Friday, 30 April 2010

Chaka the Emperor, Death of Sultan Malik Shah and Rise of Kilij Arslan

1091-92AD: In the year 1091 the fleet of Chaka, the rebel governor of Smyrna, was defeated in the sea of Marmara.
Whether due to the instigation of Chaka or of their own will, the governors of Crete and Cyprus rebelled

The following year, 1092, Chaka had himself proclaimed 'emperor'.
His rebellion had been against Alexius the emperor, but he must have been seeking formal backing all that time.
He might have got that from Byzantine lords and governors in the region, but more likely he was being supported by the Turks, his brethren, in Anatolia.
He had also made contact, via Paulician merchants, with the Pecheneg Turks.
These tribes mostly lived across the river Danube but had made continuous raids into Byzantine territory, mostly at will, but also at the invitation of the rebellious Paulicians who lived in that region.
Chaka might have been a Pecheneg Turk, since a battalion of them had betrayed the emperor Romanus at the battle of Manzikert in 1071.
No further record is known on what happened to them, though they probably joined the army of Alp Arslan, maybe raiding the region of Anatolia.

The emperor Alexius sent a fleet under the Caesar John Ducas to recapture the Aegean islands, Rhodes, Crete and Cyprus.
The rebel governor of Cyprus, Rapsomates, proved to be out of his depth and at a battle in the north of the island, much of his army defected to the Caesar, the rebellion was over.

Also in this year the Sultan Malik Shah sent a deputation to the emperor for a marriage alliance between his son and a daughter of the emperor.
In return he vowed to force the Seljuks and other Turks out of Anatolia.
However the Sultan was murdered in November.
There are three versions for this murder, one had it as revenge for his supposed order to kill his Vizier, Nizam al-Mulk.
The other version had it that the Shi'a Assassins killed him.
The third was that both Nizam and he were killed for converting to the Shi'a sect by Sunni extremists.

Whatever the reasons, his death saw the rapid disintegration of the Sultanate, and no hope for any benign help from a strong Sultan anymore.

After the murder of the Sultan, the captive son of Sulayman, Kilij Arslan, left Isfahan with an army of Uz Turks.
Once he reached the city of Nicea, the governor Yamin e Ghazni, handed control over to him.

Thursday, 22 April 2010

Rise of Gumush Tegin

1090- The rebel governor of Smyrna, Chaka, sent his fleet to capture the islands of Chios, Lesbos and the Dodecanese.

According to the Alexiad, Ephesus was under the rule of an independent Turkish Beg, called by Anna as 'Tangripermes'.

Since the death of Sulayman, Gumush Tegin, Beg of Sivas, was the strongest Turkish leader in Anatolia. He had previously been the governor of Khwarazm in central asia until leaving that area to his former slave, Anush Tegin, in 1077.

It is supposed that Philaretus, the Byzantine governor based in the town of Marash, died in 1086. So by the date of this map there was no official Byzantine rule over this area, so now I mark it differently, coloured brown.

Death of Sulayman

1086 - Sultan Malik Shah sent his uncle, the Emir Tutush, governor of Syria, to stop Suleyman in his relentless campaign of conquests.

In a battle near Antioch, Tutush's army killed Sulayman and captured his son, Kilij Arslan.

He was taken to the city of Isfahan, capital of Sultan Malik Shahs empire, as a hostage.
The city of Edessa fell at this time. The former Byzantine governor of Antioch, Philaretus, now based himself at the town of Germanicea (Marash).
1085 - The leader of the Italian Normans, Robert Guiscard died, and so with him died the invasion of Greece.
The Norman threat seemed to be at an end.
However, the great city of Antioch fell to the armies of Emir Tutush.
1084 - Sulayman embarked on a campaign in Anatolia to capture as many provinces as he could.

The implications were that most provinces in Anatolia were autonomous, perhaps still under the rule of a Byzantine Toparch, only paying tribute to Turks such as Sulayman.

Perhaps because they chose to give whatever financial aid they could to emperor Alexius rather than remove forever the few troops they had to defend their towns and cities, this might have been the cause for Sulayman to embark on this campaign.
He left the city of Nicea under the command of Amin of Ghazni.

Sunday, 18 April 2010

New emperor, Norman invasion

1081AD: The Caesar, John Dukas, hired a Seljuk army to assist Alexius Comnenus to take Constantinopolis.
Much money was collected by the Caesar to ensure the doors of the city could be 'oiled'.

Melissenos surrendered and was given the rank of Caesar.

The province of Paphlagonia came under direct Turkish control.

Chaka (Tzakas), the former Protonobilissimus of Botaneiates, establishes himself at the port of Smyrna. It is worth noting that in order to have been given the rank of Protonobilissimus, Chaka would have been Baptised. He might have been made governor of Smyrna by Botaneiates.
However when Alexius became emperor, Chaka seems to have began his own bid for the throne, though this war would go on for 14 years.
His objective was to control the Aegean sea to blockade the capital. Also he made contact with the Pecheneg Turks in the Balkans to form a military alliance. The only go-betweens in the region who could undertake such diplomatic missions were the 'Paulicians' who were living among the Pechenegs and still seem to have had contacts in Anatolia, if not actually living there anymore.
Chaka constructed a fleet of 50 ships.

War began with the Italian Norman invasion of the Ionian islands and Epirus, with the objective of taking over what was left of the Byzantine empire.

The resources of men and time were spent repelling this dire threat for the next 5 years.
What imperial troops were left in Anatolia were withdrawn to fight the Normans.
Alexius sent appeals to the Toparchs (a governor of a city, town or fort)of Heraclia Pontica, the Thracian and Cappadocia provinces for military assistance.

So after this date, it is certain that Anatolia was left to the mercy of the Turks, whatever city could not repel them had to accept them.

However Alexius managed to drive the Seljuks from most of the Opsikion province.
He then bribed them not to invade again.

Worth noting is that the 'Alexiad' mentions Turks* from Ochrid, in the Balkans, being led by the Megas Primikerios (Master of Ceremonies) Taticius^at the Battle of Dyrrhachium against the Normans.
They are recorded as fighting well for the emperor.

* The Cumans (Kipchaks) and Pechenegs (Patzinaks) were pagan Turks who had been invading the Balkans since 9th century, they may be the 'Turks' reffered to, or else the Seljuk Turks that had been shipped across the Hellespont by Nicephoritzes to defeat Bryennius.
^ Taticius was a Turk, it is not known if he was of the Oghuz tribe. His father was captured in some battle and made a slave of John Comnenus. However he seemed to have gained favour, as his son was baptised into the Othodox Church and given a good education by John, becoming a close friend, almost Blood-Brother, to Alexius. He was described as having a slit nose, which was normally a punisment for traitors to the empire, yet there is no explanation for this happening to him.

Friday, 16 April 2010

The Revolt of Melissenos

1080: In the Autumn, another rebellion, by another Nicephorus!

Nicephorus Melissenos, the brother-in-law of Alexios, rebelled.

The Seljuk emir Sulayman, who operated inside Anatolia, was supposedly a vassal to the empire with the duty to quell the other Turkmen in the land.

Melissenos allied with Sulayman to control the Opsikion and Bucellarion provinces, however in reality it was Sulayman who controlled the Bucellarion and most of the Opsikion provinces. In usch a situation, it seems Sulayman's vassalage to the empire was brief.

The city of Nicea was given to Sulayman as a reward.
Melissenos requested to divide control of the empire with Alexios (who had also rebelled against the emperor) but Alexios refused this suggestion.

While these rebellions were going on, the strategic port of Cyzicus (Kyzikos) on the Sea of Marmara, fell to the Seljuks of Sulayman.

Revolt of Basilakes

1079: Another revolt, by another man called Nicephorus.
This one was called Nicephorus Basilakes and he had been a general in the army of Bryennius.
Even though his 'emperor' Bryennius had been captured the rebellion was taken over by this man, Basilakes.
He based himself at Thessalonika.
However the emperor, Nicephorus III, sent an army under the command of Alexius, to defeat Basilakes.
Alexius pitched camp near Thessalonika.
That evening he ordered his army to equip themselves and march out of camp to the nearby hills, whilst camp attendants were ordered to light bonfires.
The idea was that Basilakes would see the camp, with the bonfires, thinking that Alexius' army was settling for the night and would be unprepared for an attack, which Basilakes swiftly launched upon the camp.

However Alexius and his army were safely away, but on hearing Basilakes and his army within the camp, soon descended upon them and routed them.

Basilakes managed to escape back to Thessalonika but the citizens were soon enduced to surrender him, to a Turkish officer by the name of Gules, for Alexius.

Whilst this was going on, the Turks in Anatolia had made further inroads, by this date Amasya was occupied and the ancestral seat of the Comneni, Kastra Komnenos (Comnenus) had also been over-run.

The Revolt of Botaneiates

1078: In January the governor of the Anatolikon province, Nicephorus Botaneiates, had himself proclaimed emperor.

He had been in rebellion since defecting from the empire in 1074 and it seems the imperial authorities could not bring him to heel whilst dealing with Roussel de Baileul.
Botaneiates hired a Turkish army and marched to Constantinopole via the city of Nicea.

Suleyman ibn Qutulmish of the Seljuk Turks was hired by the Prime Minister, Nikephoritzes, to defeat Botaneiates.
Sulayman intercepted Botaneiates near the Sangarius river en route to Nicea.
However the willy Botaneiates made a deal with Suleyman in return for his support.
Sulayman and his army settled in most of the Opsikion province, across the Sangarius river.

In March after a huge riot in the city, Michael VII abdicated.
His younger brother Constantius was now the offical emperor.
Botaneiates and his army reached Constantinopole, where he was crowned as emperor Nicephorus III.

The Prime Minister, Nikephoritzes, is murdered by the mob.

The new emperor offered the position of Caesar to the rebel,Bryennios, however he refused.

And so the emperor assembled what was left of the Anatolian armies and hired some Normans and a large Seljuk army which was put under the command of Alexius Comnenus, to defeat Bryennios.

With the aid of the Seljuks, since his Norman mercenaries had defected (again!), Alexius defeated Bryennios by the river Almyros in the Hellas province.
Bryennios was then blinded, but retained his liberty and estates and was made the governor of Adrianapolis, which he successfully defended despite his blinding, from an invasion by Kipchak Turks in 1095.

Monday, 12 April 2010

The Revolt of Bryennius the Elder

I have not found any information to cover the year 1076, so here I illustrate the events of 1077AD:

In the Autumn of that year Prime Minister Nikephoritzes has the Duke of the Dyrrhachion (Durres) province,Nicephorus Bryennius, demoted and marked for assassination.

Such treatment made Bryennius rebel and to then proclaim himself as emperor.
He had been the only general to fight loyally for the former emperorRomanus IV at Manazkert.
It seemed the Fates, if not the Ducas family, favoured those who had betrayed Romanus and hunted down those few who had supported him.

By November Bryennius' army was encamped outside Constantinopolis, however he faced firm resistance, and even worse, the Prime Minister had hired Turks to fight him, and having them shipped across the Hellespont.
They reached the encamped army of Bryennius outside Constantinopolis in November and routed it, Bryennius escaped into the Balkans as a Pecheneg Turkish army crossed the Danube, in the pay of the Prime Minister, to join the fight against Bryennius.

The Anatolikon province was still in rebellion as we will see in the next chapter.
The provinces of the Armeniakon and Bucellarion are not likely to have been well garrisoned, so it is unlikely the emperors writ meant much there, the local nobility seeing to their own defenses or arrangements with the Turks.

An Armenian general of the name Bahram / Badre of Tal Bashir left with his Armenian brigade and took service with the Fatimid Caliphate, later becoming the governor of Acre in 1098, whether he left at this date, or later, it is clear he had been part of the military network for Byzantium in this region but the Emirate of Aleppo was gradually eroding whatever the Armenian generals titularly held for the empire.

Sunday, 11 April 2010

The capture of Roussel.

1075: A new army is scrapped together to defeat Roussel.

This is put under the command of a young man called Alexius Comnenus, younger brother of the seemingly luckless Isaac.
Prime minister Nicephoritzes also sent an embassy to the Seljuk Beg of Aleppo, Tutush, to enlist his help by invading the territories Roussel still had under his control and capture him once and for all.

The strongholds of Roussel fall to the joint forces of Alexius and Tutush. The Seljuks then invade the Bucellarion and Anatolikon provinces,to hunt out the Normans, and Roussel.

Eventually Roussel is caught but the empire cannot raise the agreed sum of money to pay Tutush.
And so the citizens of Amasya are compelled to raise the sum of money, even they supported Roussel.

It is said that in this year Theodore Gabras recaptured Trabizond, whether it was linked to the war against Roussel, and so inferring that the seizure of the city had been a design of Roussel is not known for sure, but no doubt he would have been happy to have added it to his Principality.

Note that Latakya on the Syrian coast has fallen to the Seljuks too, whatever resources Duke Isaac had, he was overstretched as it is to defend such far flung cities. Power began to devolve onto local generals such as Philaretus of Marash (the classical Germanicea) and Gabriel of Malatya.

Alliance with the Sultan, the signing away of Armenia.

1074: The second half of the year;

Emperor Michael VII, as usual under the machinations of the Prime Minister Nikephoritzes, signed a treaty with the Seljuk Sultan Malik Shah.
In the treaty the Sultan is recognised as the ruler of all lands across the Taurus mountains.
Even though Turkmen control many areas of within Anatolia, they are beyond the rule of the Sultan .
In return the Sultan is requested to lead an army to defeat and capture Roussel and John Ducas.
The sheer desperation and lack of manpower is clear to see now.
This merely enriched the Sultan, by money or from prestige.
The Islamic world in the ealry days had respected the empire, now it was a joke and an easy target.
However the Sultan honoured the agreement and led his army into Anatolia to hunt out the Normans and their leader, Roussel.
Near Mount Sophon (in classical times known as Salon) and defeats the Normans and General Botaneiates who had allied with them.
Roussel escaped to the city of Amasya in the Armenikon province.
The Sultan and his army then move on to raid the Sangarius valley and the Anatolikon province to hunt out the remaining rebels.

What happened to Botaneiates is not known though he was doing fine a few years later back in his old command in the Anatolikon province.

John Ducas is ransomed by Michael but then sent into exiled again.

1074; First half of the year; At his wits end, Michael VII pardons his uncle the Caesar John, and scraps together a mercenary army and what ever is left of the Army of the East for him to command with the aim to defeat Roussel.
Near the city of Doryleaum, by the bridge that crosses the Zompi River, Roussel defeats John but this has more to do with the fact his own Norman mercenaries and the Anatolikon brigade under the command of Nicephorus Botaneiates deserted.
The Caesar and his son Andronikos are captured whilst Constantine Ducas dies (he may have been assassinated) as he attempts to intercept Roussel.
However, after this victory, Roussel decided to placate the emperor and requested the title of Grand Domestic of the East in exchange for 'protecting' the region from invading Turks, rather than to be independent from the empire.
His request was refused and so he proclaimed the Caesar John Ducas as emperor at the city of Nicomedia, then he marched west and sacked the town of Chyrsopolis, just across the Bosphorus channel to let the emperor understand his seriousness...

Isaac Comnenus, after his debacle the previous year, was made Duke of Antioch with a mercenary Norman contingent under General Herve of Brettany to defend that vulnerable region from the incursions of the Seljuks of Syria.
Never mind the gaping hole that was Anatolia, the emperor saw this as a priority, but then he was still under the control of his Prime minester, Nicephoritzes.
Isaac fought the Turks near the city of Edessa (Urfa), but he was captured again (for the 2nd time in his military career, treachery from the Normans is not out of the question) and again ransomed.

Isaac must either have been useless as a general, or the only capable general still alive but with totally unreliable mercenary troops, I think the later is more likely.

The Pontic city of Trapizond must have falled to the Muslims at this time.

The Norman Principality of Anatolia

1073; The Second Half: Roussel de Baileul proclaimed himself a Prince, with the support of the aristocracy and merchants of Amasya. He crossed into the Bucellarion province and established himself at Ankyra from which he ruled.

Normans had held estates in the Armeniakon province, in which Amasya was the capital, even in 1063AD.

His army is comprised of Normans and Turks.
Meanwhile the other Turks gained control of the Chaldea, Colonia and Charsianon provinces.
1073AD; First Half: - The cities and regions of Ardz-er-Rum (Erzerum), Sebastya, Harpert came under the control of the Oghuz Turks and other Muslim soldiery, who penetrated the upper Euphrates, the upper Taurus and soon across the Taurus regions.

The eunuch Prime Minister, Nikephoritzes, had Caesar John Ducas exiled to the Opsikion province, as the new emperor, Michael VII, became a his puppet.

The Military class of Anatolia became fearful of the Turkish incursions into Anatolia and organised an army to drive them out of the upper Halys valley.

This army was put under the command of Issac Comnenus, and ended up being defeated, mainly due to the Norman mercenaries deserting (under Roussel de Baileul, the same man who deserted en-route to Ahlat in 1071).
Issac was captured but later ransomed.
The Normans seemed to take desertion as part of the life of being a mercenary yet it meant disaster upon disaster for the Byzantines who hired them.

1072AD- Less than 1 year after the battle of Manazkert (August 26).
The treaty agreed with emperor Romanus IV and Sultan Alp Arslan after the Byzantine defeat.
The stipulations were:
The surrender of Vaspurakan, the cities of Edessa and Antioch.
An annual payment.
The marriage of the daughter of Romanus to the Sultan's son.
However by June 1072 Romanus was exiled to a monastery, and soon blinded by order of his arch enemy, John Ducas. He died soon afterwards.
And so Alp Arslan was left feeling defeated when he had been victorious. There was nothing to stop him occupying the lands conquered, only without the money to pay his soldiers, who soon took the initiative to invade into Anatolia.
On the 21 of November 1072 the Sultan was near the Amu Darya in Kwarazm, having defeated the local Emir.
This Emir, Yussef al-Kwarazmi, decided to fight the Sultan in a last effort of defiance.
He rushed towards the Sultan, his dagger held high.
The Sultan confidently reached back for an arrow, drew it, but then slipped.
At this moment Yussef was upon him and swiftly stabbed the Sultan before being dispatched by the Sultan's bodyguards.
Before he died four days later he ensured that his Emirs backed his son, Malik Shah, as the successor to the throne.
By the end of the year with both Romanus and Alp Arslan dead the situation in Anatolia did not appear to be any the worse following Manakert and the exhaustive civil war that followed, yet appearances were deceptive...


Hello All,

I''ve been interested in history since I was a teenager, and Byzantine history from about the age of 18.
I'd been posting to a Face Book group, but I felt I was swamping it and did not want to look like a 'know-all' so I take a break from Face Book and will use this special blog for my musings, for the moment on Byzantium..

Thank you for browsing!

A particular chapter of Byzantine history that is overlooked yet is pivotal in the history of the world, is the period when Anatolia, came under the control of Muslim emirs such as the Seljuks, and I will be writing about that here.

(I hope to recover my writings on the year 1071AD)