Turkish War

Turkish War : Dalmatian Interlude (1092-4) : Conspiracy of Nicephorus Diogenes (1094)

I In this wise the Emperor settled the affairs of John and Gregory Gabras; then he started from Philippopolis and visited the valleys lying between Dalmatia and our territory. He traversed the whole narrow mountain ridge of what is locally called the “Zygum,” but not on horseback (for the nature of the ground did not allow of this as it was rugged and full of gullies and here and there thickly wooded and almost impassable).

Turkish War – So he made his way on foot all along and examined everything with his own eyes; in order that no unguarded comer, through which the enemy could easily force an entrance, should escape notice. In some places he had trenches dug; and in others towers erected made of wood; also wherever the site permitted he ordered small forts to be constructed of bricks or stone while he himself measured out the distance between them, and their size; in some spots too he had exceedingly tall trees felled at the root and laid across the path.

After having thus fully blocked the enemy’s means of ingress, he returned to the capital. Now all this planning probably sounds but a slight thing when told like this, but many of the Emperor’s companions on that occasion are still alive and testify to the hard work and fatigue that journey caused him.

A short time afterwards very accurate information about the doings of Tzachas was brought to him, which was that none of his defeats by land and sea had caused him to abandon his former hope, but that he had adopted the insignia of an Emperor, styled himself Emperor, inhabited Smyrna as if it were his palace, and was now equipping a fleet with which to devastate the islands again and push on to Byzantium, and if anyhow possible, to have himself exalted to the imperial eminence.

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But apprehending that he was already detected (for our conscience tries us severely), he considered how to ensure his own safety by flight, and escape to the Empress Maria’s properties in Christopolis, either to Pemicus or Petritzus, and then to rearrange his life carefully according to circumstances. For before this the Princess Maria had interested herself in him because on the mother’s side he was the brother of her husband, Michael Ducas, the former Emperor, although they had had different fathers.

An easy life with his Queen Mother

The Emperor departed from Constantine’s house on the third day, and left him behind there to rest as he was afraid for the delicate and inexperienced youth who had on this occasion left his own country for the first time to take part in an expedition; besides this he was the only son of his mother. And in his great concern for the youth the Emperor allowed him to enjoy an easy life with his Queen Mother, at the

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It he is plotting against us, he must be proved guilty in the sight of God and men.” Philocales went away distressed, beating his hands together and calling the Emperor rash. A few hours passed and the Emperor was sleeping peacefully at the Empress’ side, when about the middle watch of the night Diogenes got up, placed his sword under his arm, stepped to the threshold (of the Emperor’s tent) and stood there. For while the Emperor slept, the doors were not bolted nor did a guard keep watch outside – so much for the Emperor’s habits. On his side Nicephorus was at that moment checked in his undertaking by some divine power.

Emperor’s death without disguise

For he saw a maid fanning their Majesties to drive away the mosquitoes from their faces, and ‘was seized with a sudden tremor in all his limbs, while pallor overspread his cheeks,’ as the poet says, and he suspended the murder till another day. This man continued p

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As he had lost most of his men, and could no longer offer any resistance, John made his way to the capital. Thereupon Bolcanus grew bold, as no opponent was left, and devastated the surrounding lands and towns; laid the country outside Scopia in ruins and even burnt some of it. As if this was not enough, he even seized Polobus, and proceeding to Branea laid that all waste, carried off a tremendous amount of plunder from it and then returned to his own country.

V These tidings were too bad to be borne by the Emperor, who at once armed himself again, and certainly required no urging, not even from the flute-player Timotheus, for whose Orthian march Alexander waited. The Emperor, I say, armed himself and called to arms all the soldiers who were in the capital, and took in haste the road leading straight to Dalmatia. He wished to rebuild the forts which had just been ruined, to put matters on their former footing and to exact abundant retribution from Bolcanus for the evil he

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However, when the Emperor had occupied Scopia, Bolcanus sent envoys with overtures of peace, and absolved himself from all blame for the evil happenings, but laid it all on the Roman satraps by saying, “They are never willing to remain within their own frontiers, but have made frequent inroads which have entailed a great deal of loss on Serbia. I myself will never do anything of the kind again, but will return to my country, send hostages from among my own kinsmen to your Majesty, and not overstep my boundaries again.” To this the Emperor agreed, and leaving behind him men appointed to rebuild the ruined towns and receive the hostages, packed up for his return to the capital.

Emperor summoned John

However, Bolcanus when asked for the hostages did not produce them but put the matter off from day to day, and before a full year had passed, he had again marched out to ravage the Roman territory. And, although he received several letters from the Emperor

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Directly the Sultan, Chtziasthlan, received the news sent him by the Emperor, he at once set to work, and started on the road to Tzachas with his whole army. For such are all the barbarians ever ready for massacre and war. As the Sultan drew nigh, Tzachas felt very helpless, for he saw foes advancing against him by land and sea, whereas he had not a boat anywhere, for the ships he was building were not yet fitted out, and his forces were insufficient for fighting both against a Roman army and that of his kinsman, the Sultan Clitziasthlan. He was also afraid of the inhabitants and garrison of Abydos, and therefore judged it wise to interview the Sultan, not knowing of the intrigue started against him by the Emperor.

The Sultan on beholding him shewed him a cheerful countenance and received him graciously and had a table set before him according to custom, supped with him and obliged Tzachas to drink somewhat too hard. When he saw that the latter was full of wine, he drew hi

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The island also needed a military governor, so he appointed Philocales Eumathius as Stratopedarch, assigning the protection of it to him, and gave him ships of war and cavalry with which to guard Cyprus, both by land and sea. Butumites conducted Rhapsomates and the other ‘Immortals’ who had joined him in rebellion and returned with them to Ducas, and thus made his way to the capital.

III Such were the events which took place in the islands, I mean Cyprus and Crete.

Tzachas, however, was too fond of war, and too energetic to be able to keep quiet, and therefore attacked Smyrna after a short interval and took possession of it. And once again he began carefully to equip pirate-ships,’dromons,’ biremes and triremes, and other kinds of lighter vessels, still in pursuit of his former aim.

Most glorious Sultan Clitziasthlan

On being informed of this the Emperor did not delay or hesitate, but determined to defeat him utterly

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But Rhapsomates put off the battle for some time, not really for the purpose of preparing for the clash of arms as if he were not ready (on the contrary he was well prepared and could have engaged in battle at once, had he wished); but he acted like one who did not wish to risk an engagement at any time, but had taken up war as children do at play and went about it softly, he kept sending envoys to the Romans as if expecting to entice them over by honeyed words. And I fancy he did this through his ignorance of warfare. (For I have been told that he had only recently handled spear and sword and did not even know how to mount a horse and if by chance he mounted and wanted to ride, he was seized with fright and dizziness, so utterly inexperienced was Rhapsomates in military experience.)

The deserters from Rhapsomates’ army

It was either for this reason or because the sudden advent of the imperial troops had overwhelmed him, that his mind was in this state of

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So when Tzachas weighed anchor, and without delay sailed straight for Smyrna, Dalassenus overtook him very quickly, and at once attacked and chased him, Ducas too managed to capture the rest of Tzachas’ fleet as it was raising anchor, and thus secured the ships and rescued from the barbarians all the prisoners of war and other captives in them. Dalassenus took a number of Tzachas’ pirate vessels, and had everybody in them, rowers and all, put to death.

And probably Tzachas himself would have been captured too, had he not with native shrewdness foreseen what was coming and boarded one of the lighter boats, and thus, unsuspected and unseen, got safely away. He had imagined something of this kind might happen to him, and had therefore arranged beforehand for some Turks to stand on a certain headland and watch until he either reached Smyrna safely or, if he fell in with the enemy, steered his ship towards them as toward a saf e refuge. Nor did he fail in his object

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But Ducas was not idle; when the sun reached the meridian, he and the whole army got under arms. As soon as the sun began to turn, he formed up his lines and with war cries and tremendous shouting rushed upon the barbarians. However Tzachas was not found unprepared for he quickly had his men fully armed and joined battle with the Roman lines. A very strong wind was blowing at the time and when the battle became very close the dust was whirled in clouds right up to heaven.

And thus, firstly because they had the sun shining in their faces, and secondly because the wind somewhat obscured their sight owing to the dust, and also because the Romans drove on the attack more vigorously than ever, the barbarians were utterly discomfited and fled. After this battle Tzachas felt he could not endure the siege any longer and was too weak for continuous fighting, and therefore sued for peace, making only one stipulation that he should be allowed to sail to Smyrna unmolested.

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Accordingly when the winter was already far spent and spring with its smiles was near, he sent to Epidanmus for his brother-in-law, John Ducas, and appointed him ‘Great Duke’ of the Fleet. He gave him a picked army of landsmen and ordered him to make the journey against Tzachas by land, and to entrust Constantine Dalassenus with the command of the fleet with orders to sail along the coast so that they might arrive at Mitylene at the same time, and start the war with Tzachas conjointly by land and sea.

When Ducas reached Mitylene he at once had wooden towers built, and then, using that town as a base of operations, he began a vigorous campaign against the barbarians. Now Tzachas had left his brother Galabatzes in command of the garrison at Mitylene and, knowing that the latter had insufficient troops for fighting against such a famous warrior, he hastened back thither, formed a plan of operations and opened battle with Ducas. While the battle was at its height n