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Pelekyphoroi Axemen
Pelekyphoroi Axemen
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Class and category heavy infantry
Soldier ere_elite_varangian_axemen, 30, 0, 1.0
Mount
Engine and Ship
Attributes sea_faring, hide_forest, hardy, can_withdraw, frighten_foot
Formation 2, 2, 2.4, 2.4, 3, square
Hit points 1, 0
Primary weapon 21, 5, no, 0, 0, melee, melee_blade, slashing, axe, 25, 1.33, ap
Secondary weapon 7, 2, no, 0, 0, melee, melee_blade, slashing, axe, 25, 1, ap
Primary armour 9, 20, 2, metal
Secondary armour 0, 0, flesh
Heat and ground effect 0, -2, -3, -2, -1
Mental 16, disciplined, untrained
Cost 1, 1141, 513, 323, 100, 1141
Unit Description
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Pelekyphoroi Axemen As it happened some of the mercenary Varangoi of the Roman Empire went native. Those had children with roman women who in turn joined in the family business of cracking skulls open with a two handed waraxe. Furious in battle and dreadful for tavern owners who were in the way of free drink afterwards, Pelekyphoroi (Native Varangoi) willingly became subjects of the empire, if anything, had a more standardized and slightly better quality of armor. The thickest “bambakion” cotton gambeson available (probably thicker than 1 inch, or even more) would be available to them, with scale or mail “lorikion” of the highest quality, and a reinforced “klibanion” lamellar corcelet. His forearms and lower feet would be protected by arm and leg guard vambraces of splint construction, called “cheiropsella” and “podopsella” respectively. A mail gorget was worn for neck protection. The only Roman units that can compare to them armorwise are Pronoiarioi and Kataphraktoi, (even if they have an extra quilted cloth gambeson “Epilorikion” on top of mail and lamellar) and those have a horse under them to carry all that armor, along with themselves. So it is easy to assume that the Pelekyphoroi must have been at an excellent physical form to be able to not only carry all that armor around, but also fight wearing it. On top of that they had to wield a heavy “Tzikourion” (from the latin root “securis”) or “Pelekys” waraxe, whose metal was a slightly better quality than that of their merc brethren. The round shield they carried, was slung on their back in battle, as the fore arm lamellar guards made the shield redundant in many cases. Pelekyphoroi were Christian, still they carried in their shields the crow which was the emblem of Odin. Their numbers were never great, but that has more to do with the situation of the empire, which became embroiled in non-ending civil wars towards the end, not their worth. A resurging empire, would definitely put higher numbers of Native Varangoi as a recruitment goal. The empire tried to create a Native Varangoi force and actually achieved it. The importance the empire bestowed upon the Pelekyphoroi (Native Varangoi) is evident, if their unbreakable victory record is to be trusted. Only when everyone else fled did they surrender, and then only to save the life of the Emperor, as happened in Manzikert. The Emperors, especially the Komnenoi, if the words of the Emperor Ioannis I Komnenos (as transferred by Niketas Choniates, (a 12th century source) are to be believed. When asked to risk his Varangoi in a dangerous situation, he considered them priceless. Their value he said was higher than all of the jewels of the empire. That in no way meant that the Pelekyphoroi weren’t used in battle, but that there was always the fear of losing them, along with their valuable services. They fought and bled for the Empire, and were acknowledged (along with their Mercenary brethren) to be one of the few regiments of the Roman army who actually fought during the sacking of Konstantinoupolis at 1204. Unfortunately the breach didn’t occur in their sector or there wouldn’t have been one. In battle they would be indistinguishable to their Mercenarry brethren, sharing all their talents and faults. Even so, brought up in the most beautiful of the cities of Christendom, and realizing that a lot of the natives just couldn’t fight to save their lives, does make those Native Varangoi, patriotic in the modern sense of the word, meaning putting their own life on the line for what had become their own country. Their absolute loyalty to the Emperor as well as their love for heavy drinking was legendary. Niketas Choniates in the 12th centrury, describes the personality and character of the Varangoi “Pelekyphoroi” (axe bearers) when he calls them “wine-bags” to emphasize their fondness of alcohol. They must have been impressive to look at, especially from the viewpoint of a Mediterranean subject. Anna Komnene, a contemporary compares them to “tall and strong palm

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