Category: Lifestyle

Norman West part 31

Norman West part 31

Taticius quickly snatched up his arms and getting the whole army ready, crossed the Eurus immediately and disposed his regiments in battalions and having formed his plan of battle waited, his own station being the centre of the line. The barbarians who drew tbemselves up in the Scythian fashion and arrayed themselves for battle, seemed to be eager for a fight and to wish to provoke their opponents to a battle. But really, both the armies were afraid and tried to avoid an engagement ; the Roman army quaked before the overwhelming numbers of the Scythians, while these for their part were alarmed at the sight of all our men in full armour, and the standards, and splendid clothing and the glitter shining over all and gleaming like starlight.

Either army daring to ride

Alone amongst them all the adventuresome Latins, so daring in battle, wished to be the first to attack, and they whetted their teeth and their swords at the same time. But Taticius restrained them ; f…

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Norman West part 30

Norman West part 30

However they did attack the Scythians, and many were killed in the fight and Branas himself fell, mortally wounded. The Domestic fought desperately and made fierce onsets on the foe, but was dashed against an oak and killed on the spot. And the rest of the army scattered in all directions. On receiving these tidings the Emperor mourned for all the fallen, both individually and collectively. But he was most grieved at the Domestic’s death and shed floods of tears, for he loved him exceedingly even before his elevation to the throne.

Yet in spite of it all he did not lose heart, but called Taticius and sent him with sufficient money to Adrianople to give the soldiers their pay for the year and to collect troops from all quarters so that he might raise a fresh army large enough for the war. He ordered Hubertopoulos to leave an adequate garrison in Cyzicus and taking the Franks only with him to lose no time in joining Taticius.

When Taticius saw the Latins and…

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Norman West part 29

Norman West part 29

XIV Enough has been said about the Turks. I now intend to relate a second attack on the Roman Empire, more terrible and greater than the first, and I again resume the story at the beginning, for one subject has come up after another as wave follows wave.

A certain Scythian tribe, who were daily harried by the Sauromatx, left their homes and travelled down to the Danube. It was, of course, necessary for them to make terms with the dwellers on the shores of the Danube, so by common consent the chieftains met for a conference ; there were Tatus and Chales and Sesthlabus and Satzas (for I must give the names of the highest born of these, although the elegant appearance of my history is spoiled by them), the last named was chief over Dristra, the others over Bitzina and neighbouring towns. After having made a truce with the chiefs the Scythians proceeded fearlessly to cross the Danube, and to ravage the surrounding country and also took afewsmalltowns. And in between when they…

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Norman West part 28

Norman West part 28

They embarked in their boats, and intended to sail down the river to the sea. But Elchanes guessing Alexander’s intention took possession beforehand of the exit from the lake and the bridge over the river, on which a shrine to the memory of Constantine the Great was built of old by St. Helena, and from this the bridge took, and still takes, its name. At the exit from the lake then and on this bridge he posted some of his bravest men on either side with orders to watch for the passing of the fleet.

Thus all our men who were on board these small vessels fell straight into Elchanes’ ambush as they passed through the mouth of the lake, and losing their heads at sight of the sudden danger they drove the ships to land and jumped ashore. The Turks overtook them and a serious battle commenced. Many of the leaders were captured and many too fell into the river and were swept away in its eddies. The Emperor could not brook this defeat, so sent out a considerable army und…

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Norman West part 27

Norman West part 27

On receipt of this news the Emperor made him offers of extravagant rewards, provided only he would quit the city and hand it over to him. Pulchases indeed was willing, but hesitated, as he had his eye upon Apelchasem; he sent message upon message to the Emperor, keeping him in suspense, but really waiting for his brother’s return. In the interval something like this happened. Before his murder by the Chasii he Sultan of Chorosan had managed to secure the great Soliman’s two sons, and after his death they ran away from Chorosan and quickly found their way to Nicaca, where the inhabitants gave them an ovation and received them with the greatest joy.

And Pulchases willingly handed over Nicaea to them as being their rightful inheritance, and the elder of the two, Clitziasthlan [*=Kilidje Arslan] by name, was elected Sultan. He sent for the wives and children of the men then staying in Nicaeea, and bade them live there, and made this city the dwelling-place, as one…

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Norman West part 26

Norman West part 26

For the characteristic of these Chasii is to rejoice in bloodshed, and to consider it a treat to be allowed to thrust their swords through a man’s entrails. And if, perchance, others were to attack them at that very minute, and mince them up like sausage-meat, they reckon that kind of death an honour, for they inherit and hand on to their children this trade of assassination, as a species of ancestral heritage. Not one of those fellows returned to Tutuses as they would have lost their own lives in expiation for this crime. Puzanus however, on hearing of it, returned to Chorosan with all his forces; and as he was nearing it, Tutuses, the brother of the murdered Sultan, encountered him.

Tutuses entered Chorosan

At once a close conflict began, as both armies fought bravely and neither would yield the victory to the other, and then Puzanus fell, mortally wounded, after fighting bravely, and causing consternation to his foes; and his men scattered in flight in…

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Norman West part 25

Norman West part 25

That is the story of Apelchasem. The Emperor read the Sultan’s letter but did not think the offer contained therein worthy of consideration at all. And how could he have done so ? For if the Emperor’s little daughter, as the letter demanded, had been betrothed to the barbarian’s eldest son, she would assuredly have been unhappy. if she had gone to Persia and become mistress of a kingdom which would have brought her greater wretchedness than the worst poverty. But God forbade it nor did the Emperor ever intend that such a thing should happen, not even if his fortunes had sunk to the lowest ebb.

Directly after he first heard the letter he burst into laughter at the barbarian’s presumption with the remark that “Some demon put this into his mind.” This is what the Emperor thought of the marriage. But as he considered it expedient to keep the Sultan’s mind in suspense by feeding him on vain hopes, he sent Curticius and three others as a…

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Norman West part 24

Norman West part 24

I know that no sooner hadst thou taken up the reins of government, than thou wast involved in many wars, and that now when thou hast just quelled the turbulent Latins, the Scythians are preparing war against thee, and that Ameer Apelchasem has broken the treaty, made by thee with Soliman, and is ravaging Asia right up to Damalis.

If therefore thou art anxious for Apelchasem to be driven out of those countries and to have Asia and even Antioch itself under thy rule, then send me thy daughter as bride for my eldest son. If thou dost this, there will be no more stumbling-blocks in thy path, but thou wilt easily accomplish everything with me as thy coadjutor, not only in the East, but even in Illyria and all the West by means of the forces I shall send thee, and nobody will be able henceforth to stand before thee.”

This was the tenor of the Persian Sultan’s letter. After Puzanus reached Nicaea and made not only one, but several attempts to take it, which…

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Norman West part 23

Norman West part 23

Egypt, Meroƫ, all the Troglodyte country, and the region adjacent to the torrid zone; and in the other direction far-famed Thule, and the races who dwell in the northern lands and over whose heads the North Pole stands. But in these later times the boundary of the Roman rule was the neighbouring Bosporus on the east and the city of Adrianople on the west. Now, however, the Emperor Alexius by striking with both hands, as it were, at the barbarians who beset him on either side and starting from Byzantium as his centre, enlarged the circle of his rule, for on the west he made the Adriatic sea his frontier, and on the east the Euphrates and Tigris.

The tyrant of Nicaea

And he would have restored the Empire to its former prosperity, had not the successive wars and the recurrent dangers and difficulties hindered him in his purpose (for he was involved in great, as well as frequent, dangers). His idea then, as I said at the beginning, in sending an army to Apelchasem…

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Norman West part 22

Norman West part 22

There the embassy wasted its time, thus giving the builders an opportunity and after the trick had been successful, the Lacedaemonians learnt of the complete rebuilding of Athens. And the Paeanian [*=Demosthenes] somewhere in his writings also mentions this clever deception. So my father’s plan was similar, though more sagacious than that of Alcibiades. Forhefawned upon this barbarian with horse-races and other delights and by delaying him from day to day he managed to complete the fort and when the work was quite finished he dismissed him from the capital.

XI Meanwhile Prosuch had come up with an enormous army, as was expected, and was besieging Nicaea, as the countryman who came by night to Taticius said, and for three months he persevered in the siege.

Then when the townsmen and even Apelchasem himself saw that things had come to a distressful pass, and that they would be unable to hold out much longer, they sent a message to the Emperor begging him to c…

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Norman West part 21

Norman West part 21

Therefore Apelchasem, when he further heard that Prosuch was besieging towns held by various satraps and would soon be at Nicaea with the object of besieging it, made a virtue of necessity, as the saying is, and boldly accepted the Emperor’s offer of peace, although he guessed the latter’s purpose. When the truce between them had been concluded, the Emperor who was already scheming to obtain another advantage, and could see no other way of gaining his end, invited Apelchasem to the capital to receive gifts of money, enjoy a life of luxury to the full and then return home.

Apelchasern accepted and on his arrival in the capital was treated with much kindness. The Turkish rulers of Nicaca still held Nicomedia (which is the metropolis of Bithynia) and as the Emperor wished to expel them from that town, he thought it well to build a second small citadel near the sea, while the terms of peace were being arranged. Consequently he had all the materials necessary for th…

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Norman West part 20

Norman West part 20

In pursuit, then, of these plans he determined first to build some buccaneering vessels, as he had taken Cius (a town on the coast of Bithynia) and when the ships were nearing completion, he thought his plans were maturing well. But he was not unobserved by the Emperor, who quickly fitted out whatever biremes, triremes and other vessels he had at hand, set Manuel Buturnites in command and sent him with injunctions to make haste and burn Apelchasem’s half-built ships, no matter in what condition he found them. Moreover, he sent Taticius with a considerable army against him by land.

These two left the City, and Apelchasem soon saw Butumites approaching by sea at great speed, and heard that others were bearing down upon him by land; he judged the ground, where he happened to be, unsuitable, as it was rough and narrow, and altogether ill-adapted for his archers, as it would not allow them to act against the Roman cavalry; so he moved his camp in order to place his troops…

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Norman West part 19

Norman West part 19

The Emperor then tried his former plan, that is, he dissipated the foragers and forced Apelchasem to sue for terms of peace. But as he found that the latter continued making secret designs against him and postponing the truce, he decided it was necessary to put a strong army in the field against him. So the Emperor sent Taticius (whom I have frequently mentioned) with a respectable force to Niceaa, warning him to use discretion in attacking the enemy if by chance he fell in with any outside the town. Taticius went off and marshalled his army in line of battle close to the walls as no Turks were to be seen then, but they suddenly threw open the gates and a body of about two hundred of them rode down upon him.

When the Franks (of whom there were a goodly number) saw them, they dashed straight at them in a tremendous onrush with their long spears in their hands, and after wounding a large number, drove the rest back to the fort. The next day Taticius stood there with his army…

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Norman West part 18

Norman West part 18

The Chiauss consented to this and pledged himself to the Emperor not to return home, after he had received holy baptism. Since he had received instructions from the Sultan by letter that, if the Emperor were willing to arrange a marriage for him, he should drive out all the satraps who held the maritime towns by shewing them the Sultan’s letter treating of this question, the Emperor suggested to the Chiauss to make use of this letter and after he had expelled them all by shewing them the Sultan’s writing, to return to the capital again. The Chiauss with great alacrity went first to Sinope and by shewing Charatices the Sultan’s epistle he drove him out of the town without an obol of the Emperor’s money in his pocket.

The Emperor’s satraps

This is what happened. As Charatices was going out of Sinope, he desecrated the church dedicated to our Immaculate Lady, the Mother of God, and forthwith he was delivered by the hand of God, as it…

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Norman West part 17

Norman West part 17

In his grief at his father’s refusal he travelled for eight days to reach Nicaea, and there gained access to the Ameer Soliman (who had just attained the rank of Sultan) and roused him to undertake the siege of Antioch and incited him to war against his father. Soliman lent him a ready ear, and when starting for Antioch he left Apelchasem as Governor of Nicaea and also appointed him General-in-Chief over all the other Generals. Then with Philaretus’ son in his train he rode for twelve nights (for he reposed in the day) and by the unexpectedness of his arrival took Antioch at first assault.

On the Ameer Soliman’s coming out

At the same time Charatices secretly pillaged Sinope as he had found out that a large sum of gold and money belonging to the imperial treasury had been stored there. The Grand Sultan [*i.e. Malek Shah] had a brother, Tutuses, who ruled over Jerusalem, the whole of Mesopotamia, and Aleppo and as far as Baghdad, and was hoping…

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Norman West part 16

Norman West part 16

The child had a swarthy complexion, broad forehead, lean cheeks, a nose neither snub nor aquiline but something between the two, very black eyes which betokened, as far as one can judge from an infant’s face, a quick intelligence. As my parents naturally wished to raise this child to the rank of Emperor and leave him the empire of the Romans as his inheritance, they deemed him worthy of being baptised and crowned in the great church of God. This is what happened to us children, ‘born in the purple’ from the very starting-point of our birth. What befell us later, shall be narrated in due order.

Bosporus and the Northern provinces

IX The Emperor Alexius had driven away the Turks from the shores of Bithynia and the Bosporus and the Northern provinces and made a truce with Soliman, as I have recounted earlier; then he rode off to Illyria where after many hardships he utterly defeated Robert and his son, Bohemund, and thus delivered the West from a…

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Norman West part 15

Norman West part 15

And many can bear witness to this fact, above all those who know my history. And further testimony to it are the many struggles, anxieties and even dangers which I suffered because of my deep love for them, as I spared neither my honour, money, nor even my life; for devotion to them so fired me that I even risked my life for them several times. But no more of this. Let me return to the events which took place after my birth.

All the ceremonies usual at the birth of an Emperor’s child were performed most lavishly, that is to say, acclamations and presents and honours given at such a time to the heads of the Senate and the army, so that all were more joyful and exultant than ever before and loud in their praises, especially the Empress’ relations who could not contain themselves for joy. And when a certain number of days had passed, my parents honoured me with a crown and royal diadem.

The ex-Emperor, Michael Ducas

Now Constantine, the son o…

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Norman West part 14

Norman West part 14

On the other hand he was very thrifty and fond of money, very business-like and greedy of gain, and, in addition to all this, most ambitious; and since he was a slave to these desires, he has incurred the serious censure of mankind. Some people slander the Emperor and say he was faint-hearted and began the war with Robert too soon. For if, as they allege, he had not attacked Robert before the right time, he could have defeated him easily, as Robert was being worried on all sides by the so-called Albanians and by the natives of Dalmatia sent by Bodinus.

These remarks came from the backbiters who stood out of shot and hurled envenomed darts from their lips against the fighters. For all acknowledge Robert’s bravery, remarkable skill in warfare and steadfast spirit; and he was a man who could not be conquered easily but only with extreme difficulty, and after a defeat he seemed to rise again with renewed vigour.

Latins from Count Bryennius’

VI…

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Norman West part 13

Norman West part 13

Yet in spite of this there was no dearth of astrologers at that time, for the Seth I have mentioned flourished then, and there was also a famous Egyptian, Alexandreus, who was a strong exponent of the mysteries of astrology. He was consulted by many and used to give most accurate forecasts in many cases, not even using the astrolabe, but made his prophecies by a certain casting of dice. There was nothing magical about that either, it was an art practised by the Alexandrians (or by Alexandreus).

Alexandreus gave very correct answers

When the Emperor saw how the young people flocked to him and regarded the man as a species of prophet, he himself consulted him twice and each time Alexandreus gave very correct answers. But the Emperor was afraid that harm might come to many from it and that all would be led away to the vain pursuit of astrology, so he banished him from the capital, assigned Raedestus as his dwelling-place and showed great consideration for him, and…

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Norman West part 12

Norman West part 12

And he himself did not cease making promises and offering bribes with a view to their surrendering Dyrrachium. to him. The Latins allowed themselves to be persuaded (for their whole race is very fond of money and quite accustomed to selling even their dearest possessions for an obol) and with high hopes in their hearts they formed a conspiracy and first of all slew the man who had originally suggested betraying the fort to Robert, and next his fellow-conspirators; and then they went to the Emperor, and handed over the fort to him and in return received immunity of every kind from him.

After Robert’s death

VII A certain mathematician named Seth who boasted much of his knowledge of astrology had forecast Robert’s fate by an oracle, after his crossing to Illyria, written this forecast on a paper, sealed it and entrusted it to some of the Duke’s intimates, bidding them keep it till a certain time. After Robert’s death they opened it by the a…

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