Military Review

"Glory, a companion of Russian weapons, will perish if we now shamefully yield to the Romans"

21

"The last battle of Svyatoslav's squad in the battle of Dorostol, 971". Artist M. Ivanov


1050 years ago, the Byzantine army struck a surprise blow at the allied Bulgarian-Russian squads. The Romans took the Bulgarian capital Preslav by storm and laid siege to Dorostol, where the camp of Svyatoslav Igorevich was located.

The Greeks Strike Back


During the campaign of 970, the "Tavro-Scythians" of Svyatoslav Igorevich defeated the Byzantine army (Bulgarian campaign Svyatoslav; Bulgarian campaign Svyatoslav. 2 part; War Svyatoslav with Byzantium. Battle of Arkadiopol). The Rus came to the approaches to Constantinople. However, there was no strength to attack the Byzantine capital. The Byzantine Emperor John Tzimiskes paid the tribute.

Svyatoslav:

"He took many gifts and returned to Pereslavets with great glory."

The Greeks wrote after the war history war with Svyatoslav in a way that suits them. The Russians were shown as wild barbarians. Romeev as "invincible" warriors who killed "Scythians" thousands and tens of thousands and lost in battles from a few people to several dozen. The Greeks allegedly won all the battles. It is not clear only why the "losers" Rus and their allies devastated the provinces of Byzantium and reached the enemy capital.

Peace has been restored. However, the Second Rome was not going to comply with it. The army of the Scythians-Rus, their allied Bulgarian squads, the cavalry of the Hungarians and Pechenegs left the borders of Thrace and Macedonia. The Byzantine Empire found peace in order to immediately begin preparations for a new war. Oaths and treaties were not observed in Constantinople, as the "barbarians" believed them.

In winter, the Greek infiltrators reported favorable news... The Rus did not expect an attack and, together with the allied Bulgarians, placed "winter apartments" in the cities of Northern Bulgaria. Pechenegs and Hungarians left for the winter in the trans-Danube and Transnistrian steppes. Prince Svyatoslav himself with his retinue was in the fortress Dorostol (modern Silistra). Reinforcements from Kiev did not arrive, the war was not expected so soon. Byzantine agents reported that the Russian prince believed the word of the Basileus about peace, so the mountain passes of the Balkan Mountains were not closed even by small outposts.

John Tzimiskes was actively preparing for a new battle with the Russians. He could not come to terms with the fact that Svyatoslav occupied Bulgaria. The Romans themselves claimed the rich Bulgarian land. In addition, the strengthening of the allied relations of the warlike Rus with the Bulgarians, who until recently themselves went under the walls of Constantinople, was dangerous for Byzantium. And Svyatoslav wanted to move the capital of Russia to the Danube. Tzimiskes suppressed the rebellion in Asia Minor. New troops were approaching Constantinople from the Asian provinces of the empire. Military exercises were held daily under the walls. The army of Barda Sklirus returned to Thrace and Macedonia. In Adrianople, which became the rear base of the army, was taken weapon, bread, fodder and other supplies. Equipped a fleet of 300 ships. At the end of March, Tzimiskes conducted a review the fleet... The ships were supposed to block the mouth of the Danube, cutting off the route of withdrawal for the rook flotilla of the Rus and preventing possible enemy reinforcements from arriving.


Svyatoslav and Tzimiskes. Artist P. Ryzhenko

Storming Preslav


In the spring of 971 Basileus Tzimiskes, at the head of the guards ("immortals"), solemnly set out on a campaign from Constantinople. The whole army was already in Adrianople. The Greek historian Leo the Deacon wrote that in the army, in addition to the guards (armored cavalry), there were about 15 thousand selected infantry (hoplites) and 13 thousand cavalry. There was also a large baggage train with siege vehicles and supplies.

The Byzantine emperor feared war with Svyatoslav Igorevich. He has already become well acquainted with the "men of blood who defeat the enemy with weapons." The Byzantine chronicler transmitted the words of the emperor, spoken to the commanders before the start of the campaign:

"Our happiness is on the razor's edge."

Therefore, the Byzantines made the main bet on the surprise of the attack. Otherwise, the Russians and Bulgarians would have easily closed the mountain passes with small forces, they were inaccessible. Then Svyatoslav could mobilize the forces of his allies, Bulgarians, Pechenegs, call new regiments from Russia. As a result, Byzantium would again face a large-scale invasion of the "Scythians", which led to disaster. In a direct battle, the Second Rome had no chance in the fight against such an experienced, skillful and fierce commander as Svyatoslav.

Therefore, Tzimiskes ordered to lead the troops into Northern Bulgaria "along the gorges and steep gorges." The Byzantine Basileus noted:

"If we ... unexpectedly attack them, then, I think - God help us! ... - we will curb the madness of the Russians."

Without warning about the breaking of the truce, a large Byzantine army crossed the mountains on April 10, 971. The Greeks occupied the passes with advanced detachments, followed by the rest of the troops. On April 12, the imperial army suddenly appeared at the walls of the Bulgarian capital Preslav. The Bulgarian Tsar Boris with his family and the squad of the governor Sfenkela were in the city. Together with the Bulgarian soldiers, Preslav was defended by about 7-8 thousand people.

The Russians were not embarrassed by the enemy's numerical superiority. They bravely went beyond the walls and gave battle to the Romans. Russian and Bulgarian squads built a "wall" (phalanx), covered themselves with large shields, and attacked the enemy themselves. The battle was fierce and stubborn. The Greeks were able to turn the tide in their favor only by throwing heavily armed cavalry into the flank counterattack. Rus and Bulgarians had to retreat behind the walls. The short siege of Preslav began.

The Romans tried to take the fortress on the move. But the defenders fought back fiercely, and the Byzantines had to retreat. The next day, the siege engines arrived. Stone throwers brought down boulders and pots with "Greek fire" on the walls of Preslav. The defenders began to suffer heavy losses. The Greeks resumed their attacks, but the Rus held on and threw back the enemy. Yet the forces were clearly unequal. Two days later, the Greeks broke into the blazing Preslav. Part of the Russian and Bulgarian troops led by Sfenkel (possibly Sveneld) cut through the encirclement and went to Dorostol to Svyatoslav. The remaining warriors fought the last battle at the royal palace and all were killed. Tsar Boris and his family were captured by the Romans.

Thus, the Byzantine command seized the strategic initiative. The attack was sudden and swift. The Greeks quickly took the well-fortified Preslav, a large Russian-Bulgarian garrison was defeated. The Bulgarian Tsar Boris was taken prisoner. The Bulgarian nobility began to go over to the side of the Romans. Some of the cities, frightened by the fate of the capital, surrendered without a fight. Svyatoslav found himself without allies, almost without cavalry (allied Pechenegs and Hungarians). Until now, Svyatoslav Igorevich himself imposed the rules of the game on the enemy. The Rus attacked first, seizing the initiative. Now the Russian prince was forced to defend himself.

"Glory, a companion of Russian weapons, will perish if we now shamefully yield to the Romans"
Veliki Preslav


Byzantines storm Preslav, XI century chronicle, John Skylitsa

Battle of Dorostol


On April 17, 971, John Tzimiskes set out from Preslav to Dorostol. On April 23, the Byzantine army, reinforced by the subjugated Bulgarian feudal lords, approached Dorostol. The power of the "Scythians" Leo the Deacon estimated at 60 thousand soldiers, Skylitsa exaggerated even more. In reality, Svyatoslav had no more than 15-20 thousand soldiers, Russians and Bulgarians. The Romans had 40-60 thousand soldiers and the ability to constantly receive reinforcements, replacing the dead and wounded soldiers. Also, the Greeks constantly strengthened their positions in Bulgaria, subjugating new cities. And the local nobility with their squads went over to their side. Svyatoslav in Dorostol was isolated from help.

The Rusichi exterminated the advance detachment of the Greeks, which was ambushed. However, this could not stop the large army of Tzimiskes. In front of the city there was a large plain, convenient for battle, in places it was crossed by small rivers and streams. The city stood on the banks of the Danube. The fortress was strong with high and thick walls. Two fortress gates went straight into the field and were protected by massive stone towers. When the Greeks approached Dorostol, the Rus were already prepared for battle. They were not going to hide behind the walls and went out into the field, "closing their shields and spears like a wall."

The Russian "wall" was a formidable force. Thousands of warriors covered themselves with shields the size of a man and put their spears forward. The Russian infantry was armed no worse than the Byzantine hoplites. Warriors in armor and chain mail were placed in the first rows. They were armed not only with spears, but also with axes (axes), swords, chasing, clubs and long knives. Archers were in the back rows. The flanks were usually covered by cavalry - heavily armed Russian princely and boyar squads, light cavalry of the allies. But this time there were almost no cavalry. The dense and well-armed formation of the infantry could withstand the blow of the armored cavalry of the Romans - the cataphracts.

The battle formation of the Greeks consisted of two lines: in the first line in the center of the infantry, on the flanks of the cavalry, in the second line - archers and slingers. Light infantry (archers) first fired at the enemy, then retreated to the second line. Basileus John Tzimiskes ordered to trumpet the general attack. In a fierce battle, the Russians repulsed 12 attacks of the Byzantines. Success hesitated: neither the one nor the other side was able to take up. The Byzantine chronicler noted:

“The battle remained in perfect balance for a long time. The Rus fought bravely and desperately. They long ago acquired the glory of conquerors over all neighbors and considered it the greatest misfortune to be defeated and to be deprived of this glory. The Greeks also feared to be defeated. "

In the evening Tzimiskes tried to make a decisive attack and defeat the "barbarians". He gathered all the cavalry into a single fist and threw it into battle. However, the Russians threw back the enemy. The Byzantine cavalry was unable to break through the Russian "wall". After that, Svyatoslav Igorevich took his squads behind the walls. The battle did not reveal a winner. It is worth noting that among the Russians and Bulgarians, women from the fields fought (warrior maidens). Chronicler Skylitz wrote that

“Removing the armor from the slain barbarians, the Romans found between them dead women in men's clothing, who fought together with the men against the Romans”.

Siege


On April 24, 971, the Romans erected a fortified camp. On a small hill, they set up tents, dug a moat, poured a rampart and erected a palisade on it. Soon Greek ships appeared on the Danube and blocked Dorostol from the Danube. The Rus drew their boats ashore so that the enemy would not burn them. They were carried to the walls, under the protection of the archers.

On the third day of the siege, April 26, another great battle took place. Prince Svyatoslav Igorevich led his squads into the field, challenging the enemy. The Greeks rushed to the attack. But all their attempts to break down the Russian wall of shields and spears were unsuccessful. Voivode Sfenkel was killed in a fierce battle. The battlefield remained behind the Russians and remained on it for the whole night. The Greeks went to their camp for the night. On the morning of April 27, the battle resumed. By noon, when Tzimiskes withdrew the main forces from the camp, the Russians left for the city.

After that Svyatoslav Igorevich, obviously, in order to save his strength for a decisive battle, changed his tactics. For three months, until July, Svyatoslav's soldiers did not leave the city to give battle to the enemy. The Rus dug a deep moat around the city to prevent the enemy from reaching the walls. They began to make sorties along the river on boats in order to seize provisions, "tongues", reconnaissance of the enemy's forces. The Byzantines began a correct siege, dug up all convenient passages to the city with ditches, and strengthened their patrols. Siege engines tried to smash the walls. Russians and Bulgarians suffered notable losses and began to suffer from food shortages.

The Greeks noted the high fighting spirit of the Rus throughout the entire siege of Dorostol. Lev the Deacon cites a retelling of one of the speeches of the great Russian prince and commander:

“... Let us feel the courage bequeathed to us by our ancestors, remember that the power of the Rus has been invincible until now, and we will bravely fight for our lives! It is not proper for us to return to our homeland, fleeing. We must either win and stay alive, or die in glory, having accomplished feats worthy of valiant men. "

Tzimiskes was not interested in a long siege. Things were not going well in his rear. They tried to overthrow him in Constantinople. New conspiracies were brewing. New squads could come to Svyatoslav.


Svyatoslav near Dorostol. Artist B. Klementev

To be continued ...
Author:
Photos used:
https://ru.wikipedia.org/
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  1. svp67
    svp67 3 May 2021 05: 30
    +2
    Svyatoslav planned to make Dorostol his new capital, if he had promoted the "Russian world" there, historians would now talk about "Dorostol Rus" and "Dorostol - the mother of Russian cities" ... But history happened the way it happened. Young Russia could not yet compete on equal terms with the centuries-old Empire. So that all other events, namely the split in his squad and the "accidental death" of Svyatoslav on the Dnieper rapids were already predetermined
    1. Mountain shooter
      Mountain shooter 3 May 2021 15: 43
      +1
      Quote: svp67
      Young Russia could not yet compete on equal terms with the centuries-old Empire. So that all other events, namely the split in his squad and the "accidental death" of Svyatoslav on the Dnieper rapids were already predetermined

      It is difficult to compete with military prowess against the cunning policy of a thousand-year empire. As they would say now, their GDPs are not comparable. What kind of economy did Russia have? In comparison with Byzantium ... However, it is impossible to say that Svyatoslav was strongly inferior to the Romans ...
  2. mr.ZinGer
    mr.ZinGer 3 May 2021 09: 16
    +7
    Another retelling in my own words, a complete jumble of terms and definitions.
    The scooters became hoplites, the cataphracts became guards, etc.
    "It is necessary to be more careful," as Mikhail Mikhailovich said.
  3. Richard
    Richard 3 May 2021 09: 58
    +5
    "Glory, a companion of Russian weapons, will perish if we now shamefully yield to the Romans"

    Maybe all the same, not the Romans, but the Romans?
    They're not the same after all
    1. mr.ZinGer
      mr.ZinGer 3 May 2021 10: 17
      +5
      At "Samsonov and K" they were transformed into Greeks
  4. Richard
    Richard 3 May 2021 10: 03
    +3
    Trizna of Russian vigilantes after the battle of Dorostol in 971. Painting by G. Semiradsky.
  5. Richard
    Richard 3 May 2021 10: 07
    +5
    Defense of Dorostol (map from the article "Dorostol" "Military Encyclopedia of Sytin" 1911-1915)


    Defense of Dorostol (21-22 July 971)
  6. pytar
    pytar 3 May 2021 10: 17
    +7
    Byzantine agents reported that the Russian prince believed the word of the Basileus about peace, so the mountain passes of the Balkan Mountains were not closed even by small outposts.

    Therefore, the Byzantines made their main bet on the surprise of the attack. Otherwise, the Russians and Bulgarians would have easily closed the mountain passes with small forces, they were inaccessible.

    The main strategic mistake of Svyatoslav. In history, many enemy armies have died trying to cross the passes of Stara Planina, where the Bulgarians ambushed them. Recall that the outcome of the Russian-Turkish war of 1878 was decided at Shipki. Leaving the passes unsecured meant opening the doors to Northern Bulgaria! An unforgivable mistake for such an outstanding commander as Svyatoslav!
    1. Bagatur
      Bagatur 3 May 2021 12: 23
      +3
      Svetoslav came as a Byzantine mercenary, invader and robber! In addition, he is an ezichnik. You can think anything, but he is nothing better for the Bulgarians than the Romans ... In full, perhaps, the Bulgarians simply missed the Romans through the Balanian prevalence ...
      1. pytar
        pytar 3 May 2021 14: 04
        +4
        Svetoslav came as a Byzantine mercenary, invader and robber! In addition, he is an ezichnik. You can think whatever you want, but he is nothing better for the Bulgarians than the Romans ... To the fullest, the Bulgarians simply let the Romans through the Balanian songs ...

        Yes, that's right. Leo Dyakon Nikifor, sends Kalokir to Svyatoslav to persuade him to attack Bulgaria, giving him a large sum of gold: 15 centarii (1 centarius = 100 liters, and liters = 72 gold solids (coins), or 15 centarii = 108 gold solids) ). Moreover, Svyatoslav was naturally left with the right to rob as much as he wanted, on condition that he then leave the loot.

        Arriving in Bulgaria, Svyatoslav was amazed at the wealth of this country. The prince describes the conquered Veliky Preslav as a real paradise, where "All kinds of blessings flow: from the Greek land gold, silk, wine and various fruits, from Czechs and eels - silver and horses, from Russia - skins, wax, honey and slaves."
        Lev Deacon testified that after the attack on Bulgaria Svyatoslav and his entourage “They did not want to return to their country, but rejoicing in the prosperity of these lands, they completely ignored the treaty with the emperor Nicephorus and considered it beneficial for them to stay and conquer this country. "

        Svyatoslav acted "befitting" to subdue the Bulgarians. For example, after the capture of Preslav, he killed 300 Bulgarian boyars, essentially killing the political elite of the then Bulgaria. "Svyatoslav thought for a long time and realized that if the Mizi / Bulgarians / joined the Romans, his work would not end well. He gathered about 300 Mizians, differing in gender and influence, and committed a cruel and inhuman act with them, destroying everything others he bound in chains and locked them up in prison. "

        It is significant that during the second invasion of Svyatoslav, according to the Russian chronicler, "the resistance (of Bulgarians) is now much more stubborn"... In the battle that followed "Bulgarians began to prevail", which shows that the Bulgarian authorities did not sit with their hands down. But this time too, the numerical superiority and experience of the Varangian-Russians prevailed, and the Bulgarian army was defeated. The northeastern part of the country, including Drustar and the capital of Veliki Preslav, fell under Russian occupation as a result of stubborn battles.

        Of course the Bulgarians were not happy with Svyatoslav and resisted as best they could. For them, he was an enemy - a conqueror, no better than others. The demographic and other losses that Bulgaria suffered turned out to be fatal, it could not recover and fell for 180 years under the Byzantine rule.
        1. Bagatur
          Bagatur 3 May 2021 14: 43
          +1
          Exactly! As a Bulgarian contemporary wrote of this tragic event, "Time for trouble, and Russian captivity!" What did not stop the communists from chatting about "1944 years of Rusko-Bulgarian military friendship" after 1000 ????
          1. pytar
            pytar 3 May 2021 14: 50
            +4
            Well, you understand that 1000 years is a very long time ... A lot of things have changed, in general, politicians often rewrite history for themselves. bully
  7. Richard
    Richard 3 May 2021 10: 21
    +4
    Two fortress gates went straight into the field and were protected by massive stone towers.

    Not two, but three Western (Western port), Eastern (Iztochna port) and two-tower Central (Glavna kralsk port)
  8. Richard
    Richard 3 May 2021 10: 43
    +4
    Part of the Russian and Bulgarian troops led by Sfenkel (possibly Sveneld) cut through the encirclement and went to Dorostol

    On April 26, a new big battle took place. The Greeks rushed to the attack. But all their attempts to break down the Russian wall of shields and spears were unsuccessful. Voivode Sfenkel died in a fierce battle

    Alexander, why did you decide that Sfenkel is possible, Sveneld, if you yourself write that he died on April 26?
    By the way, do you know that the real Sveneld set off on horseback through the southwestern lands of Russia and returned safely to Kiev, and the prince set off along the Dnieper and died in the battle on the rapids with the Pechenezh Khan Kurey?
    The most recent mention of Sveneld in Russian chronicles dates back to 977:
    "Look, - said Yaropolk to Sveneld over the body of his brother, - you wanted it" link chronicler Nestor. The Tale of Bygone Years.

    By the years 978-980, Sveneld apparently died, since he ceased to appear in the PVL
  9. pytar
    pytar 3 May 2021 10: 43
    +5
    And Svyatoslav wanted to move the capital of Russia to the Danube.

    There is an indirect confirmation of the version that the mother of Svyatoslav, Princess Olga, was descended from Preslav / Periaslav /. Some historians consider her to be the granddaughter of the Bulgarian Tsar Simeon the Great. The ideological underpinnings of Svyatoslav's campaigns in Bulgaria were also motivated by the fact that he claimed a non-negligible legacy by kinship law, especially considering that he was "going home."
    Unfortunately, the long war that broke out on the territory of Bulgaria had fatal consequences for it. Under the former ruler, Tsar Simeon the Great, Bulgaria reached the peak of its power!

    Bulgaria owned huge territories, Simeon waged many wars.

    Human and economic resources are depleted. The heir to Simeon, Tsar Peter in historiography is considered to be a weak, indecisive ruler, but since the country needed peace from the world for its restoration, Peter's policy looks quite reasonable. He tried to avoid conflicts, sometimes retreating. Unfortunately, then Svyatoslav attacked Bulgaria, the Russo-Byzantine war broke out, the country was completely devastated, weakened, and the Byzantines were not late to use it! After knocking out Svyatoslav from Bulgaria, Byzantium began a step-by-step relentless strategy to destroy the First Bulgarian Kingdom. Bulgaria did not fall immediately, the resistance continued for another 40 long years, there were even successes and partial restoration of the territories under Samuel, but time worked for the Byzantines! Bulgaria was losing strength, and Byzantium was gaining strength.
    The invasion of Svyatoslav in Bulgaria marked the beginning of the end of the First Bulgarian Kingdom, which left a huge cultural backlog in history, called the Golden Age of Bulgarian culture and books. This cultural treasure found continuation later in Russia. The Russian civilizational code is the development of the Old Bulgarian early medieval one.
    1. Richard
      Richard 3 May 2021 10: 48
      +5
      Greetings, Boyan hi
      Happy Easter to you and your family.
      1. pytar
        pytar 3 May 2021 10: 55
        +4
        Hi, Richard! Thank you!
        Happy Easter and congratulations to you! I wish you and your family health, happiness and a peaceful sky!
    2. Bagatur
      Bagatur 3 May 2021 14: 48
      +2
      Svetoslav had no rights to the Bulgarian crown! 1. The fact that his mother is a descendant of Prince Boris 1 has not been proven. 2. According to the Bulgarian law of that time, power goes only along the male line from father to sleep.
    3. Sergey Sfiedu
      Sergey Sfiedu 4 May 2021 22: 27
      0
      Svyatoslav's mother, Princess Olga was descended from Preslav / Periaslav /.

      Well yes. Olga (Elga, Helga) is a typical Bulgarian name ... am
  10. Basarev
    Basarev 3 May 2021 17: 19
    -4
    And the worst thing - then his son Vladimir leaked everything, even his faith. One of the first Gorbachevs in Russian history. But, unfortunately, not the last one. In the west, I have not seen anything like this for a long time: for personal buns to lower all the state's many years of efforts into dust.
    1. voyaka uh
      voyaka uh 5 May 2021 00: 57
      0
      Tsars changed state religions easily.
      Like gloves ... there's nothing to be done.
      And in ancient times, and later. Both in the East and in Western Europe.