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The Norman Campaigns in the Balkans, 1081-1108 AD

The Norman Campaigns in the Balkans, 1081-1108 AD

Georgios Theotokis
Copyright Date: 2014
Edition: NED - New edition
Published by: Boydell and Brewer,
Pages: 248
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  • Book Info
    The Norman Campaigns in the Balkans, 1081-1108 AD
    Book Description:

    The Norman expansion in eleventh-century Europe was a movement of enormous historical importance, which saw men and women from the duchy of Normandy settling in England, Italy, Sicily and the Middle East. The Norman establishment in the South is particularly interesting, because it represents the story of a few hundred mercenaries who managed to establish a principality in the Mediterranean that would later develop in to the Kingdom of Sicily. In this book the author examines the clash of two different "military cultures" - the Normans and the Byzantines - in one theatre of war - the Balkans. It is the first study to date of the military organization of the Norman and Byzantine states in the Mediterranean, and of their overall strategies and their military tactics in the battlefield. It is also the first to examine the way in which each military culture reacted and adapted to the strategies and tactics of its enemies in Italy and the Balkans. The author closely follows the campaigns conducted by the Normans in the Byzantine provinces of Illyria and Macedonia and their battles against Imperial armies commanded by the Byzantine Emperor. He also examines the ways in which the Italian-Norman and Byzantine military systems differed, and their relative efficiencies. Dr Georgios Theotokis is Assistant Professor of European History at Fatih University, Istanbul.

    eISBN: 978-1-78204-281-5
    Subjects: History

Table of Contents

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  1. Front Matter
    (pp. i-iv)
  2. Table of Contents
    (pp. v-v)
  3. Acknowledgements
    (pp. vi-vi)
  4. List of abbreviations
    (pp. vii-viii)
  5. Map I. Southern Italy and Sicily
    (pp. ix-ix)
  6. Map II. The island of Sicily
    (pp. x-x)
  7. Map III. The southern Balkan peninsula
    (pp. xi-xi)
  8. Genealogical table: The Norman dukes
    (pp. xii-xiv)
  9. Introduction
    (pp. 1-5)

    One of the most fascinating episodes of European history is the story of the small band of Norman pilgrims who, in the year 1000 (according to one account), took part in the siege of the Italian city of Salerno against the marauding Arabs of the Tyrrhenian Sea, who were demanding an annual payment from the inhabitants of the city. Ironically, they liked what they found there and they decided to tell their comrades back home about the land of Apulia; a ‘land flowing with milk and honey and so many good things’.² They returned in the following decades to find...

  10. 1 Primary Sources and the Problems of Military History
    (pp. 6-30)

    The Norman campaigns in the Balkans were, from their inception, seen from many different points of view, and every account and reference in the sources must be interpreted in the light of where, when, by whom and in whose interests it was written. It is only natural to assume that Anna Comnena, being the daughter of the emperor and presenting his point of view, would have had a different perspective on the events that unfolded in Dyrrhachium from Geoffrey Malaterra, a monk who wrote his history at the request of Roger Hauteville, and in order to please him and his...

  11. 2 Norman Military Institutions in Southern Italy in the Eleventh Century
    (pp. 31-57)

    A factor that encouraged contacts between France and Italy in the first quarter of the eleventh century was pilgrimage. Italy was the crossing point of every major pilgrimage route leading to the Holy Land, and the Normans appear as pilgrims in two of the three relatively different versions mentioning the coming of the Normans to Italy.¹ Amatus of Monte Cassino writes of a group of forty Norman pilgrims who witnessed a Muslim attack at Salerno while returning from Jerusalem ‘before the year 1000’ who were recruited by Gaimar IV to help the defenders.² On the other hand, William of Apulia...

  12. 3 The Byzantine Army of the Tenth and Eleventh Centuries
    (pp. 58-91)

    The Byzantine army constantly evolved throughout its history. A worthy successor to the vast mechanism set up by the Romans, its most remarkable trait was the degree of adaptability that characterised it as an institution, along with the open-minded attitude of its officers and the tactics they applied in the battlefield. Numerous military manuals, such as Maurice’sStrategikon, Leo VI’sTaktika, thePraecepta Militariaof Nicephorus Phocas, theTaktikaof Nicephorus Uranus and theStrategikonof Cecaumenus, offer us a thorough look into the way Byzantine officers thought and how they faced their enemies in each operational theatre. They had...

  13. 4 The Byzantine Naval Forces of the Tenth and Eleventh Centuries
    (pp. 92-102)

    The resurgence of Byzantine naval power in the Aegean and the Mediterranean in the tenth century is in contrast to the significant territorial losses the Byzantine Empire sustained in the ninth century, such as the fall of Sicily to the Aghlavids of Tunisia by the year 878 and the conquest of Chandax by the Umayyad Muslims from Spain in 824. Several expeditionary armies were assembled and fleets were gathered from all the maritime and coastalthemataof the empire against the Muslims of Crete in 911, 949 and again in 960, with the island’s capital falling to the imperial forces...

  14. 5 The Establishment of the Normans in Southern Italy and Sicily
    (pp. 103-136)

    Regional strategy is shaped to a great extent by the geography of an operational theatre; hence, the study of the topography of southern Italy is essential for a the better understanding of the factors that affected Norman and Byzantine strategic thinking in the region and for explaining the course of events that unfolded in the decades after the coming of the Normans. Apulia’s northern limits are fixed by the lower Fortore River, with the area between the Fortore and the Ofanto, known by its Byzantine name of Capitanata (modern Foggia). To the east, the Capitanata forms a fertile lowland peninsula,...

  15. 6 Robert Guiscard’s Invasion of Illyria
    (pp. 137-164)

    In order to elucidate the political and diplomatic significance of the conference at Ceprano (June 1080) that saw the reconciliation of the pope with the Norman leaders, I begin by giving a brief description of the papal–Norman relations in the age of Gregory VII (1073–85).¹ Gregory, almost as soon as he was elected in the papal curia, became openly hostile towards the Normans, thus returning to the papal policy of the pre-1059 period, when the Normans were regarded as enemies of St Peter.² During the years of the reformist papacy, and especially of Leo IX (1049–54), the...

  16. 7 The Norman Advances in the Balkans and the End of the Dream
    (pp. 165-184)

    It was not just the Varangian regiment that was annihilated at Dyrrhachium; the Byzantine nobility also suffered a severe blow, with ‘several fine soldiers killed’ during the battle, such as theporphyrogenitosConstantine Ducas, Nicephorus Palaeologus, General Aspietes, and Nicephorus Synadenus.¹ Alexius and his personal guard avoided arrest by seeking sanctuary at a place called Kake Pleura (Ndroq), just north of Dyrrhachium, and then at the castle of Lake Achrida (Ohrid). After probably spending the months of November and December there, winter months accompanied by severe snowfalls in the mountainous areas of Epirus and western Macedonia, Alexius entrusted the defence...

  17. 8 Bohemond of Taranto and the First Crusade
    (pp. 185-199)

    The preaching of the First Crusade certainly presented Bohemond with a unique opportunity to escape the relentless pressure put on him by his half-brother Roger, who was acting in his own interests as the legitimate heir of Robert Guiscard and had the protection of his uncle Roger of Sicily, who intervened several times in favour of his namesake nephew. Ever since the death of their father in Cephalonia in 1085, the two half-brothers had been locked in an almost continuous civil strife for five years, which saw the emergence of Bohemond as a significant landowner in Apulia and Calabria.


  18. 9 The Count’s Campaign of 1107 and the Treaty of Devol
    (pp. 200-214)

    Bohemond returned to Italy in the early months of 1105, after having to fake his own death and be transported from Syria to Italy through Corfu.² By 1104, he had left his territories in Syria under serious pressure from the imperial forces, with the Byzantine army firmly in control of Cilicia and the lower city of Laodicea, while the imperial navy was moving offensive operations from Cyprus and the Cilician ports.³ Hence, if Bohemond had taken his newly recruited army back to Antioch he would not have achieved much, with the Byzantine resources in manpower and money far outnumbering what...

  19. Conclusions
    (pp. 215-222)

    Norman infiltration in the Italian peninsula can be viewed as the story of a few hundred men who descended upon Italy to make a career for themselves as mercenaries, as soldiers of fortune. These people were predominantly Norman, as most of our sources agree, but perhaps as many as a third of them were immigrants from regions neighbouring Normandy, such as Maine, Anjou and Brittany. In this light, one should expect them to have attempted to introduce into Italy an administrative system based on their own experience at home, influenced no doubt by the forms of lord–vassal relations, and...

  20. List of Byzantine Emperors (years of reign)
    (pp. 223-223)
  21. The Hauteville family
    (pp. 224-224)
  22. Glossary
    (pp. 225-228)
  23. Bibliography
    (pp. 229-248)
  24. Index
    (pp. 249-262)
  25. Back Matter
    (pp. 263-265)