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The Komnene Dynasty (Hardback)

Byzantium's Struggle for Survival 1057–1185

Colour Books

By John Carr
Imprint: Pen & Sword History
Pages: 256
ISBN: 9781526702296
Published: 5th September 2018



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The 128-year dynasty of the Komneni (1057 to 1185) was the last great epoch of Byzantium, when the empire had to fend off Turkish and Norman foes simultaneously. Starting with the extremely able Alexios I, and unable now to count on help from the West, the Komneni played their strategic cards very well. Though the dynasty ended in cruelty and incompetence under Andronikos I (the Terrible), it fought a valiant rear-guard action in keeping eastern Christendom alive. The Komnene dynasty saw several changes in Byzantine military practice, such as the adoption of heavy cavalry on the western model, the extensive use of foreign mercenaries and the neglect of the navy (both of which were to prove a huge and possibly fatal disadvantage). A chapter is devoted to the famous Varangian Guard, which included many Saxons in exile following the Norman conquest of England. The terrible defeat at Myriokephalon in 1176 sealed the doom of the dynasty, preparing the way for the conquest of Constantinople by the Fourth Crusaders.

Overall this is a good account of an interesting period in Byzantine history.

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History of War

Before encountering Carr’s work, I had never heard of the eminent Komnenos dynasty. This book further cultivated my interest in this fascinating historical entity and led me to a biographical work written by Anna Komnene, the daughter of Alexios I: the Alexiad. I heartily recommend this book to anyone who wants to learn more about this troublesome period.

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Kunwon Saw, Freelance

I think this would be good book for any wargammer looking recreate battles in this period as they could use a wide variety of armies to fight each other.

From a military history point of view, this is a really interesting book.

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Medieval Sword School, Jason Hulott

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VaeVictis, January/February 2019

About John Carr

John Carr has enjoyed a career as a journalist, correspondent and broadcaster (The Times, Wall Street Journal Europe, Vatican Radio), mainly in the Mediterranean and particularly Greece, where he now resides. He is the author of On Spartan Wings: The Royal Hellenic Air Force in World War IISparta’s KingsThe Defence and Fall of Greece 1940-41RHNS AverofFighting Emperors of ByzantiumThe Knights HospitallerThe Komnene Dynasty; and Mussolini’s Defeat at Hill 731; he is also the co-author of Philip, Prince of Greece (with Constantinos Lagos) and the translator of Who Really Won the Battle of Marathon? by Fotis Karyanos and Constantinos Lagos, all published by Pen & Sword.

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