. Tunic is purple with gold embroidery, while cloak, trousers and fringe on corselet are light blue. Boots are red leather decorated with small white dots, probably pearls, the scabbard being likewise red but decorated in gold. The helmet, with officer's crest of peacock feathers, is from a mid-11th century textile.

Contemporary illustrations often show Emperors wearing such armour in battle scenes, but this is undoubtedly artistic licence. Other sources speak more credibly of Emperors wearing the same armour as ordinary cavalrymen but far more ornate - bejewelled helmet, gilded corselet and so on.

The Emperor's horse-trappings and saddle-cloth were purple, the harness including gold decoration and sometimes jewels. It would appear that imperial horses sometimes also wore silk housings.
[Based on The Portrait Illumination of Basil II Bulgaroctonos in his Psalter, Byzantine, c.1017, Cod. Marc. gr. 17. f3r]




Next: 27. BYZANTINE STANDARDS in Armies of the Dark Ages 600-1066 by Ian Heath




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