Bandon (Byzantine Empire)

The bandon (Greek: βάνδον) was the basic military unit and administrative territorial entity of the middle Byzantine Empire. Its name, like the Latin bandus and bandum ("ensign, banner"), had a Germanic origin.[1][2] It derived from the Gothic bandwō,[1] which is the witness of foreign influence in the army at the time this type of unit evolved.[3]


The term was used already in the 6th century, mentioned by Procopius,[1] as a term for a battle standard, and soon came to be applied to the unit bearing such a standard itself.[2] From the reign of Nikephoros I (802–811) it was the name for a subdistrict of the Byzantine thema.[1]


In the Byzantine army of the 8th–11th centuries, the bandon formed the basic unit, with five to seven banda forming a tourma, the major subdivision of a thema, a combined military-civilian province.[2] Each bandon was commanded by a komes ("count"), with infantry banda 200–400 strong and cavalry banda 50–100 strong.[2][4] It is considered that the bandon in the Tactica (9th century) previously in the Strategikon (6th century) was alternatively written as tagma or arithmos.[3]

Infantry banda was formed by sixteen lochaghiai, each with sixteen man, commanded by an officer lochaghos (file leader), which was assisted by dekarchos (leader of ten), pentarchos (leader of five), tetrarchos (leader of four), and ouraghos (file closer).[3] Each four lochaghiai formed an allaghion (winglet), and around three-quarters of the men were spearmen skutaoi and one-quarter were archers.[3] At the time the Strategikon was written, the cavalry banda was subdivied into three hekatontarchia, each commaned by a hekatontarchos with a senior second-in-command illarches.[3]

By the reign of Leo VI the Wise (886–912), the hekatontarchia disappeared and the bandon was divided into six allaghia (probably commanded by pentekontarchai), and each pair was still commanded by a hekatontarchos or kentarchos.[5] Each of six allaghia had fifty men, organized in five dekarchiai of ten men each.[5] All four officers (dekarchos, pentarchos, tetrarchos, ouraghos) were lancers.[5]

Late empire

At the beginning of the 10th century the infantry unit consisted of 256 men (16x16), and cavalry unit of 300 men (6x50), but the manuals indicate that the unit strength in fact varied between 200 and 400 men.[5] The work Praecepta Militaria by Nikephoros II Phokas (963–969) indicates that the cavalry bandon was only 50 strong.[5] Unlike other middle Byzantine administrative and military terms, the bandon survived well into the late Byzantine period, and remained the basic territorial unit of the Empire of Trebizond until its fall.[2]


  1. ^ a b c d Bali 2013, p. 462.
  2. ^ a b c d e Kazhdan 1991, p. 250.
  3. ^ a b c d e Heath 1979, p. 4.
  4. ^ Heath 1995, p. 13.
  5. ^ a b c d e Heath 1979, p. 5.


  • Heath, Ian (1979). Byzantine Armies 886-1118. Men-at-Arms. Illustrated by Angus McBride. Osprey Publishing. pp. 4–6. ISBN 9780850453065.
  • Kazhdan, Alexander, ed. (1991). "Bandon". The Oxford Dictionary of Byzantium. Oxford University Press. p. 250. ISBN 978-0-19-504652-6.
  • Heath, Ian (1995). Byzantine Armies AD 1118-1461. Men-at-Arms. Illustrated by Angus McBride. Osprey Publishing. p. 13. ISBN 9781855323476.
  • Bali, Tomislav (2013), "Review of Paul Stephenson, ur., The Byzantine World", Historical Journal (in Croatian), Croatian Historical Society, 66 (2): 462

Further reading


Bandon is the name of several places.

AustraliaHundred of Bandon, a cadastral unit in South Australia.IrelandBandon, County Cork, Ireland

the River Bandon in Ireland

Bandon (UK Parliament constituency), former constituency (1801–1885) in IrelandThailandBandon, the old name of Surat Thani in Thailand

the Bandon Bay near Surat ThaniUnited StatesBandon, Indiana, a community in the United States

Bandon, Oregon, USABandon may also refer to:

The Earl of Bandon

Bandon (Byzantine Empire), a Byzantine military and administrative unit

Index of Byzantine Empire-related articles

This is a list of people, places, things, and concepts related to or originating from the Byzantine Empire (AD 330–1453). Feel free to add more, and create missing pages. You can track changes to the articles included in this list from here.

Note: People are listed by first name. Events, monuments and institutions like "Battle/Siege/Council/Church/Duchy/etc. of NNN" are listed by the location/name.

Outline of the Byzantine Empire

The following outline is provided as an overview of and topical guide to the Byzantine Empire:

Byzantine Empire (or Byzantium) – the Constantinople-centred Roman Empire of the Middle Ages. It is also referred to as the Eastern Roman Empire, primarily in the context of Late Antiquity, while the Roman Empire was still administered with separate eastern and western political centres. In its own time, there was no such thing as "the Byzantine Empire," there was just the ongoing Roman Empire; "Byzantine Empire" is a scholarly term of convenience to differentiate the empire from its earlier existence during classical antiquity before the western half collapsed (see decline of the Roman Empire). Its citizens continued to refer to their empire as the Roman Empire (Greek: Βασιλεία Ῥωμαίων, Basileia Rhōmaiōn; Latin: Imperium Romanum) or Romania (Ῥωμανία). After the Western Roman Empire fragmented and collapsed in the 5th century, the eastern half continued to thrive, existing for an additional thousand years until it fell to the Ottoman Turks in 1453. During much of its existence, the empire was the most powerful economic, cultural, and military force in Europe.


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