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"Diving Into The 6th Century - Multiple Questions" Topic

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Comments or corrections?

swammeyjoe23 Jul 2020 6:49 p.m. PST

I'm listening to the audio-book of Charles Oman's The Dark Ages and finding myself quite enamored with the 6th Century. A variety of different armies (most of whom had a spat with all the others), the last vestiges of Rome in the West and Justinian/Balisarius in the East.

How should I approach the period? The obvious choice, I think, would be to work on an Early Byzantine Army and then build the opponents out from there. But…

1) Say I wanted the most bang for my buck, which figures can do double-duty? I imagine some of the infantry for the Franks can double in the Ostrogothic armies of Theoderic? These guys, for instance. Would they also work for Visigoths? link

2) How about all the various "bucellarii" units, from looking over the FoG army book, it seems like the Early Byzantines, Italian Ostrogoths, and Visigoths all have some amount of armored lance cavalry. Are there good sources for what differentiates these units? Any 15mm manufacturers with clear pictures? Or is there a set that splits the difference I could use for all 3?

3) How rapid was the decline in the Italian Ostrogothic foot from "Roman" to those fellas I posted above. Would something closer to the Gallo-Romans have been around in Theoderic's (or Odoacer's, perhaps) army? Is there a place for Late Roman Figures here?

4) Byzantine infantry – I see them called Skutatos and Legionaries? In the 6th century they'd all have mail and short spear and generally be deployed with some archers as well?


Louie N23 Jul 2020 8:27 p.m. PST

I have always enjoyed focusing on a battle or historic figure.

For example I found this general interesting.



From the image the Gothic soldiers appear to be wearing a lot of late Roman gear.


Ten Fingered Jack16 Aug 2020 3:05 p.m. PST

In my opinion the Gothic kingdoms armies, the Late Romans and the Early Byzantines would be similar. The Empire was the main source of mass produced military equipment and even clothing. The Visigoths and Ostrogoths both served in Roman armies and would probably been issued armaments from Roman arsenals.
I think Frankish figs, with their characteristic hairstyle and franciscas would look a little too wild and wooly for 6th century AD Gothic armies.

catavar17 Aug 2020 11:02 a.m. PST

I tend to agree with TFJ. By the 6th Ce Rome was gone in the west and most "barbarian usurpers" would have looked similar (especially Nobles/Bucellarii) in my opinion. I think the big difference with Byzantine horse is that they would have looked more uniform with both spear and bow armed cavalry.

My Byzantine Army is all Essex and I like to peruse their site for pics when building an army. For the rules I use my cavalry are based with spears in front and bow armed horse behind. I also have spear armed horse mixed with bowmen in between, or all spears, on smaller bases. My Byzantines also have plenty of light horse (bow & spear) which is something you usually won't see in most "successor states".

In my opinion Byzantine Cavalry was their best troop type at this time so only my front rank of spears would wear mail with bowmen supporting as a possibility, but not a given.

I think Ostro/Visi Goth spearmen with late Roman Aux types mixed in wouldn't look out of place.

I don't think a Frankish Army would necessarily look Frankish at this time. Burgundi, Alammani and Thuringians were all absorbed by the Franks in the 6th Ce.

I think an East Roman/Byzantine Army is a good place to start for this time period. Enemies include the Sasanians, Gepids, Franks, Slavs, Ostrogoths, Visigoths, Vandals and Avars.

Best of luck with your project.

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