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Passwords, war-cries, and prebattle tactics all used by Byzantines.

Posted by templarnordbyzantine on Mar 30th, 2014

When attacking enemy territory, the Byzantines constructed a string of fortified camps along their route so in the army would always have a safe haven to retreat to. Entry to these would only be allowed if certain passwords were answered. These passwords were usually the names of Orthodox saints. Before even considering an open battle, certain conditions had to be met, (A high probability of victory. An easy route of escape in case of routing. A mass has been said for the victory of the Byzantines. And so on.)
When a Byzantine Army met their opponents on the battlefield, the Byzantines would form their battle lines, and stand in complete silence. The Byzantines believed that this would intimidate the badly organized armies that they faced. Then the entire Byzantine army would shout out their war-cries, and commence the battle.
War cries varied depending on the individual soldier. It was not uncommon to hear pagan taunts considering a great deal of the Byzantines forces were mercenaries.
The most common war-cry in the tenth century was "Lord Jesus Christ have mercy on us."
I find this significantly interesting, they are not calling for victory, instead they are calling for mercy for themselves knowing that some of them will undoubtedly die in the battle. But on further thought, I considered they may have been calling for forgiveness for the lives they would take in the battle.

What do you think?

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Jul 30, 2013
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