History of Byzantine Eastern Roman Empire for Kids

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Byzantine Empire Technology

The Byzantines were defined by their superb advancements in military technology and training. The Byzantine army was just as well trained and disciplined as their Roman ancestors were. They did not rely on the brute force of numbers to win the day. The relied on the skill of their highly trained soldiers and the tactical genius of their most educated generals. Tactics and discipline was something that the rest of the world had not really begun to think too much about. It was this that was one of the factors for the success of the Byzantine army.

With Justinians death in 565 the greatest period in Byzantine history had ended and the tired empire entered a period of instability lasting from 600 to 900 AD.

There was another thing that played a large role in Byzantine military dominance, and that was their top-notch military technology. They would equip their units with great weaponry to ensure that they seized the day. One such unit was known as the cataphract. A cataphract is a cavalry unit, and has been around since early Roman times, but was modified by the Byzantines to be even better and more effective.

The horse itself was clad in heavy armor, which would add to the ferocity of a charge. The rider was equipped with medium armor, and armed with a bow, lance, spear, sword and dagger for use in any battle situation. The advanced arsenal and equipment that cataphracts possessed played a large role in the military victories the Byzantines saw. The Byzantines also employed the use of a new invention known as Greek fire. Greek Fire was basically a liquid fire (related to napalm but not a jelly) that was highly flammable.

Byzantine sailors would spray the Greek fire out of long hoses at enemy vessels and they would almost instantly go up in flames (Greek fire). Such a device was the first version of the flamethrower- almost 1000 years ahead of its time. These advanced military tactics and technologies were some of the greatest advancements of the Byzantines. They would serve to change the course of history in many ways, from protecting Europe from the threats of Islamic expansion to influencing the thinking of later peoples.

The empire was then confronted with a new enemy that of Islam and Arabs attacked the Byzantine Empire and by the middle of the seventh century they had subjugated Palestine, Syria, Persia, Egypt and most of Northern Africa.

Every year an Arab fleet attacked Constantinople and the weakened empire was also threatened by the Bulgars who in 680 would settle in what today is Bulgaria.

By 700 the entire empire stood on the verge of disintegration.

Leo the III saved the empire with the aid of new technology called Greek Fire which was essentially a primitive form of flame thrower and drove back a desperate Arab assault on Constantinople in 718.

Leo then turned to administrative and military reform. Civil and military administration was combined under the authority of provincial generals.

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