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The Stradiots or stradioti ("Wayfarers") were Christian mercenary cavalry recruited from the Balkans and the Greek peninsula, and were very much influenced by Turkish-styled culture and tactics (due to their exposure to Ottoman invaders in 15th century southern Europe).

Like their Central Asian forbears, Stradiots fought as light cavalry, exploiting the broken and hilly terrain of their homelands (which was perfect for raiding cavalry as opposed to heavy cavalry manoeuvres) and were armed with a variety of weapons, including crossbows, swords and composite bows, although their preferred weapon of choice was the assegai or short spear, which could either be used as a cavalry lance, or thrown as a javelin to be replaced by another melee weapon such as a sabre or a mace (again, both favourite weapons for cavalrymen). As light cavalry, they tended to fight "naked", preferring either cotton, leather, or limited amounts of chainmail, although richer and senior members would sometimes wear metallic body armour and Turkish-styled helmets.

As mercenaries, Stradiots would serve whoever paid them the most, and while they were most well-known for service with Venice they did not shy away from fighting for anyone else with money so long as they were paid. Stradiots were thought to be the precursors of light cavalry tactics in Early Modern Europe which later culminated in the form of Chevaux-Leger and Hussar units.

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