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Byzantine Cataphracts:
Byzantine Cataphracts

Byzantine Cataphracts

The Cataphracts, bodies of heavy cavalry horses with both riders and horses covered in armor, were an elite force in the Byzantine army. Their contribution to the Byzantine victories were decisive for centuries until, after the defeat before the Turks in Manzikert (1071) they all but disappeared.

Armored riders

The Byzantine cataphracts were practically impenetrable and had devastating power. They were disciplined and, unlike medieval knights, they comprised a combat unit under a joint military command. They also had greater maneuverability and tactical variants that included frontal assaults as well as enveloping actions, double flanking, wedging, and harassment, among others. 


Conical type helmet, could be attached to the head covering, protecting the entire head without restricting mobility.

Head covering

Attached to the helmet and made of three layers, leaving only the eyes visible.


A padded coat; unlike European knights, the Byzantines wore it over their armor.


Although it was not always used, the most common in the tenth century was round and small and generally carried on the back.


They were also covered in full armor and had a chamfron for the face.


The horses wore a crest in the color that identified their tagma.