Focke-Wulf Fw 190: Das Flugzeug, das Jager, Bomber und by Heinz J Nowarra

By Heinz J Nowarra

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The ceremonial weapon of the Grand Interpreter is copied from the seal of one Mikhail, who held this post. It combines a large axe blade with a sickle-shaped rhomphaia, both on a shaft fitted with a stirrup-like grip. (It is tempting to see in the axe shape a hint of the Irish/ Scottish ‘Lochaber’). H: THE LAST GUARDSMEN, 15th CENTURY H1: Varangopoulos The last picked troops who defended Constantinople against the Ottoman Turkish onslaught in 1453 were recruited from the Varangopouloi, the last mixed-blood descendants of the Varangians, who probably formed the final manifestation of the Varangian Guard.

F2: Russian Varangian guardsman This gilded helmet recently found in Vatra Moldovitei, and the armour, from Kitaev, show characteristics identical to the many guardsmen represented in the iconography of that period. Note his ringmail chausses in Western style, copied from a specimen also found near Kazanlik. F3: Emperor Aléxios V Mourtzouphlos The background is the red tent that he had erected on a hill within the city as his field headquarters. His armour is based upon that of Isaak Angelos Komnênós from the church of Panaghia Kosmosotira in Alexandroupolis.

These finds are important not only for their site, linked to the battle of Drastar, but also for corresponding in all cases to images in late 11th-century manuscript miniatures. They show that a mixture of Nordic and Byzantine weapons was already well established in the armoury of the Varangians at the time of the Komnênoi. CLOTHING The Eastern Roman tradition of distinctive military dress, with units differentiated from one another by ‘uniform’ colour and shield blazons, seems to have continued until the end of the Empire.

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