This article is about the civilization in Age of Empires II. For the civilization in Age of Empires, see Romans.
Civilization Tech tree Strategy
The Byzantines (or Eastern Roman Empire) are an Eastern European civilization in Age of Empires II. They are situated in the Balkan peninsula and Asia Minor, along the eastern seaboard of the Mediterranean in the modern countries such as Greece, Turkey, Bulgaria, and Romania. In the Attila the Hun campaign, they represent the Western Roman Empire. Only classified as a defensive civilization in-game, they are in practice a very versatile civilization, relying on a wide variety of units of all categories for both offense and defense.

As the medieval stage of the Roman Empire they retain characteristics of their Rise of Rome Roman (Roman and Palmyran) counterparts and Persian neighbors, such as their unique unit, the Cataphract, a type of heavy cavalry that happened to also be present in the original game. Their Imperial Age unique technology is Logistica, referring to the Byzantines' strong military strategy which 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.

Constantinople operated as the center of a trading network that extended across nearly all of Eurasia and North Africa, in particular as the primary western terminus of the famous Silk Road. So the Byzantine Empire's economy was among the most advanced in Europe and the Mediterranean for many centuries. Europe, in particular, could not match Byzantines' economic strength until late in the Middle Ages. That is reflected upon in the game with the Byzantines having access to all economic (Lumber camp, Mill, and Mining Camp) upgrades.

The Byzantines were best known for having deflected many invasions implemented by barbarians, Slavs and Arabs, and the famed doubled walls that surrounded their capital of Constantinople almost stood for over a millennium until overran by Ottoman Turks. To reflect this achievement, the Byzantines attain a theme of a defensive civilization and have tougher buildings as the Age progresses. Due to carrying on many of the traditions of Rome such as their naval prowess and being the inventors of Greek fire, an ancient napalm rumored to be able to ignite even on water, their Fire Ship attack faster and their Castle Age unique technology is Greek Fire, granting Fire Ships +1 range. As a defensive civilization, they also get cheaper counter units and Town Watch for free. Being the bastion of Greek Orthodoxy, their Monks heal faster to keep with their defensive theme.

Overview Edit

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 feature in a notable amount of campaigns. They feature frequently in the Saladin, Barbarossa, and Attila the Hun campaigns, and make a few other appearances, such as in Alaric. In The Forgotten, they appear in all three Bari scenarios. The following list shows every campaign appearance of the Byzantines.

Saladin Edit

Barbarossa Edit

Attila the Hun Edit

In the Attila the Hun campaign, the Byzantines feature in every scenario.

Battles of the Conquerors Edit

Alaric Edit

Bari Edit

In the Bari campaign, the Byzantines feature in every scenario.

Characteristics Edit

Unique unit Edit

CataphractIcon Cataphract: Heavy cavalry that excels at combat against infantry

Unique technologies Edit

CastleAgeUnique Greek Fire: Gives Fire Ships +1 range.
Unique-tech Logistica: Gives Cataphracts trample damage and +6 attack against infantry.

Civilization bonuses Edit

Team bonus Edit

Monks heal 50% faster.

Changelog Edit

The Age of Kings Edit

The Conquerors Edit

  • With patch 1.0c, Town Watch is free.
  • Logistica introduced.
  • A team containing Byzantines: Monks heal 1.5x faster.
  • Cataphracts train in 20 seconds.
  • Cataphracts have a Rate of Fire of 1.83 (1.73 for Elite).
  • Cataphracts receive +12 (+16 for Elite) bonus defense against anti-cavalry attacks.

The Forgotten Edit

The African Kingdoms Edit

  • With patch 4.8, Greek Fire costs 250F/300G.

Definitive Edition Edit

  • Architecture style changed from Middle Eastern to Mediterranean.

In-game dialogue language Edit

While historically Byzantines spoke Medieval Greek, Byzantine units in-game speak medieval Latin.

  • Ain? - Yes?
  • Impero? - I command?
  • Presto - I'm ready
  • Salve! - Hello!
  • Correctus - Right
  • Ago - I do
  • Sane - Certainly
  • Caedo - I cut [tree]
  • Pabulo - I forage
  • Venatus - Meat, hunter
  • Capto - I catch [fish]
  • Colo - I cultivate
  • Fodio - I dig/extract
  • Condo - I build
  • Reficio - I repair
  • Deleo! - I destruct!
  • Comittam! - I will commit! I will commence a battle!
  • Comita! - (You) Follow!
  • Pugno! - I fight!
  • Porro! - Forward!

AI player names Edit

When playing a random map game against the computer, the player may encounter any of the following Byzantine AI characters:

  • Basil the Macedonian (Βασίλειος ὁ Μακεδών; 811-886): Byzantine emperor from 867-886. Born a peasant, he rose in the Imperial court and assassinated the emperor to  become emperor himself. Turned out to be one of the greatest Byzantine emperors.
  • Basil Boioannes (Βασίλειος Βοϊωάννης; 1017-1027): was the Byzantine catapan of Italy and one of the greatest Byzantine generals of his time. His accomplishments enabled the Empire to reestablish itself as a major force in southern Italy after centuries of decline.
  • Belisarius (Βελισάριος; 505-565): Flavius Belisarius, legendary general of Justinian I. Conquered territories in Italy, Dalmatia, Africa and southern Hispania from the Vandals and Goths.
  • Emp. Alexius IV (Αυτοκράτορας Αλέξιος Δ'; 1182-1204): Byzantine emperor from 1203-1204. Managed to escape to the Holy Roman Empire after his father was overthrown in a coup. He redirected the Fourth Crusade to Constantinople to claim his throne, but failed to meet his promises to the crusader nations and was deeply unpopular with the citizenry. Eventually imprisoned and strangled.
  • Emp. Anastasius (Αυτοκράτορας Ἀναστάσιος; 431-518): Byzantine emperor from 491-518. Reformer of administration and internal affairs, gained popularity by lowering taxes. Built the Anastasian Wall to protect Constantinople from Huns, Slavs and Bulgars; reinforced the Persian border.
  • Emp. Constantine (Αυτοκράτορας Κωνσταντῖνος; 272-337): First Christian Roman Emperor (306-337). Because of his many military successes and extensive system reforms considered to be one of the greatest Roman Emperors. Founder of the city Constantinople (former Byzantium), eventually founding the basis of the Byzantine Empire.
  • Emp. Justinian (Αυτοκράτορας Ἰουστίνος; 482-565) : Byzantine emperor from 527-565. Sought to revive the Roman Empire’s greatness by conquering former territories in the western Mediterranean, while Byzantine culture and law flourished.
  • Emp. Leo VI (Αυτοκράτορας Λέων ΣΤ΄; 866-912): “The Wise”, Byzantine emperor from 886-912. A prolific writer, wrote about law, politics, theology and poetry,  while his fortune in wars was mixed.
  • Emp. Mauricius (Αυτοκράτορας Μαυρίκιος; 539-602): Byzantine emperor from 582-602. Victorious in the war against Persia gaining much of Armenia and Georgia, and solidified territory in the Balkans and the western Mediterranean. Executed by the usurper Phocas.
  • Emp. Michael V (Αυτοκράτορας Μιχαήλ Ε΄; 1015-1041): Byzantine emperor for four months. Adoptive son of Empress Zoe, she helped him to become heir to the throne. Determined to rule on his own, he banished Zoe, after which the population revolted and Zoe (with her sister) was reinstalled as empress, while Michael died shortly after.
  • Emp. Romanus II (Αυτοκράτορας Ρωμανός Β΄; 938-963): Byzantine emperor from 959-963. Recaptured Crete from the Muslims, captured Arab territory in the east and defended the Balkans from the Magyars. Suddenly became ill on a hunting expedition and died.
  • Emp. Tiberius III (Αυτοκράτορας Τιβέριος Γʹ): Byzantine emperor from 698-705. Former Germanic naval officer, decided to ignore Africa and Carthage and focus his efforts on containing the Arab threat in the east.
  • General Manuel Comnenus (Μανουήλ Κομνηνός; 1118-1180): Byzantine emperor from 1143-1180. Sought the return of the glory of the Byzantine Empire: Made alliances with the pope, held campaigns in Hungary and Sicily and also took part in the Second Crusade.
  • Heraclius the Elder (Ηράκλειος ο Πρεσβύτερος; ?-610): Byzantine general. Fought battles against the Persians and quelled an Armenian revolt. Appointed Exarch of Africa, he then helped his son to overthrow the usurper Phocas, but died soon after.
  • Michael the Stammerer (Μιχαήλ ὁ Τραυλός; 770-829): Michael II the Amorian, Byzantine emperor from 820-829. Rose from soldier up to high rank and conspired to assassinate the emperor to become emperor himself. Lost Crete to the Saracens and could not prevent the Muslim conquest of Sicily.

History 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.[1]

Notes Edit

Language Edit

Medieval Latin is not pronounced as Romans spoke it (rolled r, French gn, Italian c) and many misspellings appear, as for 'hunter'. Moreover, the Byzantines spoke Greek for the larger part of their history, considering their existence during the Middle Ages, Latin having been kept only in some fields such as administration.

  • Impero?: The wanted meaning was 'command?'. Then, the word should be Imperium?.
  • Presto: Praesto in classical Latin, from praestare. It means something like "I am available for you" or "I serve you", or simply "Ready".
  • Correctus: It means 'corrected, fixed', while it should be recte.
  • Venatus: This noun means 'hunt'. 'Hunter' must be translated by venator.
  • Pabulo: It is pabulor.

Civilization name Edit

Historically, the Byzantines referred to their empire as the "Roman Empire" or the "Kingdom of the Romans" (Greek: Βασιλεία τῶν Ῥωμαίων), "Romania" (Greek: Ῥωμανία meaning "Land of the Romans"), "Graecia" (Greek: Γραικία meaning "Land of the Greeks") and "Rhōmais" (Greek: Ῥωμαΐς). They likewise referred to themselves as "Romans", "Greeks" and/or "Hellenes" (Romaioi, Graikoi and Ellines in Greek respectively) since they were the political continuation of the Roman Empire in the east, as well as the direct heirs and guardians of Hellenic civilization. They were also known as "Greeks" in Western Europe due to the Greek language they spoke. Both the terms "Eastern Roman Empire" and "Byzantines" are modern historiographical terms that refer to the empire and its inhabitants respectively and were developed years after the fall of the empire's capital, Constantinople, in 1453 due to the invasions of the Ottoman Turks.

Trivia Edit

  • The Byzantines' civilization icon is based on the tetragrammic cross, emblem of the Palaiologos dynasty from the mid-13th century.

Gallery Edit

Video overview Edit

Byzantines Overview AoE2

Byzantines Overview AoE2

Sources Edit

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