Ελληνική ιστορία και προϊστορία

Ελληνική ιστορία και προϊστορία
Ελληνική ιστορία και προϊστορία

Πέμπτη, 18 Απριλίου 2019

The siege of Berat (Bellegrada) Epirus 1282 AD : The great Byzantine victory which saved the empire from the West

Berat (Berati), is the ninth largest city by population of the Republic of Albania. The city is the capital of the surrounding Berat County, one of 12 constituent counties of the country. By air, it is 71 kilometres north of Gjirokastër, 70 kilometres west of Korçë, 70 kilometres south of Tirana and 33 kilometres east of Fier. Geographically, Berat is located in the south of the country surrounded by mountains and hills including mountain Tomorr on the east that was declared a national park. For a total length of 161 kilometres the Osum River runs through the city before it empties into the Seman River within the Myzeqe Plain. In the classical period, Mount Tomorr was originally known in Greek as Mount Amyron (Αμυρον); Amyron was a central feature of the region of Dassaretis, which was named after its inhabitants the Dexari, a Greek tribe of Epirus belonging to the Chaonian group of northwestern ancient Greeks. Mount Tomorr is a sacred site to both Christians, who climb it on Assumption Day(August 15) to honor the Virgin Mary. In classical antiquity, the Seman River was known by the Greek name as the Apsus River. Myzeqe or Myzeqeja (also Musachia) is a plain in the southwestern-central Albania, by the Adriatic Sea, sometimes referred to as being between the Shkumbin and Seman rivers, and sometimes extending south to the Vjose river north of Vlorë (Avlona in Greek). The name of the region comes from the Medieval times, it is named after the ruling Byzantine family of Muzaka (1280-1600) which possessed the area. The toponym is first recorded as Musachia in 1417. Previously the region's name was Savra. In antiquity, the Greek colony of Apollonia was founded near the coast. In the Middle Ages, the region was known as Savra, and was ruled by various local noble families including the Skuraj and Muzaka families. At various times it was included in the Byzantine Empire and the Bulgarian Kingdom, often with the local ruling families serving as vassals to the rulers of the realm. Myzeqe is notable in its religious makeup as one of the few fairly large regions of Albania where a majority of inhabitants remained Orthodox Christian throughout the Ottoman rule.
The name of the city in Albanian is "Berat" or "Berati", which is probably derived from the Old Slavonic Бѣлградъ or "Bel(i)grad" (Белград, meaning "white city" in the South Slavic languages), under which name it was known in Greek, Bulgarian, Latin and Slavic documents during the High and Late Middle Ages. That name was rendered as Bellegrada (Βελλέγραδα) in Greek. It is the site of the ancient city "Antipatreia" (Αντιπάτρεια "city of Antipater") or "Antipatrea" in Latin, while during the early Byzantine Empire the name of the town was "Pulcheriopolis" (Πουλχεριόπολις, "city of Pulcheria"). In the Republic of Venice the city was known as Belgrad di Romania, while in the Ottoman Empire it was also known as Belgrad-i Arnavud (Albanian Belgrade) to distinguish it from Belgrade. Berat lies on the right bank of the river Osum, a short distance from the point where it is joined by the Molisht river. The old city centre consists of three parts: Kalaja (on the castle hill), Mangalem (at the foot of the castle hill) and Gorica (on the left bank of the Osum). It has a wealth of beautiful buildings of high architectural and historical interest. The pine forests above the city, on the slopes of the towering Tomorr mountains, provide a backdrop of appropriate grandeur. The Osumi river has cut a 915-metre deep gorge through the limestone rock on the west side of the valley to form a precipitous natural fortress, around which the town was built on several river terraces.
The earliest recorded inhabitants of the city (6th century BC) were the Greek Epirotic tribe of the Dassaretae or Dexarioi, the northernmost subgroup of the Chaonians of Epirus, and the region was known as Dessaretis after them. Modern Berat occupies the site of Antipatreia (Αντιπάτρεια), which originally was a settlement of the Dexarioi and later a Macedonian stronghold in southern Illyria. The founding date is unknown, although if king Cassander is the founder it has been suggested that Antipatreia was founded after he took control of the region around 314 BC. In 200 BC it was captured by the Roman legatus Lucius Apustius, who razed the walls and massacred the male population of the city. The town became part of the unstable frontier of the Byzantine Empire following the fall of thewestern Roman Empire and, along with much of the rest of the Balkan peninsula, it suffered from repeated invasions by Slavs. During the Roman and early Byzantine period, the city was known as Pulcheriopolis. The First Bulgarian Kingdom under Presian I captured the town in the 9th century, and the city received the Slavic name Bel[i]grad ("White City"), Belegrada (Βελέγραδα) in Greek, which persisted throughout the medieval period, changing to Berat under Ottoman rule. The town became one of the most important towns in the Bulgarian region Kutmichevitsa. The Bulgarian governor Elemag surrendered the city to the Byzantine emperor Basil II in 1018, and the city remained in Byzantine hands until the Second Bulgarian Kingdom retook the city in 1203 during the rule of Kaloyan. During the 13th century, it fell to Michael I Ducas, the ruler of the Byzantine Despotate of Epirus. Byzantine Emperor Michael VIII Palaiologos sent letters to the local leaders of Berat and Durrës (Dyrrachium) in 1272 asking them to abandon their alliance with Charles I of Naples, leader of the Kingdom of Albania, who had captured and incorporated it at the same period in the Kingdom of Albania. However, they sent the letters to Charles as a sign of their loyalty. In 1274 Michael VIII recaptured Berat and after being joined by locals who supported the Byzantine Empire, marched unsuccessfully against the Angevin capital of Durrës (Dyrrachium). In 1280-1281 the French (of Sicily) forces under Hugh the Red of Sully laid siege to Berat. In March 1281 a relief force from Constantinople under the command of Michael Tarchaneiotes was able to drive off the besieging Sicilian army. Later in the 13th century Berat again fell under the control of the Byzantine Empire. Modern Berat consists of three parts divided by the Osum River: Gorica ("little mountain" in Old Church Slavonic), Mangalem and Kalaja, the latter being a residential quarter within the old Byzantine citadel that overlooks the town. The town also has a 15th-century mosque and a number of churches of the Albanian Orthodox Church, whose autocephaly was proclaimed there in 1922. Several of the churches house works by the renowned 16th century painter Onufri.
Michael Palaiologos Tarchaneiotes was a Byzantine aristocrat and general, active against the Turks in Asia Minor and against the Angevins in the Balkans from 1278 until his death from disease in 1284. Michael Tarchaneiotes was the son of Nikephoros Tarchaneiotes, megas domestikos to John III Vatatzes (r. 1221–1254), and Maria-Martha Palaiologina, the eldest sister of Michael VIII Palaiologos (r. 1259–1261). His family supported the rise of Palaiologos to the throne in 1259, and the new emperor rewarded Michael and his brothers: they came to live in the imperial palace, while eventually Michael and his younger brother Andronikos received the high offices of protovestiarios and megas konostaulos respectively, and the third brother, John, became a general. He first appears in the sources taking part in the 1262 campaign against the Despotate of Epirus under his uncle, John Palaiologos. In 1278, having risen to the post of megas domestikos, Tarchaneiotes accompanied his cousin, the young co-emperor Andronikos II Palaiologos (r. 1282–1328) to an expedition against the Turks in Asia Minor. The campaign was successful in driving the Turks out of the valley of the Maeander River. Tarchaneiotes, on Andronikos's orders, rebuilt, fortified, and repopulated the city of Tralles, which the young ruler intended to rename as Andronikopolis or Palaiologopolis. A few years later, however, the city, poorly supplied with water and provisions, was besieged and taken by the Turkish emir of Menteshe (SW Anatolia). In spring 1281, Tarchaneiotes led the Byzantine army that was sent to relieve the city of Berat in Albania, which was being besieged by an Angevin army. Tarchaneiotes's troops captured the Angevin commander, Hugh of Sully, in an ambush, whereupon his army panicked and was defeated with great loss by the Byzantines. Tarchaneiotes was received with great pomp in Constantinople, where he paraded the captive Sully in a triumphal procession through the city; but he declined the offer of promotion to the rank of Caesar out of modesty. In 1283/4, Tarchaneiotes was placed by Andronikos II at the head of the campaign against John I Doukas of Thessaly. Tarchaneiotes's forces marched to Thessaly, where they were joined by a Byzantine fleet and laid siege to the port city of Demetrias. The city fell, but the outbreak of an epidemic(possibly malaria) killed many soldiers, including Tarchaneiotes, and forced the remainder of the army to withdraw.
John Komnenos Angelos Doukas Synadenos was a Byzantine noble and military leader with the rank of megas stratopedarches during the reigns of Michael VIII Palaiologos (r. 1259–1282) and Andronikos II Palaiologos (r. 1282–1328). Synadenos appears in 1276/1277, when, along with the megas konostaulos Michael Kaballarios, he led an army against the independent ruler of Thessaly, John I Doukas. The Byzantine army was routed at the Battle of Pharsalus, and Synadenos himself was captured, while Kaballarios was killed whilst trying to escape. He was released or ransomed from captivity, and in 1281 he participated in the campaign against the Angevins in Albania which led to the Byzantine victory at Berat. Finally, in 1283, he participated in another campaign against John Doukas, under Michael Tarchaneiotes. Eventually, Synadenos retired to a monastery with the monastic name Joachim.
Demetrios, later renamed Michael, Doukas Komnenos Koutroules Angelos (fl. 1278–1304) was the third son of the ruler of Epirus, Michael II Komnenos Doukas (ruled 1230–68), also surnamed Koutroules, and his wife Theodora of Arta. In 1278, he married Anna Komnene Palaiologina, the daughter of the Byzantine emperor Michael VIII Palaiologos (r. 1259–82), and received from his father-in-law the supreme dignity of Despot.  From this marriage, he had two sons, Andronikos and Constantine. From a second marriage to a daughter of George I Terter, Tsar of Bulgaria, he had several children more. He is mentioned as fighting in the ranks of the Byzantine army against the troops of Charles of Anjou in the Siege of Berat, as well as twenty years later against the Alans. In 1304, he was accused of conspiring against Emperor Andronikos II Palaiologos (r. 1282–1328) and was imprisoned.
The Siege of Berat in Albania by the forces of the Angevin Kingdom of Sicily against the Byzantine garrison of the city took place in 1280–1281. Berat was a strategically important fortress, whose possession would allow the Angevins access to the heartlands of the Byzantine Empire. A Byzantine relief force arrived in spring 1281, and managed to ambush and capture the Angevin commander, Hugo de Sully. Thereupon, the Angevin army panicked and fled, suffering heavy losses in killed and wounded as it was attacked by the Byzantines. This defeat ended the threat of a land invasion of the Byzantine Empire, and along with the Sicilian Vespers marked the end of the Western threat to reconquer Byzantium.
Ever since the Emperor Michael VIII Palaiologos (r. 1259–1282) recovered Constantinople from the Latin Empire in 1261, the restored Byzantine Empire faced the threat of a Latin crusade to reclaim the city. The antagonistic Greek Despotate of Epirus and the Latin states of southern Greece, fearful of the Byzantine resurgence, sought aid from the Kingdom of Sicily, first under Manfred of Sicily(r. 1258–1266), and after 1266 under the ambitious Charles of Anjou (r. 1266–1285), who quickly established himself as Byzantium's chief antagonist. Countering the Angevin ruler's alliances and efforts to conquer Byzantium would occupy the remainder of Michael VIII's reign. In 1258, the Sicilians took possession of the island of Corfu and the Albanian coast, from Dyrrhachium to Valona and Buthrotum and as far inland as Berat. This gave Manfred a strategically vital beachhead in the Balkans, controlling the western terminus of the great Via Egnatia, the main overland route to Constantinople. Already in the 11th and 12th centuries, the same area had been the target of the Normans of southern Italy in their attacks on the Empire. After overthrowing Manfred, in the Treaty of Viterbo (1267) Charles secured his recognition as Manfred's heir. In 1272, the Latin notables who had held the fortresses of Valona, Kanina, and Berat for Manfred surrendered them to Charles, and soon afterwards Charles's troops took Dyrrhachium too. Having secured the support of many Albanian chieftains, Charles proclaimed the establishment of the Kingdom of Albania in the same year. Michael VIII countered the emerging threat by a diplomatic mission to the Papacy, which in the Second Council of Lyon (1274) agreed to the union of the Orthodox and Catholic churches, estranged after the Great Schism of 1054, and thereby placed Michael and his empire under papal protection. Taking advantage of Charles's entanglement in the conflict between Guelphs and Ghibellines in Italy, in spring 1274 Michael launched an attack against Angevin holdings in Albania. Berat and Buthrotum were taken and Charles's troops were pushed back from the hinterland to the two ports of Valona and Dyrrhachium. Although these were assaulted several times in 1274–1275, they remained in Angevin hands. By 1279 however, Charles had established his control not only over the Latin states of Greece (after 1278 he was the Prince of Achaea), but also received the submission and vassalage of Nikephoros I, Despot of Epirus. In August 1279, in preparation for resuming his offensive against Michael along the Via Egnatia, Charles appointed as his vicar-general in Albania the Burgundian Hugo de Sully. Over the next year, Sully received a steady flow of supplies, siege equipment and reinforcements.
In August/September 1280, with an army of 2,000 knights and 6,000 infantry, Sully began his attack by storming the fortress of Kanina and then advancing to central Albania and laying siege to Berat. The situation was grave for Byzantium: Berat was, in the words of the historian Deno J. Geanakoplos "the key to the Via Egnatia and all of Macedonia". If it were taken, the Empire would lie open to an invasion, which, if joined by the Latin states of Greece and the Greek rulers of Epirus and Thessaly, might result in the fall of Constantinople to Charles. Responding to the pleas for reinforcements of the governor of Berat, Michael VIII ordered special prayers for the salvation of the Empire, and assembled an army headed by some of his best generals. The army's commander-in-chief was the megas domestikos Michael Tarchaneiotes, with the megas stratopedarches John Synadenos, the despotes Michael Komnenos Doukas (the emperor's son-in-law), and the eunuch court official Andronikos Enopolites as subordinate commanders. Meanwhile, the siege of Berat continued through the winter of 1280/1281. By early December, the Angevin forces had seized a number of outlying forts around the city and penetrated its suburbs. Charles, however, remained anxious to take the city before the Byzantine relief force arrived. He ordered his governors in Albania to direct all their resources towards the siege, and displayed his close interest by a series of letters to Sully, instructing him to take the city by assault if necessary. The Byzantine force advanced cautiously, and arrived in the area in early spring 1281. The megas domestikos Tarchaneiotes avoided a direct confrontation and relied on ambushes and raids instead. He also managed to resupply the besieged fortress with provisions, which were loaded onto rafts and then left to float down the river Osum which flows by the citadel. The besiegers became aware of this, and, unlike the Byzantines, the Angevin commanders were eager for a decisive confrontation. At this point, Sully resolved to reconnoitre the area personally, accompanied only by a bodyguard of 25 men. As he approached the Byzantine camp, he fell into an ambush by Turkish mercenaries serving in the Byzantine army. The Turks attacked the small troop, killed Sully's horse, scattered his guard, and captured him. A few of Sully's guards escaped and reached their camp, where they reported his capture. Panic spread among the Angevin troops at this news, and they began to flee towards Valona. The Byzantines took advantage of their disordered flight and attacked, joined by the troops in the besieged citadel. Many Latins fell, many others were captured as the Byzantines aimed their arrows at the less well-protected horses of the Latin knights, unhorsing them. The Byzantines also took an enormous booty, including all the numerous siege machines. Only a small remnant managed to cross the river Vjosë and reach the safety of Kanina.
Πηγή :–1281)

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