A deeply researched and page-turning history of armored cavalry in the ancient world from the Eurasian steppe tribes to the late Byzantine Empire.
Cataphracts were the most heavily armored form of cavalry in the ancient civilizations of the East, with riders and horses both clad in heavy armor. Originating among the wealthiest nobles of various central Asian steppe tribes such as the Massagetae and Scythians, the traditions and strategies of these proud warriors were adopted and adapted by several major empires—the Achaemenid Persians, Seleucids, Sassanians, and eventually the Romans and their Byzantine successors—from c. 4000 BCE to 1200 CE.
Usually armed with long lances, the cataphracts harnessed the mobility and sheer mass of their horses to the durability and solid fighting power of the spear-armed phalanx. Although very expensive to equip and maintain, they were a powerful force in battle and remained in use for many centuries.
In this compelling historical survey, Erich B. Anderson assesses the development, equipment, tactics, and combat record of cataphracts and the similar clibinarii, showing also how enemies sought to counter them. This is a valuable study of one of the most interesting weapon systems of the ancient world.
“A valuable study of one of the most interesting troop types of the ancient world.” —The Armourer
“The first comprehensive survey of heavy armored cavalry . . . that played a particularly important role in the military history of Late Antiquity . . . This is a good survey of the history of heavy cavalry in the ancient world, covering arms, equipment, organization, tactics, and battles.” —The NYMAS Review