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6 - Prelude to Kephissos (1311): An Analysis of the Battle of Apros (1305)

Published online by Cambridge University Press:  05 November 2014

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Summary

Introduction

One of the most impressive military feats of the fourteenth century was the activity of the Great Catalan Company in the eastern Mediterranean area. Initially a band of mercenaries in the service of Frederick of Sicily (1295–1337) and then of the Byzantine Emperor Andronikos II Palaiologos (1282–1328), they turned into an autonomous fighting force against the Byzantines and settled permanently in the duchy of Athens. Their main strength and one of the principal reasons for their success lay in their military skills. They defeated the Turks in a series of battles; defeated the Byzantines at the battle of Apros; and took both the life and the duchy of the duke of Athens, Gautier I de Brienne (1308–1311) in the battle of Kephissos. This last battle is much acclaimed and well documented as it is deemed one of the first conflicts of the fourteenth century where an army of knights was defeated by a force on foot. Was Kephissos, however, the first time in the Company's turbulent history that the Catalans fought on foot and prevailed against a force of horsemen? A fresh analysis of the battle of Apros demonstrates that in all probability in 1305 a Byzantine force of horsemen was defeated by the Catalan foot soldiers. Thus, the objective of this paper is the examination of the Catalan art of war that culminated in the battle of Apros, which can be considered a most accurate foreshadowing of Kephissos.

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Journal of Medieval Military History
Volume XII
, pp. 119 - 138
Publisher: Boydell & Brewer
Print publication year: 2014

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