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What has this to do with the Balkans you ask?

Well Norman mercenaries could be found across the Balkans in the 11th Century. They were a key element of crusading armies of the period, many of which made their way to Byzantium through the Balkans.

However, the most significant impact came in May 1081 when Robert Guiscard and his Norman/Italian army landed at Avlona on the Albanian coast. He marched north to lay siege to the Byzantine regional capital Dyrrachion (modern Durres). Robert was a member of the Hauteville clan of Normans who had carved out an empire in Southern Italy at the expense of the Lombards and the Byzantines. His aim was to do the same in the Balkans assisted by his son Bohemund. He won the battle but lost the war.

The Normans are the great story of the 11th Century and one of my favourite wargames army.

The core of any Norman army are mailed knights famous for their ferocious charge. These are from the Gripping Beast range.

and some more. A couple of Crusader miniatures in the front rank.

You can never have enough Norman knights. These are old Hinchcliffe figures.

The lighter horse known as Pueri.

Infantry were an important part of Norman armies, providing a base for the mounted attacks. These are armoured

and these are freemen known as Liberi.

and some more..........

Finally some archers to soften up the enemy before the knights charge

and the crossbows. Mostly mercenaries.

 

Further reading

There are masses of books on the Normans but for this part of the world these are the must read:

John Julian Norwich    The Normans in the South                                         Longmans

John Julian Norwich    Byzantium Decline and Fall                                     Viking

 

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Copyright 2005 Balkan Military History
Last modified: 01/23/12