Slike stranica

Meanwhile the Emperor was preparing a formidable expedition against Bulgaria, to requite Krum for his cruelties and successes. In May 811 the preparations were complete, and Nicephorus marched through Thrace at the head of a large army. The troops of the Asiatic Themes had been transported from beyond the Bosphorus; Romanus, general of the Anatolics, and Leo, general of the Armeniacs, were summoned to attack the Bulgarians, as their presence was no longer required in Asia to repel the Saracen. When he reached Marcellae, at the foot of the mountains, where he united the various contingents of his host, ambassadors arrived from Krum, who was daunted by the numbers of the Romans.1 But the Augustus at the head of his legions had no thought of abandoning his enterprise, and he rejected all pleadings for peace. He knew well that a humiliating treaty would be violated by the enemy as soon as his own army had been disbanded; yet nothing less than a signal umiliation could atone for the massacres of Sardica and the Strymon. The march, difficult for a great army, through the pass of Veregava, occupied some time, and on the 20th of July the Romans approached the capital of Krum. Some temporary consternation was caused by the disappearance of a trusted servant of the Emperor, who deserted to the enemy with the Imperial apparel and 100 lbs. of gold.

No opposition was offered to the invaders, and the Roman swords did not spare the inhabitants. Arriving at Pliska, Nicephorus found that the king had fled; he set under lock and key, and sealed with the Imperial seal, the royal treasures, as his own spoil; and burned the palace. Then Krum said,



'Lo, thou hast conquered; take all thou pleasest, and go in

1 It is supposed by Uspenski that the Kady-keui inscription (Aboba, 228) may relate to the war of Nicephorus with Krum, on account of the words καὶ εἰσῆλθεν ὁ Νικηφ[όρος (1. 3). In 1. 2 we have roÙS TρIKOVS εἰς Μαρκ[έλλας and 11. 6-10 are concerned with the actions of certain Ekusoos, whom "the Greeks met" and who "went to Hadrianople." It is impossible to restore a connected sense, without some external clew, and the supplements of Uspenski are quite in the air. It is


certainly more probable that Nicephorus is the Emperor, than, for instance, Nicephorus, an engineer, who took service under the Bulgarian king (see Theoph. 498). If the Emperor is meant, I conjecture that the events described may be connected with his abortive expedition in A.D. 807 and the military mutiny. This is suggested by 11. 5, 6, ἐκ πικρίας αὐτοῦ (apparently referring to Nicephorus-"in his anger”) μὴ σωρεύ [σωσιν δυνάμεις ?] . . . οἱ Γραικοὶ καὶ πάλιν ἐσώρευ[σαν.

peace." But the victor disdained to listen. Perhaps it was
his hope to recover Moesia and completely to subdue the
Bulgarian power. But if this was his design it was not to
be realised; Nicephorus was not to do the work which was
reserved for Tzimiskes and Basil Bulgaroktonos. He allowed
himself to be drawn back into the mountain where Krum and
his army awaited him. It is generally supposed that an
obvious precaution had been neglected and that the Romans
had not taken care to guard their retreat by leaving soldiers
to protect the mountain pass behind them. But it seems
probable that the pass of Veregava was not the scene of the
disaster which followed, and the imprudence of Nicephorus
did not consist in neglecting to secure the road of return. So
far as we can divine, he permitted the enemy to lure him into
the contiguous pass of Verbits, where a narrow defile was
blocked by wooden fortifications which small garrisons could
defend against multitudes. Here, perhaps, in what is called
to-day the Gek Hollow, where tradition declares that many
Greeks once met their death, the army found itself enclosed as
in a trap and the Emperor exclaimed, "Our destruction is
certain; if we had wings, we could not escape." The Bulgarians
could conceal themselves in the mountains and abide their
time until their enemies were pressed by want of supplies;
and as the numbers of the Roman army were so great, they
would not have to wait long. But the catastrophe was
accelerated by a successful night attack. The defiles had been
fortified on Thursday and Friday, and on Sunday morning
just before dawn the tent in which Nicephorus and the chief
patricians were reposing was assailed by the heathen. The
details of the attack are not recorded; perhaps they were
never clearly known; but we must suppose that there was
some extraordinary carelessness in the arrangements of the
Roman camp.
The Roman soldiers, taken unawares, seem to
have been paralysed and to have allowed themselves to be
massacred without resistance. Nicephorus himself was slain,
and almost all the generals and great officers who were with
him, among the rest the general of Thrace and the general
of the Anatolics.2

1 Groshki-Dol, between the heights of Kys-tepe and Razboina: Shkorpil Aboba, 564, and 536), whose view

as to the scene of the battle I have

2 The others specially mentioned

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This disaster befell on the 26th of July. It seemed more shameful than any reverse that had happened throughout the invasions of the Huns and the Avars, worse than any defeat since the fatal day of Hadrianople. After the death of Valens in that great triumph of the Visigoths, no Roman Augustus had fallen a victim to barbarians. During the fifth and sixth centuries the Emperors were not used to fight, but since the valour of Heraclius set a new example, most of the Roman sovrans had led armies to battle, and if they were not always victorious, they always succeeded in escaping. The slaughter of Nicephorus was then an event to which no parallel could be found for four centuries back, and it was a shock to the Roman world.


Krum exposed the head of the Emperor on a lance for a certain number of days. He then caused the skull to be hollowed out in the form of a large drinking bowl,1 and lined with silver, and at great banquets he used to drink in it to the health of his Slavonic boliads with the Slavonic formula "zdravitsa." 2

A memorial of this disaster survived till late times at Eskibaba in Thrace, where a Servian patriarch of the seventeenth century saw the tomb of a certain Nicolas, a warrior who had accompanied the fatal expedition of Nicephorus and seen a strange warning dream. The Turks had shrouded the head of the corpse with a turban.3

§ 3. Krum and Michael I.

Sated with their brilliant victory, the Bulgarians did not pursue the son and son-in-law of the Emperor, who escaped from the slaughter, and they allowed the Romans ample time to arrange the succession to the throne, which,

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are the patricians Aetius, Peter, Sisinnios Triphyllios, Theodosius Salibaras, and the Prefect (it is very strange to find the Prefect of the City -who can only be meant-taking part in a campaign); also the Domesticus of the Excubitors; the Drungarios of the Watch; and many other officers. Theoph. 491. In what manner Nicephorus was slain himself no one could tell. Some of his

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as we have seen, was attended by serious complications. But Michael I. had not been many months established in the seat of Empire, when he received tidings that the enemy had invaded Thrace (A.D. 812). The city which Krum first attacked was near the frontier. On an inner curve of the bays, on whose northern and southern horns Anchialus and Apollonia faced each other, lay the town of Develtos. It might pride itself on its dignity as an episcopal seat, or on its strength as a fortified city. But its fortifications did not now avail it, nor yet its bishop. Krum reduced the place, and transported inhabitants and bishop beyond the mountains to Bulgaria. The Emperor meanwhile prepared to oppose the invader. On the 7th day of June he left the capital, and the Empress Procopia accompanied him as far as Tzurulon, a place which still preserves its name as Chorlu, on the direct road from Selymbria to Hadrianople.

It does not seem that Michael advanced farther than to Tzurulon. The news of the fate of Develtos came, and a mutiny broke out in the army. It was thought that the Emperor had shown incompetence or had followed injudicious advice. While we can well understand that little confidence could be felt in this weak and inexperienced commander, we must also remember that there was in the army a large iconoclastic section hostile to the government. The Opsikian and Thrakesian Themes played the most prominent parts in the rioting. A conspiracy in favour of the blind brothers of Constantine V. followed upon this mutiny, and Michael returned to the City. The field was thus left to the Bulgarians, who prevailed in both Thrace and Macedonia. But the alarm felt by the inhabitants caused perhaps more confusion than the actual operations of the invaders. It does not indeed appear that the Bulgarians committed in this year any striking atrocities or won any further success of great moment. But the fate of the Roman Emperor in the previous year had worked its full effect. The dwellers in Thrace were thoroughly frightened, and when they saw no Roman army


1 It was a town on a hill close to the tributary of the Erginus, which is called Chorlu - su. See Jireček, Heerstrasse, 51, 101. In the days of Justinian, Tzurulon had been stormed

by the terrible hordes of Zabergan ; and in the reign of Maurice, the valiant general Priscus was besieged in this fortress by the Avars.

in the field they had not the heart to defend their towns. The taking of Develtos brought the fear home to neighbouring Anchialus on the sea. Anchialus had always been one of the firmest and strongest defences against the barbarians—against. the Avars in olden days and against the Bulgarians more recently. Fifty years ago the inhabitants had seen the Bulgarian forces defeated in the neighbouring plain by the armies of the Fifth Constantine. But Michael was not like Constantine, as the men of Anchialus well knew; and now, although the defences of their city had recently been restored and strengthened by Irene, they fled from the place though none pursued. Other cities, not only smaller places like Nicaea and Probaton, but even such as Beroe and the great city of Western Thrace, Philippopolis, did likewise. The Thracian Nicaea is little known to history; it seems to have been situated to the south-east of Hadrianople. Probaton or Sheep-fort, which is to be sought at the modern Provadia, north-east of Hadrianople, had seen Roman and Bulgarian armies face to face in a campaign of Constantine VI. (A.D. 791). Stara Zagora is believed to mark the site of Beroe, at the crossing of the Roman roads, which led from Philippopolis to Anchialus and from Hadrianople to Nicopolis on the Danube. It was in this neighbourhood that the Emperor Decius was defeated by the Goths. The town had been restored by the Empress Irene, who honoured it by calling it Irenopolis; but the old name persisted, as in the more illustrious cases of Antioch and Jerusalem. Macedonian Philippi behaved like Thracian Philippopolis, and those reluctant colonists whom Nicephorus had settled in the district of the Strymon seized the opportunity to return to their original dwellings in Asia Minor.2



Later in the same year (812) Krum sent an embassy to the Roman Emperor to treat for peace. The ambassador whom he chose was a Slav, as his name Dargamer proves. The Bulgarians wished to renew an old commercial treaty which seems to have been made about half a century before between king Kormisos and Constantine V.;5 and Krum threatened that

1 For restoration of Anchialus and Beroe, see Theoph. 457; for Constantine VI. at IIpоßáтоν кáσтроv, ib. 467. 2 See above, p. 342.

3 In October: cp. Theoph. 497, 498. 4 That is, Dragomir.

5 See above, p. 339.

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