Slike stranica

he would attack Mesembria if his proposals were not immediately accepted. The treaty in question (1) had defined the frontier by the hills of Meleona; (2) had secured for the Bulgarian monarch a gift of apparel and red dyed skins to the value of £1350; (3) had arranged that deserters should be sent back; and (4) stipulated for the free intercourse of merchants between the two states in case they were provided with seals and passports; the property of those who had no passport was to be forfeited to the treasury.2


After some discussion the proposal for the renewal of this treaty was rejected, chiefly on account of the clause relating to refugees. True to his threat, Krum immediately set his forces in motion against Mesembria and laid siege to it about the middle of October (812). Farther out on the bay of Anchialus than Anchialus itself, where the coast resumes its northward direction, stood this important city, on a peninsula hanging to the mainland by a low and narrow isthmus, about five hundred yards in length, which is often overflowed by tempestuous seas. It was famous for its salubrious waters; it was also famous for its massive fortifications. Here had lived the parents of the great Leo, the founder of the Isaurian Dynasty. Hither had fled for refuge a Bulgarian king, driven from his country by a sedition, in the days of Constantine V. Krum was aided by the skill of an Arab engineer, who, formerly in the service of Nicephorus, had been dissatisfied with that Emperor's parsimony and had fled to Bulgaria. No relief came, and Mesembria fell in a fortnight or three weeks. Meanwhile the promptness of Krum in attacking had induced Michael to reconsider his decision. The Patriarch was strongly in favour of the proposed peace; but he was opposed by Theodore, the abbot of Studion, who was intimate with Theoktistos, the Emperor's chief adviser. The discussion which was held on this occasion (November 1) illustrates how the theological atmosphere of (according to Theophanes). He instructed the Bulgarians in every poliorcetic contrivance (πάσαν μαγγανικὴν τέχνην). Theophanes mentions also the desertion of a certain spathar named Eumathios, who was μηχανικῆς EμжEpos, in the year 809; but there is no reason for supposing that these two were the same person.


1 διὰ σιγιλλίων καὶ σφραγίδων. 2 This clause is not in our extant MSS. but is preserved in the Latin translation of Anastasius.

3 Cp. Jireček, Fürstenthum, 526. Nicephorus settled him in Hadrianople, and when he grumbled at not receiving an adequate remuneration for his services, struck him violently

the time was not excluded from such debates. The war party said, "We must not accept peace at the risk of subverting the divine command; for the Lord said, Him who cometh unto me I will in no wise cast out," referring to the clause concerning the surrender of refugees. The peace party, on their side, submitted that in the first place there were, as a matter of fact, no refugees, and secondly, even if there were, the safety of a large number was more acceptable to God than the safety of a few; they suggested, moreover, that the real motive of those who rejected the peace was a short-sighted parsimony,1 and that they were more desirous of saving the 30 lbs. worth of skins than concerned for the safety of deserters; these disputants were also able to retort upon their opponents passages of Scripture in favour of peace. The war party prevailed.

Four days later the news came that Mesembria was taken. The barbarians had found it well stocked with the comforts of life, full of gold and silver; and among other things they discovered a considerable quantity of "Roman Fire," and thirty-six engines (large tubes) for hurling that deadly substance. But they did not occupy the place; they left it, like Sardica, dismantled and ruined. It would seem that, not possessing a navy, they judged that Mesembria would prove an embarrassing rather than a valuable acquisition.

All thoughts of peace were now put away, and the Emperor made preparations to lead another expedition against Bulgaria in the following year. In February (813) two Christians who had escaped from the hands of Krum announced that he was preparing to harry Thrace. The Emperor immediately set out and Krum was obliged to retreat, not without some losses. In May all the preparations were ready. The Asiatic forces had been assembled in Thrace, and even the garrisons which protected the kleisurai leading into Syria had been withdrawn to fight against a foe who was at this moment more formidable than the Caliph. Lycaonians,

1 So I interpret Theophanes, πλovтεîv and μικρὸν κέρδος (498). The majority at least of the Senate were opposed to the peace, ἄτοπον ἐφάνη τὸ τῶν προσφύγων τοῖς τῆς συκλήτου βουλῆς (Cont. Theoph. 13); the opinion of Theoktistos probably weighed heavily. Michael himself was in favour of

peace, and this is an instructive case of the autocrat being overruled by the opinion of the Senate. Cp. Bury, Constitution of L.R.E., 31. The Continuator of Theophanes remarks that the Bulgarian kings feared lest all the population should by degrees migrate to Roman territory (ib.).

Isaurians, Cilicians, Cappadocians, and Galatians were compelled to march northwards, much against their will, and the Armeniacs and Cappadocians were noticed as louder than the others in their murmurs. As Michael and his generals issued from the city they were accompanied by all the inhabitants, as far as the Aqueduct.1 Gifts and keepsakes showered upon the officers, and the Empress Procopia herself was there, exhorting the Imperial staff to take good care of Michael and "to fight bravely for the Christians."


Michael, if he had some experience of warfare, had no ability as a general, and he was more ready to listen to the advice of the ministers who had gained influence over him in the palace than to consult the opinion of two really competent military men who accompanied the expedition. These were Leo, general of the Anatolics, whom, as we have already seen, he had recalled from exile, and John Aplakes, the general of Macedonia. During the month of May the army moved about Thrace, and was little less burdensome to the inhabitants than the presence of an enemy. It was specially remarked by contemporaries that no attempt was made to recover Mesembria. Early in June Krum entered Roman territory and both armies encamped near Versinicia, a place not far from Hadrianople. At Versinicia, nearly twenty years before, another Emperor had met another Khan. Then Kardam had skulked in a wood, and had not ventured to face Constantine. Krum, however, was bolder than his predecessor, and, contrary to Bulgarian habit, did not shrink from a pitched battle. For fifteen days they stood over against one another, neither side venturing to attack, and the heat of summer rendered this incessant watching a trying ordeal both for men and for horses. At last John Aplakes, who commanded one wing, composed of the Macedonian and Thracian troops, lost his patience and sent a decisive message to the Emperor: "How long are we to stand here and perish? I will strike first in the name of God, and then do ye follow up bravely, and we can conquer. We are ten times more numerous than


1 For the position of Kêduktos see above, p. 101.

2 Theoph. 500. Of this affair we have two independent accounts, one by Theophanes, the other in the Frag

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ment of Scriptor Incertus. The latter is the fuller, and from it we learn the details of the courage of John Aplakes (337 sqq.) Jireček (Geschichte, 145) wrongly places the battle in July.

they." The Bulgarians, who stood on lower ground in the
valley, fell before the charge of Aplakes and his soldiers who
descended on them from a slight elevation; but the brave
stratêgos of Macedonia was not supported by the centre and
the other wing.1 There was a general flight without any
apparent cause, and the Anatolics were conspicuous among
the fugitives. Aplakes, left with his own men, far too few to
hold their ground, fell fighting. The enemy were surprised
and alarmed at this inexplicable behaviour of an army so far
superior in numbers, so famous for its discipline. Suspecting
some ambush or stratagem the Bulgarians hesitated to move.
But they soon found out that the flight was genuine, and
they followed in pursuit. The Romans threw
The Romans threw away their
weapons, and did not arrest their flight until they reached
the gates of the capital.

ựng af Keefplaiemal

Such was the strange battle which was fought between Hadrianople and Versinicia on June 22, A.D. 813. It has an interest as one of the few engagements in which an army chiefly consisting of Slavs seems to have voluntarily opposed a Roman host on open ground. As a rule the Slavs and Bulgarians avoided pitched battles in the plain and only engaged in mountainous country, where their habits and their equipment secured them the advantage. But Krum seems to have been elated by his career of success, and to have conceived for his opponents a contempt which prompted him to desert the traditions of Bulgarian warfare. His audacity was rewarded, but the victory was not due to any superiority on his side in strategy or tactics. Historians have failed to realise the difficulties which beset the battle of Versinicia, or to explain the extraordinary spectacle of a Roman army, in all its force, routed in an open plain by a far smaller army of Slavs and Bulgarians. It was a commonplace that although the Bulgarians were nearly sure to have the upper hand in mountainous defiles they could not cope in the plain with a Roman army, even much smaller than their own. The soldiers knew this well themselves, and it is impossible to believe that the

1 Our sources do not state the order of battle, but we may conclude that Michael commanded the centre, Aplakes and Leo the two wings. Leo's wing consisted of the Anatolics

and, perhaps, the Cappadocians; the
Opsikians, Armeniacs, and others would
have been in the centre.

2 Scr. Incert. 338, woev dÈ Èπì
κάμπου νικῆσαι αὐτοὺς ἔχομεν.

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Anatolic troops, disciplined by warfare against the far more formidable Saracens, were afraid of the enemy whom they met in Thrace.

The only reasonable explanation of the matter is treachery, and treachery was the cause assigned by contemporary report.1 The Anatolic troops feigned cowardice and fled; their flight produced a panic and the rest fled too. Others may have been in the plot besides the Anatolics, but the soldiers of Leo, the Armenian, were certainly the prime movers. The political consequences of the battle show the intention of the Asiatic troops in courting this defeat, The Emperor Michael lost credit and was succeeded by Leo. This was what the Asiatic soldiers desired. The religious side of Michael's rule was highly unpopular in Phrygia and the districts of Mount Taurus, and Michael himself was, probably, a Thracian or Macedonian. The rivalry between the Asiatic and European nobles, which played an important part at a later period of history, was perhaps already beginning; and it is noteworthy that the Thracians and Macedonians under Aplakes were the only troops who did not flee. Reviewing all the circumstances, so far as we know them, we cannot escape the conclusion that the account is right which represents the regiments of Leo, if not Leo himself, as guilty of intentional cowardice on the field of Versinicia. It was planned to discredit Michael and elevate Leo in his stead, and the plan completely succeeded.

1 The question really is, how far Leo was himself privy to the conduct of his troops. Hirsch acquits Leo of éleλокaкía (p. 125). The data are as follows: (1) Theophanes does not hint at intentional cowardice on the part of either general or soldiers. But we must remember that Theophanes wrote the end of his history just at the time of Leo's accession, and says nothing unfavourable to that monarch. (2) The Scriptor Incertus accuses the θέμα τῶν ἀνατολικῶν, without specially mentioning the commander. As the author is violently hostile to Leo, this silence is in Leo's favour. (3) Ignatius, Vita Nicephori, c. 31, accuses Leo as the author of the defeat (p. 163): τῆς ἥττης Λέων πρωτεργάτης γενόμενος παντὶ τῷ στρατοπέδῳ τὴν μετ’ αἰσχύνης φυγὴν ἐμαιεύσατο. (4) Genesios states that there were two reports

of Leo's conduct, one adverse and one
favourable: (a) that Leo's retreat was
treacherous; (B) that he was posted
at a distance from the army by
Michael and bidden not to take part
in the combat-at least this seems to
be the meaning. Hirsch thinks that
(a) was derived from some pasquinade
or Spottgedicht. (5) In Cont. Th. (14),
there are likewise two accounts: (a)
Leo led the flight, τὴν βασιλείαν ἀεί
πως ἐπιζητῶν. This the author pro-
fesses to have got from a written
source, vypá pws (from Ignatius ?).
(B) Leo and his soldiers stood their
ground bravely; it was the soldiers
commanded by the Emperor who fled.
My conclusion from all this is that
Leo was really in the plot, but played
his cards so cleverly that nobody could
prove anything against him, although
there were the gravest suspicions.

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