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An extract from Armies and Enemies of the Crusades 1096-1291
by Ian Heath


The Scylitzes ms. and various other sources often show bands of unarmoured horsemen similar to this figure, armed only with sword, lance, shield and helmet, apparently representing native light or medium cavalry such as are occasionally recorded in the written sources. It may have been troops of this type that constituted at least a part of the contingents of the quasi-feudal Stratiotes. It is probable that many of the ex-Thematic cavalry as still served were also of this type. They were possibly uniformed, and some may have been bow-armed.

However, most light cavalry of this era were Asiatic mercenaries, particularly Pechenegs and Cumans (the Pigmatici or Pincenati and Comans of Frankish sources, both described under figures 115-117 in 'Armies of Feudal Europe'; see also figure 80 below) and, in numbers which steadily increased during this era, Turks, generally referred to as Turcopouloi. (One point of interest is that Pechenegs and Torks recorded fighting for the Byzantines in the Manzikert campaign were indistinguishable from their Seljuk enemies, which indicates a close affinity in their dress).

Next: 80. CUMAN CAVALRYMAN in Armies and Enemies of the Crusades 1096-1291 by Ian Heath

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