|This article is about the civilization in Age of Empires II. For the civilization in Age of Empires, see Romans.|
The Byzantines (actually called Romans and Greeks in the Middle Ages) are a Southern European civilization in Age of Empires II (Middle Eastern before the Definitive Edition). Though classified as a defensive civilization in-game, they are a very versatile civilization in practice, relying on a wide variety of units of all categories for both offense and defense.
As the Medieval continuation of the Roman Empire they retain characteristics of their Rise of Rome ancestors, such as their unique unit, the Cataphract, a type of heavy cavalry that was present in the previous game. Their Imperial Age unique technology Logistica, referring to the Byzantines' well trained and supplied military at the state's expense, grants their Cataphracts trample damage to attack multiple enemies at once. The Byzantines had a head start over their European neighbors and arguably reached their zenith while the rest of Europe were in the Dark Age. As a result, they pay less to advance to the Imperial Age.
The capital Constantinople was the center of a trading network extending across nearly all of Eurasia and North Africa, in particular as the primary western terminus of the Silk Road; the rest of Europe would not match the Byzantines' economic strength until late in the Middle Ages. This is reflected by the Byzantines having access to all economic (Lumber Camp, Mill, and Mining Camp) upgrades.
The Byzantines inherited advanced construction techniques from the Romans. To reflect this, all their buildings become tougher with every Age for free, and don't need to research Masonry and Architecture. They also deflected near constant invasions from more numerous but less advanced armies from Europe and Asia, and the double walls of Constantinople had a reputation for impregnability for a millennium before they were overran by the Turks. This is shown in their access to all fortifications, their cheaper counter units (Camel Riders, Spearmen, and Skirmishers), and their access to Town Watch for free. Their defensive theme is further supported by their Monks healing faster, which is also a reference to the Byzantines retaining and building upon Greco-Roman medical knowledge that was lost and had to be rediscovered elsewhere.
Finally, the Byzantines' defensive prowress extended to the waters with their continuation of Roman naval techniques and new inventions of their own like Greek fire, a type of napalm that could ignite even on water. This is referenced by the Byzantines being the only civilization with access to all naval upgrades and technologies (along with the Spanish), their Fire Ships attacking faster, and their Castle Age unique technology Greek Fire, which grants Fire Ships +1 range.
The Byzantines have access to a vast variety of technologies. Standing out are their excellent navy, Monks, and economy, with only a single technology missing (Herbal Medicine) in all three branches put together but with handy perks like Greek Fire and an increased healing speed for Monks. Weak spots in the Byzantine technology tree are hard to make out, but as their lacks in the defenses department (namely Masonry and Architecture) are compensated by a staggering HP bonus for buildings, they are probably best found in their land armies. Their foot archers are excellent, but their Cavalry Archers miss key technologies in Parthian Tactics and Bloodlines. The latter also hurts their cavalry (probably their weakest branch despite having an excellent unique unit there) as well as the missing Blast Furnace which then again does their infantry no favor as well. Working against these disadvantages are their discounts for Camel Riders and Pikemen. Lastly, they lack Siege Engineers, Siege Onagers, and Heavy Scorpions, making their siege department fairly average.
All together, due to their wide technology tree and wide array of bonuses, the Byzantines are hard to anticipate in multiplayer games.
Campaign appearances Edit
The Byzantines have a campaign devoted to their civilization: Bari. They also feature in a notable amount of other campaigns. The following list shows every campaign appearance of the Byzantines:
In the Attila the Hun campaign, the Byzantines feature in every scenario.
In the Bari campaign, the Byzantines feature in every scenario.
Unique unit Edit
Unique technologies Edit
Civilization bonuses Edit
Team bonus Edit
The Age of Kings Edit
The Conquerors Edit
The Forgotten Edit
The African Kingdoms Edit
Definitive Edition Edit
In-game dialogue language Edit
The Byzantine units in-game speak Latin, which they share with the Italians and the Briton Monks and Kings. Historically, the Byzantine Empire ditched Latin as an administrative language in the 7th century (for Medieval Greek, which was the most commonly spoken language), and the Latin language itself evolved into the slightly different Medieval Latin. There are also some obvious mistakes in-game, such as asking "I command?" when other civilizations use "Your command?", or using "Hunted" instead of "Hunter" or "To hunt". Byzantine units also differ in that they talk in the first person, while most civilizations use the third person or the infinitive.
AI player names Edit
The Byzantines took their name from Byzantium, an ancient city on the Bosphorus, the strategic waterway linking the Black Sea to the Aegean Sea. The Roman Emperor Constantine had renamed this city Constantinople in the fourth century and made it a sister capital of his empire. This eastern partition of the Roman Empire outlived its western counterpart by a thousand years, defending Europe against invasions from the east by Persians, Arabs, and Turks. The Byzantines persevered because Constantinople was well defended by walls and the city could be supplied by sea. At their zenith in the sixth century, the Byzantines covered much of the territories of the original Roman Empire, lacking only the Iberian Peninsula (modern Spain and Portugal), Gaul (modern France), and Britain. The Byzantines also held Syria, Egypt, and Palestine, but by the middle of the seventh century they had lost them to the Arabs. From then on their empire consisted mainly of the Balkans and modern Turkey.
The first great Byzantine emperor was Justinian I (482 to 565). His ambition was to restore the old Roman Empire and he nearly succeeded. His instrument was the greatest general of the age, Belisarius, who crisscrossed the empire defeating Persians to the East, Vandals in North Africa, Ostrogoths in Italy, and Bulgars and Slavs in the Balkans. In addition to military campaigns, Justinian laid the foundation for the future by establishing a strong legal and administrative system and by defending the Christian Church.
The Byzantine economy was the richest in Europe for many centuries because Constantinople was ideally sited on trade routes between Asia, Europe, the Black Sea, and the Aegean Sea. It was an important destination point for the Silk Road from China. The nomisma, the principal Byzantine gold coin, was the standard for money throughout the Mediterranean for 800 years. Constantinople’s strategic position eventually attracted the envy and animosity of the Italian city-states.
A key strength of the Byzantine Empire was its generally superior army that drew on the best elements of the Roman, Greek, Gothic, and Middle Eastern experience in war. The core of the army was a shock force of heavy cavalry supported by both light infantry (archers) and heavy infantry (armored swordsmen). The army was organized into units and drilled in tactics and maneuvers. Officers received an education in military history and theory. Although outnumbered usually by masses of untrained warriors, it prevailed thanks to intelligent tactics and good discipline. The army was backed by a network of spies and secret agents that provided information about enemy plans and could be used to bribe or otherwise deflect aggressors.
The Byzantine navy kept the sea-lanes open for trade and kept supply lines free so the city could not be starved into submission when besieged. In the eighth century, a land and sea attack by Arabs was defeated largely by a secret weapon, Greek fire. This chemical weapon, its composition now unknown, was a sort of liquid napalm that could be sprayed from a hose. The Arab navy was devastated at sea by Greek fire.
In the seventh and eighth centuries, the Arabs overran Egypt, the Middle East, North Africa, and Spain, removing these areas permanently from Byzantine control. A Turkish victory at Manzikert in 1071 led to the devastation of Asia Minor, the empire’s most important source of grain, cattle, horses, and soldiers. In 1204 Crusaders led by the Doge of Venice used treachery to sack and occupy Constantinople.
In the fourteenth century, the Turks invaded Europe, capturing Adrianople and bypassing Constantinople. They settled the Balkans in large numbers and defeated a large crusader army at Nicopolis in 1396. In May 1453, Turkish sultan Mehmet II captured a weakly defended Constantinople with the aid of heavy cannon. The fall of the city brought the Byzantine Empire to an end.
Video overview Edit