Medievalists has some interesting excerpts from the Sylloge Tacticorum, a Byzantine handbook on military tactics.
Besides noting the standard ways of attacking and defending, the author of this manual also includes several methods to cunningly strike at an enemy, although he does not personally approve of them. He writes:
We compiled this book judging that these stratagems and others of the kind should be recorded not in order to be used by us against the enemy (for I believe that they are unworthy even to be mentioned in a Christian context), but so that our generals may be able to guard against them by knowing exactly the cunning plans of the enemy concerning food and drink, especially when they encamp in enemy territory.
However, it should also be noted that the author usually does not give any defence against these schemes, which might indicate that he added them in so they could be used by the Byzantine generals – and that his moral concerns might have been exaggerated. Readers will note that these methods can be considered a form of chemical warfare, which would be targeted at the enemy when they were not expecting it.
Having read the article, I will agree that all the tactics listed are extraordinarily nasty, some with a propensity to bite the hand of those using them. The seven tactics are:
1) Putting the plague into bread loaves.
2) Poisoning the wine.
3) Sabotaging the water supply.
4) Destroying the land.
5) Withering the trees.
6) Attacking the horses with chemicals.
7) Burning weapons without fire.
For all the details of the text, you’ll need to head over to Medievalists.
Other interesting things at Medievalists:
Released on 13 February, Kingdom Come: Deliverance is an action role-playing game set in the early fifteenth-century Holy Roman Empire that has striven for historically accurate and highly detailed content.
This fairly unusual method of gameplay has attracted a lot of attention. As another reviewer said: ‘There’s no heroic swordplay here, no wizards casting fireballs, no clerics raising the dead, no orcs or dragons. This is the story of an actual civil war that raged across Bohemia in the first decade of the 15th century. Your part in it is that of a nobody struggling to survive in a land full of noblemen who couldn’t care less if you lived or died, and fellow peasants who would stab you in the back for a crust of bread.’
You can read about the game in detail, with multiple reviews here.