Military Review

Ax in the hands of the emperor. Battletrack Varangi. Part of 1

The Varangian Guard was considered the most combat-ready Guards formation, both because of the combat experience of its members and due to the traditions of loyalty to the empire. Northerners have always been excellent soldiers, possessing such qualities as composure, stamina in battle, mutual assistance. It is worth noting such factors as first-class weapons and equipment, coupled with the constant practice of participation in local and large-scale hostilities.

You can safely talk about the participation of Varangi in full or part of it in military operations, if the emperor was personally involved in the campaign. Thus, the guard accompanied Basil II in all his Eastern and Balkan campaigns. Under Vasily Bolgaroboytsev, one of the most prominent basilicus (976 - 1025 rules), major military successes were achieved: Byzantium positions in Northern Syria were strengthened, and significant parts of Georgia and Armenia were attached to the empire. But the main gains occurred in the Balkans - after almost 40-summer fighting, Bulgaria was conquered, and the Croatian and Serbian lands fell into vassal dependence on the empire (1018).

Since the end of X century. Varanga accompanied the sovereign in campaigns on all theaters.

At the same time, the use of Varanga as an elite unit of the field army also often yielded tangible results, making it possible to change the course of a campaign or battle. The units of Varangi were attached to the garrisons and field armies.

Consider the most important milestones of the military way of the Varangian Guard.

In 999, the city of Varang participated in a campaign against the prince of Antioch. Basil managed to take Emesa. Local residents fled to the fortified monastery, but the "imperial rusa" set it on fire, forcing the defenders to surrender. The source noted that the monastery was not just looted - the Rus even took copper and lead from the roof.

In 1000, the guards participated in the hostilities in Georgia and Armenia. Armenian chroniclers described a Varangian regiment that used riding horses for speed. Quite possibly, this is one of the first mentions of the “riding infantry”. In this campaign, Varang participated in full force (6000 people) - this is not surprising, because the campaign was headed by the emperor himself.

In 1001, the Waranga participated in the counter-offensive of the imperial forces on the Bulgarian front. In the war that dragged on for 18 years, Russian-Varangian contingents were actively used. And in 1014, in the battle of Claydon (Belasitsa), the Bulgarian troops were bypassed by the Byzantines from the flanks and defeated. Having seized the mountain pass, Samuel set up barriers in it, set an ambush - and began to expect the Byzantines. When the latter began to free the passage, Samuel’s troops fought back. Vasily began to think about abandoning the operation, but stichig Nicephorus Xyphia made a proposal to try to bypass the passage and strike from the rear. It was decided that the demonstrations against the troops defending the passage would continue, and in the meantime Xifia, passing through the mountain along impassable paths, unexpectedly for the Bulgarians descended into the valley where the main enemy forces stood. Coming into disarray, the Bulgarians ran, and the main Byzantine forces entered the aisle. 15000 Bulgarians were captured. In 1018, the capital of the Bulgarian kingdom fell. And Varanga in this period performed tasks on the territory of the Balkan Peninsula. The fact of the division of military booty, already mentioned several times, testifies to her contribution to the victory — a third was received by the Varangians.

1. Samuel - Bulgarian king (976-1014), a participant in many military campaigns, the main opponent of Basil II. Seeing the sad tuple of his warriors, captured at Claydon, and after blinding those released to their homeland, he died of a stroke. Anthropological reconstruction.

In 1016, Varanga successfully acted in the South Caucasus and against the Khazars. Emperor Basil sent a fleet to the Black Sea to help his nephew, Prince Yaroslav. The imperial fleet interacted with the Russian troops. Khazar ruler George Zul in the first battle was captured, and his lands annexed. Varyags performed the tasks of the marines.

In 1018 - participation in the Sicilian campaign. The city of Messina was conquered from the Arabs, but then lost again.

1021 - the beginning of the 2 campaign of the Byzantines of the Georgian campaign. 11. 09. 1022 was a battle at Shegfe. Vasiliy Bulgaroitsa with his guard took part in this devastating battle for the Abkhazians and Georgians. Sources highlight the "Russian regiments" of the emperor. According to legend, when Basileus declared to the army that he would pay a gold coin for the head of any enemy killed - the Rus laid out the heads of the Georgians along the road along which the emperor was driving.

1025 g. - campaign in the composition of the troops of the protosfariya Oresta in Sicily.

August 1030 - defeat in the battle of Halep (Aleppo) of Emperor Roman III Argyr. Vasilevs was able to escape from the Saracens at Antioch - and only because of the desperate courage and courage of his Varanga.

In 1032, Mr. George Maniak, throwing the Arabs away from Antioch, captured Edessa. Edessa is a key strategic point of Northern Mesopotamia. Since 115, the city was firmly held by the Romans. During the Byzantine-Persian Wars V-VI centuries. passed from hand to hand, but by the end of his reign (565), Emperor Justinian I secured the city to the empire. The successors of the great emperor lost Edessa, which became the center of one of the largest Arab Emirates. The city was able to return thanks to the talent of George Maniak - and he again became the eastern outpost of the empire. But soon after the battle with Manzikert 1071, the city of Edessa was captured by the Seljuk Turks and lost forever for the Byzantine Empire.

2. Capture of Edessa G. Maniak

1033 - commanded by the proto-Safari Feoktista campaign in Egypt.

1034 is an important year in stories Varangi, because the future Norwegian king 19-year-old Harald arrived in Byzantium and took a prominent post in the guard. The arrival of the prince opened a new page in the history of the Varangian Guard.

In 1035, the warangians were in the army of Nicholas Pegonit - after a long siege of the conquering fort in Berkri (Armenia).

1038 made Varangu widely known both within and outside the empire. Began Sicilian campaign G. Maniaka. Acting on Sicily against the Muslim troops, a unit of the Varangian Guard from 500 soldiers led by Harald solved important tasks - blockade of the enemy coast, carried out siege operations. Describing the latter, it is worth noting that the real underground war was fought: digging tunnels and trenches the Varangians were moving towards the city walls - in order to blow them up. Excavation work on the construction of the tunnels was carried out under the cover of portable shields. The excavated niche was strengthened with logs, filled with combustible materials. After the burning of combustible substances and supports collapsed a section of the wall. The Varangians have demonstrated that they are skilled experts in the matter of siege warfare - they could bombard walls from under cover of shields, effectively use rams, use catapults. Syracuse, Messina and other cities were besieged. As a result, 13 cities fell before the power of the empire.

In 1040, the united Arab army suffered a crushing defeat in a field battle at Traina. As noted by the chronicler, it was so stubborn that the river was nearby flowed with blood. The number of defeated Arab troops - no less than 60000 people. Campaign ended in 1041

During the reign of Constantine IX (1042 - 1055), varangians fought in all theaters of the empire - in Asia Minor, the South Caucasus, the Mediterranean, and the Balkans.

During the assault on Constantinople in 1043 fleet Prince Yaroslav Rus from the Varyazhsky Guards were dispersed throughout the distant garrisons of the empire.

In 1045, ½ of Varangi (3000 people) went to participate in hostilities in Armenia (the kingdom of Ani). The ruler of the latter, Gagik II, became the emperor's honorary prisoner. Varangian troops also operated in Abkhazia and Georgia. The 700-800 warriors among them fought in the victorious battle of Saciret. The source noted that when the 3000 Varyags arrived to help Bagrat - the latter, concentrating them at Bach, took the 700 from among them and together with the forces of Hida-Kartli moved forward. The battle took place at the entrance to the Sasiret grove. And the army of Khida-Kartli - "gave the rear." Nevertheless, managed to achieve victory. That is, the 700 Vikings was enough to turn the tide of battle.

Much of the Varangian Guard and the Norman mercenaries defended the imperial fortress of Manzikert. Varangi also participated in raids against the Seljuks.

In 1046, the Vikings accompanied the Italian Katepana. [Katepan - governor of the strategically important border district of the empire, like a stratig, had full civil and military power] in Bari. And in the winter units of the Varangian Guard defended the Danube frontiers.

In 1048, the Varangian divisions, capturing several Italian cities, then, in order to free Katepan Eustache Palatin, surrendered them.

In 1050, participation in campaigns against the Pechenegs. The latter invaded Bulgaria, defeating Constantine Aranita at Adrianople. The Varangians overtook the Pecheneg army near Constantinople (at Kalasirty) - and "laid the heads of the enemies at the feet of the emperor."

Under the command of Michael Akolufa, the Varangian contingents inflicted a number of serious defeats on the Pechenegs. Michael acted in Caesarea - against the Seljuk Sultan Togrul-bek.

In 1052-53 - actions in eastern Bulgaria against the Pechenegs. I. Skilitsa, telling about the battle of Preslavoy 1053, shows the details of this event. The emperor, having gathered the forces of the West and the East, handed over command to Akoluf Mikhail. Sinkella Vasily with the "Bulgarian troops" also participated in the operation. The Pechenegs, having learned that a powerful Byzantine army was going against them, strengthened their camp, which was under Great Preslav, palisade and moat. To take it byzantines, suffering from a shortage of food, could not. It was decided to retreat. Pecheneg Khan Tirah learned about this decision and sent his troops to occupy the gorge - the Romans had to withdraw through the latter. When the Byzantine troops began to leave the camp, the Pechenegs attacked them. The defeat was hard - many Byzantines died (including Vasily), many were captured. The remnants of the army led by Akoluf Michael retreated to Adrianople. Vasilevs assembled a new army, but the Pechenegs asked for peace - and the latter was made for an 30-year term.

Not only Mikhail is to blame for this defeat: by the time the Military Council convened the Military Council (at which the decision to retreat was made) a letter arrived from the emperor - the latter forbade it to fight if it could be avoided. Michael spoke in favor of the battle, and Vasily (consumed with envy of a successful commander) referred to the letter of the emperor, demanding a retreat. Vasily secretly intrigued against the commander - claiming that the latter, hoping for victory, is seeking personal glory. But the council, supported by the imperial directive, was defeated by the opinion of Vasily. The Pechenegs, having learned about the decision of the Byzantines from prisoners, staged a battle that did not have time to turn around the army, then for a long time pursued the remnants of the imperial troops. Basil found his end, falling from a horse.

In 1054, a victory was won over the Seljuk Turks who had invaded Armenia. In the battle of Baberd (Bayburta) the latter were utterly defeated - and the Turkish commander was killed and the prisoners captured earlier by the enemy were released.

The battle was described by Aristakes Lastivertzi - it happened during the campaign of Sultan Togrul-bek. During the campaign, the Turks reached the Caucasus Range and Abkhazia in the north, before the so-called. Sim mountains - in the south and to Tchanet forests - in the west. Having laid siege to Manzikert, Togrul-bek could not take it and returned, having plundered the town of Arcke on the way. Ibn al-Asir noted that Togrul-bek moved to Armenia - to "Melazherd, who belonged to the Rum, laid siege to him, plundering the neighboring villages." With the onset of winter, he returned to Azerbaijan without taking possession of Melazgerdom.

Then Vasilev Konstantin Monomah withdrew Akoluf Michael from the west. The latter gathered "the warang and the Franks scattered throughout Iberia and Chaldia" and managed to stop the invasion of the Sultan. The Turks, who had penetrated into the Taik, met a detachment of the Romanian army, "the so-called vrangs." The latter, unexpectedly stumbling upon the Turks, fought with them. A. Lastivertzi noted that “the so-called vrangs gained power” - they defeated the enemy, killed the military leader and “many others”, put the rest to flight and captured many prisoners and booty.

During the reign of Constantine X Duki (1059 - 1068) the detachments of the Varangian Guards participated in the hostilities in Lombardy — they opposed the Normans. So, in 1064, the Varangian contingent defended Otranto and Brindisi, and in 1066, it operated near Bari. Participated varangas in the campaigns of Isaac Comnenus and Roman IV Diogenes.

Brindisi is associated with an interesting fighting episode. The Varangians used military cunning - Nikifor Karanten, their commander, made the enemy understand that he wanted to surrender. When the Normans began to climb the city wall on the stairs, the Varangians, having cut down the stairs, attacked the enemy. Beheading a hundred corpses, the Varangians sent the Norman heads to the emperor. The Varangi were also part of the imperial fleet, which defeated Brindisi at Robert Guiscard.

Ax in the hands of the emperor. Battletrack Varangi. Part of 1
3. Robert Guiscard (1016 - 1085) is the 4 st graph and the 1 th duke of Apulia. In 1071, he expelled the Byzantines from Italy, and in 1077, he captured the principality of Salerno, completing the conquest of southern Italy by the Normans.

In 1068, during the Turkish campaign of the emperor Roman Diogen, the warangians captured the gates of the Hirapolis citadel - the latter retarded the successful actions of the imperial troops.

In 1070, units of the Varangian Guard are being withdrawn from Asia Minor with the aim of strengthening the defenses in the Italian possessions of the empire. But the remaining Byzantine strongholds in Italy fell the following year.

19. 08. 1071 was a terrible day for Byzantium: the defeat of the Seljuk Turks under Manzikert. This event put an end to feminna Byzantium, and indeed to the empire in the true meaning of this word. Killed army cadres. Vasilevs Roman Diogenes became a victim of betrayal. The rearguard of his army under the command of Andronicus Dookie suddenly turned into an unexpected flight - this led to a general defeat. The defeat of the right flank and the flight of the rearguard (the attack of the latter could turn the tide of the battle) allowed the enemy to encircle the main Byzantine forces.

Only the emperor himself and the Varangian guardsmen surrounding him did not run - they became the last fighters of the ancient empire on the field of that fateful battle. The Turks saw the location of the sovereign on the solid wall of the shields of Varangi, which until the end protected their autocrat. N. Vriennius noted that many Turks fell in the battle, and even more Byzantines. The emperor, being cut off from all sides by the enemy, drew his sword, killed, or put many enemies to flight. But, surrounded by many Turks, he was wounded in the arm and captured by enemies [Vryenniy N. Decree. cit. C. 49-50]. The Varangian Guardsmen almost all died, and the tragedy under Manzikert opened the way for the Seljuks to Asia Minor - and this eventually led the empire to a catastrophe.

To be continued
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  1. Cxnumx
    Cxnumx 22 November 2017 07: 20
    The rearguard of his army under the command of Andronic Duci suddenly took an unexpected flight - this led to a general defeat. ... the tragedy under Manzikert opened the way for the Seljuks to Asia Minor - and this ultimately led the empire to disaster.

    I wonder how Duka and his family ended? I suppose disappeared with the empire. but the money earned for several years. remind our libers.
    1. Curious
      Curious 22 November 2017 14: 55
      "I wonder how Duka ended and his family? I suppose he disappeared with the empire. But he earned some money for several years. They remind us of our liberties."
      In 1072, after Roman was released by Alp-Arslan, Andronicus and his brother Constantine were sent by Michael VII and their father John to capture the emperor. They tracked Roman in Cilicia, and then, defeating him, captured him. Andronicus, together with the emperor, went to Constantinople. Despite his hatred of the ousted emperor, Andronicus is said to have been against his blinding on June 29, 1072. In 1073, he served as the domestic of the East, the supreme commander of the imperial army in the region.

      In 1074, together with his father, Andronicus commanded the imperial army during a campaign against the rebellious Norman mercenaries led by Roussel de Beiol. Both of them were captured by the rebels, who released the seriously wounded Andronicus, so that he would be cured in the capital. There, taking a tonsure under the name of Anthony, he lived for several years and died on October 14, 1077 from edema.
      The name Duka left the historical scene in 1260.
      By the way, in the battle of Manzikert, the cause of the defeat of the Byzantines was not only the betrayal of Andronicus Duci, but also the refusal to join the battle of the Norman squad of Russell de Beiol.
      This outstanding medieval adventurer in 1073 conquered the region in Galatia and declared it an independent state under his rule. Russel declared his capital Ankara, the current capital of Turkey. He defeated the troops of Caesar John Ducas and plundered the city of Chrysopolis. Emperor Michael VII turned to the Seljuk Turks for help, offering them part of the territory captured by Roussel in exchange for the capture of the latter. The leader of the Seljuks Tutush I accepted the offer and opposed Russel. De Beiol with his troops fled to the province (theme) Armenacon with the capital in the city of Amasya. Local residents, desperate to get protection from distant Constantinople, began to pay him taxes in exchange for protection from Turkish raids. However, as a result of the intrigues of Alexei Komnin, in 1074 de Byol was extradited to the Byzantines.
      In 1077, de Beiol was released from prison for ransom and led troops directed against the rebel Nicephorus Votaniat. Having defeated the latter at first, Roussel soon sided with the rebels. The emperor again turned to the Seljuks for help, as a result of which Roussel was defeated, captured and transferred to Constantinople, where the execution interrupted the adventures of a Norman adventurer.
  2. parusnik
    parusnik 22 November 2017 07: 39
    We look forward to continuing ... Thank you ..
    1. Mikado
      Mikado 22 November 2017 11: 25
      good cycle. I join in "thanks", once again. hi
  3. XII Legion
    XII Legion 22 November 2017 07: 54
    Universal multifunctional army
    Heavy infantry
    Prototype of the traveling infantry
    If necessary - sappers
    And of course, the protection of the person of the emperor
    Thank you!
  4. Some kind of compote
    Some kind of compote 22 November 2017 09: 48
    Russ even carried copper and lead from the roof.

    when Vasileus declared the army that he would pay with a gold coin for the head of any killed enemy - the Russians laid out the heads of the Georgians by the road along which the emperor rode.

    I recognize our laughing
    Fine good
  5. Lieutenant Teterin
    Lieutenant Teterin 22 November 2017 10: 05
    Wonderful and very informative article. The Varangian Guard fully justified its name and high position in the Byzantine army - in history there were few units that were distinguished by such stamina and excellent combat qualities. To the author - my deep appreciation for the work done! hi
  6. moxoff.j
    moxoff.j 22 November 2017 12: 37
    The next fantasy, it was necessary at the end to ascribe that the Rusich-Varangians dug up the Black Sea in between the distribution of plush.
    1. Lieutenant Teterin
      Lieutenant Teterin 22 November 2017 12: 55
      Excuse me, but what exactly do you think is fantasy? Documentary evidence of the participation of Varanga in the battles? Or are the facts of service in the Varangian guard not only of the Scandinavians, but also of the Slavs?
    2. soldier
      soldier 22 November 2017 13: 33
      The next fantasy

      Rusich-Varangians dug up the Black Sea in the intervals between the distribution of plush.

      Your fantasies are clear
  7. Karen
    Karen 22 November 2017 23: 46
    Naturally, I liked the article. Only there is a political inaccuracy ... Gagika II vilely deceived the Romans ... invited to negotiations, and captured ...
    1. Rotmistr
      Rotmistr 23 November 2017 05: 58
      And what is the inaccuracy?
      Maybe at the beginning, having come to the negotiations,
      Gagik II became an honorary captive of the emperor.
      and then later renounced?
      1. Karen
        Karen 23 November 2017 08: 04
        No, everything was forcibly there, and the inheritance was divided between the sons ... Therefore, in the 1045th, Ani lost to the Turks (Kars did not help).
        1. XII Legion
          XII Legion 23 November 2017 08: 53
          And I read that at first they tried for good
          And only then - by force
          1. Karen
            Karen 23 November 2017 11: 10
            There were 2 warring parties ... Pro-Westerners (West Sarkis, rogue from the church) and Samosti ... all as always ...
  8. kaxaber
    kaxaber 23 November 2017 12: 34
    The source noted that when 3000 Varangians arrived to help Bagrat - the latter, concentrating them under Bach, took 700 of them among them and, together with the forces of Hyda-Kartli, moved forward. The battle took place at the entrance to Sasiret Grove. And the army of Hida-Kartli - "gave the rear." Nevertheless, victory was achieved. Vva pervix shida kartli va vtarix bagrat etu bitvu u sasireti protiv liparita barvasha treskam proigral ieti xvalionie vikingi papali v plen.eta vsem izvestni fakt
  9. kaxaber
    kaxaber 23 November 2017 15: 45
    The Battle of Sisareth is one of the largest battles between Georgian monarchs and their vassals. The battle is noteworthy in that a large Viking detachment, possibly led by Ingvar the Traveler, fought on the side of the Georgian king. The battle ended with the victory of Liparit IV, which allowed him to capture the fortress of Artanuji. Bagrat IV was forced to leave for western Georgia
      BRONEVIK 23 November 2017 15: 57
      The Battle of Sisareth is one of the largest battles between Georgian monarchs and their vassals. The battle is noteworthy in that a large Viking detachment, possibly led by Ingvar the Traveler, fought on the side of the Georgian king. The battle ended with the victory of Liparit IV, which allowed him to capture the fortress of Artanuji. Bagrat IV was forced to leave for western Georgia

      You just brought political facts. And what is the contradiction with the aforementioned case of the successful operation of the Varangian squad?
      treskam proigral ieti xvalionie vikingi papali v plen.eta vsem izvestni fakt

      I don’t know to whom this is a known fact. But I know that the facts are presented in this article correctly. I refer you to the study of the outstanding Russian Byzantine scholar Academician Vasilyevsky, who studied not only Byzantine sources, but also the Armenian and Georgian annals. Proceedings of V. G. Vasilievsky. T. 1. St. Petersburg., 1908. Varjago-Russian and Varjago-English squad in Constantinople. 11-12 centuries There are at S. 312-315. and the case that interests you is analyzed.
      1. The comment was deleted.
      2. The comment was deleted.
  10. alatanas
    alatanas 23 November 2017 16: 30
    at the Great Preslav

    the city is called Great Preslav - 2-I after Pliski is the capital of the 1-th Bulgarian kingdom.
  11. Skifotavr
    Skifotavr 26 November 2017 03: 30
    Our grief-historical science has not yet decided on who the Vikings were. Despite the fact that historians traditionally identify them with the Scandinavians, even they themselves refuse to name a specific Scandinavian people, and the attempt to connect them with the Vikings does not mean anything at all, because the Vikings were not a people, but an international gathering of professional robbers, which included the Slavs (A similar story is observed with the Cossacks). A similar situation with the so-called "people of Russia", which was also supposedly Scandinavian, but attempts to tie it to the Swedes, Danes or Norwegians failed. In our country, the word Varangians is usually associated with the annalistic “calling of the Varangians” to the Slavic lands. But what do we know about this record itself?
  12. Warrior2015
    Warrior2015 1 August 2018 11: 05
    Quote: Alexey Oleynikov
    In 1000, the guards participated in the hostilities in Georgia and Armenia. Armenian chroniclers described a Varangian regiment that used riding horses for speed. Quite possibly, this is one of the first mentions of the “riding infantry”.
    Thanks to the author for the excellent material, but only it is worth correcting - for 50 years, almost before the described events, the army of Svyatoslav used driving infantry during the fighting in Bulgaria.