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The Varangian Guard 988-1453 (Men-at-Arms #459)

3.78  ·  Rating Details ·  36 Ratings  ·  5 Reviews
The Varangian Guards were Viking mercenaries who operated far beyond their native shores as an elite force within the Byzantine Armies. Descendants from a legendary line of warriors, the Varangian Guard was formed after a group of Viking mercenaries made a major contribution to the Byzantine Emperor Basil II's victory over rebel forces in 988 AD. These 5,000 men were then ...more
Paperback, 48 pages
Published June 22nd 2010 by Osprey Publishing
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José Luís  Fernandes
This book can be useful and very disappointing at the same time. It gives a generally competent view of the Varangian Guard and its military and politic roles in the medieval Roman Empire, from bodyguards to anti-piracy forces and the crack forces of Roman field armies in the from the late 10th until the 12th/13th centuries, besides informing very well about the weapons and armour of these mercenaries. Yet there are 3 problems: Osprey's bad editorial job, a few horrible mistakes (possibly ...more
Steven Peterson
Nov 23, 2010 Steven Peterson rated it liked it
A fascinating work, a part of Osprey Publishing's "Men-at-Arms" series (Osprey seems to have scores of series!). The thin volume explores the Varangian Guard, an intriguing set of soldiers in the Byzantine military.

The Guard began as Scandinavians who had settled in Russia (e.g., in the Kiev area). Later, many hired out to the Eastern Roman Empire as soldiers (men-at-arms). Pages 4-6, at the outset, provide a useful chronology of the Guard's linkage to the Empire. The book also has narrative, on
Oct 25, 2012 Angela rated it really liked it
Just because this is an illustrated book, that doesn't make it something to be overlooked. The Osprey books boast a great deal of research, and the biblio in this is worth the purchase alone for anyone doing significant research of the Varangian Guard. They pull a lot from Blondal's "Varangians of Byzantium" volume, but with his being one of the only available sources to-date, it's still a fantastic collection of information.
Sarah Schanze
Sep 26, 2014 Sarah Schanze rated it liked it
Another good, short introduction to the subject. Unfortunately the art in this wasn't as strong as the other books that were illustrated by Angus McBride. I might look for more of these books just for his art.
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byzantium, byz-la-ema-owned
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