Alexander Palace Forum

Discussions about the Imperial Family and European Royalty => The Byzantine Heritage => Topic started by: MacL on July 23, 2008, 07:42:23 PM

Title: Rus knights at invasion of Crete 911 A.D. Southern Italy,Cannae 900's
Post by: MacL on July 23, 2008, 07:42:23 PM
Rus knights not Varangians were an integral part of Byzantine military in 10th century. Anyone have more details?
Title: Re: Rus knights at invasion of Crete 911 A.D. Southern Italy,Cannae 900's
Post by: Mari on August 18, 2008, 02:04:16 AM
Invasion of Crete by Byzantine Empire I found this: It appears the most successful expedition was in 960 this doesn't mention 911 a.d.!

From the Cretan harbors, the shores of Greece or of the Adriatic would be raided, and Byzantium was compelled to counterattack. The first attempt to re-conquer the island was made in 825. Photeinos, the Governor of the theme of the east, was appointed general of Crete. He disembarked on the island, but his attempt failed. Another expedition in 826 led by general Karteros, was initially more successful. He disembarked on the east of Handaka and stubbornly engaged the Arabs in battle for one whole day; finally, he routed the Arabs, who fled to the city. Karteros' army camped by the river Amnisos, where they abandoned themselves to drunkenness in celebration of their victory. When the Arabs were informed of this, they attacked the unguarded army during the night and destroyed it. Karteros fled in a ship, but the Arabs pursued him to the island of Kos, where they killed them. The only memento of the battle is the renaming of the river Amnisos after the general. Not much later, general Ooryphas pursued the Arabs, succeeded in restricting their raids, but did nothing to regain the island. Two other expeditions against the Arabs of Crete, both of which failed, are mentioned by historians. The first in 902 under Himerios, and the largest of all, under the eunuch Gongyles, an inept favorite of the Byzantine court, in 949 or 956, who caused the destruction of that great expedition.

The failure by Byzantine forces to re-conquered Crete no doubt strengthened the Arabs' sense of security during this period, and it is probable that other Arab soldiers of fortune from Spain, Syria and Africa, were attracted to the island. For Crete became a formidable nest of Arab pirates, and slave trade center which, among other things, provided recruits for the harems of the east.

At last, in Nikephoros Phokas, the Byzantine Empire found the person suitable for the great task. With a very large fleet (3,300 ships - 2,000 war ships with 250 armed fighters, and the rest filled with supplies, machinery and Greek Fire) gathered at Phrygela in Asia Minor opposite Samos. In July 960 he sailed in full force for Crete, disembarking at the Bay of Halmyros, where he gave battle at once. The Arabs almost at once shut themselves behind the walls of Fort Handakas (Candia). After an excruciating eight month blockade (due to severe winter and famine), Phokas broke through the Fort's walls on March 961.

A merited vengeance for 135 years of Arab-induced misery and slavery was inflicted. No mercy was shown for the city filled with a century's plunder of the towns, monasteries and churches of the Aegean. The startling figure of 200,000 slain is recorded by the Arab chronicler Nuwairi. The mosques were closed; missionaries, and colonists of Greeks and Armenians were sent to repopulate many of the island's areas.

Weren't the Varangians a hired mercenary group of Norsemen? According to this they were used as hired Byzantine troops in the 10th century.

about the Rus...
Title: Re: Rus knights at invasion of Crete 911 A.D. Southern Italy,Cannae 900's
Post by: MacL on August 18, 2008, 10:05:17 AM
Thank you so much Mari.  In 911 700 Rus soldiers were listed among the forces carried by the Imperial Fleet to Crete.  In the 949 attempt 629 Rus are mentioned.  There are an indeterminate number for the landing in 961.  These were provided by  the regent Olga acting on behalf of her son Svyatoslav. They were requested by the emperor Romanus II.  In 1013 the Katepano Basil Boioannes led an army of Rus knights transported by the Imperial Fleet to southern Italy - where they "crushed" an invading Norman army at Cannae.     Primary source: The Making of Byzantium pub. by U.of Cal. press.  1996.  Mark Whittow  Oriel College, Oxford was the author.