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.
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.
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.