Coup in Byzantium. 11 December 969, as a result of the coup, the Byzantine emperor Nikifor Fock was assassinated, and John Tzimisios was on the imperial throne. Nikifor Fock fell at the height of his glory: in October, the imperial army captured Antioch. Nikifor aroused strong opposition among the nobility and the clergy. He was a harsh and ascetic warrior, focused on restoring the power of the Byzantine Empire, giving all his strength to the struggle with the Arabs and the struggle for southern Italy. The wealthy estates did not like the abolition of luxury and ceremonies, thrift in the spending of public funds. At the same time, Basileus planned to conduct a series of internal reforms aimed at restoring social justice. Nikifor wanted to weaken the nobility in favor of the people and deprive the church of many privileges that made it the richest institution of the empire. As a result, a significant part of the Byzantine aristocracy, high clergy and monasticism hated the upstart. Nikifor was accused of not having come from the royal family and had no birth rights to the imperial throne. He did not have time to win the respect of ordinary people. The empire was engulfed by famine, and the relatives of the emperor were noted in embezzlement.
Nikifor was doomed. Even his wife came out against him. Queen Theophano, apparently, did not like the austerity and indifference to the joys of Nikifor’s life. The future queen began her career as a daughter of the Constantinople shinkar (the owner of the drinking house) and a prostitute. However, amazing beauty, ability, ambition and viciousness allowed her to become an empress. At first she seduced and subdued the young heir to the throne, Roman. During the life of Basileus, she struck up a relationship with a promising commander, Nikifor. After Nikifor Foca took the throne, she again became queen. Theophano made her lover a brilliant associate of Nikifor, John Tzimiskes. Theophano let Tzimisces and his people into the bedroom of the emperor, and Nikifor was brutally murdered. Before death, the emperor was tormented. It should also be said that Tzimiskes was the nephew of Nikifor Fochi, his mother was the sister of Fochi.
The coup d'état significantly weakened the Byzantine Empire that had just begun to collect stones. Nikifor's conquests in the East — in Cilicia, Phenicia, and Coelishiria — were almost completely lost. In Cappadocia, in Asia Minor, a nephew of the deceased emperor, commander Ward Fock, who raised a strong army at the expense of Fock, raised a powerful rebellion. He began to fight for the throne. The younger brother of Emperor Nikifor II Foki, Lev Fok tried to raise a rebellion against Tzimiskes in Thrace.
Under these conditions, Kalokir, who came to Bulgaria with Russian troops, got a chance to take the imperial throne. It was quite in the spirit of the times. More than once or twice over the course of long centuries, energetic aspirants to the Byzantine throne raised insurrections, turned their subordinate armies towards the capital, and led foreign troops into the Byzantine Empire. Others carried out successful or unsuccessful palace coups. The most successful and capable became new basileus.
Preparing for war, first skirmishes
Under John I Tzimiskhii, relations between Byzantium and Rus became frankly hostile. The Russian prince, according to Vasily Tatishchev, learned from the captured Bulgarians that the Bulgarian troops attacked Pereyaslavets at the instigation of Constantinople and that the Greeks promised help to the Bulgarian government. He also learned that the Greeks had long ago made an alliance with the Bulgarians against the Russian prince. In addition, Constantinople is now particularly and did not hide his intentions. Tzimisces sent an embassy to Pereyaslavets, which demanded from Svyatoslav that he, having received the award from Nikifor, return to his possessions. Since the departure of Svyatoslav to fight the Pechenegs, the Byzantine government stopped paying tribute to Russia.
The grand duke quickly replied: Russian forward detachments were sent to disturb the Byzantine frontier while conducting reconnaissance. An undeclared war began. John Tzimiskes, barely seized the throne, faced with the constant attacks of the Rus on Byzantine possessions. Thus, Svyatoslav Igorevich, having returned to Pereyaslavets, abruptly changed the restrained policy towards Byzantium. Open conflict erupted. The prince had a formal reason - Svyatoslav had an agreement with Nikifor Fock, not Tzimis. Nikifor - a formal ally of Svyatoslav, meanly killed. At the same time, the Hungarians, the allies of the Rus, became active. At that moment, when Svyatoslav rescued his capital from the Pechenegs, the Hungarians struck at Byzantium. They came to Thessaloniki. The Greeks had to mobilize significant forces to oust the enemy. As a result, Constantinople and Kiev exchanged blows. Pecheneg leaders, bought by the Byzantines, led troops to Kiev for the first time. And Svyatoslav, knowing or guessing who was to blame for the Pecheneg invasion, sent ambassadors to Buda and asked the Hungarian leaders to strike at Byzantium.
Now the masks have been reset. The Greeks, making sure that neither the Pechenegs' gold nor the raids did not shake Svyatoslav’s determination to remain on the Danube, presented an ultimatum, the Russian prince refused. Bulgarians made an alliance with Svyatoslav. Russ ruined border areas of the empire. It went to a big war. However, the time for a fight with Svyatoslav was inconvenient. The Arabs won back the territories occupied by Nicephorus Fock, tried to recapture Antioch. Warda Fock revolted. For the third year, the empire was tormented by hunger, especially aggravated by the spring of 970, causing discontent among the population. Split Bulgaria. The Western Bulgarian kingdom separated from Preslav, which began to pursue an anti-Byzantine policy.
In these extremely unfavorable conditions, the new Byzantine basileus proved to be a sophisticated politician and decided to win time from Svyatoslav to gather troops scattered around topics (military administrative districts of the Byzantine Empire). A new embassy was sent to the Russian prince in the spring of 970. The Russians demanded that the Greeks pay the tribute that Constantinople was obliged to pay according to the previous agreements. The Greeks, apparently, initially agreed. But time was pulled, they began to gather a powerful army. At the same time, the Greeks demanded the withdrawal of Russian troops from the Danube. Prince Svyatoslav Igorevich, according to the Byzantine chronicler Lev the Deacon, was ready to leave, but demanded a huge ransom for the cities left on the Danube. Otherwise, Svyatoslav declared, “may they (Greeks) move from Europe, which did not belong to them, to Asia; but they do not dream that the Tauroskifs (Ruses) without it will reconcile with them. ”
It is clear that Svyatoslav was not going to leave, making difficult demands for the Greeks. The Russian prince did not plan to leave the Danube, which he wanted to make the center of his state. But negotiations continued. Byzantines won time. Svyatoslav it was also necessary. While the Greek ambassadors tried to stifle and deceive Svyatoslav Igorevich in Pereyaslavets, the envoys of the Russian prince had already gone to the Pecheneg and Hungarian possessions. The Hungarians were the old allies of Russia and the constant enemies of Byzantium. Their troops regularly threatened the Byzantine Empire. Hungarian troops supported the troops of Svyatoslav in 967, and in 968, they attacked Byzantine lands at his request. And now Prince Svyatoslav Igorevich again called allies to fight with Byzantium. The Byzantine chronicler John Skilitsa knew about the ambassadors of Svyatoslav to the Ugrians. Reported about this union and Tatishchev. AT "Stories He said that when negotiations between the ambassadors of Tzimisces and Svyatoslav were going on, the Russian prince had only 20 thousand soldiers, as the Hungarians, the Poles and the reinforcements from Kiev had not yet come. Other sources do not report Poles, but at that time there was no hostility between Russia and Poland, so some Polish soldiers could well side with Svyatoslav. The baptism of Poland according to the Roman model was begun at the turn of the X - XI centuries and lasted until the XIII century, only then the Polish state became an implacable enemy of Russia.
There was a struggle for the Pechenezh leaders. In Constantinople, they knew very well the price and value of the union with them. Even the emperor Constantine VII Porphyrogenitus, the author of his work “On the management of the empire,” wrote that when the Roman emperor (in Constantinople considered themselves heirs of Rome) lived in peace with the Pechenegs, neither the Russians nor the Hungarians could attack the Romanian state. However, the Pechenegs, as their allies, were also viewed in Kiev. There is no information about the hostilities between Russia and the Pechenegs for the period from 920 to 968 year. And this in the conditions of constant clashes at the border of the “forest and steppe” at that period of history is a rather rare, one can even say unique phenomenon. Moreover, the Pechenegs (apparently the same fragment of the Scythian-Sarmatian world as Russia) regularly act as allies of the Rus. In 944, the Grand Duke Igor Rurikovich leads the Great Skuf (Scythia) to the Byzantine Empire, the Pechenegs are part of the allied army. When an honorable peace was concluded with Constantinople, Igor sent the Pechenegs to fight the hostile Bulgarians. The union of the Rus and the Pechenegs is also reported by Eastern authors. The 10th century Arab geographer and traveler Ibn Haukal calls the Pechenegs "the thorn of the Rus and their strength." In 968, the Byzantines were able to bribe part of the Pechenegian clans, and they approached Kiev. However, Svyatoslav punished impudent. By the beginning of the war with Byzantium, the Pecheneg detachments again joined the army of Svyatoslav Igorevich.
In preparation for the war with the Byzantine Empire, the Russian prince took care of the foreign policy of Bulgaria. The government of the king was tied to the policy of Svyatoslav. This is indicated by numerous facts. Bulgarians acted as guides, Bulgarian soldiers fought with the Greeks as part of the Russian army. Russ and Bulgarians together defended the city from the enemy. Bulgaria became an ally of Russia. It is quite possible that during this period, those nobles who had seen the catastrophic nature of the compromising, Greek philosophy of the Preslav policy prevailed in the circle of Tsar Boris. Bulgaria through the fault of the provisan party split and was on the verge of death. Byzantium twice substituted Bulgaria under the blow of Russia. And Svyatoslav Igorevich, when he made the second Danube campaign and again occupied Pereyaslavets, could easily capture Preslav. But the Russian prince generously ceased hostilities against the Bulgarians, although he could capture the whole country: the Bulgarian army was defeated, and the leadership was demoralized. Svetoslav Igorevich saw these doubts and hesitations; he tried to eliminate the “fifth column” in Bulgaria, which was oriented towards Byzantium. So, he destroyed the conspirators in Pereyaslavets, because of them the voivode Wolf was forced to leave the city. Already during the war with Byzantium, Svyatoslav would be cruelly punished with a part of the prisoners (apparently, by the Greeks and Bulgarians who were byzantine-minded) in the Philippopolis (Plovdiv), which was located on the border with Byzantium and was a stronghold of the Provisan party. At the second stage of the war, the conspiracy in Dorostol will be suppressed, during the siege by its Romans.
While negotiations were under way, the Russian troops disturbed the Greek lands and conducted reconnaissance in force. The Romanian commanders who commanded the troops in Macedonia and Thrace could not stop them. Allied Hungarian and Pecheneg detachments joined the army of Svyatoslav. At this point, both sides were ready for war. The commanders of Ward Skleer and Patric Peter — he defeated the Arabs at Antioch, received orders to speak out of the European possessions of Byzantium. The empire had the opportunity to transfer the main forces to the Balkan Peninsula. Emperor John Tzimiskes promised to come out with his guard against the "Scythians," since "he could no longer bear their unbridled impudence." The best Byzantine commanders received an order to guard the border and conduct reconnaissance, sending spies in a "Scythian dress" across the border. A fleet was prepared. In Adrianople began to concentrate stocks weaponsfood and fodder. The empire was preparing for a decisive offensive.
Negotiations were interrupted. On behalf of the Byzantine Basileus, the ambassadors of Tzimiskes began to threaten the Russian prince: in particular, they reminded Svyatoslav of the defeat of his father Igor in 941, when part of the Russian fleet was destroyed by the so-called. "Greek fire." The Romans threatened to destroy the Russian army. Svyatoslav immediately responded with a promise to break the tents at Constantinople and fight the enemy: “we will meet him bravely and show him in practice that we are not some craftsmen who earn their living by the labor of their hands, but men of blood who defeat the enemy with weapons ". The Russian chronicle also describes this moment. Svyatoslav sent people to the Greeks with the words: “I want you to go and take your city, like this one,” that is, Pereyaslavets.
"Sword of Svyatoslav". The sword of the "Varangian" type discovered in the Dnieper River near the island of Khortytsya 7 November 2011 of the year. Weight about 1 kg, has a length of 96 cm. Dated from the middle of the X century.
The first stage of the war. Battle of Arkadiopol
In Constantinople, they wanted to strike the enemy in the spring, starting a campaign through the Balkans to northern Bulgaria, when the mountain passes freed from the snow and the roads began to dry out. However, the opposite happened, the Russian troops went on the offensive first. Prince Svyatoslav receiving information about the preparations of the enemy from the advanced forces, the scouting Bulgarians, warned the enemy strike. The prince-warrior himself set out on a campaign against Tsargrad-Constantinople. This news was for Tzimiskes and his generals like a thunderclap. Svyatoslav Igorevich intercepted a strategic initiative and mixed all the cards to the enemy, not allowing him to complete preparations for the campaign.
It soon became clear that the swift attack of the Russian soldiers and their allies was simply impossible to stop. In the spring of 970, the troops of Svyatoslav Igorevich with lightning throw passed from the lower reaches of the Danube through the Balkan Mountains. The Ruses, using the help of the Bulgarian guides, dispersed or bypassed the Roman outposts on the mountain passes and transferred the war to Thrace and Macedonia. Russian troops captured several border towns. Founded and captured earlier by the Greeks, a strategically important city in Thrace - Philippopol. According to the Byzantine historian Lev the Deacon, here the Russian prince executed thousands of "grekofilov." Also in Thrace, the troops of Patricia Peter were defeated, since the war the Byzantine chroniclers "forgot" about this commander.
Russian army swiftly marched on Constantinople. Having traveled about 400 kilometers, the troops of Svyatoslav approached the fortress Arkadiopol (modern Lüleburgaz), in this direction Vard Sklir kept the defense. According to other sources, the decisive battle of the first stage of the Russian-Byzantine war took place near the large Byzantine city of Adrianople (the current Edirne). According to Lev Deacon, Svyatoslav had 30 thousand soldiers, the number of Byzantine troops was 10 thousand people. The Russian chronicle speaks of the 10 of thousands of Russian soldiers (Svyatoslav's army was attacked by several detachments), and of the 100 thousand of Greek troops.
According to the Byzantine chronicler, both sides showed perseverance and valor, "the success of the battle tended in favor of one, then in favor of another army." The Greeks were able to defeat the Pecheneg detachment, turning it to flight. Russian troops also trembled. Here, Prince Svyatoslav Igorevich addressed his warriors with words that became legendary: “Do not disgrace the land of Ruski, but let down the bones, don't forget imam for dead shame. If we flee, shame imam. I’m not a refuge, but let us be strong, as before you will go: if my head is to lie down, then prude for yourself. " And the Russians fled, and there was a great slaughter, and defeated Svyatoslav.
According to Leo the Deacon, the Greek troops won a convincing victory. However, there is much evidence that the Byzantine chronicler distorts the historical truth, putting politics above objectivity. It must be said that information warfare is far from being a modern invention. Even the ancient chroniclers of Rome and Constantinople in every way humbled the "barbarians" from the east and north, attributing all the advantages and victories to the "highly developed" Greeks and Romans. Suffice to say about the inconsistency and frank lies of Leo the Deacon. The chronist says that huge masses of troops fought and “the success of the battle tended in favor of one, then in favor of another army”, that is, the battle was fierce, and then reports loss of 55 of killed Romanians (!) And 20 of thousands with odd (!!) dead Scythians. Apparently, the "Scythians" were shot with machine guns ?! The obvious lie.
In addition, there is evidence of a direct participant in the events - the Greek Bishop John. The church hierarch at the time of the approach of the Russian troops to Constantinople addressed with bitter words to the slain Emperor Nikifor Foke, expressing complete distrust of the successes of the commanders of Tsimishi: “... rise up now, the emperor, and gather troops, phalanxes and regiments. The Russian invasion rushes at us. ” It is necessary to think that the Tale of Bygone Years, although it describes the events of this war extremely sparingly, is more reliable when it reports that after this fierce battle, Svyatoslav went to Constantinople, fighting and smashing cities, which still stand empty.
In such a situation, when the victorious army of Svyatoslav stood about 100 kilometers from Constantinople, the Greeks asked for peace. In the chronicle tale, the Greeks again dodged, experienced Svyatoslav, sending him various gifts. The prince remained indifferent to gold and precious stones, but praised the weapon. The Byzantine advisers gave advice to pay tribute: “The Lut will be this man, for he neglects wealth, but takes the weapon.” This is another proof of the Greek deception about winning a decisive battle. The Romans could have scrambled up in one of the clashes, over an auxiliary detachment, but not in a decisive battle. Otherwise, why should they ask for peace. If the bulk of the Russian troops (20 thousand soldiers) were destroyed, and the rest were scattered, it is obvious that then Tzimshiy would have no need to search for peace talks and give tribute. In such a situation, the Emperor John Tzimisces was supposed to organize the pursuit of the enemy, the capture of his soldiers, the Balkan mountains, and on the shoulders of the soldiers of Svyatoslav break into Great Preslav and then Pereyaslavets. And here the Greeks beg Svyatoslav Igorevich about the world.
The first stage of the war with the Byzantine Empire ended in victory for Svyatoslav. But Prince Svyatoslav did not have the strength to continue the campaign and storm the great Constantinople. The army suffered heavy losses and needed replenishment and rest. Therefore, the prince agreed to peace. Constantinople was forced to pay tribute and agree with the consolidation of Svyatoslav on the Danube. Svyatoslav "... go to Pereyaslavets with great praise." Russ, Bulgarians, Hungarians and Pechenegs left Thrace and Macedonia. In fact, Russia and Byzantium returned to the state of the 967 agreement of the year concluded between Svyatoslav and Nikifor Fock. The Byzantine Empire renewed the payment of the annual tribute to Kiev, agreed with the presence of the Rus in the Danube. Rus refused claims to the Northern Black Sea and Crimean possessions of Byzantium. For the rest, the norms of the Russian-Byzantine Treaty of 944 of the year were preserved.
Byzantine sources do not report on this agreement, which is understandable. The Byzantine Empire suffered a heavy defeat from the "barbarians", but will soon take revenge. And the history, as is known, is written by the winners. Romes did not need the truth about the defeats of their powerful army from the "Scythian" prince. Constantinople went to the world to prepare for a new war.
There is no reason not to trust the information of the Russian chronicles, since the same Byzantine sources report that the hostilities were halted, and Ward Sklir was recalled from the Balkan front to Asia Minor to suppress the revolt of Warda Foki. In Constantinople, a peace agreement was regarded as a pause in hostilities, military cunning, and not a long-term peace. The Byzantine command tried to restore order in the rear, regroup forces and prepare a surprise attack in 971. Apparently, Svyatoslav decided that the campaign was won and that in the near future there would be no active hostilities. Allied - auxiliary Pecheneg and Hungarian troops, the Russian prince released. The main Russian forces led to Pereyaslavets, leaving a small detachment in the Bulgarian capital - Preslav. There were no Russian troops in any other Bulgarian cities. Pliska and other centers lived their lives. The war did not affect the Western Bulgarian kingdom, hostile to Byzantium. Although Svyatoslav could conclude an alliance with the Western Bulgarian kingdom. If Svyatoslav were defeated and retreated, he would have behaved differently. I would not let go of the Allies, on the contrary, strengthened their ranks, called for reinforcements from the lands of the Pechenegs, Hungarians and Kiev. The main forces concentrated in mountain passes to fight off the enemy offensive. Having received reinforcements, I would launch a counteroffensive. Svyatoslav behaved like a winner, not waiting for a traitorous blow from the defeated enemy, who himself asked for peace.
To be continued ...