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8-08-2015, 00:11

The loss of asia minor, 1071–1081

Romanos IV Diogenes was released after 3 September 1071.He wrote to his wife, the empress Eudocia, informing her of what had happened. While the letter was still on its way, a coup d’´etat took place in Constantinople. In October 1071 Michael VII Doukas (1071–8) was proclaimed emperor; the son of Constantine X (1059–67),Michael had the support of his uncle, the caesar John. Eudocia was compelled by them to become a nun. Civil war became inevitable (see above, p. 609). Romanos IV, who enjoyed support in eastern Anatolia, was defeated twice: the first time near Amaseia, and then in Cilicia. He was captured and so cruelly blinded on 29 June 1072 that he died a few weeks later. One of Romanos’ commanders, Philaretos Brachamios, refused to recognise Michael VII and sought to create a polity of his own, centred on Mshar, and later onGermanikeia.MeanwhileRomanos’ death nullified the peace treaty struck between him and Alp Arslan, who himself perished in Transoxiana shortly afterwards. All our sources agree that it was Romanos’ death which gave the Turks the opportunity to invade Byzantine territories and, more importantly, to remain permanently in Anatolia.13 In 1073 Michael VII sent Isaac Komnenos against the Turks; Isaac was the new domestic of the Schools of the East, and elder brother of the future emperor AlexiosKomnenos. Their expedition ended in disaster; thewestern mercenaries under the command of Russell Balliol rebelled and abandoned the Byzantine army. Meanwhile Isaac was defeated and taken captive by the Turks near Caesarea; Alexios managed to escape and get as far as Ankara (Ankyra), where he was rejoined by Isaac, who had been ransomed by the Byzantine cities. However, Ankara itself was by no means secure, as the Turks were ravaging the surrounding countryside. Near Nikomedeia the young Komnenoi and their small detachment were attacked by a larger group of some 200 Turks. The brothers barely escaped to Constantinople. This episode vividly illustrates conditions in Asia Minor two years after the battle of Manzikert: the countryside lay open to the Turks, while the fortified towns were still in Byzantine hands. Yet even without a strong field army, the Byzantine defence system disintegrated only slowly. The Turks managed to make their first, quite small, territorial acquisitions on Byzantine soil only after 1075. The territories conquered were the Pontos and Bithynia, and the loss was as a result of Russell Balliol’s revolt in 1073–5. After breaking away from Isaac Komnenos’ army, Russell’s own detachment of 400 men went to Melitene, where he repulsed the Turkish hordes, then turned to Sebasteia and managed to occupy the theme of the Armeniakoi from the autumn of 1073 onwards. The small and ineffectual Byzantine army under the command of the caesar John Doukas could do nothing to stop him, and Russell reached Chrysopolis in 1074 with an army by then numbering 3,000. Under these circumstances,Michael VII had no choice but to ask the Turks for help. In June 1074 he sent an embassy to the Seljuq sultan Malik Shah (1073–92)14 but, as time was pressing, the emperor also sought help from the leader of a roving Oghuz band nearby, the tribe known as the d¨oger. This band was led by Artuq, founder of the Artuqid dynasty which later based itself in Diyar Bakr (Amida). Artuq heeded the emperor’s plea, and in a battle at Mount Sophon some time in the second part of 1074 he defeated and took prisoner both John Doukas and Russell Balliol. Michael VII ransomed the caesar John, while Russell was redeemed by his wife who had survived the battle in the fortress of Metabole nearby. Then Artuq left Asia Minor, while Russell withdrew to the theme of Armeniakoi. According to Michael Attaleiates, at this moment the emperor, . . . enraged against him [Russell], preferred that the Turks should occupy and rule the land of theRomans, rather than that this Latin should withdraw to the previous place [the theme of Armeniakoi].15 Indeed, the young Alexios Komnenos is said to have remarked to Tutaq, commander-in-chief of the Seljuq army: Your sultan and my emperor are mutual friends. However, this barbarian, Russell, raises his hands against them and he has become the most terrible enemy of both. On the one hand, he makes incursions and little by little subdues some parts of the [land of the] Romans; on the other, he seizes [lands] in Persia, which might otherwise have remained Persia’s.16 Both statements refer to the situation in Anatolia in the second half of 1075, and indicate that in accordance with the treaty of June 1074 – whereby Michael VII and Malik Shah became ‘friends’ – the Byzantines recognised the Seljuqs’ acquisitions east of the Armeniakoi theme, in return for their assistance against Russell. Important details of how the Byzantines employed the Turks against Russell Balliol are to be found in the Georgian Royal Annals, which also describe howtheTurkish advance into the Pontos was contained withGeorgian help. In 1074Gregory Pakourianos left his post of commander-in-chief (zorvari) of the imperial forces in the east17 and returned to Constantinople. Gregory gave all the lands under his control (Theodosioupolis, Olti, Kars, Vanand, Karnipori18 and a portion of Tao) to King George II (1072–89) of Georgia. At first, this tactical withdrawal worked well enough: Georgian garrisons were established in the former Byzantine strongholds and Georgian troops cleared the territory of the Turkish war bands in 1075. Although the Turks soon occupied Theodosioupolis, Olti and then Kars, some time passed before they subdued the territory completely. They only made their first full-scale invasion into Georgia in 1080.19 Byzantine policy was realistic and flexible. The withdrawal of Gregory Pakourianos’ army was caused byByzantium’s desperate need for troops during Russell’s revolt and by a fresh influx of Turks into the Pontos in 1073–5. With Russell at their rear, the Byzantines had little hope of standing up to the Turks. It was Georgian military support that restricted the Turks’ migration into the Byzantine Pontic provinces in 1075, when Russell’s revolt was suppressed with Turkish help. The Byzantine eastern border zone with its formidable fortifications and huge cities did not collapse as soon as the Turks occupied Theodosioupolis. Sebasteia and its environs, or at least a portion of Sennacherim-John Artsruni’s possessions, may have remained in the hands of his sons Atom and Abusahl, who were still alive as late as 1079–80. Maria, the daughter of Gagik-Abas II (1029–64) of Kars, held her father’s possessions in Tzamandos in 1077. The Byzantines themselves stood their ground in the strategically important region of Choma, Polybotos and Kedrea as late as 1081.20 We also read in an Armenian colophon that in 1079 Ch‘ortowanel Mamikonean, ‘the great prince of Taron and all the lands of the Armenians’, gave with the consent of the emperor his ancestral village of Berdak to the monastery (or church) of the Holy Apostles.21 If this Berdak can be identified as Sewuk Berdak (Maurokastron) on the headwaters of the Araxes, the colophon suggests that an Armenian prince recognising imperial authority retained territory south of Theodosioupolis at the end of the 1070s. The Turks in the Pontos – hemmed in by Byzantine fortresses to the north, west and south, and by the Georgians to their east – did not pose much of a threat to Byzantine power in Asia Minor. Far more dangerous was another invasion led by Suleiman ibn Qutlumush (1081–6) from Syria in 1074–5.22 According to Sibt ibn al-Jawzi, Suleiman ‘was reported to have come from the Turkmen of [the confederation of] al-Nawakiyya who dwelt in Syria’.23 Already in 1070, some of the al-Nawakiyya had gone to Asia Minor, under the leadership of Arisghi (see above, p. 702), where first Romanos IV and then Michael VII settled them in western Anatolia; but most made for Syria, which they occupied in 1071–2. In 1073, northern Syria was caught up in the struggle between the Fatimid caliphate of al-Mustansir (1036–94) and Atsiz, a kinsman or at least a fellow tribesman of Artuq. Atsiz was commander of the largest Turkish band that had been ravaging Syria from 1064 onwards; the al-Nawakiyya Turkmen were another such band. The ensuing chaos led masses of Turks to swarm into Syria, many of them antagonistic not only to the Fatimids but also to the Seljuq sultan Malik Shah. Despite being themselves of the Seljuq clan, Suleiman ibn Qutlumush and his brother Mansur/Masud24 were among thoseTurks who – like the al-Nawakiyya –were hostile to the ruling dynasty of the Grand Seljuqs. Their father Qutlumush, the invader of Vaspurakan in 1045, had rebelled against his cousin Alp Arslan and died in battle near Rayy sometime before 23 January 1064. Although Atsiz lacked the illustrious pedigree of Suleiman, with Malik Shah’s support he grew from strength to strength. Not without reason he became suspicious of the sons of Qutlumush, and open struggle between them ended in victory for Atsiz near Tiberias in 1075. Suleiman andMansur were then driven off from Antioch by the doux Isaac Komnenos and forced to leave Syria for Asia Minor. Suleiman’s horde advanced quickly along the Byzantine military road, taking Ikonion and the fortress of Kabala en route.25 His arrival at Nicaea in the summer or autumn of 1075 transformed the situation in Asia Minor to the Turks’ advantage. According to Attaleiates, the Turkish incursions spread as far as the Bosporus at this time.26 Suleiman’s chance came in October 1077, when Nikephoros Botaneiates – later Emperor Nikephoros III (1078–81) – began his rebellion against Michael VII (see above, p. 610). Arisghi and his al-Nawakiyya Turks at once supported Nikephoros in Phrygia. Suleiman, in command of another grouping of the al-Nawakiyya near Kotyaeion, followed suit at the beginning of 1078.He recognised the new emperor as his suzerain and even helped Nikephoros Botaneiates defeat the rebellion of Nikephoros Bryennios in the spring of 1078. But the main problem for the new emperor was Suleiman’s proximity to the Bosporus; his horde roamed the fertile lands of Bithynia, raiding them relentlessly. Neither the expedition of the amir Bursuq, whom Malik Shah had sent in pursuit of Suleiman in 1078, nor the attempts of Nikephoros III himself to restrict his ‘allies’ could stop the devastating raids. Although, with the exception of Ikonion, the Turks had yet to take any Byzantine cities, they dominated the heart of western Asia Minor. By 1078 Philaretos Brachamios had managed to become master of Edessa, Melitene and Antioch and to halt the influx of Turks from Syria. He also recognised Nikephoros III as his emperor. But even this could not tip the balance in favour of the Byzantines.27

 

 

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