Κατάφρακτοι – ciężkozbrojna jazda Cesarstwa Bizantyjskiego jako kontynuacja antycznych cataphracti i clibanarii
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Cataphracts – Heavily-Armoured Cavalry of the Byzantine Empire as a Continuation of the Ancient Cataphracti and ClibanariiIn the specialist literature on the subject, there is a widespread opinion that the heavily-armoured elitist cavalry, defined as cataphracti and clibanarii had existed from the Hellenistic period until the end of antiquity. Whereas a comparison of the construction, material and use of the individual elements of the weapons and armour used by the Byzantine heavy cavalry from the VIth century and the first half of the VIIth century with the ancient cataphracti, allows one to draw the conclusion that the Byzantine heavily-armoured cavalry was its continuation, not necessarily in respect of the identity of the formation, but more so in respect of the used arms and other elements of equipment , rather than tactics. The term cataphracti was not used at that time, as this type of cavalry became the main striking force. Thus, there was no need to emphasize its elitist character, as was the case in antiquity. Classifying the Byzantine cavalry from this period as cataphracti, despite the fact that it is not usually defined in this way, is based on the opinion of emperor Leon VI, expressed in Tactice, in accordance with which the chief element which distinguished cataphract units from other types of cavalry, is the complete armour of both horse and warrior. In subsequent centuries, the role of heavily-armoured cavalry decreased. In the Xth century, the elitist formations of this type of cavalry constituted a marginal force compared to other cavalry units making up the Byzantine army. In the contemporary military treatises, there appeared once again the term „кαтάфрαĸтоі” as a definition of heavily-armoured elitist cavalry units. However, the Xth century „καтάфрακтοі” were not only a formation which was modelled on its ancient predecessor, but it constituted a continuation of the ancient patterns. The units were equipped with identical protective armour as their ancient forerunners. They also applied the same tactical procedures, for instance by fighting in the wedge-shaped order, which is ascribed to the ancient clibanarii. Similarly as in antiquity, in the Xth century this type of cavalry was accompanied by lightly-armoured mounted archer units.
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