« PrethodnaNastavi »
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.'
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,
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
comrades were burnt alive in a conflagration of the wooden palisades (τῷ τῆς σούδας πυρί).
1 Cp. Herodotus iv. 65, and 26. See Blasel, Die Wanderzüge der Langobarden, 112 sq.
3 In the diary of a journey to Jerusalem by Arseny Černojevič (A.D. 1683), published in the Glasnik (33, 189); see Jireček, op. cit. 144.
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.; and Krum threatened that 3 In October: cp. Theoph. 497, 498. 4 That is, Dragomir.
1 For restoration of Anchialus and Beroe, see Theoph. 457; for Constantine VI. at IIpоßáтоν кáσтроv, ib. 467. 2 See above, p. 342.
5 See above, p. 339.
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
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
(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 Eμπepos, in the year 809; but there is no reason for supposing that these two were the same person.
The war party
the time was not excluded from such debates. 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.
1 So I interpret Theophanes, \OVтEÎV 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.).