ZOLOTOVSKIY V.A. The Byzantine Military Strategy in Asia Minor During the Early Palaiologan Period (1259–1328)

DOI: https://doi.org/10.15688/jvolsu4.2021.6.16

Vladimir A. Zolotovskiy

Candidate of Sciences (History), Head of the Department of Service and Tourism,

Volgograd State University,

Prosp. Universitetsky, 100, 400062 Volgograd, Russian Federation

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https://orcid.org/0000-0002-4259-8851


Abstract. Introduction. The purpose of the article is to determine the specifics of the Byzantine war strategy in Asia Minor. A qualitative military and political characteristics of the main military expeditions to the eastern borders are crucial for the disclosure of this problem. From this aspect, the study addresses the following issues: defining of the role of the eastern military campaigns in the complex of military-strategic measures on the state scale; characteristics of the features the armed forces used, as well as the tasks solved during military expeditions to Asia Minor; disclosure of the features of military-technical measures to ensure the security of Byzantium eastern borders.

Methods. Critical use of elements of civilizational, formational and systemic approaches is the methodological basis of this study. It should be noted that the use of a systematic approach in the analysis of the Byzantine troops combat practice in east direction, allows to determine the strategic objectives of military expeditions in Asia Minor, to reveal the logic of warfare in the eastern theater, to determine the functional purpose of military-technical measures.

Analysis and Results. The study reveals the strategic concept of Byzantium armed forces military operations during the reign of the first Palaeologus on the Asia Minor territory. Analysis of combat practice allows us to conclude that the strategic priority of the western and northwestern directions, which required the use of the most combat-ready troops consisting of mercenaries during the reign of Michael VIII, determined the need to use the Byzantine troops at the eastern borders of the empire. TheByzantine army was episodically involved in major defensive expeditions to the borders of the empire. We determined that the purpose of these campaigns is to stop the advance of enemy armies and their subsequent expulsion from the empire. This logic of military operations does not mean the loss of strategic initiative at the eastern direction. The strategy of passive defense which determined the nature of the military confrontation in the Asia Minor region was ensured by the creation of a garrison system, or a line of fortresses, on the eastern borders of the empire. Fortification activities of Michael VIII and Andronikos II in 1280–1282 temporarily stopped the advance of the Turkish troops. However, natural factors and the intensification of the economic crisis at the end of the 13th century made it impossible to preserve the defensive line located along the banks of the rivers that served as the borders of the Byzantine state. In addition, the strengthening of the military-political power of the emirates of Menteşe, Aydinoglu and Osman led to the loss of the initiative by the Byzantine troops and, as a result, the reduction of the Asia Minor territories of the empire. In an effort to change the situation, Andronicus II proceeded to implement an active defense strategy.

Key words: military history of Byzantium, the early Palaeologan period, military organization, war strategy, Asia Minor.

Citation. Zolotovskiy V.A. The Byzantine Military Strategy in Asia Minor During the Early Palaiologan Period (1259–1328). Vestnik Volgogradskogo gosudarstvennogo universiteta. Seriya 4. Istoriya. Regionovedenie. Mezhdunarodnye otnosheniya [Science journal of Volgograd State University. History. Area Studies. International Relations], 2021, vol. 26, no. 6, pp. 181-193. (in Russian). DOI: https://doi.org/10.15688/jvolsu4.2021.6.16

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The Byzantine Military Strategy in Asia Minor During the Early Palaiologan Period (1259–1328) by Zolotovskiy V.A. is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International License.

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