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The Alexiad: Book VII

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War with the Scyths (1087-90)


I AT the approach of spring Tzelgu (the supreme commander of the Scythian army) crossed the passes above the Danube with a mixed army of about eighty thousand, composed of Sauromatians, Scythians, and a number from the Dacian army (over whom the man called Solomon was leader), and plundered the towns round about Chariopolis. And after entering Chariopolis itself and carrying off much booty, he settled down in a place called Scotinum. On receipt of this news Nicolas Mavrocatacalon and Bebetziotes (who got this name from his country) occupied Pamphylum. with the forces under their command. When they saw the villagers from the districts around hurrying in to the towns and fortresses in their extreme fear, they moved from the place called Pamphylurn and occupied the small town of Cule with their whole army. Behind them came the Scythians and directly they discovered the track of the Roman army (this is the word used by soldiers) they followed almost in their footsteps one might say. At dawn of day Tzelgu drew up his own forces and contemplated battle with Mavrocatacalon. But the latter climbed up with a few chosen comrades to the pass overlooking the plain to spy out the barbarian forces; and seeing the multitude of the Scythians, he deferred the battle, although madly impatient for it, as he realized that the Roman army was numerically far inferior to the Scythian horde. He returned to the camp and discussed with all the officers of the army and with Joharmaces himself the advisability of attacking the Scythians. As they all urged him to do so and his own inclination lay in that direction, he divided the troops into three portions, bade them sound the attack and engaged the barbarians. In the combat many Scythians fell wounded, and no fewer were killed; and Tzelgu himself who had fought valiantly and thrown the ranks into confusion, received a mortal wound and gave up [169] the ghost. Still more f ell as they fled into the stream running between Scotinum. and Cule and were trampled under foot by each other and drowned. Having gained this brilliant victory over the Scythians the Emperor's officers returned to the capital. Here the Emperor bestowed on them appropriate gifts and honours and afterwards they left with the newly appointed Domestic of the West, Adrian Comnenus, own brother to the Emperor

II In this manner, then, the Scythians were driven out from the districts round Macedonia and Philippopolis, but they returned and encamped beside the Ister and settled along its banks and plundered our territory as freely as if it were their own. When the Emperor heard this, he could not endure the idea of their settling within the Roman frontiers, and at the same time he was afraid of their crossing the passes again and perpetrating worse mischief than before. Consequently he made his preparations, fitted out the army well and marched to Adrianople and thence to Lardea. which lies in the plain between Diabolis and Goloë. Here he appointed George Euphorbenus general and dispatched him by sea to Dristra. Then the Emperor stayed in those parts for forty days and summoned troops from all sides. When he had collected a large army, he deliberated whether he should traverse the defiles and commence warfare with the Scythians, " for," said he, " we ought not to allow them immunity at all," and there was justice in this remark in the case of these barbarians. For the incursions of the Scythians did not begin in one of the four seasons and cease in the following, for instance, starting in summer and finishing in autumn, or even in winter (or late autumn) ; nor was this evil limited to the cycle of one year, but for several years past they had been troubling the Empire, although in the plethora of subjects I have only mentioned them occasionally. Neither could they be split up by double-dealing, although the Emperor had often tried to seduce them in various ways; but not one deserted to him even in secret, so unswerving was their loyalty up to that time.. Now Nicephorus Bryennius and Gregorius Mavrocatacalon whom the Emperor had ransomed for forty thousand pieces of money when taken by the Scythians, did not at all approve of waging war along the Ister with the Scythians ; but George Palaeologus and Nicolas Mavrocatacalon and all the young, vigorous men pressed the Emperor hard and urged him to cross the passes of the Hoemus and start war with the Scythians on the Danube. Of this same opinion [170] were also Nicephorus and Leo, the two sons of the Emperor Diogenes, who were born to him in the purple room after his elevation to the throne and were consequently styled " Porphyrogeniti." This purple room was a certain building in the palace shaped as a complete square from its base to the spring of the roof, which ended in a pyramid; it looked out upon the sea and the harbour where the stone oxen and lions stand. The floor of this room was paved with marbles and the walls were panelled with it but not with ordinary sorts nor even with the more expensive sorts which are fairly easy to procure, but with the marble which the earlier Emperors had carried away from Rome. And this marble is, roughly speaking, purple all over except for spots like white sand sprinkled over it. It is from this marble, I imagine, that our ancestors called the room " purple."

Now, as I was saying, when the trumpet with its loud summons directed all to the road of the Haemus Mountains, as if to march against the Scythians, Bryennius, who had tried his utmost to dissuade the Emperor from this attempt and had not succeeded, remarked sententiously, " If you cross the Haemus, Emperor, you will certainly find out whose horses are the swiftest." When somebody asked what he meant by those words, he replied, " When you all flee." For although this man had had his eyes dug out for rebellion, yet he was recognized as by far the cleverest strategist, and most skilful and ingenious in the arrangement of troops. How this Bryennius was deprived of his sight for desertion, or rather rebellion, against the Emperor Botaniates, and how, when captured by Alexius Comnenus, at that time the great Domestic of the Eastern and Western armies, he was handed over to Borilus with his eyes uninjured-I must refer those who wish to know further details to the history of the great Caesar. For this Caesar became the son-in-law of Alexius when the latter was already Emperor, and he was the descendant of that Bryennius. But at this point my soul is convulsed and filled with sorrow, for he was wise in counsel and a very distinguished orator. For everything, strength, swiftness, physical beauty, in fact all good qualities of mind and body combined to adorn this man. For in him nature begot and God fashioned a man most eminent in allways, and just such a hero as Homer depicted Achilles among the Achaeans, one could say my Caesar was, shining forth amongst all those beneath the sun. And this Caesar, who was an expert in military matters, had not neglected letters, but had read every book and [171] applied himself to every branch of learning, and drawn therefrom all the wisdom of our own and of other times. And later he devoted himself to history, and at the suggestion of my mistress mother, I mean the Empress Irene, he composed a work well worthy of attention and worth reading, for he arranged a narrative of my father's deeds before he took up the reins of government. In this history he gives an accurate account of the facts concerning Bryennius; and there too he narrates his grandfather's many vicissitudes, and his father-in-law's brilliant exploits, and assuredly he never falsified anything for he was related to them both, to the latter by marriage and to the former by blood. I have already mentioned his book in the earlier chapters of this history.

Now the Scythians saw that George Euphorbenus was on his way against them coming up the Ister with a large army and a fleet. (This river flows down from the western mountains, and after a series of cataracts empties itself into the Pontus Euxinus [*=Black Sea] through five mouths; broad and with a strong current it flows through a vast plain, and is navigable for even the largest and most heavily laden vessels can be carried on its waters. It has not only one name, for in its upper reaches and near its source it is called the 'Danube,' whilst in the lower and at its mouths, the 'Ister.'

To resume, when a portion of the Scythians saw George Euphorbenus coming up this river, and were told that the Emperor too was already marching towards them overland, with a very considerable army, they recognized that it would be impossible for them to fight against both and so looked about for a way of escape from this imminent danger. Accordingly they sent a hundred-and-fifty Scythians as ambassadors to discuss terms of peace, and also to insinuate a few threats and perhaps to promise that if the Emperor acceded to their requests, they would furnish him with thirty thousand horsemen, whenever he required them. But the Emperor, awake to the Scythians' treachery, knew that this embassy was merely to circumvent the immediate danger, and that, at the next opportunity, they would kindle the latent sparks of their malice into a mighty conflagration ; therefore, he refused to receive the ambassadors. In the course of the discussion a certain Nicolas, one of the Emperor's secretaries, came up to him and whispered in his ear, " You may expect an eclipse of the sun to take place today, "and on the Emperor's [172] expressing a doubt, he swore with an oath that he was not lying. Then the Emperor, with his habitual quick-wittedness, turned to the Scythians and said, "I appoint God as judge; and if a sign appears in the heavens this day, you will know for a surety that I have good reason for suspecting, and therefore not receiving, your embassy because your leaders are not sincere in their overtures for peace. If, however, no sign appears, I shall stand convicted of having been wrong in my surmise."Before two hours had passed, the light of the sun failed, and the whole of its disc was darkened by the moon's passing over it. At that sight the Scythians were terrified, and the Emperor handed them over to Leo Nicerites (he was a eunuch, brought up among the soldiers from babyhood, and much respected) and ordered him to take a sufficient guard and conduct them to the Queen of Cities. And Leo started very willingly on the road to Constantinople. But the barbarians who were throughout intent on regaining their liberty, slew the guards who were keeping a very careless watch over them when they reached little Nicaea, and returned by devious paths to those who had sent them. Nicerites with three others escaped with difficulty and rejoined the Emperor at Goloë.

III After hearing Leo's tale, the Emperor was afraid that the ambassadors would stir up the whole Scythian army and attack him suddenly ; but he did not require a dream to urge him to battle, as Atreus' son, Agamemnon, did, for he was seething with lust of combat, so he led his legions through the vale of Sidera, and encamped near the Bitzina, a river running down from the adjacent mountains. Here a good many of his soldiers were killed, for in foraging they had strayed too far from the camp and many were captured besides. At dawn the Emperor quickly made for Pliscoba and from there he ascended a mountain peak called Simeon, and also locally 'the Scythians' Parliament House.' Here a similar accident occurred to soldiers who whilst foraging were at a distance from their camp. On the following day he marched along a river flowing at about a distance of twenty-four stades from Dristra and there he piled the baggage and erected his palisades. Here the Scythians made a massed attack upon the Imperial tent and killed not only a number of the light-armed troops but also captured some of the Manichaeans who had fought most courageously. Hence a great din and confusion arose in the army and even the imperial tent was overturned by some horse-soldiers [173] careering about wildly, and this fact was looked upon as a bad omen by the Emperor's ill-wishers.

However, the Emperor drove off the barbarians with a detachment of the army to some distance from his tent, so that they should not cause confusion again, then he mounted his horse and quelled the tumult, immediately broke up the camp and marched with all his troops in good order to Distra (this is the best-known of the towns near the Danube) in order to besiege it with engines. Accordingly he set to work, invested the town on all sides, and after breaking down one side of the walls, he entered with his entire army. But the two citadels of this town were still held by the kinsmen of a man called Tatus who had left the town shortly before to try and win over the Comans to come to the help of the Scythians. On the point of leaving and when bidding farewell to his friends this Tatus said, " I know for certain that the Emperor will come and besiege this town. Therefore directly you see him advancing into this plain, make haste to be the first to seize the hill which overlooks it, for it is the most advantageous position, and erect your palisades there, so that the Emperor may not be able to carry on the siege at his leisure, but be obliged to turn his attention to what is happening in his rear through fear of the injury you may do. And throughout the day and night keep on sending relays of troops against him." But the Emperor, hitting upon the right plan, abandoned the siege of the citadels (for it was an arduous and lengthy task), left the town and entrenched himself near a stream, not far from the Ister, and deliberated whether it would be wise to attack the Scythians. Paheologus and Gregorius Mavrocatacalon were for deferring war with the Patzinaks and advised taking an army and capturing the large town Pristhlava. "For," said they, " if the Scythians see us marching in good order fully accoutred, they will certainly not dare to attack us. And should perchance a few horsemen without chariots risk an engagement, you may be sure they will be worsted, and then in future we shall have the large town of Pristhlava as our well-fortified stronghold."This important town, which is situated on the Ister, did not always bear this barbaric name, but a Greek one, for it both was, and was called, a great city, namely, Megalopolis. But from the time that Mocrus, King of the Bulgarians, and his descendants, and finally Samuel, the last of the Bulgarian dynasty (as Zedekiah of the Jewish) overran the West, the town acquired a double name, retaining [174] 'great' from the Greek language and adding a Slavic word, and was universally spoken of as "Great Pristhlava." " If we have this town as a place of refuge," said Mavrocatacalon's adherents, " and harass the Scythians by daily skirmishes, we shall be punishing them the whole time and not allowing them to come out of their own camp at all either to forage or to fetch any other necessaries." During the bandying of arguments the two young sons of Diogenes, Nicephorus and Leo, who were inexperienced in the difficulties of warfare, slipped off their horses and took off their bridles, gave them a slap and drove them into a field of millet with the remark, " Do not be afraid, Emperor, we will cut them to pieces with our swords." The Emperor who was very adventurous and liked to be the first to start a battle, did not take into consideration the arguments of those who protested against fighting, but put George Cutzomites in charge of the Imperial tent and all the baggage and dispatched him to Betrinum; then he enjoined the army not to light a lamp or fire that evening, but to keep the horses ready and watch till sunrise. He himself left his tent at daybreak, divided his forces and set them in order of battle, and then reviewed the army. He chose the centre of the line as his post, where he was surrounded by his relations and connections, such as his brother Adrian who was at that time commanding the Latins, and other valiant gentlemen. The left wing was held by Nicephorus Caesar Melissenus, his sister's husband, and the leaders on the right wing were Castamonites and Taticius, whilst the Sauromatians, Uzas and Caratzas, commanded the allies. Then he chose six men as his own bodyguard and ordered them to attend to him and pay not the slightest attention to anyone else, these six were the two sons of Romanus Diogenes, Nicolas Mavrocatacalon who had had a long and varied military career, Johannaces, Nabites, the prefect of the Varangians, and lastly a certain Gules, a family retainer. But the Scythians too had arranged a plan of battle, for the science of warfare and of ordering troops is inbred in them; they set ambuscades and connected their ranks in close-ordered array, and built towers, as it were, of their covered wagons, and advanced against the Emperor in squadrons, and hurled missiles from afar. The Emperor adapted his army to meet these squadrons, and forbade the hoplites to move forward or to break the covering formed by their shields, until the Scythians had come quite close. Then when they judged the intervening space between the [175] two armies to be no more than a bridle's length, they were to advance against the foe in a body. Whilst the Emperor was making these preparations the Scythians appeared in the distance travelling with their covered wagons, wives and children. When the battle commenced, it raged from morning till evening and the slaughter on either side was tremendous. And Leo, Diogenes' son, riding too recklessly against the Scythians, and allowing himself to be drawn closer than was wise to the wagons, received a mortal wound and fell. And Adrian the Emperor's brother, who had been entrusted with command over the Latins, seeing that the Scythians' onset was proving irresistible, gave his horse his head and charged right up to the wagons and after fighting magnificently returned with only seven comrades, all the rest had been either slain or captured by the Scythians. The result of the battle was still hanging in the balance, and both armies were fighting with great spirit, when some Scythian chieftains were seen in the distance coming with thirty-six thousand men; the Romans who could not possibly stand against so many, then turned their backs to the enemy. The Emperor had advanced in front of his own army and stood sword in hand; with the other he held up as a standard the Pallium of the Mother of the Divine Word and was supported by only twenty brave-hearted companions, Nicephorus, Diogenes' son, was there together with Michael Ducas the Protostrator, and brother of the Empress, and the servants of his family. Then three Scythian foot-soldiers leapt at him, two snatched at his reins on either side, the third at his right leg. Immediately he cut one man's hand off, against the other he lifted his sword and with threatening voice made him fall back, whilst he struck at the helmet of the man holding his leg. But he only gave a rather light blow with his sword nor did he use his whole strength in making it for he was afraid that one of two things might happen if, as is often the case, a severe blow from his sword missed altogether, namely, that he would hit his own leg, or the horse on which he was riding, and in that case he would easily be taken by the enemy. So he quickly gave him a second blow but made the motions of his hand very cautiously, for in all his actions, words and motions reason was ever his guide, and he was never carried away by anger nor led astray by passion. The Scythian's helmet had fallen off at the first blow so the sword descended on his bare head, and without a sound he fell straight to the ground. Seeing the uncontrolled flight of the troops (for [176] the lines had long since been broken up, as all fled promiscuously), the Protostrator said, "To what purpose, Emperor, are you trying to hold out here any longer? To what purpose are you risking your life and entirely neglecting your own safety?" to which the Emperor replied that he would rather they should die fighting bravely than seek safety in ignoble flight. The Protostrator retorted, "If you were one of the common herd, your remark would be praiseworthy, but as your death involves world-wide disaster, why not choose the better part? for if you save yourself, you can live to fight another day and conquer."

The Emperor seeing himself in instant danger, as the Scythians were attacking him persistently, abandoned all hope, and said, " Yes, it is time now for us to take thought for our safety with the help of God, but we must not pursue the same road as our fugitives for in that case the Scytbians who are pursuing our men might fall in with us on their return, but," and he pointed to the Scythians standing in the van of their army, " we must ride down upon those men there as if we had been born to-day, and were doomed to die today, and then if by God's aid we get to the rear of the Scythians' lines, we shall find a different road." After saying this and encouraging the others, he was the first to dash like a firebrand upon the Scythians and struck at the first who encountered him, and the latter straightway rolled from his saddle. As the closed ranks of the Scythians were thus split up, he and his companions reached the country behind the Scythians. At any rate the Emperor managed to do this, but the Protostrator had the misfortune to fall on the ground for his horse slipped; but one of his attendants immediately gave him his own horse. When he caught up the Emperor he never moved more than a foot's breadth away from him again, for he was so intensely devoted to him. In the confusion resulting from one party fleeing and the other pursuing, a second lot of Scythians overtook the Emperor; he immediately turned round and hit down his assailant and killed not only him but several others as well, as those who were present assert. Another Scythian who had crept up from- the back was on the point of hitting Nicephorus Diogenes, when the Emperor caught sight of him and called out: "Look behind you, Nicephorus ! " So the latter turned round sharply and struck the Scythian in the face; and I have often heard the Emperor say that he had never seen anything so swift and skilful. He used also to say, " If I had not been carrying a standard that [177] day, I should have killed more Scythians than there are hairs on my head," and this was not bragging, for who ever pushed modesty to such an extreme as he did? But sometimes conversation and the nature of events forced him to speak out about his doings within the circle of his family and intimates, though it was only as the result of much urging on our part; but no one in the world ever heard the Emperor boast of his prowess in public.- As a strong wind was blowing, and the Patzinaks were attacking him he could no longer hold the standard upright. Then a Scythian wielding a long spear in both hands struck him in the buttocks, and though he did not break the skin, he inflicted exquisite pain which lasted for many years. Overcome by these difficulties he furled the standard and hid it in a germander bush so that nobody should see it; and then he rode through the night and came safely to Goloë (and from this the townsmen used to say, "From Dristra to Goloe is a fine feat even for an unwounded man, Comnenus "). During the day he went on to Beroë and stayed there as he wished to ransom the captives.

IV During the flight of the defeated troops that day Palaeologus was knocked off his horse and lost it; while standing helpless and well aware of his dangerous situation he gazed about in case he could see his horse anywhere, when suddenly he saw Leo, the Bishop of Chalcedon, of whom we have written above. This man was dressed in priestly garb and was offering him his horse; Palaeologus mounted it and continued his flight; but he never saw the holy man again. This priest had really a very frank and open nature, and the right character for a priest of superior rank, but he was somewhat simpleminded and occasionally displayed more zeal than knowledge, and he had no accurate acquaintance with the sacred canons. For these reasons disaster befell him, as has been already related, and he lost his bishopric; Paleologus, however, always adhered to him because of his preeminent goodness. So whether it was by reason of his fervent belief in this man that Palxologus was granted this heavenly vision, or whether some other mysterious design of Providence was manifested in this priest, I am unable to say. With the Patzinaks pursuing him, Palaeologus ran into marshy, thickly-shaded place and there fell in with about hundred and fifty Roman soldiers. As the Scythians enircled them and they saw their case was desperate for they could not fight against so many, they waited upon Palaeologus' [178] decision for they knew his bravery and indomitable disposition of old. He advised them to rush headlong at the Scythians, taking absolutely no thought for their own safety, and thus, I fancy, purchasing it. "But first," he said, " we must confirm this plan by oath, and then if we are all of one opinion no one must f ail to take part in the onset against the Scythians, but each must regard the general safety and danger as his own." Thereupon Palaeologus made a wild dash at the foe, and struck the first man he met, who straightway fell to the ground dazed. But the rest were half-hearted in their attack, and some of them were killed and others returned to the covered glade as if to their nest, and saved their lives by hiding in it. Whilst Palaeologus was making for a certain height he was again pursued by the Patzinaks and his horse was wounded and fell; he himself, however, escaped to the neighbouring mountain. Then he sought for the road to safety, which under the circumstances it was not easy for him to find, and so he wandered about for eleven days, when he fell in with a soldier's widow, who gave him shelter for several days, and then her sons, who had escaped with their lives from the battle, pointed out to him the road to safety. This is the story of Palaeologus' adventures.

Now the chieftains of the Scythians were minded to put the prisoners they held to death, but the majority of the people absolutely refused to allow this, as they wished to sell them for a price. And as this proposal gained the day, the Emperor was acquainted of it by letters from Melissenus who, although he was a prisoner, had done a great deal to persuade the Scythians to adopt this course. The Emperor, who was still in Beroë, at once sent to the capital for the requisite amount of money, and then redeemed the captives.

V At that time Tatus returned to the Ister with the Comans he had won over; directly they saw the amount of booty, and of captives, they said to the Scythian chieftains, " We have left our homes and travelled a long way to come to your assistance on the understanding that we should share your dangers and your victories. Therefore as we have done our best it would not be right to send us back empty-handed. For it was not by our choice that we arrived too late for the battle, nor can we in any way be blamed for that, for it was the fault of the Emperor who hurried on the battle. Therefore you must either divide all this booty equally with us, or instead of allies you will find us your enemies." The Scythians refused to do this. As the Comans would not [179] accept their refusal, a violent struggle took place between them and the Scythians were thoroughly beaten, and only escaped with difficulty to the town called Ozolimne. And there they stayed for some time, hemmed in by the Comans and not daring to cross the lake. This lake which we now call "Ozolimne "is the largest in diameter and circumference of all the lakes ever mentioned by geographers and yields to none for size. It lies beyond the Hundred Hills and is fed by very large and beautiful rivers; on its southern half it can carry a number of large merchant-vessels which proves how deep the lake must be in that part. It is called "Ozolimne " not because it emits any bad or offensive effluvia, but because a Hunnish, army once lodged near it (this name " Huns " (Ounni) was converted into "Ouzi " in the local patois) and made their camp on its banks, and thus the lake was called Ouzolimne, with the vowel " u " added).

Now in the ancient historians, no mention is made of a Hunnish army ever having come there, but during the Emperor Alexius' reign the whole nation congregated there from all quarters and gave the place its name. These probable facts about the lake are now mentioned by me for the first time in order to prove that owing to the Emperor's many expeditions in many directions many places obtained their names either directly from him or from his enemies who collected there; and we note that much the same thing happened in the time of Alexander, King of Macedon. For both the Alexandria in Egypt, and the other in India were named after him, and we further know that Lysimachia was named after Lysimachus, one of his soldiers. Therefore it does not surprise me if the Emperor Alexius, emulating Alexander's zeal, occasionally fitted new names to places either from the tribes who assembled there or whom he had summoned, or gave names of his own choosing to places as the result of his own exploits. Let these remarks about Ozolinme be thrown out once for all in the true spirit of history. Now when their provisions ran short, the Comans returned to their homes to get a new supply, and then move against the Scythians once more.

VI In the meantime the Emperor recuperated at Beroë and fitted out the captives he had redeemed and all his hoplites with arms. At that time, too, the Count of Flanders on his way back from Jerusalem visited the Emperor there, and took the customary Latin oath and also promised to send to his succour five hundred horsemen directly he reached [180] home. Consequently the Emperor showed him great honour and then dismissed him to his own country. After wards the Emperor left Beroë with the troops he had amassed and entered Adrianople. The Scythians next came down the narrow valleys between Goloë and Diabolis and pitched their camp near the place called Marcella. Now the Emperor heard of the doings of the Comans and, as they were expected to return, he was alarmed because he foresaw danger from their coming. So he sent Synesius armed with Golden Bulls to the Scythians to treat with them and say that if they could be induced to make a treaty and give hostages, though he would not allow them to enter further into his territory, yet he would arrange for them to stay in the place they had taken and provide them liberally with all necessaries. For Alexius meditated using the Scythians against the Comans if the latter crossed the Ister again and tried to advance farther. But if the Scythians could not be persuaded, Synesius was to leave them and return. This Synesius accordingly went to the Scythians and after making an appropriate speech persuaded them to enter into a treaty with the Emperor; and he stayed there some time and courted their favour, thus removing every possible cause of offence. The Comans returned, fully prepared for war with the Scythians, but not finding them and learning that they had come over the passes, occupied Marcella and after arranging terms of peace with the Emperor, demanded permission to cross the passes and attack the Scythians. However, the Emperor refused, as he had already concluded peace with the Scythians, saying, " We have no need of auxiliaries at present ; take a satisfactory present and go home! " He treated the ambassadors courteously, gave them satisfactory presents and sent them home in peace. This emboldened the Scythians who promptly broke the treaty, reverted to their former cruelty and laid waste the neighbouring lands and cities. For as a rule all barbarians are unstable, and the observance of treaties is not natural to them. Becoming aware of this Synesius returned to the Emperor and himself informed him of the Scythians' ingratitude and violation of the treaty. They seized Philippopolis and this placed the Emperor in a difficulty as against their large numbers his forces were far too small to allow of his opening battle with them. But accustomed as he was to find a way out of difficulties and never in any crisis to feel at all despondent, he decided that he must endeavour to reduce their numbers by [181] skirmishes and ambuscades. And so guessing at the places or towns which they were likely to enter in the morning, he anticipated their arrival the evening before; or if in the evening he heard that they would take possession of a certain place, he occupied that same place in the early morning. And as much as possible, he wore them down from a distance by skirmishes and ambuscades to prevent their gaining possession of the forts. Well, both parties, the Scythians and the Emperor, reached Cypsella. And now, as a mercenary force which he expected had not yet arrived, the Emperor felt very helpless for he knew how quickly the Scythians moved and saw that they were already hastening towards the Queen of Cities. As he had insufficient forces for meeting their immense host, and considering that ' what was not worse, was better,' as the saying is, he again resorted to negotiations for peace. Consequently he sent ambassadors to confer with them about peace, and the Scythians at once fell in with the Emperor's wishes. Before the truce was made, a man named Neantzes deserted to the Romans. Then Migidemus was sent to f etch in recruits from the adjacent regions; in a battle which occurred later at a place . . . this man's son whilst making a fierce dash against the Patzinaks was snared and captured by a Scythian woman and dragged into the circle of their wagons with an iron sickle. His head which they cut off the Emperor bought at his father's request. Overcome by this unforeseen disaster, the father beat his breast for three days and nights with a sling-stone and then died. The interval of peace with the Scythians did not last long, but like 'dogs they returned to their vomit' ; they then removed from Cypsella and occupied Taurocomus, where they wintered and ravaged the neighbouring village-towns.

VII On the return of spring they came down from there to Chariopohs. The Emperor who was stationed at Bulgarophygum, wished to no longer delay but set apart a considerable section of the army, all picked men and amongst them too the young soldiers, called " Archontopouli," all with their beards scarcely grown, but irresistible in attack, and ordered them to fall upon the Scythians, who were standing on the tops of their wagons, from the rear.

This band of " Archontopouli " was first formed by Alexius. As the Roman Empire possessed no army owing to the carelessness of the preceding Emperors, he collected from all sides the sons of soldiers who had fallen in the field, and trained [182] them in the use of arms and for war and called them "Archontopouli," as though they were the sons of "Archontes" ; in order that by their name they should be reminded of their parents' nobility and bravery, and therefore aim at impetuous valour and prove themselves very brave when circumstances demanded daring and strength. Such then was the band of "Archontopouli," and roughly speaking they numbered about two thousand; it was much the same as the 'Sacred Band' of the Spartans in former days. In obedience to orders, then, these newly-recruited "Archontopouli " marched to the attack. But some of the Scythians lying in ambush in a hollow below the hill, watched their advance; and when they saw them falling upon the wagons, they rushed out upon them with irresistible impetuosity. And during the close engagement which followed about three hundred of the "Archontopouli " fell fighting desperately. For some time the Emperor grieved deeply for them, shedding bitter tears and calling each by name as if they were absent. After this victory over their opponents the Patzinaks passed through Chariopolis and turned to Apros, devastating as they went. The Emperor then had recourse again to his former plan of action, and forestalled their entry into Apros ; for, as I have remarked more than once, he had not sufficient troops to risk a battle with his enemies. Thereupon, as he knew they set out on foraging expeditions at daybreak, he sent for Taticius (he has often been mentioned in this history) and bade him take the most courageous of the youths and picked men from his own bodyguard and all the Latins and keep watch during the night for the Scythians' expedition at dawn, so that when he supposed that the foraging party was at a good distance from their camp, he could ride down upon them at full speed. Taticius carried out these orders, killed about four hundred and took a large number captive. And what followed? The horsemen sent by the Count of Flanders, about five hundred picked men, arrived and brought as a present to the Emperor one hundred and fifty selected horses: moreover they sold him all the horses they did not require for their own use. The Emperor welcomed them very graciously and returned hearty thanks. Next he received a message from the East saying that Apelchasem, the governor of Nima (whom the Persians usually call a 'satrap,' and the Turks, who now imitate the Persians, an 'ameer'), was all but starting on an expedition against Nicomedia, so he sent those horsemen to protect that district.


VIII At this same time Tzachas who was assured of the Emperor's manifold troubles in the West and of his continuous warfare with the Patzinaks, thought that, as the opportunity offered, he ought to acquire a fleet. And chancing upon a certain Smyrniote, he entrusted the building of pirate vessels to him for he was experienced in this work. After he had built many of these at Smyrna, as well as forty covered trawlers he embarked experienced men on them, sailed for Clazomenae and took the town immediately. Thence he sailed to Phoma and took that too at first assault. From that town he sent letters to the Curator Alopus, the administrator of Mitylene, threatening him with dire punishment unless he left the town very quickly; he told him also that he wished him well and had for that reason warned him of the terrible future that awaited him if he did not depart. Alopus was thoroughly scared by Tzachas' threats, so embarked on a vessel by night and made for the capital. On hearing of his flight, Tzachas did not delay but sailed straightway to Mitylene and took it without any difficulty. The Emperor was informed about Tzachas, and immediately dispatched a large force by boat to fortify Methymna which is situated on the northern promontory of this island and had not gone over to Tzachas. However Tzachas thought Methymna was beneath consideration, but sailed direct to Chios and took that also at first assault. On receipt of this news the Emperor sent an adequate fleet with plenty of soldiers against him under the leadership of Nicetas Castamonites. So he departed, engaged in battle with Tzachas and was quickly worsted, and Tzachas also carried off a number of his ships. When the Emperor was informed of what had happened to Castamonites he equipped a second fleet and appointed as 'Duke' of it, Constantine Dalassenus, a great fighter and related to him on his mother's side.

Directly he reached the shores of Chios he started the siege of the citadel, fighting with great energy as he was eager to take the town before Tzachas could arrive from Smyrna. So he hammered at the walls with a number of siege-engines and catapults and destroyed the connecting walls between two towers. When the Turks inside perceived this and also recognized that the Roman forces were hard to resist, they used the Roman tongue and implored the lord of all to have mercy. But the soldiers of Dalassenus and Opus could hardly be controlled in their eagerness to enter the city, although their leaders restrained them because they were afraid that [184] if their men entered the town they would seize all the booty and money that Tzachas had stored there. So they said, "You have heard the Turks clearly proclaiming their allegiance to the Emperor, and you know they have surrendered to us, it would not be right therefore for you to go in and slaughter them mercilessly." When day was almost over and night was at hand the Turks built up another wall in place of the one destroyed, and on its outer side they suspended from it mattresses, hides and any handy garment, so that the impact of the missiles directed against it would be deadened by them and thus slightly diminished.

And Tzachas prepared the fleet he had with him, enlisted about 8,000 Turks and then set off on the road to Chios, while his fleet accompanied him along the coast. When he heard this, Dalassenus ordered the admirals to embark sufficient soldiers and Opus the general, and to put to sea and, if they fell in anywhere with their adversary's fleet, they were to engage them in battle. Tzachas soon left the land and embarked and directed his course straight to Chios, and about midnight Opus met him. (Now Tzachas had got a very long chain and linked all his vessels together so that neither those which wanted to turn back could get away nor those who wished to sail ahead break from their attachment.) When Opus saw this new arrangement of Tzachas' fleet, he was horror struck and did not even dare to approach it, but turned his helm about and made for Chios. But Tzachas pursued him systematically and did not slacken in rowing. When they approached Chios, Opus managed to anchor his ships first in the harbour of Chios (Dalassenus had before this gained control of it), while Tzachas sailed past this port I have mentioned and stationed his ships close under the wall of the citadel. It was the fourth day of the week. The next day he turned all his men ashore, numbered them and made a list of them. Meanwhile Dalassenus had discovered a small town near the harbour, so levelled the first palisaded camp he had made and went down there and made a new trench of adequate width and settled his whole army in it. On the following day both armies arrayed themselves and went forth to battle. But the Roman army stood motionless, as Dalassenus had commanded them not to break the ranks. Then Tzachas egged on the larger part of his barbarian army to attack the Romans and bade a very few horsemen follo-A them up. At this the Latins took their long spears and rode out against them. But the barbarians did not aim their [185] javelins at the Franks but at the horses and some they struck with their spears; thus they killed a great many, routed the others and drove them into their camp lines, but they in a mad rush ran out from them towards the ships. When the Romans saw the Franks in headlong flight, they were terrified and retreated a little and drew themselves up close to the wall of the little town. Thus the way was left open for the barbarians to go down to the coast and capture some of our ships. Seeing this the sailors loosed the cables, pushed off quickly from the shore, cast anchor, and waited to see what would happen. Dalassenus then ordered them to sail along the coasts to the western part of the island and when they reached Bolissus, to await his coming there ; now Bolissus is a small town standing on the headland of the island. But some Scythians found their way to Tzachas and acquainted him with Dalassenus' plan. Then he in the first place sent out fifty spies to let him know at once when Dalassenus' fleet was getting ready to put to sea, and in the second he sent to Dalassenus under pretence of wishing to discuss terms of peace with him-but really, I believe, because having regard to Dalassenus' brave and adventurous spirit, he despaired of victory. The latter promised Tzachas to come to the edge of his camp on the morrow, when they could exchange views and hear whatever either had to say. The barbarians agreed to this, and so in the morning the two leaders met. Tzachas opened the conversation, addressing the other by name, and said, " I must tell you that I am the young man who many years ago overran Asia and though fighting bravely was trapped through my want of experience and captured by the famous Cabalicas Alexander. By him I was carried captive and handed over to the Emperor Nicephorus Botaniates, who at once bestowed on me the rank of 'Protonobilissimus ' and rich gifts, and I in return became his vassal. But ever since Alexius Comnenus assumed the reins of government, all my privileges have been annulled. And I have come here now in order to explain to you the reasons of my hostility. Let the Emperor be told of them and, if he wishes the enmity which has arisen to be brought to an end, then let him restore to me in full all the privileges due to me of which I have been deprived. And if you think favourably of a marriage between our children, let a form of betrothal be drawn up in writing as is customary among you and also among us barbarians. Then if all these conditions I have mentioned have been fulfilled, I will restore to the Emperor [186] through you all the islands which I have overrun and taken from the Roman power and, after completing a truce with him, I will return to my own country." Dalassenus looked upon all this as empty talk as he knew well the crafty nature of the Turks, and therefore put off indefinitely the fulfilment of his demands, at the same time he told him plainly the opinion he entertained of him saying, "You will never hand over the islands to me, as you say, nor can I without consulting the Emperor agree to your demands upon him and upon myself. But since the Grand Duke, John, the Emperor's brother-in-law, accompanied by the whole fleet and numerous land forces, is on the point of arrival, let him hear your terms, and then, if he acts as mediator, I can assure you that your truce with the Emperor will be arranged."

This Duke John had been dispatched to Epidamnus with a strong army by the Emperor, partly to guard Dyrrachium, and partly to carry on war with the Dalmatians. For the chief called Bodinus was a great warrior and full of rascality and would not remain within his own frontiers but made daily incursions on the nearest large Dalmatian villages and annexed them to his own property. Duke John had spent eleven years at Dyrrachium and rescued many forts from the hands of Bolcanus and had also sent many Dalmatians captive to the Emperor, and at last he had engaged in a violent contest with Bodinus and captured him. Now the Emperor had found out from many things that this Duke John was exceedingly brave, skilled in warfare and never disposed to disregard even the slightest of his orders, and as he required a man of this kind to act against Tzachas, be sent for him from Dyrrachium, and dispatched him with a quantity of naval and land forces against Tzachas, after appointing him ' Great Duke' of the fleet. How many battles he waged with him and how many dangers he incurred before he proved himself victor, this history will tell later on. As Dalassenus was expecting him, he shewed Tzachas in his conference with him that he wished to postpone everything till the Duke's arrival. But Tzachas seemed to reply in the Homeric words, "It is already night ; it is well to obey the voice of night," and he promised to send a large supply of provisions at daybreak. However it was all trickery and deceit, and Dalassenus was right in his supposition. For towards morning Tzachas went secretly to the shore of Chios, and, as there was a favourable wind,he sailed for Smyrnain order to collect more troops and then return to Chios. But Dalassenus proved [187] himself a match for Tzachas' devices. For he embarked with his troops in the ships that were at hand, and went to Bolissus ; there he refitted the ships, prepared more siege-engines, gave his soldiers a rest and collected some more and then returned to the place whence he had started. Then he dashed into a fierce conflict with the barbarians, pulled down the walls and subjugated the town, whilst Tzachas was still dwelling in Smyrna. Afterwards as the sea was calm, he sailed with the whole fleet straight to Mitylene.

IX After thus disposing of the war with Tzachas, the Emperor heard that the Scythians were again aiming at Rusium and had pitched their camp near Polybotum, so he left Constantinople, just as he was, and took possession of Rusium. There accompanied him too the deserter Neantzes who was secretly hatching a horrible design against him, and in his escort were also Cantzus and Catranes, lovers of war and ardently devoted to the Emperor. Seeing a large detachment of the Scythians in the distance, he joined battle with them. Many of the Romans fell in the battle, and others were taken alive and put to death by the Scythians, while a goodly number reached Rusiurn in safety. But this was only a battle with the Scythian foragers. The Emperor was heartened by the arrival of the so-caued Maniacatx Latins and determined to fight in close combat on the day followiDg with the Scythians. Since there happened to be only a short distance between the two armies, he did not venture to sound the war-trumpet as he wished to spring the battle upon the enemy. Therefore he sent for Constantine, who was in charge of the royal falcons, and ordered him to take a kettledrum in the evening and walk about in the army beating it all through the night, and tell the soldiers that they were to get ready, as with the dawn the Emperor intended without giving any signal to engage the Scythians in battle. The Scythians moved from Polybotum to a place called Hades which they occupied, and pitched their camp in it. Thus from the evening before the Emperor was making his preparations, and when day broke he distributed the troops and drawing them up in phalanxes proceeded against the enemy. But before the armies met and whilst each company was being drawn up into position, Neantzes ascended a hill close by in order to spy out the Scythian army, as he said, and bring the Emperor word of their disposition, but he did exactly the opposite. For in their own language he advised the Scythians to place their wagons in rows, and not to be at all afraid of the Emperor [188] as he was another man as the result of his former defeat and disposed to flee because of his scarcity of troops and allies. After saying this he descended the hill to the Emperor. But a semi-barbarian who knew the Scythian language understood what Neantzes had said to the Scythians and came and reported it all to the Emperor. Neantzes was notified of this and demanded the proof ; whereupon the semi-barbarian boldly stepped forward and gave the proof. On the spot Neantzes drew his sword and cut off the man's head in the presence of the Emperor and the troops on either side. I imagine that Neantzes while wishing to exculpate himself from the suspicion of treachery, only brought more suspicion upon himself by slaying the informer. For why did he not wait for the investigation? However it seems as if in his desire to still in anticipation the tongue which would disclose his treachery, he ventured upon a most reckless deed, which was worthy of his barbaric soul, but just as suspicious as it was daring. The Emperor did not immediately proceed against the barbarian nor punish him as he deserved but he restrained himself for the moment, though boiling with rage and indignation, so as not to scare away his prey in advance and spread dismay among his men. But he cherished and dissembled his anger against Neantzes, as from this happening as well as from other signs he had already divined the man's treachery. The issue of the battle stood on a razor's edge, and for this reason the Emperor restrained his boiling wrath for a while, for he was perplexed how to act for the best in the immediate present. Shortly Neantzes approached the Emperor and dismounting from his horse, asked him for another, and the Emperor at once gave him one of the picked horses with a royal saddle-cloth. Neantzes mounted it and when the armies began to move to the encounter made a pretence of riding against the Scythians but turned the point of his spear backwards against our men, and went over to his countrymen and gave them much information about the Emperor's army. They followed his suggestion and engaged in a fierce battle with the Emperor whose army was utterly routed. On seeing the lines all broken and the men scattered in flight the Emperor was perturbed but decided not to endanger himself senselessly, and therefore turned his horse's head and rode to a stream flowing close to Rusium. Here he drew rein and with a few chiefs continued the fight as far as possible against his pursuers, making sorties against them and killing many and occasionally getting wounded himself. [189] When George, called Pyrrhus, reached the river from another direction in his flight, the Emperor upbraided him and called him to his side. Noticing the headlong recklessness of the Scythians, and how their numbers increased hourly, for other parties kept coming to their assistance, he left George there with the rest and bade them keep up a faint resistance to them until he himself returned. Then he quickly wheeled round his horse, crossed the river and rode into Rusium; there he collected the fugitive soldiers he found, and all the natives of military age and even the peasants themselves, with their carts, and ordered them to come out with all haste and take their stand along the river-bank. This was done more quickly than one can tell and after arranging them in files he crossed the river again and rode back to George, and this in spite of suffering so from quartan fever that his teeth were chattering with cold. The whole Scythian army had now been gathered together, but when they saw the twofold army and the Emperor's great exertions, and remembered his love of danger and his unwavering spirit in victory or defeat, they felt they could not sustain his attack and consequently remained quiet and did not hazard an engagement with him. The Emperor, partly because he was distressed by his chill and partly because the scattered soldiery had not yet all returned, also stood still, only passing along the lines sometimes, riding at a slow pace and shewing them a bold front. Thus it came about that both arrnies remained stationary till the evening, and then when night fell, both returned to their own camps without having struck a blow. For they were afraid and not bold enough to fight. Gradually the men who had fled here, there and everywhere in the first battle re-assembled at Rusium, and the majority of them had not taken the slightest part in the battle. Further, Monastras, Uzas and Synesius who were brave followers of Ares, also arrived at Rusium, disabled too, after having traversed the district then called Asprum.

X But the Emperor, who was ill with a chill, as I have said, was obliged to retire to bed for a few days to recover. But even so he could not rest for thinking about what he ought to do on the morrow. As he was meditating on these things, Tatranes came to him. He was a Scythian who had frequently deserted to the Emperor and then gone back to his own people, each time he had been forgiven by the Emperor and in consequence of this forbearance he now bore a deep affection towards him and for the rest of his life he planned and [190] worked for the Emperor with all his heart and soul. He came and said, "O Emperor, I have a presentiment that to-morrow the Scythians will surround the town and then commence a battle with us. You should therefore anticipate them and draw up your lines outside the walls at daybreak." The Emperor thanked him, took his advice and arranged to carry out this plan at sunrise. After giving this advice Tatranes went away and spoke as follows to the Scythian leaders, "Do not be puffed up with pride, because you have recently defeated the Emperor, and when you begin a battle with us do not raise your hopes too high because our numbers are small. For the Emperor's might is invincible and a large mercenary army is expected at any minute. If you will not accept peace with him, the vultures will eat your corpses." This is what Tatranes; said to the Scythians. Now the Emperor was planning the capture of the numerous horses of the Scythians which were grazing in the plain, for the Scythians continued ravaging our territory both by day and by night, so he surnmoned Monastras, and Uzas and enjoined them to take some picked horsemen skirt round the rear of the Scythians and at dawn enter & plain and carry off all the horses and other cattle together with their herdsmen, and he exhorted them to be without fear. "For," said he, "as we shall be fighting the enemy in front, you will easily execute your task." And he was not disappointed, for his words soon became facts. As he was expecting the Scythians to attack he did not sleep at all nor even doze a little, but the whole night long he kept calling for soldiers, especially those who were proficient archers, and told them a great deal about the Scythians, thus stirring them up to battle, as it were, and giving them useful hints for the battle which he expected on the morrow, for instance, how to stretch the bow and direct their darts, also when to hold their horses back and when to let them go, and when to dismount even if necessary. This was his work in the night ; after which he slept for a short time. As day dawned, all the Scythians crossed the river and seemed eager to begin a battle, and thus the Emperor's conjecture was proved correct (he was wonderful in foreseeing what would happen, for from his almost daily battles he had gained wide experience); he at once mounted his horse, ordered the attack to be sounded, drew up his lines and himself took his stand before them. When he noticed that the Scythians were coming to the attack more recklessly than of late, he ordered the skilled archers to [191] dismount and proceed on foot and to keep their bows bent continuously, the rest of the troops followed them and the Emperor held the centre of the army. The archers made a bold attack on the Scythians who, when the battle was well under way, became frightened either by the thick clouds of darts or by the sight of the close ranks of our army and the Emperor's spirited fighting ; and they turned back, anxious to cross the river in their flight to their wagons. But the Romans pursued them at full speed, some hit them in the back with their spears, while others hurled javelins. Many indeed were slain before they reached the edge of the river, still more, fleeing with all speed, fell into the torrent and were carried away and drowned. The ones who fought most bravely of all that day were the Emperor's household retainers, for they were all in the prime of life. As for the Emperor he was clearly the champion of the day, and being proclaimed victor be returned to his camp.

XI After taking three days' rest there he moved on to Tzouroulus. He contemplated remaining there for some time, and therefore had an entrenched camp made on the eastern side of the town large enough for the troops he had with him and stored the imperial tent and all the baggage inside it. Then the Scythians in their turn advanced on Tzouroulus, but oD hearing that the Emperor had already taken possession of the town, they crossed the river running through the plain somewhere near this town (the local name of which is Xerogypsos) and fixed their palisades between the river and the town. So they were outside and encircled this town, and the Emperor was cut off inside as if besieged. When night descended, 'all the gods; and warriors with horsehair plumes slept,' as Homer's muse says, 'but balmy sleep did not visit' Alexius; the whole night long he lay awake, revolving schemes for overcoming the Scythians' daring by craft. Seeing that Tzouroulus was a fortified town situated on a fairly steep hill and that the entire barbarian army was bivouacking down below in the plain, and that his forces were insufficient to allow of his attempting a pitched battle against their overwhelming numbers, he devised a most ingenious plan. He requisitioned the inhabitants' wagons and lifted off the bodies from the wheels and axle-trees, and then suspended the latter, for he had them hung out in order from the battlements on the outside of the walls and tied by ropes to the parapets. He no sooner thought of this than it was done. And within an hour there was a circle of [192] wheels with their axle-trees hanging up, a regular row of circles touching each other and fastened to one another by their axles. In the morning he armed himself and got the army ready and led out his soldiers from the gates and placed them in full view of the enemy. Now it happened that our troops were placed just on that side of the wall where the wheels were hanging, and the opposing army was straight opposite them. Then Alexius stood in the middle of the army and explained to the soldiers that, when the trumpet sounded the attack, they were to dismount and march forward slowly against the foe and by using mostly their arrows and javelins to provoke the Scythians to the attack; and as soon as they saw them drawn on and urging on their horses to the attack, they were to turn hastily and in fleeing wheel off a little to the right and left and thus open to the enemy a clear path for coming close up to the walls. And he had given orders to the men on the walls that when they saw the ranks dividing, they were to cut the ropes with their swords and let the wheels with the axles fall headlong down from above. All this was carried out according to the Emperor's orders. The Scythian horsemen raised their barbaric shout and hurled themselves in a body upon our lines who were marching slowly towards them, the Emperor alone being on horseback. Then our men according to Alexius' plan drew back step by step and, pretending to retreat, unexpectedly split into two parts as if opening a very wide entrance for the enemy into the town. Directly the Scythians had entered this mouth, as it were, of the two parts of our army, the wheels came whirring down. Each wheel rebounded at least a cubit's length from the wall, and through their rims springing back from the wall they seemed to be ejected from catapults and came hurtling down into the midst of the Scythian cavalry with tremendous impetus. Partly owing to their descent in unison caused by their natural weight, and partly because they gained further momentum from the sloping nature of the ground, they fell upon the barbarians with terrific force and crushed them on every side, mowing down, as it were, the legs of the horses. And no matter whether the wheels hit the fore- or the hind-legs of the horses, in either case they forced the horses to sink down on the side they had received the blow and consequently to throw their riders. So the Scythians fell one after another in great numbers, and our men charged them from both sides ; the battle pressed terribly on the Scythians from all sides, some were killed by the flying arrows, others [193] wounded by spears, and most of the rest were forced into the river by the violent impact of the wheels and there drowned. The next day when Alexius saw the Scythian survivors preparing for battle again, and noticed that his own men were full of courage, he bade them get ready. He himself donned his armour and, after arranging the order of battle, descended to the slope. There he drew up his lines face to face with the Scythians and halted in order to join battle if possible. He himself held the centre of the line. A fierce engagement ensued and much to their surprise the Romans carried off the victory and then pursued the fleeing Scythians hotly. When the Emperor saw that they were pursuing them for a long distance, he was afraid that they might suddenly fall into an ambush and then, not. only would the flight of the Scythians be arrested, but those who were fleeing would unite with the ambush and inflict a severe blow on the Roman army. The Emperor therefore kept riding up to his men and urging them to draw rein and breathe their horses. In this way the two armies parted that day, the Scythians fled and the brilliant victor returned joyfully to his camp. After this decisive defeat the Scythians pitched their tents between Bulgarophygum and little Nicaea. As winter had already overtaken them the Emperor decided that he ought to return to the capital in order to give himself and the larger part of his army some rest after their heavy labours. So he divided his forces and selected the bravest of the troops to remain on guard against the enemy. Over these he placed as commanders Joannaces and Nicolas Mavrocatacalon, of whom I have often spoken in this story; he ordered them to post an adequate number of soldiers as garrison in each town, and to requisition foot-soldiers from all the country together with wagons and the oxen which drew them. For with the return of spring he hoped to renew the war with the Scythians on a larger scale and therefore he made suitable provision and preparations beforehand. When he had carefully arranged everything, he travelled home to Byzantium.

Complete Text | Introduction | Book 1 | Book 2 | Book 3 | Book 4 | Book 5 | Book 6 |
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Anna Comnena (Komnene). The Alexiad. Edited and translated by Elizabeth A. Dawes. London: Routledge, Kegan, Paul, 1928.

Inquiries into the copyright on this text indicate that US copyright was not renewed, nor was any claim filed under the GATT. Barnes and Noble published the text in the US in 1967 with no claim of copyright, and thus under the laws at the time as a public domain work. Correspondence with Routledge (on file) indicated that they had no records whatsoever about the book, including the date of its first sale in the US (putting one copy on sale would constitute "publication" under GATT).


This etext slightly alters the organization and much of the typography of the printed edition.

Page numbers of the printed edition are indicated in the texts by numbers in brackets, e.g. [57].

Some short notes are placed in the text in brackets [*like this].

Longer notes are marked in the text with two asterisks **, and placed at the end of each chapter

This text is part of the Internet Medieval Source Book. The Sourcebook is a collection of public domain and copy-permitted texts related to medieval and Byzantine history.

Unless otherwise indicated the specific electronic form of the document is copyright. Permission is granted for electronic copying, distribution in print form for educational purposes and personal use. If you do reduplicate the document, indicate the source. No permission is granted for commercial use.

Paul Halsall, February 2001

The Internet Medieval Sourcebook is part of the Internet History Sourcebooks Project. The Internet History Sourcebooks Project is located at the History Department of  Fordham University, New York. The Internet Medieval Sourcebook, and other medieval components of the project, are located at the Fordham University Center for Medieval Studies.The IHSP recognizes the contribution of Fordham University, the Fordham University History Department, and the Fordham Center for Medieval Studies in providing web space and server support for the project. The IHSP is a project independent of Fordham University.   Although the IHSP seeks to follow all applicable copyright law, Fordham University is not the institutional owner, and is not liable as the result of any legal action.

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