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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Norman West part 11

Norman West part 11

His men dispersed in various directions to seek water when a native said to them, “You see the island there, Ithaca. On that a large town was built long ago called Jerusalem, and now it has fallen into ruins from age; in that town there was a spring whose water was always fit for drinking and very cold.” Robert was overcome with fear on hearing this for by connecting Ather and the town of Jerusalem he understood that his death was imminent. For many years before some soothsayers had prophesied to him the kind of thing flatterers are wont to tell princes, As far as Ather you shall bring all countries under your sway, but from there you shall depart for Jerusalem and pay your debt to nature.”

Whether the fever killed him or whether he died of pleurisy, I have no means of saying for certain. At all events he died in six days. His wife Ga├»ta reached him just in time to see him die and his son weeping over him. News of this calamity was, then sent to the son…

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Norman West part 10

Norman West part 10

At the same time he asked whether they wished for peace; and this is the answer they sent: “Know, Duke Robert, that even if we were to see our women and children slaughtered by you, we should not renounce our allegiance to the Emperor Alexius, and certainly we shall never cease succouring him and fighting bravely for him.” After a short lapse of time the Venetians equipped some ‘dromones’ and triremes and various other small, quick-sailing craft and advanced against Robert with a stronger force. And when they found him stationed at Buthrotum they joined battle with him and gained a great victory over him, killing many and drowning more; and they very nearly captured his legitimate son, Gidus, and his wife.

Then they sent word to the Emperor of the brilliant victory they had gained over Robert. He paid their services by liberal gifts and preferments, and honoured the Doge of Venice with the title of ‘ Protosebastos ‘ with the salary attac…

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Norman West part 9

Norman West part 9

This the admirals of both the fleets learnt and, emboldened by their recent success, attacked him again on the third day and gained a brilliant victory over him, and after it sailed back to the harbour of Pasari. Then, as so often happens in such cases, they were either overelated by their previously gained victories or they thought they had driven the vanquished to despair, and consequently relaxed as if they had completed their task, and held Robert in contempt. For they detached all the quick-sailing ships and sent them to Venice to carry the news of Robert’s complete defeat.

Peter Contarinus by name

Whenen Robert heard of this from a certain Venetian, Peter Contarinus by name, who had lately deserted to him, he fell into deep despondency and found life scarcely tolerable. He soon, however, thought better of it and recovering his spirits again attacked the Venetians. These were panic-stricken by his unexpected arrival; they at once bound together their…

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Norman West part 8

Norman West part 8

And they flocked together from distant towns just as much as from nearer ones. Thus Robert made great preparations in order to avenge his son’s defeat, and finally sent for his other sons, Roger and another called Gidus.[*=Guido] (The Emperor Alexius wanted to make this son secede from his father, and had sent to him secretly with an offer of marriage and promises of high preferment and an extravagant sum of money; Gidus had lent a willing ear, but so far had kept the matter to himself.)

To these two sons Robert entrusted all the cavalry and dispatched them with orders to take Valona speedily; they crossed and did this at once. Then they left a small number of soldiers as garrison in Valona, marched on with the rest, reached Buthrotum and took this too at the first assault. Robert on his side took his entire fleet, and sailed along the coast opposite Buthrotum, and reached Brindisi with the intention of crossing to Illyria. But when he found out that the strait was n…

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Norman West part 7

Norman West part 7

The Emperor received daily news of his doings and with an eye to the future, he did his best to reconcile him by letters and promises as he suspected the evil that would be wrought by him Nay, he even issued and sent him a Golden Bull guaranteeing him security and perfect freedom. However, ‘a crab never learns to run straight’ ; so Travlos remained the same man as before, continuing to seek the friendship of the Scythians, to send for more from their own countries, and to lay waste all the surrounding regions.

V When the Emperor had settled this matter of the Manichaeans as a secondary business, he secured their allegiance by a treaty

Bohemund, meanwhile (for we must return to him now), was still lingering in Valona; when he received the news concerning Bryermius and the other Counts, and heard that some had preferred to serve the Emperor, and the others had dispersed in different directions, he sought his mother country, crossed to Lombardy and found…

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Norman West part 6

Norman West part 6

Then he ordered the guardians of the ‘brevia’ to unroll them again with the object of making a clear statement of what had been taken. And he immediately awarded a fairly large sum of gold to the Chapter of the Church of the Antiphonetes to be paid yearly by the trustees of the public fund; and this payment has remained unchanged to this day; for the tomb of the Empress aforementioned was there. And to the church in Chalcoprateia, he allotted an annual sum of gold from the royal treasury sufficient to pay the regular choristers of that church dedicated to the Virgin.

IV At the same time a plot against the Emperor was discovered, organized by the leaders of the senate and the chief officers in the army, and it was divulged to the Emperor. The accusers were confronted with the instigators of the plot and denounced them.

Thus their conspiracy was revealed and the legal penalty awaiting them for this offence was heavy, but the Emperor did not wish to impo…

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Norman West part 5

Norman West part 5

And when it appeared that nothing else had been taken away except the gold and silver ornaments which lay on the tomb of the Queen Zo6 and a few other vessels of no great use for the sacred services, the Emperor openly proclaimed himself as the culprit, and as judge anybody who liked. And after a little while changing the tone of his speech, he continued, “I found the Empire surrounded on all sides by barbarians and absolutely deficient in resources for opposing these enemies who were pressing hard upon her; you know in how many dangers I was involved and only narrowly escaped being slain by a barbarian’s sword.

The raids of the Scythians

And verily the foes who attacked us from either side were many times more numerous than we. You axe not ignorant of the incursions of the Persians nor of the raids of the Scythians, and you have not forgotten the spears from Lombardy that were whetted against us. But the money had disappeared together with the arms…

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Norman West part 4

Norman West part 4

Within a short time the Emperor took pity on the imprisoned Manichaeans, and those who desired Christian baptism were not refused even this boon. So having overreached them by every kind of device he discovered the authors of this terrible madness, and these he banished and imprisoned in islands. The rest he released and gave them permission to go whithersoever they wished. And they, preferring their mother country to any other, hastened back to it to put their affairs into what order they could.

III Alexius then returned to the Queen of Cities. The mutterings against him in the highways and byways (about his appropriation of Church-treasures) did not escape his notice, and the hearing of them wounded his soul because the number of backbiters railing against him had increased greatly although he had not committed any serious offence.

For in a time of dire need and world-upheaval and because of the emptiness of the royal treasury he had recourse to that measure an…

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Norman West part 3

Norman West part 3

II Here I must interrupt the thread of the story a while to relate how the Emperor suppressed the Paulicians. He could not bear the thought of entering the capital without having first subdued these rebels, but as though presiding over a second victory after a first, he caused the mass of the Manichaeans to complete the cycle of his achievements. For it was not even right to allow those descendants of the Paulicians to be a blemish, as it were, on the brilliant trophy of his western victories.

He did not wish to effect this by warfare, as in the clash of battle many lives on either side would be sacrificed, further he knew from of old that these men were very spirited and breathed defiance against their enemies. For this reason he was eager only to punish the ringleaders, and to incorporate the rest in the body of his army. Hence he proceeded against them adroitly.

Way back to Byzantium

He knew those men’s love of danger and irrepressible courag…

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Norman West part 2

Norman West part 2

Afterwards directly he saw that the Emperor had commenced battle with the Latins on the land-side, he himself was to come as quickly as possible, for the Latins would not be able to carry on the fight equally well on two sides, and as soon as it slackened a bit on one side, they would then more easily be defeated on that same side. George Palmologus therefore anchored off the shores below the hill we have mentioned and stood there ready armed ; he posted a look-out above to watch for the signal to be given by the Emperor and told him directly he saw it, to pass on the same to him. As early as daybreak the Emperor’s soldiers raised their war cry and hastened to engage the Latins in battle on the land-side.

Behaved very shamelessly

The lookout seeing the prearranged signal, signified it to Palaeologus by another signal, whereupon he and his men immediately rushed up the ridge and joined in the fight. When Bryennius saw the besiegers outside and Palaeologus…

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Norman West part 1

Norman West part 1

Norman West : Death of Robert Guiscard : The Turks

I now Bryennius was holding Castoria, as told above, so the Emperor who was eager to drive him out and regain possession of the town, called up his whole army again and after fully equipping them with weapons necessary for a siege and also those for engagements in the open he took the road leading to the fort. The situation of the town was as follows: there is a lake called Castoria, into which a promontory runs, which widens out towards the end and terminates in rocky hills.

On this neck of land towers and connecting walls were built in the shape of a camp, hence the town’s name of Castoria. On arrival the Emperor thought it would be wisest in the first place to made an assault upon the towers and walls with his battering-machines. But as it was impossible to get the soldiers near the walls except from a definite base, he first made a palisaded camp, next built wooden towers and bound them together with…

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