The Renaissance book Erotokritos is a unique preserved manuscript with colour illustrations belonging to the library of the Romanian Academy. The book is translated from Greek to Romanian. The photos below and the text are taken from the ΑΔΑΜ publication in Greek. The book was originally written by Vitsentzo Kornaro in the city of Citia in Crete in the year of 1645 but created by unknown calligrapher and illustrator. The illustrations however, were made by Petraki in 1787 (code Β.R.A. 3514), and the calligraphy was done by Ionitza. Both of them used the older book of Erotokritos for their work.

In the illustrations below we see the armor and weapon equipment of the hero and his friends and foes. It is an echo from the world of the folk enunciation of this age. We see the world of Byzantium infused with delicate touches of Turkey, India, and the Balkans and colors from Persia which marriage with a slight touch of Venice.

p.179r Aristos and Erotokritos start to wrestle in an allegoric stance of Greco-Roman wrestling technique. Look at the equipment. Both of them has saber (παραμήριον) and small shields, also Erotokritos has a shield that it is such as the buckler. The Byzantine cavalry had shields with 30cm diameter such as buckler.

p.179r Aristos and Erotokritos start to wrestle in an allegoric stance of Greco-Roman wrestling technique. Look at the equipment. Both of them have sabers (παραμήριον) and small shields, also Erotokritos has a shield, a "buckler". The Byzantine cavalry had shields with 30cm diameter such as these.

p.178r Erotokritos and Aristos are ready to duel with their swords. Both of them are curved swords (παραμήριον).

p.178r Erotokritos and Aristos are ready to duel with their swords. Both of them carry curved swords (παραμήριον).

p.176.r Erotokritos charge with his saber and his small shield to his other hand. Again we have the model of a Byzantine cavalry man using a curved sword and a small shield of 30 cm in diameter.

p.176.r Erotokritos charge with his saber and his small shield in his other hand. Again we have the model of a Byzantine cavalry man using a curved sword and a small shield of 30 cm in diameter.

p.160l Band of warriors charging.

p.160l Band of warriors charging.

p.158l-p.159l Vlachian cavalry charge against the Greek cavalry. Both armies armors and swords were almost the same. Especially their swords type. There were all sabers.

p.158l-p.159l Vlachian cavalry charge against the Greek cavalry. Both armies' armor and swords are almost identical, particularly their swords which are all sabers.

p.79l Kyprodimos is ready to charge against Pistiforo with his mace and his small shield (30 cm).

p.79l Kyprodimos is ready to charge against Pistiforo with his mace and his small shield (30 cm).

We should perhaps here underline that the primary weapon of the kataphracts of the cavalry of the Byzantine Empire was the mace although they also carried swords of the spathion type; i.e. two-edged long bladed swords as well as swords of the paramirion type, and lances. The mace was used together with a buckler for protection.

South-Eastern European warriors had a different style of martial art, with the use of buckler and small shield, a little different than what is described in the fightbooks of the German masters of arms. This traditional style of fighting with the use of saber type swords or maces, and with the use of small round shield (of buckler type) was in common use in the Balkans and also in Russia and Georgia. In Georgia this style ‘survived’ as a traditional dance, while here in Greece it is now forgotten as an art, but it survived in the tempo and the rhythm of the traditional folk dances (although without the use of shield and weapons). The art was forgotten simply because the Ottomans did not allow the Christians to use any type of weapons. The only Christians who were allowed to carry  and use weapons were the brigands and the mercenaries.

p.80r Pistoforos the son of the king of Byzantium charges.

p.80r Pistoforos the son of the king of Byzantium charges.

p.78l Kyprodimos on his horse, he is ready to face in battle Nikostrato as he is losing his mace. Note: see his shield.

p.78l Kyprodimos on his horse. He is ready to face Nikostrato om battle as he is losing his mace. Note his shield.

p.71r Charidimos injure with his curved sword his foe Spidolion (Spidolion also use curved sword and buckler like shield.

p.71r Charidimos injures his foe Spidolion with his curved sword. (Spidolion also uses a curved sword and a buckler.

p.58l-59r Pistoforos is the son of the king of Byzantium in the book Erotokritos. He is on his horse with many servants. Note: Look the weapons of his guards.

p.58l-59r Pistoforos is the son of the king of Byzantium in the book Erotokritos. He is on his horse with many servants. Note the weapons of his guards.

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p.57r Glikaretos,lord of Axias (Naxos island) with a mace and a small shield at his hand.

p.57r Glikaretos,lord of Axias (Naxos island) with a mace and a small shield at his hand.

At the small illustrations are the illustrations from the prototype book with the text in Rumanian language. Mr Terzoglou explain with what procedure erase the Rumanian language without destroy the illustration and how the translator wrote the book again in Greek language. It is an extremely difficult but also nice work.

The small illustrations are the from the prototype book with text in Romanian. Mr Terzoglou explains with what procedure the Rumanian language was removed without destroying the illustration and how the translator wrote the book again in Greek. It is an extremely difficult but also nice work.

End notes

I wish to thank my scholar Mrs. Anezoula Dedousi who entrusted me with her book for studying and Mr. Terzoglou (father of my scholar Nikolao Terzoglou) for his useful advices on the elaboration of this book.

Editor's note: The text has been edited slightly with more 'English' choice of words and phrases in certain places, trying to catch the intentions of the author.

George Georgas

George E. Georgas is the founder of the Hellenic Academy of Historical European Martial Arts ‘Leontes’.


He is certificated fencing instructor of the Hellenic Fencing Federation and also national referee of the Hellenic Fencing Federation at the epee.

He is instructor of Meyer Freifechter Guild with the rank of Fecther and he is the group leader in Greece. He is also member of Learn Sword Fight (Gladiatores).


He is in the Administration Council of the ‘Pammachon’ (which is the name of the Hellenic HEMA Federanion in Greece).


He is also instructor of weapon fighting of the Association of Historical studies ‘KORYVANTES’. He is studying the ancient Greek and Byzantine warfare, such as the use of rompaia, spathion and paramirion types of swords and other weapons such as the spear.


He is also give stage fighting lessons to the theatrical team ‘The Blue Rose.’