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Illustrations from

Codex Gręcus Matritensis Ioannis Skyllitzes

Skylitzes Chronicle

Byzantine Italy, 11th-12th Centuries

Synopsis of Histories by John Skylitze
Biblioteca Nacional de Espańa manuscript Graecus Vitr. 26-2 - Codex Gręcus, Madrid, Spain
covers the reigns of the Byzantine emperors from the death of Nicephorus I in 811 to the deposition of Michael IV in 1057



f10v Michael I Rhangabe proclaims Leo V the Armenian as co-emperor. Both step onto the shield which was raised aloft and saluted by trumpeters & high officials. The ceremony of raising the shield dates from the Roman Empire.


f32v A miniature illustrating the siege of Constantinople. The troops of Thomas attack the walls at Blachernae.




f42v Theophilus making a proclamation. He is flanked by his bodyguard who are bare-headed. Ranks of officials are distinguished by their headgear. The Emperor's Varangian Guard was made up of foreigners - Germans, Franks, Russians, English, Vikings.


f32v A miniature illustrating the siege of Constantinople.





f43v Theophilus with his bodyguard outside the church of Blachernae, dispensing justice to a widow who has approached him with a complaint. Two priests look on from the church door.


f54v A battle that took place in AD 842 between the cavalry of the Byzantines and the Arabs.



f99 The foot soldiers of Emperor Basil I, distinguished by their long shields, deserting their general in the face of hostile Arab forces who carry round shields. The Byzantine general, Procopius, is killed.


f100 The enthroned emperor Basil accepts tribute from the general Leon but, because of Leon's behaviour towards Procopius, he is arrested by two soldiers.



f148 An ambassador of the Bulgar king Simeon is received by the Arab king Phatlum in Africa.




f199 The blinding of Prousianos for plotting against the emperor. At right the enthroned emperor pronounces the sentence, the execution of which is the subject of the central part of the miniature. At left, the mother of Prousianos is expelled from the palace.


f212v Arab camp near Edressa & the banquet given by the governor for the chiefs. Arab warriors are hidden in the chests offered to the iban.


f213v Denounced together with John, brother of the emperor, Maniakes is escorted by soldiers to Constantinople. His hands are chained.


f212v The Arab plot against the Byzantine governor of Edressa. Arab warriors are hidden in the chests offered to the iban, but the plot resulted in the killing of 2000 Arab warriors in the chests.


f213v Denounced together with John, brother of the emperor, Maniakes is escorted by soldiers to Constantinople. His hands are chained.



f214 The Muslims besieging the Byzantine city of Messina in Sicily which they captured in 842-3.



f217 The Bulgars are besieging Thessaloniki and their leader Deleanos receives a fellow commander in his tent. The tented camp of the Bulgar army can be seen to the right.


f217v The Bulgar leader Alausonius receiving Deleanos in his palace and gouging out the eyes of his rival.



f217 An episode of the siege of Thessaloniki by the Bulgars. Byzantine forces are making a sortie from the gates of the city putting the Bulgar horsemen to flight. Trumpeters on the walls signal the attack.


f217v The final defeat of the Bulgars by Michael IV the Paphlagonian who is seated on his throne. The Bulgars put up a wooden palisade near Prilep which is seen here between the two groups of soldiers but the Byzantine forces broke it down.


f220v The uprising of the people of Constantinople against Michael Kalaphate. At the left is the palace and the defenders of the king who fire arrows through the window at the crowd.



f222 A detail depicting a Byzantine dromond with three banks of oars.



f222v Top. Zoe and Constantine cross the Bosphorous in an imperial boat to be received in front of a palace by two dignitaries.


f222v Bottom. The official marriage and coronation of Constantine IX Monomachus and Zoe in the basilica of Basil I.


f234v A battle between the cavalry of the Byzantines and the Seljuks.

Source: Werner Forman Archive. (Registration required).


Illustrations from Skylitzes Chronicle referenced in Byzantine Armies 886-1118 by Ian Heath & Angus McBride & Byzantine Armies AD 1118-1461 by Ian Heath & Angus McBride
f12r lower, Battle between Byzantine Emperor Michael I Rangabe and Bulgarian Khan Krum
f26v upper, The execution of an Anti-Emperor, Varangians in the background
f34v lower, Greek Fire in a Naval Battle
f59v, The Siege of Amorium by the Arabs in 838
f73v upper, Battle at Lalakaon and death of Amer
f195v, Basil II's victory over the Abasgians in 1002
More Scylitzes illustrations at Manuscript Miniatures
Illustrations from Scylitzes Chronicle at Hodegon Branch of the New Varangian Guard
Chapters of the Madrid Skylitzes at Wikimedia

Other resources for Byzantines:
Horsemen in The Life of St Alessio in the Church of San Clemente, Rome, Italy, 11th Century
The Hidden Church (Sakli Kilise) Cappadocia, Turkey, showing Byzantine armoured and unarmoured soldiers, by Steven Lowe
A Byzantine Ivory Casket, 11-12th Centuries, Victoria & Albert Museum, London, England
Plates depicting the Byzantine folk hero, Digenis Akritas, 12th century
Frankish, Saracen & Byzantine costume in the 'Melisende Psalter', 1131-43 AD
Carved Column Capitals in the Cloister of Monreale Cathedral near Palermo in Sicily, 1174 to 1182 AD
European, Islamic & Byzantine Arms and Armour in Histoire ancienne jusqu'à César, 1260-70AD
Other Byzantine Illustrations of Costume & Soldiers

Index