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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What imperial troops were left in Anatolia were withdrawn to fight the Normans.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.

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