by Harry Gulcher, Master of History in Rosewood

This epic of events starts at the same place where many others do, right after the Death. The Death had shifted the political landscape of Europe to such an extent that it was no longer recognizable. Byzantium, the undisputed Queen of the Mediterranean, the Purple Eagle, the Successor to the Roman Empire, the Host of Constantinople, was left in the dusts of history and on the brink of collapse. The new emperor, Alexios I, would rise to the occasion and remedy this.

The earliest known documents regarding a potential war with the Rum Sultanate date to around 1089. So the Byzantine restoration was a project planned well in advance. Byzantium, while playing the role of the sick man, readied its troops, taught them advanced tactics that would work especially against the Muslim occupiers, and restocked their reserves of Greek Fire. By 1096 the army was ready, the commanders well experienced and the economy stable enough for war.

         On the 10th April, 1096 war was declared. Byzantium was joined by Naples and the Knights of John in war while the Sultanate of Rum had its loyal ally by its side. Both sides were almost evenly matched, but of course, Byzantium’s naval prowess would be able to ground any fleet that Rum might have dispatched. The Emperor’s plan was an assault across the Bosporus and into Anatolia.

The Battle of Izmit, 22nd April 1096

The very first major battle of the war created heavy initial casualties for both sides, especially Byzantium, which lost 2.420 and 500 men, while Rum lost 1.680 and 600. Despite Rum drawing more blood than the Greeks, the battle ended in a draw as neither side made any significant advances.

The Battle of Libyssa, 31st May 1096

The Byzantines’ further strategy was to withdraw and attempt to circumvent the Muslim forces. The attempt ended in failure and on the 31st of May they met near Izmit once again. But this time Byzantium would step out victorious. They did lose 580 and 100 men despite their victory, but they inflicted heavy losses to the Muslim army, 1.020 and 200.

The Battle of the Aegean, 5th June 1096

Shortly after Libyssa, the Greek fleet grounded and destroyed any and all Muslim ships in the Aegean. This heavy blow crippled Rum’s navy and trade, effectively destroying their ships and any attempt to revive their already dying economy. The army decided to fall back as far east as they could.

The Battle of Antioch, 5th September 1098

After two years the armies finally meet for a final time near the City of Antioch. They do battle and the Byzantines easily secure a victory against the demoralized Muslims. The Sultan and what remained of his force returned to the city and prepared for siege. He and his family were slain by rebels on the 15th September 1098, ending the dynasty and sowing turmoil within the Sultanate. The City then opened its gates and allowed the Emperor entry. After a peace was signed on the 21st of September 1098, he allowed all the prisoners he had to return home.

         The assassination of the Sultan had a detrimental effect on his state. Within a year Rum dissolved into a dozen squabbling sultanates. Byzantium was now the dominant power in the region and a force to be reckoned with, which Bulgaria would learn in a few years. The Purple Phoenix has risen from the ashes.

Categories: History

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