|"He spoke, and poised his far-shadowing spear, and hurled it; and he smote upon the son of Priam's shield, that was well balanced upon every side. Through the bright shield went the mighty spear, and through the corselet, richly dight, did it force its way; and straight on beside his flank the spear shore through his tunic..."|
— The Iliad, trans Murray
For centuries, the Romans were faced with enemies from all corners of the known earth, and so their Hellenicised descendents, the Byzantines, often had to be on their guard against all manner of enemies and their treacheries. Thus was born the Akritae, or border guards. These units unlike the peasant levies of the European barbarians or the heathens of the Asian wastes are professional soldiers, and thus their armour, skill with a javelin and hitpoint count make them a cut above all other units.
With their armour and morale, the Arkitae are capable of taking down more lightly armoured foes. Yet while heavy infantry may often be a little reluctant to engage them head-on, the same cannot be said for cavalry. Further, Akritae cost a great deal of money and as such, the decision to equip and deploy Akritae should not be taken lightly. The only other benefit that Akritae have other than normal skirmisher levy units is that the Armenians can often create them for free - each Town Watch Guild created spawns 1 Akritae unit, while a Magistracy spawns two upon completion. However, this often means that the number of Akritae that you may spawn for free can never be greater than the number of cities that you construct, and even then you must gather them together to obtain sufficient mass against the foe.
- Although they are strong enough to serve as part of your main military force, Akritae are still weak against cavalry.
- Since Akritae are better than Smirkisher Infantry, they cost more than normal Skirmisher Levies and so you should not recruit too many of them.
- Armenia, being a Byzantine client-state, can spawn Akritae with each Town Watch Guild or Magistracy - the better the quality of building, the more units are spawned.
Law enforcement in the Mediaeval Era was very much ramshackle at best. In some areas like China, Byzantium and the Middle East a picked body of officers were actually established to oversee the administration of justice and punishment; elsewhere, armed posses or militia were used. These were fulltime, semi-professional armed men who were supposed to be ready for combat at all times, even in peace.
In the Byzantine Empire, the task of border patrols and customs inspection in the east was delegated to a picked body of warriors referred to as Akritae or "East-Frontiersmen". Raised from natives of the Byzantine Empire's mountainous east, or recruited from Armenian or Bulgar auxiliaries, Akritae were expected to function as a border watch unit, and were usually kitted out to fight either as light infantry or cavalry. Their bravery and their exploits were often lauded in both folk music and poetry in their time.
- Byzantine Military, Akritai - Byzantine Border Troops