The first stage of the war with the Byzantine Empire ended for Prince Svyatoslav Igorevich with a victory. Constantinople had to pay tribute and agree with the consolidation of Russian positions in the Danube. Constantinople resumed paying the annual tribute to Kiev. Svyatoslav was satisfied with the success achieved and released the allied forces of the Pechenegs and the Hungarians. Russian troops were mainly located at Dorostol. New war was not expected in the near future, nobody guarded the mountain passes.
However, in Constantinople were not going to adhere to the world. The Romes regarded the peace agreement only as a respite, a military ruse that allowed them to put down the vigilance of the enemy, to mobilize all forces. The Greeks acted according to their old principle: got peace - get ready for war. This tactic of the Byzantine Empire was formulated by its commander XI Kekavmen in his work “Strategicon”. He wrote: “If the enemy slips away from you day by day, promising to either make peace or pay tribute, know that he is waiting for help from somewhere or wants to fool you. If the enemy sends you gifts and offerings, if you want, take them, but know that he does this not out of love for you, but wanting to buy your blood for this. ” The numerous truces and worlds concluded by Constantinople with the surrounding states and peoples, paying tribute and contributions to them were often needed only to gain time, outwit the enemy, deceive him, and then deliver a sudden blow.
The stay of the Rus on the Danube and, most importantly, the alliance of Bulgaria with Russia, completely contradicted the strategy of Byzantium. The union of the two Slavic powers was very dangerous for Byzantium and could lead to the loss of the Balkan possessions. The Byzantine Emperor John Tzimiskes was actively preparing for a new war. From Asian provinces, troops were being pulled. Military exercises were held near the walls of the capital. Food and equipment were prepared. Prepared for the campaign fleet, about 300 ships in total. In March 971, John I Tzimiskes held a review fleet, which was armed with "Greek fire." The fleet had to block the mouth of the Danube in order to suppress the actions of the Russian rook flotilla.
Battle for Preslav
In the spring, the basil together with the guard ("immortal") set out on a campaign. The main forces of the Byzantine army were already concentrated in Adrianople. Having learned that the mountain passages were free, John decided to strike at the Bulgarian capital, and then crush Svyatoslav. Thus, the Byzantine army had to break the enemy's troops in parts, not allowing them to unite. In the forefront was a phalanx of warriors, completely enclosed in shells ("immortal"), followed by 15 thousands of selected infantry and 13 thousand horsemen. The rest of the troops were commanded by Vasily Proedr, he was walking with a wagon train, carrying siege and other vehicles. Despite the commanders' fears, the troops passed the mountains easily and without resistance. 12 April Byzantine troops approached Preslav.
Tsar Boris, his court, Kalokir and the Russian detachment under Sfenkel were in the Bulgarian capital. Leo Deacon calls him "the third deserved after Sfendoslav" (the second was Ikmor). In another Byzantine chronicler, John Skilitsa, he is also named after Svangel and was considered the “second highest”. Some researchers identify Sfenkel with Sveneld. But Sveneld survived this war, and Sfenkel fell in battle. Despite the unexpected appearance of the enemy, the Tavroskifs lined up in battle order and hit the Greeks. Initially, neither side could take up, only the flank attack of the "immortals" turned the tide. Ruses moved behind the city walls. The first assault on the garrison of Preslav beat off. The remaining forces and siege vehicles approached the Roma. At night, Preslavi fled to Dorostol Kalokir. In the morning, the assault was resumed. Russ and Bulgarians fiercely defended, throwing spears, darts and stones from the walls. Romans fired at the walls with the help of stone-throwing machines, threw pots with "Greek fire" into the city. The defenders suffered great losses, but held. However, the preponderance of forces was clearly on the side of the Greeks, and they were able to take external fortifications.
The remnants of the Russian-Bulgarian forces entrenched in the royal palace. The Romans broke into the city, killing and robbing the inhabitants. The royal treasury was plundered as well, which was safe and sound during the stay of the Rus in the city. At the same time Bulgarian Tsar Boris was captured with his children and his wife. John I Tzimiskh hypocritically declared to him that he had come "to avenge the ministers (as the Bulgarians called the Bulgarians), who had suffered terrible disasters from the Scythians."
Russian troops, who defended the palace, repulsed the first assault, the Romans suffered heavy losses. Upon learning of this failure, the basil ordered his guard to attack the Rus with all their might. However, seeing that an offensive in the narrow aisle of the gate would cause great losses, he recalled the troops and ordered the palace set on fire. When a strong flame broke out, the remaining troops of the Rus went out into the open and went on the last violent attack. The Emperor sent Master Ward Skleer against them. The Romean phalanx surrounded the Rus. As even Leo the Deacon, who wrote about the thousands of killed "Scythians" and the few Greeks, noted, "the dew desperately resisted, not showing the enemies of the back," but were doomed. Only Sfenkel, with the remnants of his squad, was able to cut through the enemy ranks and left for Dorostol. The remaining warriors bound the enemy with battle and died the death of the brave. In the same battle, many Bulgarians fell to the last who fought on the Rus side.
Greeks storming Preslav. From siege guns shown kamnemet. Miniature from the chronicles of John Skilitsa.
After leaving Preslava, basil left a sufficient garrison there, the fortifications were restored. The city was renamed John. Began a period of occupation of Bulgaria by Byzantine troops. After some time, the emperor at the solemn ceremony will deprive Tsar Boris of royal regalia, and eastern Bulgaria will come under the direct control of Constantinople. The Greeks wanted to completely eliminate the Bulgarian kingdom, but Byzantium could not subjugate the western part of Bulgaria, where an independent state was formed. In order to lure the Bulgarians to his side and destroy the Bulgarian-Russian alliance, Tzimisces in the ruined and plundered Preslav announced that he was fighting not with Bulgaria, but with Russia, and he wanted to avenge the offenses inflicted by Svyatoslav Bulgaria. It was a monstrous lie common to the Byzantines. The Greeks actively fought the “information war”, declaring black as white and white as black, rewriting history in their favor.
On April 17, the Byzantine army marched swiftly toward Dorostol. Emperor John I Tzimiskes sent several captives to Prince Svyatoslav with a demand to lay down weapon, surrender to the winners and, asking for forgiveness "for their audacity", immediately retire from Bulgaria. The cities between Preslavoy and Dorostol, in which there were no Russian garrisons, capitulated without a fight. Bulgarian feudal lords joined Tzimiskes. The Romans marched through Bulgaria as invaders, occupied cities and fortresses the emperor gave to the soldiers for plunder. John Kurcuas distinguished himself in the plunder of Christian churches.
The Byzantine Emperor John Tzimisches returned to Constantinople after the victory over the Bulgarians.
Svyatoslav Igorevich was in a difficult situation. The enemy was able to deliver a sudden and treacherous blow. Bulgaria was largely occupied and could not put out significant forces to fight the invaders. The allies were released, so Svyatoslav had few cavalry. Until now, Svyatoslav Igorevich himself attacked, owned a strategic initiative. Now he had to keep the defense, and even in a situation where all the trumps had the enemy. However, Prince Svyatoslav was not one of those who surrendered to the mercy of fate. He decided to experience happiness in a decisive battle, hoping with a fierce onslaught to break the enemy and in one favor turn the tide in his own favor.
Leo Deacon reports on 60-th. army rusov. He is clearly lying. The Russian chronicle reports that Svyatoslav had only 10 thousand soldiers, which is probably closer to the truth, given the outcome of the war. In addition, the Rus supported a number of Bulgarians. With 60-thousand Svyatoslav army would have reached Constantinople. In addition, Leo Deacon said that the Romans killed 15-16 thousand "Scythians" in the battle for Preslav. But here too we see a great exaggeration. Such an army would be able to hold out until the approach of the main forces of Svyatoslav. In Preslav there was a small detachment that could not provide a dense defense of the fortifications of the Bulgarian capital. It is enough to compare the defense of Preslav and Dorostol. Having in Dorostol, apparently, about 20 thousand soldiers, Svyatoslav gave the enemy battles and lasted three months. If there were about 15 thousand soldiers in Preslav, they would also have held out for at least a month. It is also necessary to take into account that the army of Svyatoslav was constantly decreasing. The Hungarian and Pecheneg allies did not have time to come to his aid. And Russia, according to the Russian prince himself, "is far, and the neighboring barbarian peoples, fearing the Romans, did not agree to help them." The Byzantine army had the opportunity to constantly replenish, it was well supplied with food and fodder. It could strengthen the crews of ships.
23 April Byzantine army approached Dorostol. Before the city stretched plain, convenient for battle. Ahead of the army were strong patrols that examined the area. The Greeks were afraid of ambushes, which the Slavs were famous for. However, the Romans lost the first battle, one of their troops was ambushed and completely destroyed. When the Byzantine army reached the city, the Ruses built a “wall” and made it for the battleship. Svyatoslav knew that the strike force of the Byzantine army was a heavily armed cavalry. He opposed her to a dense infantry formation: Rusichi closed their shields and bristled with spears. The emperor also built infantry in the phalanx, he located the archers and the slingers behind, the cavalry on the flanks.
The warriors of the two armies agreed hand to hand, a fierce battle ensued. Both sides have long fought with the same tenacity. Svyatoslav fought with his warriors. Leading the battle from the nearest hill, Zimisy sent his best warriors to break through to the Russian leader and kill him. But they were all killed either by Svyatoslav himself or by the soldiers of his close squad. “The dews, who gained fame among the neighboring nations as constant winners in the battles,” beat off the onslaught of the Romaan hoplites over and over again. The Romans, on the other hand, "overcame shame and anger" for the fact that they, experienced warriors, could retreat like novices. Therefore, both troops “fought with unsurpassed courage; The dews, which were led by their innate atrocities and rabies, rushed in a fierce rush, roaring like obsessed, at the Romans (Leo the Deacon tries to belittle the “barbarians”, but actually describes the element of the fighting psychotechnics of the Rus. - Comment of the author), and the Romans advanced, using my experience and military art. "
The battle went with varying success until the evening. Romans could not realize their numerical advantage. Towards evening, Basileus gathered the cavalry into a fist and threw it into the attack. However, this attack was not crowned with success. To break the system of the Russian infantry romeyskie "knights" could not. After that, Svyatoslav Igorevich took the troops outside the walls. The battle ended without the decisive success of the Romans or the Russians. Svyatoslav could not defeat the enemy in a decisive battle, and the Romans could not realize their advantage in numbers and cavalry.
The siege of the fortress began. The Greeks near Dorostol built a fortified camp on a hill. They dug a moat around the hill, built a rampart, and reinforced it with a palisade. 24 April, the troops exchanged fire with bows, slings and metal cannons. At the end of the day, a Russian cavalry squad left the gates. Leo the Deacon in "History" contradicts himself. He argued that the Ruses did not know how to fight in a horse formation. The cataphracts (heavy cavalry) attacked the Rus, but did not succeed. After a hot fight, the parties diverged.
On the same day, the Byzantine fleet approached Dorostol from the side of the Danube and blocked the fortress (according to other data, it arrived on April 25 or April 28). However, the Ruses were able to save their rooks, they carried them to the walls in their hands, under the protection of the shooters. The Romans did not dare to go on the attack along the river bank and burn or destroy the Russian ships. The situation for the garrison of the fortress deteriorated, the Romanian ships blocked the river so that the Rus could not retreat along the river. The supply of troops with provisions has sharply narrowed.
26 April was the second significant battle of Dorostol. Prince Svyatoslav Igorevich again led the troops into the field and imposed a battle on the enemy. Both sides fought fiercely, alternately crushing each other. On this day, according to Leo the Deacon, valiant, the great growth of voivode Sfenkel fell. According to the Deacon, after the death of his hero, the Ruses retreated to the city. However, according to the Byzantine historian George Kedrin, the Russian soldiers retained the battlefield and stayed on it all night from 26 to 27 of April. Only by noon, when Zimiskhiy unfolded all his forces, the Russian soldiers quietly turned down the line and left for the city.
On April 28, a Byzantine wagon train with metal cars approached the fort. Romei masters began to build numerous cars, ballista, catapults, throwing stones, pots with "Greek fire", logs, huge arrows. The shelling of missile vehicles caused huge losses among the defenders of the fortresses, suppressing their morale, as they could not answer. Basilevs wanted to move the cars to the walls. However, the Russian commander was able to preempt the enemy. On the night of April 29, the Russian soldiers dug a deep and wide ditch away from the fortress so that the enemy could not come close to the walls and install siege machines. Both sides had a hot exchange of fire on that day, but they did not achieve any noticeable results.
Svyatoslav with his ideas spoiled a lot of blood to the enemy. On the same night, the Rusam succeeded in yet another undertaking. Taking advantage of the darkness, the Russian warriors on the boats, unnoticed by the enemy, marched through shallow water between the coast and the enemy fleet. They obtained food for the troops and, on their way back, dispersed a detachment of Byzantine foragers and hit the enemy carts. In the nightly massacre many Byzantines were killed.
The siege of the fortress dragged on. Neither Tsimishy nor Svyatoslav could achieve decisive success. Svyatoslav could not in a series of battles to break the Byzantine army, which was a first-class combat vehicle. Affected by the lack of soldiers and the almost complete absence of cavalry. Tsimiskhiy failed to defeat the Russian army, forcing Svyatoslav to capitulate in the face of superior forces.
Leo Deacon noted the highest morale of Svyatoslav’s troops throughout the siege of Dorostol. The Greeks were able to overcome the moat and bring their cars to the fortress. Russ suffered great losses. Thousands of people lost and the Greeks. And yet Dorostol held on. The Greeks found among the dead Russes and Bulgarians, who fought with the soldiers of Svyatoslav, women. “Polyanitsy” (women heroes, heroines of the Russian epos) fought on a par with men, did not surrender, took down all the difficulties and food shortages. This ancient Scythian-Russian tradition of women's participation in wars will continue until the 20th century, until World War II. Russian women together with men met the enemy and fought with him to the last. The soldiers of Svyatoslav performed miracles of fortitude and heroism, defending the city for three months. Byzantine chroniclers also noted the custom of the Rus not to surrender to the enemy even to the vanquished. They preferred to kill themselves, rather than to be captured or to let themselves be slaughtered like cattle in a slaughterhouse.
The Byzantines increased their watch, dug up all roads and paths with deep ditches. With the help of battering and throwing guns, the Greeks destroyed the fortifications of the city. The garrison remed, there were many wounded. The big problem was hunger. However, the situation was difficult not only for the Russians, but also for the Romans. John I Tzimiskes could not escape Dorostol, since this would be a recognition of military defeat, and he could lose the throne. While he was besieging Dorostol, there were constantly riots in the empire, intrigues and conspiracies arose. So, the brother of the murdered emperor Nikifor Foki Lev Kuropalat revolted. The attempted coup failed, but the situation was alarming. Tzimiskes was absent for a long time in Constantinople and could not keep abreast of the empire.
This and decided to use Svyatoslav. The Russian commander decided to give the enemy a new battle with the goal of if not smashing the enemy, then forcing him to negotiate, showing that the Russian army, who was under siege, is still strong and able to hold on in the fortress for a long time. At noon on July 19, Russian troops delivered an unexpected blow to the Roma. The Greeks at this time slept after a hearty lunch. The Ruses chopped up and burned many catapults and a ballist. In this fight the relative of the emperor was killed - the master John Curcuas.
The next day, the Russian warriors again went beyond the walls, but by large forces. The Greeks lined up a "thick phalanx." Began a fierce battle. In this battle, one of the closest associates of the great Russian prince Svyatoslav - voivode Ikmor fell. Lev the Deacon said that Ikmor was distinguished among the Scythians by gigantic growth, and with his squad he struck many Romans. He was killed by one of the emperor’s bodyguards, Anemas. The death of one of the leaders, and even on the Day of Perun, caused confusion in the ranks of the soldiers, the army retreated beyond the walls of the city.
Leo Deacon noted the unity of the funeral customs of the Scythians and Rus. He reported on the Scythian origin of Achilles. According to him, Akhille’s clothing, appearance, habits and character (“extravagant irritability and cruelty”) spoke about this. Modern L. Diakonu Ruses - "Tauroskifs" - preserved these traditions. The Ruses are "reckless, courageous, warlike and powerful, they attack all the neighboring tribes."
21 July Prince Svyatoslav gathered military council. The prince asked his men what to do. Some offered to leave immediately, plunging into rooks at night, since it was impossible to continue the war, losing the best warriors. Others offered to make peace with the Romans, since it would not be easy to hide the departure of a whole army, and the Greek fire-extinguishing ships could burn the Russian flotilla. Then the Russian prince took a deep breath and exclaimed bitterly: “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! ” According to Leo the Deacon, the warriors were inspired by these words and happily decided to enter into a decisive battle with the Romans.
22 July was the last decisive battle of Dorostol. In the morning the Rusa went beyond the walls. Svyatoslav ordered to close the gate, so that even the thought would not go back. The Rus themselves struck the enemy and began to fiercely crush the Romans. Seeing the kind of enthusiasm the prince Svyatoslav was calling out, who was cutting through the enemy ranks as a simple warrior, Anemas decided to kill Svyatoslav. He took the lead on the horse and struck a good blow at Svyatoslav, but he was saved by a strong chainmail. Anemas was immediately struck down by Russian warriors.
The Rus continued the attack, and the Romans, unable to withstand the onslaught of the “barbarians,” began to retreat. Seeing that the Byzantine phalanx could not stand the battle, Tzimiskes personally led the “immortals” guard to the counterattack. At the same time, heavy cavalry units struck the Russian flank with heavy blows. This somewhat straightened the situation, but the Rus continued the offensive. Their onslaught, Leo Deacon, calls "monstrous." Both sides suffered heavy losses, but the bloody slashing continued. The battle stopped in unexpected ways. Heavy clouds hung over the city. A strong thunderstorm began, heavy wind, raising clouds of sand, hit in the face of Russian soldiers. Then a heavy rain poured. Russian troops had to hide behind the walls of the city. The Greeks attributed the violence of the elements to divine intercession.
Vladimir Kireev. "Prince Svyatoslav"
In the morning, Svyatoslav, who was wounded in this battle, offered Tzimiskes to make peace. Basileus, struck by the preceding battle and wanting to end the war as soon as possible and return to Constantinople, willingly accepted this offer. Both commanders met on the Danube and agreed on peace. Romans freely allowed the soldiers of Svyatoslav, gave them bread on the road. Svyatoslav agreed to leave the Danube. Dorostol (the Romans called him Theodoropol) the Ruses left. The Greeks passed all the prisoners. Russia and Byzantium returned to the norms of contracts 907-944 g. According to Greek authors, the parties agreed to consider themselves "friends." This meant that conditions were being restored for Constantinople to pay tribute to Kiev. This is stated in the Russian chronicle. In addition, Zimiskhiy had to send ambassadors to friendly Pechenegs so that they would not obstruct the Russian troops.
Thus, Svyatoslav escaped military defeat, the world was honorable. The prince planned to continue the war. According to the "Tale of Bygone Years," the prince said: "According to Rus, I will bring Bole squads."
To be continued ...