Initially, the defence of the Byzantine coasts and the approaches to Constantinople was borne by the great fleet of the Karabisianoi. By the early 4th century AD, the permanent Roman fleets had dwindled, so that when the fleets of the rival emperors Constantine the Great and Licinius clashed in 324 AD,[7] they were composed to a great extent of newly built or -commandeered ships from the port cities of the Eastern Mediterranean. [296] One possibility is that the change occurred because of the gradual evolution of the ancient shell-first mortise and tenon hull construction method, against which rams had been designed, into the skeleton-first method, which produced a stronger and more flexible hull, less susceptible to ram attacks. The kind described in the De Ceremoniis had a single mast, four oars and a rudder. … 278,275 Pages. In the East, the disastrous Battle of Manzikert in 1071 had resulted in the loss of Asia Minor, the Empire's military and economic heartland, to the Seljuk Turks, who by 1081 had established their capital at Nicaea, barely a hundred miles south of Constantinople. [32], After seizing Cyprus in 649 and raiding Rhodes, Crete and Sicily, the young Arab navy decisively defeated the Byzantines under the personal command of Emperor Constans II (641–668) in the Battle of the Masts of 655. [327], For cargo transport, the Byzantines usually commandeered ordinary merchantmen as transport ships (phortēgoi) or supply ships (skeuophora). [84] The Bulgarian war produced several costly defeats, while at the same time the Arab naval threat reached new heights, with successive raids devastating the shores of Byzantium's naval heartland, the Aegean Sea. Syracuse was attacked again in 869, and in 870, Malta fell to the Aghlabids. Throughout the period however, naval operations were an essential part of the Byzantine effort against the Arabs in a game of raids and counter-raids that continued up to the late 10th century. Three successive Byzantine recovery attempts failed over the next few years, and the island became a base for Muslim piratical activity in the Aegean, radically upsetting the balance of power in the region. 544 . [53] Around the Mediterranean, new powers were rising, foremost amongst them the Carolingian Empire, while in 803, the Pax Nicephori recognized the de facto independence of Byzantine Venice, which was further entrenched by the repulsion of a Byzantine attack in 809. Upload Download Add to wardrobe 4px arm (Classic) Background byzantine merchant matthew371. Reasonator; Scholia; Statistics; Subcategories. [40] Thus, during the latter half of the 8th century, the Byzantines enjoyed a second period of complete naval superiority. [342] Michael of Rhodes also wrote a treatise on shipbuilding, which provided construction instructions and illustrations of the main vessels, both galleys and sailing ships, used by Venice and the other maritime states of the region in the first half of the 15th century. In the context of the De Ceremoniis however, it can also be read simply as "unit" or "ship". The Byzantine navy was the naval force of the East Roman or Byzantine Empire. [260][261] His title is still found in the Komnenian era, albeit as commander of the imperial escort squadron, and survived until the Palaiologan era, being listed in the 14th-century Book of Offices of Pseudo-Kodinos. [339] From that point on, the galleys universally became trireme ships, i.e. Basile I (867-886). A core of this fleet was maintained at Constantinople, and although Byzantine ships remained active in the Aegean, and scored some successes over Turkish pirates, they were never able to stop their activities, let alone challenge the Italian navies for supremacy at sea. Show More. [380] Nevertheless, in favourable circumstances and against an unprepared enemy, its great destructive ability and psychological impact could prove decisive, as displayed repeatedly against the Rus'. They all used sails during the voyage and oars for maneuvering in the ports. [329] Given that the chelandia appear originally to have been oared horse-transports, this would imply differences in construction between the chelandion and the dromōn proper, terms which otherwise are often used indiscriminately in literary sources. [333] Contemporary Western writers used the term to denote large ships, usually transports, and there is evidence to support the idea that this usage had also spread to the Byzantines. Inevitably, this long period of peace and prosperity led to complacency and neglect of the military. The precise meaning of the term ousia (οὺσία) is also a subject of confusion: traditionally, it is held to have been a standard complement of 108 men, and that more than one could be present aboard a single ship. [201][202][203] The long-established naval tradition and infrastructure of those areas made the maintenance of the fleet easier, and, in the event of a naval expedition, a large fleet could be quickly and inexpensively assembled by impressing the numerous merchant vessels. The Byzantines took care to codify, preserve and pass on the lessons of warfare at land and sea from past experience, through the use of military manuals. The Byzantines themselves used various descriptive names for it, but the most common was "liquid fire" (ὑγρόν πῦρ). [336] During the latter period of the Byzantine Empire, Byzantine ships were based on Western models: the term katergon is used indiscriminately for both Byzantine and Latin ships, and the horse-carrying chelandion was replaced by the Western taride (itself deriving from Arabic ṭarrīda, adopted as tareta, ταρέτα, in Greek). [175] This fleet was very active during the civil war of 1341–1347, in which its commander played a prominent role. Byzantine Maritime Corporation uses Fleet management system for maximum efficiency in a variety of applications and boasts commercial management services in all sectors. click here to download byzantine ship plans. Following a series of revolts by thematic forces, under Constantine V the larger early themes were progressively broken up, while a central imperial army, the tagmata, was created, stationed at or near Constantinople, serving as a central reserve that henceforth formed the core of campaigning armies. The maintenance of galleys and the upkeep of proficient crews were very expensive, and neglect led to a rapid deterioration of the fleet. Consult the Crew List Index Project (CLIP) website, which has information about merchant ships from 1861 to 1913. For battles fought by the Byzantine Empire's Roman … [124] With the aid of the Crusaders, Alexios was able to regain the coasts of Western Anatolia and expand his influence eastwards: in 1104, a Byzantine squadron of 10 ships captured Laodicea and other coastal towns as far as Tripoli. Consult the Miramar Ship Index (£) website, a historical database listing some categories of merchant and naval ships. [60], The situation was even worse in the West. This he personally led in the last major foray of a Byzantine navy in the Aegean, recovering Chios and Phocaea from the Genoese and forcing various smaller Latin and Turkish principalities to come to terms with him. [345] Water in particular, being essentially a galley's "fuel" supply, was of critical importance. [125] By 1118, Alexios was able to pass on a small navy to his successor, John II Komnenos (1118–1143). Developed at the beginning of the 8th century AD, it was a question of answering the problem posed by the great military dromons, which had to embark their supply … The shipwreck was discovered by a Russian archaeological submarine mission in the Black Sea. The Muslim advance in Asia Minor and the Aegean was halted, and an agreement to a thirty-year truce concluded soon after. [176][177] Following the civil war, Emperor John VI Kantakouzenos (1347–1354) tried to restore the navy and merchant fleet, as a means of both reducing the Empire's economic dependency on the Genoese colony of Galata, which controlled the trade passing through Constantinople, and of securing the control of the Dardanelles against passage by the Turks. [375] The means of its production was kept a state secret, and its components are only roughly guessed or described through secondary sources like Anna Komnene, so that its exact composition remains to this day unknown. 727. [311] The ship was steered by means of two quarter rudders at the stern (prymnē), which also housed a tent (skēnē) that covered the captain's berth (krab(b)at(t)os). [200] Additional flotillas must have been stationed at the other great maritime and commercial centres of the Empire: at Alexandria, providing the escort to the annual grain fleet to Constantinople, and at Carthage, controlling the western Mediterranean. [109][110] The large thematic fleets declined and were replaced by small squadrons subject to the local military commanders, geared more towards the suppression of piracy than towards confronting a major maritime foe. [232] These were: Isolated regions of particular importance for the control of the major sea-lanes were covered by separate officials with the title of archon, who in some cases may have commanded detachments of the Imperial Fleet. [289][1] Pseudo-Kodinos also records that, while the other warships flew "the usual imperial flag" (βασιλικὸν φλάμουλον, basilikon phlamoulon) of the cross and the firesteels, the megas doux flew an image of the emperor on horseback as his distinctive ensign. Galleys did not handle well in rough waters and could be swamped by waves, which would be catastrophic in the open sea; history is replete with instances where galley fleets were sunk by bad weather (e.g. [96] In 962, the Fatimids launched an assault on the remaining Byzantine strongholds on Sicily; Taormina fell on Christmas Day 962 and Rometta was besieged. Alongside the Mardaites, who formed a significant part of the fleet's crews, an enigmatic group known as the Toulmatzoi (possibly Dalmatians) appears in the Cretan expeditions, as well as many Rus', who were given the right to serve in the Byzantine armed forces in a series of 10th-century treaties. [135][137][138] However, by the end of Manuel's reign, the strains of constant warfare on all fronts and the Emperor's various grandiose projects had become evident: the historian Niketas Choniates attributes the rise of piracy in the latter years of Manuel's reign to the diversion of the funds intended for the maintenance of the fleet for other needs of the imperial treasury. [29][30][31] This similarity also extended to tactics and general fleet organization; translations of Byzantine military manuals were available to the Arab admirals. The Muslim threat had receded, as their navies declined and relations between the Fatimids, especially, and the Empire were largely peaceful. [282] All these groups received small grants of land to cultivate in exchange for their service, and were settled together in small colonies. [371] Cannons were introduced in the latter half of the 14th century, but they were rarely used by the Byzantines, who only had a few artillery pieces for the defence of the land walls of Constantinople. After the Battle of Actium in 31 BC, in the absence of any external threat in the Mediterranean, the Roman navy performed mostly policing and escort duties. [54], The Byzantines, on the other hand, were weakened by a series of catastrophic defeats against the Bulgars, followed in 820 by the Revolt of Thomas the Slav, which attracted the support of a large part of the Byzantine armed forces, including the thematic fleets. [181] Lack of funds condemned the fleet to a mere handful of vessels maintained at Constantinople. All the time, the Muslims rode its wave for conquest. Category:Byzantine ships Wikimedia category. [118] In 1082, in exchange for their help, he granted them major trading concessions. [362] According to Leo VI (Tactica, XIX.52), a crescent formation seems to have been the norm, with the flagship in the centre and the heavier ships at the horns of the formation, in order to turn the enemy's flanks. During that siege, the Slavs' fleet of monoxyla was intercepted by the Byzantine fleet and destroyed, denying the Persian army passage across the Bosporus and eventually forcing the Avars to retreat. Free Ship Plans © 2008. [183] Thus, for instance, in 1351, Kantakouzenos was induced to side with Venice in its war with Genoa, but, abandoned by the Venetian admirals, his fleet was easily defeated by the Genoese and he was forced to sign an unfavourable peace. The first known occupant of the office was Alexios' brother-in-law John Doukas, in c. 1092. Furthermore, as the alternation of Byzantine victories and defeats against the Arabs illustrates, no side was able to permanently gain the upper hand. [390] This process was initiated by Byzantium itself in the 9th century, when the Italians were increasingly employed by the Empire to compensate for its own naval weakness in the West. Während die Flotten des klassischen römischen Imperiums nach dem Ende der Punischen Kriege kaum … [47] With the collapse of the Umayyad state shortly thereafter and the increasing fragmentation of the Muslim world, the Byzantine navy was left as the sole organized naval force in the Mediterranean. [16], Despite the subsequent loss of much of Italy to the Lombards, the Byzantines maintained control of the seas around the peninsula.