Military Review

"Glory will not perish!" Heroic Defense of Dorostol

"Glory will not perish!" Heroic Defense of Dorostol
Grand Duke Svyatoslav the Brave. Artist I. Ozhiganov

War of attrition

The siege of Dorostol dragged on until July 971. Neither the Emperor Tzimiskes nor Svyatoslav were able to achieve a quick victory. The Greeks, despite the surprise of the attack and the great numerical superiority, were unable to crush the Russian squads. Tzimiskes also failed to force the Russians to lay down weapon... The Russian prince was unable to defeat the Byzantine army in a number of battles. Affected by the lack of reserves and the almost complete absence of cavalry. The Russian foot "wall" covered all the attacks of the enemy infantry and cavalry, but could not launch a counteroffensive. The Greeks had a powerful cavalry, which thwarted the attempts of the Russians to go on the offensive.

The Greeks noted the high fighting spirit of the Rus throughout the entire siege. The Romans were able to fill the moat and bring their stone-throwing machines closer to the walls. Rus and Bulgarians suffered heavy losses from their actions. However, they fought steadily and bravely for three months, holding back a powerful enemy. The Byzantines noted that the Russian "barbarians" prefer to kill themselves rather than be captured.

Gradually, day after day, the Greeks destroyed the walls and ramparts of Dorostol with the help of battering and stone-throwing machines. The Russian-Bulgarian garrison was thinning, there were many wounded among the soldiers. There was a severe shortage of food. The guards boiled the last horses in the cauldrons, emaciated and weakened.

However, the situation was difficult not only for Svyatoslav, but also for Tzimiskes. He hoped for a quick and triumphant victory that would strengthen his position in the empire. But the siege dragged on, the Rus held out, the Greeks suffered heavy losses. There was a threat that Svyatoslav's soldiers would be able to take over in one of the fierce battles, or help from Russia would come to them. It was restless in the rear. In the Byzantine Empire, there were constant rebellions. To know, taking advantage of the absence of the basileus in the capital, she wove intrigues and arranged conspiracies. The brother of the Emperor Nicephorus Phocas, killed by Tzimiskes, Lev Kuropalat rebelled. The palace coup failed, but the anxiety remained. The next conspiracy could be more successful.

Svyatoslav decided that the time had come for a new decisive battle. On July 19, 971, the Russians made a great sortie. She became unexpected for the enemy. Attacks usually took place at night. The Russians attacked at noon, in the afternoon, when the Greeks were resting and sleeping. They destroyed and burned many siege engines. The head of the siege park, a relative of the emperor, Master John Curkuas, was also killed. Then the Greeks whispered that Master John was punished for his crimes against Christian churches. He plundered many temples in Mizia (as the Greeks called Bulgaria), considering the Bulgarians to be almost pagans, and melted precious vessels and bowls into ingots.

Trizna of Svyatoslav's warriors after the battle at Dorostol in 971. Hood. G. Semiradsky

Battles of 20 and 22 July

On July 20, 971, the Russians again went into the field, but in large forces. The Greeks also built their forces. The battle began. In this battle, according to the Greeks, one of the closest associates of Svyatoslav, the governor of Ikmor, died. Even among the Russian Scythians, he stood out for his gigantic stature and cut down many Romans. He was killed by one of the bodyguards of the Basileus Anemas. The death of one of the big voivods, and even on the Day of Perun (the Russian thunderer, the patron saint of warriors, confused the Russians. The army retreated outside the city walls.

The Rus, burying their fallen, arranged a funeral feast. Memorial feast. It included washing the body, dressing in the best clothes, ornaments. Ritual feast, fun and burning of the deceased (steal). Interestingly, the Greeks noted the unity of funeral customs (one of the most important in human life) of the Scythians and the Rus. Also Leo the Deacon reported on the Scythian origin of the ancient hero Achilles. The Rus-Scythians contemporary to the Deacon have preserved ancient traditions. Actually, this is not surprising, because the Rus are direct descendants of the ancient Scythians-Sarmatians and earlier - the Aryans-Hyperboreans. Heirs of the most ancient northern tradition and civilization. All its basic and sacred symbols.

On July 21, Svyatoslav Igorevich convened a military council. He asked his people what to do.

Some commanders suggested leaving, secretly immerse themselves on boats at night. Since it is impossible to continue the war: the best fighters were killed or wounded. You could also pave your way by force, abandon the city, break into the forests and mountains of Bulgaria, find support from local residents who are dissatisfied with the policy of the boyars and Greeks.

Others suggested making peace with the Greeks, because it would be difficult to get away secretly, and the Greek fire-carrying ships could burn the boats. Then Svyatoslav made a speech delivered by Leo the Deacon:

“The glory perished, which followed the army of the Rus, who easily defeated the neighboring peoples and enslaved whole countries without bloodshed, if we now shamefully retreat before the Romans. So, let’s feel the courage that our ancestors have bequeathed to us, remember that the power of the Rus was still indestructible, and we will fight bitterly for our lives. It is not for us to return to our homeland, fleeing; we must either win and stay alive, or die with glory, having accomplished feats worthy of valiant men! ”

"Glory will not perish!"

- assured the governors of the prince. And they vowed to lay down their heads, but not to shame the glory of the Russian.

Then all the soldiers took the oath, and the Magi sealed the oaths with sacrifices. On July 22, the Russians went out into the field again. The prince ordered to close the gate so that no one could return behind the walls. The Rus themselves struck at the Greeks, and their attack was so fierce that the enemy wavered and began to gradually withdraw. Svyatoslav himself cut into the enemy ranks like a simple warrior. Seeing that his phalanx was retreating, the Byzantine emperor led the "immortals" into battle. On the flanks of the Russian army, the enemy armored cavalry struck. This halted the onslaught of the "barbarians", but the Rus continued the attack, regardless of the losses. The Deacon called their onslaught "monstrous." Both sides suffered heavy casualties, but the bloody battle continued.

As the Christians themselves later recalled, they were literally saved by a miracle. Suddenly, a strong thunderstorm began, a strong wind rose. Clouds of sand hit the Russian soldiers in the face. Then a downpour poured down. The Russians had to hide behind the walls of the city. The Greeks attributed the riot of the elements to divine intercession.

Svyatoslav during the defense of Dorostol. Hood. S. Pokotilov


Tzimisce, shaken by the battle and fearing a new battle or bad News from the capital, if the siege is continued, he secretly offered peace to Svyatoslav. According to the Greek version, the world was proposed by Svyatoslav. Basilevs insisted that the Russians themselves come up with peace proposals. Tzimiskes considered it a belittling of his honor to seek peace himself. He wanted to appear victorious to Byzantium. Svyatoslav satisfied his vanity. Sveneld with his retinue arrived at the Byzantine camp and conveyed the offer of peace.

The two rulers met on the Danube and negotiated peace. Lev Deacon left a description of the Russian prince:

“Svyatoslav arrived on the river by boat. He sat on the oars and rowed with his warriors, no different from them. The Grand Duke looked like this: of medium height, neither too tall nor too small, with thick eyebrows, blue eyes, an even nose, a shaved head and a thick long mustache. His head was completely naked, and only on one side of it hung a lock of hair, which signified the nobility of the family. He had a strong neck and broad shoulders, and his entire physique was rather slender. He looked gloomy and stern. In one ear he had a gold earring adorned with two pearls with a ruby ​​inserted between them. His clothes were white, and in nothing but cleanliness, they did not differ from the clothes of others. "

The Greeks let the soldiers of Svyatoslav on the Danube. They gave bread for the journey. Greek sources reported that the Russians took bread for 22 thousand soldiers. The Russian prince agreed to leave the Danube. The Russians left Dorostol. All the prisoners were given to the Romans. Russia and Byzantium returned to the articles of agreements 907-944. The parties again considered themselves "friends". This meant that Constantinople was again paying tribute to Russia. This was also reported in the Russian chronicle. Also, Tzimiskes had to send ambassadors to the Pechenegs so that they would clear the way.

Thus, Svyatoslav Igorevich escaped a military defeat. The world was honorable. Byzantium was again considered a "partner" and paid tribute. However, Bulgaria, for which the Russian prince had big plans, had to be abandoned and Byzantine rule was established there. Therefore, Svyatoslav wanted to continue the dispute over the Danube lands, which had long belonged to the Slavic Russians. According to The Tale of Bygone Years, the prince said:

"I will go to Russia, I will bring more squads."

Svyatoslav sent Sveneld to Kiev with a large part of the army, she walked overland. Himself with a small retinue remained on the Beloberezhye, on the island of the Danube delta, and spent the winter there. The prince was waiting for the arrival of a new large army from Russia in order to continue the battle in Bulgaria.

And hard times have come for Bulgaria. Eastern Bulgaria was deprived of its independence. Roman garrisons were located in the cities. Tsar Boris was deposed, he was ordered to lay down the royal regalia. His younger brother, Roman, was emasculated so that he would not have children. Bulgarian cities were renamed in the Greek way. Pereslav became Ioannopolis, in honor of Basileus, Dorostol - Theodoropolis, in honor of his wife.

"Meeting of Svyatoslav with the Byzantine emperor Tzimiskes on the banks of the Danube." K.V. Lebedev, 1880s
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  1. Kote Pan Kokhanka
    Kote Pan Kokhanka 4 May 2021 05: 31
    It's sad. Good day everyone.
    1. SERGE ANT
      SERGE ANT 4 May 2021 10: 10
      Both the campaign and the end of Svyatoslav are sad ... In the year 6479 (971). ... Having made peace with the Greeks, Svyatoslav went to the rapids in boats. And the governor of his father Sveneld said to him:
      "Go around, prince, the rapids on horseback, for they are at the thresholds of the Pechenegs."
      And he did not listen to him, and went in the boats. And the people of Pereyaslavl sent them to the Pechenegs to say:
      "Here Svyatoslav walks past you to Russia with a small squad, taking from the Greeks a lot of wealth and prisoners without number."
      Hearing about this, the Pechenegs stepped into the rapids. And Svyatoslav came to the thresholds, and it was impossible to pass them. And he stopped to spend the winter in Beloberezhye, and they had no food, and they had a great hunger, so they paid half a quarter for a horse's head, and then Svyatoslav spent the winter.
      In the year 6480 (972). When spring came, Svyatoslav went to the rapids. And smoking attacked him, the prince of Pechenezh, and they killed Svyatoslav, and took his head, and made a cup from the skull, bound him, and drank from it. Sveneld came to Kiev to Yaropolk. And all the years of Svyatoslav's reign were 28.
      "The Tale of Bygone Years"
      A memorial sign dedicated to Prince Svyatoslav appeared on the Dnieper rapids in 1913.
      Memorable sign of the work of B.V. Eduards was a horizontal cast-iron slab with an area of ​​about 2 square meters. m. The inscription is cast on the slab: In 972, at the Dnieper rapids, the Russian knight Prince Svyatoslav Igorevich fell in an unequal battle with the Pechenegs.
      After the construction of the Dneproges, in 1932, the Nenasytets rapids, like other rapids, disappeared under the river waters raised to a higher level. The Monastyrko rock, along with a memorial plate, also appeared under the waters.
      After the explosion in 1941 of the Dneproges dam, during the Second World War, the rock with the slab was again accessible for viewing for some time. After the end of the war and the restoration of the dam of the hydroelectric power station, in 1947 the memorial plate was dismantled and moved to a non-flooded part of the coast.
  2. Bully
    Bully 4 May 2021 13: 13
    In the epic, there is another version of the death of Svyatoslav and it deserves more trust.

    Treason at the rapids

    “Here, Sveneld, and we reached Kiev. Only the rapids were left and dragged. A Pecheneg sits on the thresholds, its close one does not know death. I will go with a small army along the trail, I will lure the Pechenegoin with weakness, I will start the battle with him at the plows with prey. You are an ambush regiment, with all your strength, go around the Pechenegs along the shore, wait for the horns, my signal, and strike the shit from the sun. ”

    Everything fell silent in the morning damp, bloody flashes flared up, the prince pulled his plows with prey, a tribute that the treacherous voloks gave. They reported to the filthy Pecheneg that the planes were coming with a small squad, the prince fell into the trap of Sveneldov, as was agreed with the Romans. The Pecheneg’s eyes flared up on the wealth of the Tsar’s squads, the Horde cavalry rushed with a screech, one hundred filthy for every Russian.
    1. andrew42
      andrew42 4 May 2021 16: 25
      Unambiguous collusion. Emissaries of Tzimiskes + Christian community of Kiev + Pechenegs. Specialist. the operation was successful. Russia entered the era of fratricides, justified by the degree of zeal in the new "correct" faith.
  3. Basarev
    Basarev 4 May 2021 18: 39
    It was necessary not to split up, but to walk together on land. Ponty in such an important matter is inappropriate.
  4. Khibiny Plastun
    Khibiny Plastun 5 May 2021 19: 45
    Or maybe everything is simpler - Svyatoslav has already gotten out of his war with Byzantium, some losses, because the Byzantine trades are closed. And the people did not forget how the prince himself, in essence, abandoned Kiev during the siege by the Pechenegs. He sent only a small detachment, and only an accident saved the city from surrender, and if you remember that both his mother and his children were in the city ...
    They also remembered the words of the prince, "I do not like it in Kiev, but I like it in Pereslavets ..."
    And now he is again taking the men away on an incomprehensible campaign.
    And to collect at least 10000 again for the war for the lands that will not be able to hold, there are already few fools. So, I think about Svyatoslav in Russia, few people wept.
    Yes, and betrayal on Sveneld may not be worth it. It just did not work to gather an army, people are free, they did not go and that's it. Why does Karachun need such a prince - he stopped defending his land from the gate, he doesn’t wander about where, the trade stands, he only puts soldiers, Perun knows where. Svyatoslav forgot the sense of proportion ...
  5. Victor Tsenin
    Victor Tsenin 6 May 2021 03: 29
    I read this article in the journal Science and Life, as a schoolboy, the term mori turi, stuck in the neocortex forever, since those times)
  6. Maksim
    Maksim 10 May 2021 09: 22
    Therefore, Svyatoslav wanted to continue the dispute over the Danube lands, long owned Slavic Russians.

    This is how "long ago"? Since ancient times or what? When the super-ethnos of the Rus built pyramids or dug the Black Sea, then? How the claims to the "long-standing" belonging to the land hide the banal everyday (and paid for by the Byzantines) foray of the Russians into Bulgaria. Then It was in the order of things - I wanted to, I went robbed that there were clothes, loot and women. What are "long-owned" etc. clichés? Call things by their names.