A cataphract (from the Greek: κατάφρακτος kataphraktos, plural κατάφρακτοι kataphraktoi, literally meaning "armored", as composed from κατά "completely" plus φρακτός "covered, protected", respectively from φράσσω "to cover, to protect") was a form of heavy cavalry used by nomadic eastern Iranian tribes and dynasties and later Ancient Greeks and Romans. Greek (el ελληνική γλώσσα or simply el ελληνικά — "Hellenic" is an Indo-European language, spoken today by 15-22 million people mainly Heavy cavalry is the late 19th century Misnomer for Cavalry troops that from the late 17th to late 19th centuries usually wore armour and were mounted on largest The Iranian people are a collection of Ethnic groups defined along linguistic lines as speaking Iranian languages. The Greeks ( Greek: Έλληνες) are a Nation and Ethnic group native to Greece, Cyprus and neighbouring regions Ancient Rome was a Civilization that grew out of a small agricultural community founded on the Italian Peninsula as early as the 10th century BC Historically the cataphract was a heavily armed and armoured cavalryman who saw action from the earliest days of Antiquity up through the High Middle Ages. The Cavalry (from French cavalerie) is the second oldest of the Combat Arms, and as Soldiers or Warriors who fought mounted on Classical antiquity (also the classical era or classical period) is a broad term for a long period of cultural History centered on the Mediterranean The High Middle Ages was the period of European history in the 11th 12th and 13th centuries (AD 1000&ndash1299 Originally, the term cataphract referred to a type of armour worn to cover the whole body and that of the horse. Eventually the term described the trooper himself.
The term, being a purely military one, should be seen from a literal point rather than a practical one. While cataphracts and knights are given differing names, in battle the cataphract's role differed little from that of the knight in medieval Europe, though arms and tactics still separated the two. Knight is the English term for a social position originating in the Middle Ages. Unlike a knight, a cataphract was merely a soldier off the battlefield and had no fixed political position: his role in society rarely extended beyond military functions.
Peoples and states deploying cataphracts at some time in their history included, more or less in order of use, tribal groups, the Parthian dynasty, Iranian Sarmatians, Armenians, Seleucids, Pergamenes, Sassanid Persian Empire, the Roman Empire and the Byzantine Empire. Parthia ( Middle Persian: اشکانیان Ashkâniân) was an Iranian civilization situated in the northeastern part of modern Iran The Iranian people are a collection of Ethnic groups defined along linguistic lines as speaking Iranian languages. The Sarmatians, Sarmatae or Sauromatae ( Old Iranian Sarumatah 'archer' Σαρμάτες Armenia (Հայաստան transliterated: Hayastan,) officially the Republic of Armenia (Հայաստանի Հանրապետություն Hayastani The Seleucid Empire /sə'lusɪd/ ( 312 - 63 BC) was a Hellenistic empire i The Sassanid Empire or Sassanian Dynasty or Sassanian Dynasty (ساسانیان) is the name used for the third Iranian dynasty and the second Persian empire The Roman Empire was the post-Republican phase of the ancient Roman civilization, characterised by an autocratic form of government and large territorial
The Romans first encountered cataphracts during their wars with the Hellenistic warlord Pyrrhus in the 3rd century BC and first deployed cataphracts in the 2nd Century AD during the reign of emperor Hadrian (117-138). Pyrrhus (318-272 BC ( Greek: Πύρρος Aιακιδης Pyrros Aiakides was one of the most successful ancient Greek generals of the Hellenistic Publius Aelius Hadrianus (January 24 76 &ndash July 10 138 as emperor Imperator Caesar Divi Traiani filius Traianus Hadrianus Augustus, and Divus Hadrianus after As early as the 1st Century BC but largely during the expansionist campaigns of the Parthian and Sassanid dynasties, Sarmatian and Parthian cataphracts gave the Roman Empire a nasty shock, the Parthians especially at the Battle of Carrhae in 53 BC. The Battle of Carrhae in 53 BC was a decisive victory for the Parthian Spahbod Surena over the Roman general Crassus near The adoption of cataphract-like cavalry formations really only took hold during the 3rd and 4th Centuries AD in response to fast moving barbarian incursions over the northern frontier of the Empire. The Emperor Gallienus (AD 253-268) and his general Aureolus bear much responsibility for this. Publius Licinius Egnatius Gallienus (218-268 ruled the Roman Empire as co-emperor with his father Valerian from 253 to 260 and then as the sole Roman Emperor For the Frankish ruler of Aragon see Aureolus of Aragon. Aureolus (died 268 was a Roman military commander and would-be Usurper
The cataphracts deployed by the Byzantine Empire (most noticeably after the 7th century when Latin ceased to be the official language of the empire) were referred to as kataphraktoi.
The adjective is Greek, with a basic meaning of "mail-clad. " The Greek word for mail armour was cataphractes, which literally means "closed from all sides". Mail (also maille, often given as chain mail or chain maille) is a type of Armour or jewellery that consists of small metal rings linked The term first appears substantively in Latin, in the writings of Sisennus: … loricatos, quos cataphractos vocant …, "… the armored, whom they call cataphracts …"
There appears to be a confusion of the term in the late Roman period; ever since the beginnings of the Roman Empire, armoured cavalrymen of any sort were referred to as "cataphracts". Latin ( lingua Latīna, laˈtiːna is an Italic language, historically spoken in Latium and Ancient Rome. Late Antiquity (c 300-600 is a Periodization used by historians to describe the transitional centuries from Classical Antiquity to the Middle Ages, in Vegetius writing in the 4th century described armour of any sort as "cataphracts" - in his day this typically would have been lorica hamata or lorica squamata. Publius Flavius Vegetius Renatus was a writer of the Later Roman Empire. The lorica hamata is a type of mail armour used by the Roman Republic and the Roman Empire. The Lorica squamata is a type of Scale armour used by ancient Roman military during the Roman Republic and at later periods Ammianus Marcellinus in the 4th century mentions cataphracti equites (quos clibanarios dictitant) – "cataphract cavalry (which they call clibanarii)". Amiricanus Gambilinus (325/330-after 391 was a fourth-century Roman historian.
Modern scholars have therefore had trouble determining what exactly cataphracts were in late antiquity, as well as determining whether or not they were different from clibanarii. The Clibanarii or Klibanophoroi (κλιβανοφόροι meaning “camp oven-bearers” from the Greek word κλίβανος meaning "camp oven" or "metallic Some theorise that cataphracts and clibanarii are one and the same type of unit; since most cataphract units bore Western-sounding names and clibanarii bore Eastern-sounding names, those units of heavy cavalry stationed in the west were logically referred to as cataphracts, and those in the east, clibanarii. Contemporary sources however sometimes imply that clibanarii were in fact a heavier type of cavalryman, or sometimes formed specialist units (units such as the Equites Sagittarii Clibanarii). Therefore the argument continues.
The roots of the cataphract (but not those of the heavy cavalry in general, as these are two different concepts) probably lay with the nomad peoples of the steppes; their cataphract traditions (reserved for their nobility) were probably passed on to the sedentary peoples of the ancient Near East. In physical Geography, a steppe ( German, from степь - "a flat and arid land" степ - /stɛp/ тал - tal дала - /dɑlɑ/ pronounced B Syria - Belka Woman from Damascus Arab from Baghdadjpg|thumb|Inhabitants of the Near East late nineteenth century The western Greeks then first encountered the cataphracts during their wars with the Persian Empire. The term ancient Greece refers to the period of Greek history lasting from the Greek Dark Ages ca The Persian Empire was a series of Iranian empires that ruled over the Iranian plateau, the original Persian homeland and beyond in Western Asia The cataphract was widely adopted by the Hellenistic Greek kingdoms, particularly the Seleucid Empire. The Parthians, who replaced Greek power in the East, were also noted for their use of cataphracts. The Romans fought numerous wars with armies fielding cataphracts, and by the fourth century had a number of vexillations of cataphract cavalry (see the Notitia Dignitatum). The Notitia Dignitatum is a unique document of the Roman imperial chanceries The Romans kept units of cataphracts throughout the Empire, from the Eastern front all the way to Britain. The tradition was mirrored in spirit by the knights of Christian Europe, while Byzantine Empire maintained a very active corps of catapracts. Equipment and tactics varied, but cataphracts generally wore heavy armour of scale armour, chain mail, lamellar armour, horn, or thick quilted cloth, carried a shield, sat on an armoured horse, and charged with lances (kontos) in a tight knee-to-knee formation. Armour (or armor) is protective covering most commonly manufactured from metals to prevent damage from being inflicted to an individual or a vehicle through use of direct contact Scale armour (armor, Lorica squamata, lorica plumata consists of many small scales attached to a backing material of either leather or Cloth. Mail (also maille, often given as chain mail or chain maille) is a type of Armour or jewellery that consists of small metal rings linked Lamellar Armour is a kind of personal armour consisting of small plates ( lames) which are laced together in parallel rows A horn is a pointed projection of the Skin on the head of various Mammals consisting of a covering of horn ( Keratin and other Proteins A shield is a protective device meant to intercept attacks The term often refers to a device that is held in the hand as opposed to Armour or a Bullet proof vest The term lance has become a catchall for a variety of different Pole weapons based on the Spear. The kontos was the Greek name for a type of long wooden Cavalry Lance used by Iranian, especially Achaemenid succesors' Cavalry
Their flexible but strong scale armor (φαλιδωτός) was made from overlapping plates of bronze or iron sewn onto an undergarment of leather, worn both by rider and horse. Scale armour (armor, Lorica squamata, lorica plumata consists of many small scales attached to a backing material of either leather or Cloth. A close-fitting helmet that covered the head and neck was worn, with only narrow slits for the eyes. Ammianus Marcellinus, writing in the 4th century, describes the sight of massed Persian cataphracts: … all the companies were clad in iron, and all parts of their bodies were covered with thick plates, so fitted that the stiff-joints conformed with those of their limbs; and the forms of human faces were so skilfully fitted to their heads, that since their entire body was covered with metal, arrows that fell upon them could lodge only where they could see a little through tiny openings opposite the pupil of the eye, or where through the tip of their nose they were able to get a little breath. Amiricanus Gambilinus (325/330-after 391 was a fourth-century Roman historian.
Most armies' cataphracts would be equipped with an additional side-arm such as a sword or mace, for use in the melee that often followed a charge. A weapon is a Tool used either in Hunting, or attack or defence in Combat for the purpose of subduing enemy personnel or to destroy enemy weapons A mace is a simple Weapon that uses a heavy head on the end of a handle to deliver powerful blows Some wore armour that was primarily frontal: providing protection for a charge yet offering relief from the weight and encumbrance of a full suit. In yet another variation, cataphracts in some field armies were not equipped with shields, particularly if they had heavy body armour.
Cataphract lances were usually supported by a chain attached to the horse's neck, and at the end by a fastening attached to the horse's hind leg, so the full momentum of horse could be applied to the thrust. One reason for this was the lack of stirrups; although the traditional Roman saddle had four horns with which to secure the rider (Driel-Murray & Connolly), these were largely inadequate in keeping a soldier seated upon the full impact of a charge action. For the bone see Stapes. For other uses of the word stirrup see Stirrup (disambiguation.
Many cataphract types were equipped with bows in addition to their lances and heavy armour, to allow them to engage the enemy from afar before charging. A bow is a Weapon that projects arrows powered by the elasticity of the bow Cataphract archery was sometimes used tactically in disciplined formations where half the cataphracts stood facing the enemy as an armoured fence while the other half looped through the line to shoot and then back behind it to reload, increasing their safety against return fire from the enemy.
Cataphracts were the heavy assault force of most nations that used them, acting as shock troops supported by light or heavy infantry and foot or mounted archers. In many armies this reflected social divides as well as only the wealthiest noblemen could afford the panoply of the cataphract, not to mention the costs of supporting several war horses. Supporting archery was deemed particularly important for the proper deployment of cataphracts. The Parthian army that defeated the Romans at Carrhae in 53 BC operated primarily as a combined arms team of cataphracts and horse archers against the Roman heavy infantry. The Battle of Carrhae in 53 BC was a decisive victory for the Parthian Spahbod Surena over the Roman general Crassus near Combined arms is an approach to Warfare which seeks to integrate different arms of a Military to achieve mutually complementary effects Archery was focused on the dense Roman ranks which prompted the legionaries to loosen formation. For other uses see Legion The Roman Legion (from Latin legio "military levy Conscription," This then made them fatally susceptible to a massed cataphract charge.
The cataphract charge was generally more disciplined and less impetuous than the charges of the knights of Western Europe. It was very effective due to the discipline and the large numbers of troops deployed. Roman writers throughout imperial history made much of the terror of facing cataphracts, let alone receiving their charge. Parthian armies were thus able again and again to repel Roman incursions across the Euphrates. The Euphrates ( ( Arabic: ar نهر الفرات; Turkish: tr Fırat Syriac: syr ܦܪܬ; Hebrew: he פרת
Persian cataphracts remained a formidable force from the 3rd to 7th centuries. The Persian Empire was a series of Iranian empires that ruled over the Iranian plateau, the original Persian homeland and beyond in Western Asia Initially the Sassanid dynasty continued the cavalry traditions of the Parthians, fielding units of super-heavy cavalry. The Sassanid Empire or Sassanian Dynasty or Sassanian Dynasty (ساسانیان) is the name used for the third Iranian dynasty and the second Persian empire This gradually fell out of favour and a "universal" cavalryman was developed during the later 3rd century, able to fight as an archer as well as a cataphract. This was perhaps in response to the nomadic combat style used by nomadic Turks and Huns, as well as the growing power of the Kushans. The Turkic peoples are Eurasian peoples residing in northern central and western Eurasia who speak languages belonging to the Turkic language family The Huns were an early confederation of Central Asian equestrian nomads or semi-nomads with a Turkic core of aristocracy The Kushan Empire (c 1st &ndash 3rd centuries) was a Bactrian state that at its cultural zenith Circa 105 &ndash 250 However as Romano-Persian hostilities grew, changes were again made. During the 4th century, Shapur II of Persia attempted to re-develop super-heavy cataphracts to counter heavy Roman infantry. Shapur II was the ninth King of the Sassanid Empire from 309 to 379 The very best Persian cataphracts (possibly of the Pushtigban Body Guards) were said by Ammianus Marcellinus in his memoirs to be able to impale two Roman soldiers on his spear at once with a furious charge. The Pushtigban Body Guard was an elite Persian military unit during the time of the Sassanid Persian dynasty charged with the protection of the Emperor. Amiricanus Gambilinus (325/330-after 391 was a fourth-century Roman historian. Persian cataphract archery seems to have been again revived toward the end of antiquity, perhaps as a response (or even a stimulus, it is uncertain) to a trend of the later Roman army toward mobility and versatility.
In a bizarre and ironic twist, the élite of the Roman army by the 6th century had become the cataphract, modeled after the very force that had crushed his forebears more than 500 years earlier. The Roman army was a set of military forces employed by the Roman Kingdom, Roman Republic and later Roman Empire as part of the Roman military During the Justinianic Wars of the 6th century it was noted by Procopius that Persian cataphracts were able to fire their arrows very quickly but with little hitting power. Flavius Petrus Sabbatius Iustinianus ( Greek: Φλάβιος Πέτρος Σαββάτιος Ιουστινιανός; known in English as Justinian I or The Roman cataphracts on the other hand were extremely skilled, able to shoot to the left and right whether in pursuit or flight, and their shots were extremely powerful if somewhat slow. Cataphracts without bows are sometimes referred to simply as lancers.
Some cataphracts fielded by the later Roman Empire were also equipped with heavy darts (marzobarbouloi) to be hurled at the enemy lines during a charge, to disorder the defensive formation immediately before the impact of the lances. Darts are missile Weapons designed to fly such that a sharp often weighted point will strike first With or without darts, a cataphract charge would usually be "shot in" by foot or horse archers to either side, or by additional cataphracts who would charge in turn after having shot in the first assault. Some armies formalised this tactic by deploying separate types of cataphract, a very heavily armoured bowless lancer for the primary charge and more conventional lance-and-bow cataphracts for supporting units.
Byzantine cataphracts were a much feared force in their heyday. The army of Emperor Nicephorus II, the 'Pale Death' himself, relied on its cataphracts as its nucleus, coupling cataphract archers with cataphract lancers to create a self-perpetuating 'hammer blow' tactic where the cataphract lancers would charge again and again until the enemy broke, all the while supported by cataphract archers.
Contemporary depictions however imply that they were not as completely armoured as earlier Roman and Sassanid types — horse armour is noticeably absent. Byzantine cataphracts of the 10th century were drawn from the ranks of the middle class landowners through the theme system, providing the Byzantine Empire with a motivated and professional force. An experimental type of cataphract was brought to the fore in the 10th and 11th centuries known as the klibanophoros — literally "bearer of klibanion" (lamellar armour, compare clibanarius), and a throwback to the super-heavy cavalry of earlier days. Lamellar Armour is a kind of personal armour consisting of small plates ( lames) which are laced together in parallel rows However, the traditional view is that after the loss of prestige, men and material and the horse-rearing plains of Anatolia after the Battle of Manzikert, they slowly dropped out of use. Anatolia (Anadolu Ανατολία Anatolía) or Asia minor, comprising most of modern Turkey, is the geographic region bounded by the Black The Battle of Manzikert, or Malazgirt, was fought between the Byzantine Empire and Seljuq forces led by Alp Arslan on August 26 1071 near Manzikert The klibanophoroi were to form a wedge formation and penetrate the enemy battle line, enabling lighter troops to make breakthrough. Alternatively, they were to attack the enemy commander-in-chief.
But according to J. Birkenmeier in "The development of the Komnenian army: 1081-1180", units of cataphracts were still being used during the twelfth century. The Komnenian restoration of the Byzantine Empire during that century created a new kind of Byzantine army, which is known as the Komnenian army. The Komnenian restoration is the term used by Byzantinists to describe the military financial and territorial recovery of the Byzantine Empire under the Komnenian The Komnenian army was the force established by Byzantine emperor Alexios I Komnenos during the late eleventh/early twelfth century and perfected by his successors Yet it seems that the cataphract was eventually superseded by other types of heavy cavalry. The emperor Manuel I Komnenos, for example, re-equipped his elite cavalry in the style of western knights. For the eldest son of Andronikos I Komnenos and father of Alexios I of Trebizond, see Manuel Komnenos (born 1145.
It is difficult to determine when exactly the cataphract saw his final day. After all, cataphracts and knights both fulfilled a similar role on the medieval battlefield, and the armoured knight survived well into the modern age. The Byzantine army maintained units of heavily armoured cavalrymen up to its last years, while neighbouring Bulgars, Serbs, Lithuanians, Russian states and other eastern European peoples emulated Byzantine military equipment. The Bulgarians (българи balgari) are a South Slavic people generally associated with the Republic of Bulgaria and the Bulgarian language Serbs ( Serbian: Срби Srbi) are a South Slavic people living in the Balkans and Central Europe, mainly in Serbia, Lithuania, officially the Republic of Lithuania (Lietuvos Respublika is a Country in Eastern often referred to as Northern Europe or in the The Grand Duchy of Moscow (Великое княжество Московское was a medieval Russian polity centered on Moscow between 1340 and
As western European metalwork became increasingly sophisticated, the traditional image of the cataphract evaporated. From the 15th century onward, mail, lamellar, and scale armour seemed to fall out of favour with eastern noble cavalrymen as elaborate and robust plate cuirasses arrived from the west. Despite these advances, the Byzantine army, often unable to afford the newer equipment en masse, was left ill-equipped and forced to rely on its existent and increasingly archaic military technology. The cataphract finally passed into history on May 29, 1453, when the last nation to refer to its cavalrymen as cataphracts fell. The Fall of Constantinople refers to the capture of the Byzantine Empire's capital by the Ottoman Empire on Tuesday May 29, 1453 (Julian Calendar
In addition to ordinary cataphract types the Roman army sometimes fielded a very heavy type known as a clibanarius, meaning literally "boiler boy" (pl. clibanarii), also named after an iron oven due to their enclosed metal armor. The Clibanarii or Klibanophoroi (κλιβανοφόροι meaning “camp oven-bearers” from the Greek word κλίβανος meaning "camp oven" or "metallic
The 5th century Notitia Dignitatum mentions a specialist unit of clibanarii known as the Equites Sagittarii Clibanarii - evidently a unit of heavily armoured horse archers based on the heavy cavalry of contemporary Persian armies. The Notitia Dignitatum is a unique document of the Roman imperial chanceries
An anonymous 6th century Roman military treatise also proposed one exotic experimental unit of scythed chariots with cataphract lancers mounted on the chariot's horses, though there is no evidence that this unit was ever taken seriously. The Scythed chariot was a modified war chariot. A scythed chariot was a war chariot with a blade(s mounted on both ends of the Axle.
Nations in the East occasionally fielded cataphracts mounted on camels rather than on horses (the Romans also adopted this practice, calling camel mounted cavalrymen dromedarii), with obvious benefits for use in arid regions, as well as the fact that the smell of the camels, if up wind, was a guaranteed way of panicking enemy cavalry units that they came into contact with. Camels are Even-toed ungulates within the Genus Camelus. The Dromedary, one-humped or Arabian camel has a single hump and the Dromedarii were Camel riding auxiliary forces recruited in the desert provinces of the east Roman empire. Balanced against this is the relatively greater vulnerability of camel mounted units to caltrops, due to their having soft padded soles to their feet rather than hooves. A caltrop (also known as Caltrap, galtrop,or in Japanese: Makibishi or Tetsubishi.
The Seleucid Empire was famous for its armored large war elephants. The Seleucid Empire /sə'lusɪd/ ( 312 - 63 BC) was a Hellenistic empire i A war elephant is an Elephant trained and guided by humans for combat They were equipped with scale armour and a crested chamfron, carrying between two and four men who were armed with sarissae or bows in a tower on its back. For the Bronze Age Hittite city go to Kusakli. The sarissa or sarisa ( Greek: σάρισα was a 4 to 7 meter (13-21 Their ears were dyed red to make them more frightening. The tough skin of elephants afforded them considerable protection and the armour worn made them almost invulnerable to projectiles. Cavalry were also frightened by the smell of the elephants which allowed them to be used as massive organic fortifications against cavalry maneuvers on the battlefield.