I found a piece on "Gondor and Byzantium"; cannot post a link due to spam protection, but it is called "Gondor, Byzantium and Feudalism"; Google it. To cite a summary I wrote on another forum: "Tolkien did not go into details on social and political structure of Gondor. Terminology he uses is definitely Western - feudal (fiefs etc.). However, closer look shows that actual structural inspiration for the system of Gondor is that of a middle Byzantine Empire. Tolkien mirrored feudal breakup of the Western Roman Empire in Arnor, which got divided into three weakening kingdoms. Arthedain was feudalistic, as king granted hobbits land in a fief of sorts, though it could also have been a foederati-like setup. But Gondor is not a feudal society, despite Tolkien using decidedly feudal terminology. It is based on Byzantine Empire, with Gondor of the Stewards corresponding to post-7th century Roman (Byzantine) Empire. In Byzantine Empire of the time, Emperor retained full control of the bureocracy, and each province was ruled by an official (general, strategos) who, while having wide powers, could be recalled at will. Great wealth did not automatically mean high state offices, and there were cases of peasants becoming emperors through merit. Byzantine dukes and counts were military ranks, and were not inherited. While aristocracy monopolized these positions thanks to greater access to education, there was always space for talent from below, and emperor could always sack rebellious generals. Even a successful rebellion meant that a general would take a throne, rather than becoming a quasi-independent ruler as was the case in the West. Thematic troops received land in exchange for service, but land was given directly by the Emperor, who also reserved the right to withdraw the land grant. There was no subinfeudation: land was granted by the Emperor and could be taken away by the Emperor; it was not granted to feudal lord, from lord to a knight, and from knight to a tennant; there were no layers of vassals. While fief is a feudal term, its function in Gondor is not feudal. Imrahil is Prince of Dol Amroth, not Prince of Belfalas. There appears to be no hereditary ruler of Belfalas. While Imrahil may have been a large landowner, he is primarily the strategos of Belfalas, which is a state office. And just like the men of the themes could be called onto a campaign but principally stayed to guard their own homes, so did various fiefs of Gondor only send a small portion of forces to defend the capital. There is no indication of any leader of any one of forces led to Minas Tirith having a vassal, and their territories are both fairly small and of similar size to one another. Likewise, knight is merely a general term for an armoured cavalryman. Byzantines had such cavalry - cataphracti - and in the later period they were equipped after the pattern of Western knights." Overall, Gondorian military system resembles thematic system of Byzantine Empire. Now, onto other matters. Byzantine Empire under thematic system had wildly different army strengths. In 820, Empire had 8 000 000 people and 120 000 men in the army. Now, surface area of Gondor is apparently 1 855 530 km2, but most of it is rather sparsely settled. This is about three times the surface area of France, and little more than area controlled by Byzantine Empire in 1025 (1 675 000 km2). Population however may have been more sparse, so I will assume 6 people per km2. This will give population of 11 million, which would then result in army of 165 000 men. Yet Lord of the Rings implies that Gondorian army has hardly more than 20 000 - 40 000 men. Rohan is a powerful ally, yet they have only 10 000 cavalry and maybe the same number of infantry. In sum, both countries are extremely understrength militarily. Thoughts?