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Chapter Summary

Western European mercenaries provided the Byzantines with heavy cavalry soldiers and tactics, and with highly disciplined infantry, such as the Almugavars, who were part of the Catalan Grand Company. The strategic importance of the enlistment of the Cumans is discussed by Theodore II and Akropolites. The most important issue concerning the administration of the Byzantine companies of soldiers is whether they were really mercenaries or pronoiars since they always appear as holders of collective pronoiai. Nothing is known about the German and other Latin mercenaries hired by Byzantium in the fourteenth century apart from those Kantakouzenos borrowed from Serbia. The first Byzantine author to comment on the employment of mercenaries after 1204 was the emperor and prolific author Theodore II Laskaris. This contradiction is explained by the position of Kantakouzenos in Byzantine society.

Keywords: Akropolites; Byzantines; Catalan Grand Company; Kantakouzenos; mercenaries; pronoiai; Theodore II Laskaris



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