Fordham University

 

Home | Ancient History Sourcebook | Medieval SourcebookModern History Sourcebook | Byzantine Studies Page
Other History Sourcebooks: African | East Asian | Global | Indian | IslamicJewishLesbian and Gay | Science | Women's


Medieval History


Select Sources Full Texts Saints' Lives Law Texts Maps Search Help


Selected Sources Sections Studying History End of Rome Byzantium Islam Roman Church Early Germans Celtic World Carolingians 10 C Collapse Economic Life Crusades Empire & Papacy France England Celtic States Iberia Italy Intellectual Life Medieval Church Jewish Life Social History Sex & Gender States & Society Renaissance Reformation Exploration
IHSP Credits
Medieval Sourcebook:
Anna Comnena:
The Alexiad: Book X

Complete Text | Introduction | Book 1 | Book 2 | Book 3 | Book 4 | Book 5 | Book 6 |
Book 7  | Book 8 | Book 9 | Book 10 | Book 11 | Book 12 | Book 13 | Book 14 | Book 15

CONTENTS

THE ALEXIAD


THE ALEXIAD OF ANNA COMNENA

BOOK X

Second Battle with Heresy : The Cuman War : First Crusade (1094-97)

[235]

I And now the notorious Nilus appeared, shortly after the condemnation of Italus' dogmas, and sweeping over the church like a flood of wickedness, brought restlessness into many a soul, and plunged a number in the eddies of his heterodoxy. (This man sprung I know not whence, had learnt to impersonate virtue very cleverly, and frequented the capital for a while, and alone in a corner, I presume, with God and himself, he had devoted himself to the study of the Holy Scriptures. He was quite uninitiated into Hellenic culture, and never even had a teacher who might from the start have explained to him the deep meanings of the Divine writings; and although he had studied the writings of the saints very closely, yet through never having learnt the art of reasoning he went astray about the meaning of the writings. He had seduced a far from ignoble body of followers, and insinuated himself into some of the big houses as self-elected teacher, partly because of his evident virtue and his austere morals, and partly because of the knowledge which seemed perhaps latent in him.

(Thus, for example, he knew nothing of our Church's teaching of the 'hypostatical union' of the Mystery, he was unable to grasp clearly what 'union' meant, nor did he know clearly what 'hypostasis' is, and as he could not clearly conceive a union ' or 'hypostasis' separately, nor the combination 'hypostatical union,' and had not learnt from holy men how the assumption of human nature was made divine, he was carried far away from the truth and in his delusion he opined that it bad been made divine by nature.) The Emperor was not unaware of all this and when he heard of the man, he purposed giving him speedy help and sent for him. He blamed him severely for his audacity and ignorance and, after censuring him on several points, he instructed him clearly in the doctrine of the hypostatical union of the divine and human word, and set before him the manner of the [236] change and taught him how the assumption of human nature was made divine by grace from above. But Nilus clung tenaciously to his own false doctrine, and was quite ready to suffer ill-treatment, torture and imprisonment, or even the maiming of his body, rather than refrain from teaching that the assumption of human nature had been made divine by nature. At that time there were also a number of Armenians in the capital and for them Nilus acted as an incentive to profaneness ; consequently there were frequent meetings with the notorious Ticranes and Arsaces whom Nilus' doctrines incited to further impiety. What happened next? The Emperor perceived that this impious teaching was gaining ground in many minds and that the teaching of Nilus and the Armenians were involved in each other, and that they were preaching everywhere and with a loud voice that the assumption of human nature had been made divine by nature - further that the writings of the Holy Fathers on this subject were set at naught and that the hypostatical union was practically ignored. He decided to check the onward course of this evil, so he assembled the heads of the church and suggested holding a public synod to deal with these men. At this synod the whole body of the higher clergy was present, and the patriarch Nicolas too. Nilus was placed in the centre with the Armenians and they delivered his doctrines. Next be expounded them with a clear voice, and upheld them by further arguments. What was the result? In order to release people's minds from this corrupt doctrine, the synod imposed on Nilus a perpetual anathema, and proclaimed the hypostatical union according to the tradition of the Fathers more emphatically. Soon after this, or rather about the same time, Blachernites was also punished for holding improper opinions, alien to the church's teachings, although he was an ordained priest. For he had consorted with the Enthusiasts [*= They were also called, 'Euchites' and were a sort of Mystics and the forerunners of the Bogomiles.] and became infected with their mischievous doctrines, led many astray, undermined great houses in the capital, and promulgated his impious doctrines. After lie had been frequently brought before, and instructed by, the Emperor, and yet would not abandon his own pernicious doctrine, the Emperor handed him also over to the church. As after a lengthy examination they too recognized him to be incorrigible, they condemned him and his doctrines to a perpetual anathema.

[237]

II In this manner then like a good pilot the Emperor had breasted the successive assaults of the waves and washed from himself much worldly brine, and arranged church matters satisfactorily, and after that he was carried on to fresh seasof wars and disturbances. For one thing ever followed close upon another, or, in other words, sea upon sea and river upon river of troubles, that scarcely allowed the Emperor to breathe or even close his eyes, as the saying is. It might, be truly observed that we have only drawn up a small drop from the Adriatic Sea by our outline sketches, rather than finished pictures, of a few of the deeds accomplished by the Emperor at this time, whereas he bore up against all the waves and billows until he brought the barque of Empire under a favouring breeze to anchor in a sheltered harbour. And who could ever sing of all his exploits worthily? Could the resonant voice of Demosthenes or the rushing periods of Polemo or all the Homeric muses? For myself I should say that not even Plato himself nor the whole Stoa and Academy combined could give an adequate philosophic account of his mind, Before those stormy and complex wars had ended or the surge had ceased its insolence, another storm. no whit milder than those already described, burst upon him. For now a man, not one of the notables but of the lower class, sprung from the gutter, proclaimed that he was the son of Diogenes, although this son had been killed years before ir, the battle which Isaac Comnenus, the Emperor's own brother, fought with the Turks near Antioch , whoever wishes to learn more details about his death, can find them in the chronicles of our illustrious Caesar. Many tried to muzzle the man, but be could not be stopped in any way. He came from the East, poor and wearing a goat's skin, full of rascality and versatility, made a house-to-house tour of the city in all its quarters, telling grand tales about himself and pretending he was Leo, the son of the former Emperor Diogenes, who had been killed, as already said, at Antioch by a shot from an arrow. Now this vagabond resuscitated the dead man, adopted his name, openly aimed at the kingdom arld led away the lighter-headed.

And verily this trouble was an addition to the Emperor's misfortunes, just as if Fate were adding a tragic play about this wretched fellow for the Emperor. As the luxurious have honey-cakes brought in and served to them as dessert after being sated with a heavy meal, in a similar wav, I fancy, the Fate of the Romans after having danced over so many [238] ills, became satiated with them and made an extra little play for the Emperor with these pretenders.

The Emperor paid not the slightest heed to this talk. But as this guttersnipe did not cease talking this nonsense at all seasons in the streets and by-ways, it came to the ears of Theodora, the Emperor Alexius' sister, and wife of that dead son of Diogenes. She could not bear this nonsense and was very annoyed. For after her husband's death in battle, she embraced a solitary life and followed an ascetic life most strictly and devoted herself entirely to God. As that nonsense monger would not hold his tongue after two or three warnings, the Emperor sent him to Cherson and ordered him to be kept in prison.

While imprisoned there he walked on the wall at night and by stooping over conversed once or twice with the Comans who frequented the place for trading purposes, and for carrying home necessaries from that town; finally after giving and receiving securities he let himself down by ropes one night and thus escaped from the prison. The Comans took him with them and departed to their own country. He bivouacked with them for a considerable time, and gained such an influence over them that they soon styled him 'Emperor.' Then the Comans, who were longing eagerly to gulp down draughts of human blood and take their fill of human flesh, as well as to carry off much booty from our country, used this man as a 'Patroclus excuse ' and decided to invade the Roman territory with their whole army on the pretext of re-establishing him on his paternal throne. This project of theirs was in the air for some time and was not unknown to the Emperor. For this reason he fitted out his troops as well as possible and made preparations for fighting with these barbarians. As we have already told he had previously secured the mountain-passes, which are popularly called 'cleisurae.' After some time he heard that the Comans with the pretender had occupied the district along the Danube, so he assembled the heads of the army, his relations and connections and deliberated with them about taking the field against the Comans. They all dissuaded him from doing this. Now he did not wish to rely upon himself alone or follow his own judgment, but he referred the whole matter to God and asked Him for a decision. Consequently he summoned all the members of the priestly and military roll, and went up to the great church of God in the evening and the patriarch Nicolas was present. He had lately ascended the patriarchal throne after the resignation of Eustratius Garidas in the course [239] of the seventh Indiction of the year 6592.[=*of the Byzantine era = 1048 AD] The question written on two writing-tablets whether he should go and attack the Comans or not, the Emperor, after having sealed them, shewed them to the chief of all and bade him place them on the Holy Table. When the all-night singing was ended at early dawn the Patriarch, who had laid the papers on the Table, went in, fetched one paper, brought it out, broke it open in the sight of all, and proceeded to read it aloud. The Emperor, taking the keynote as if given by the voice of God, threw himself heart and soul into the expedition, and called up the army by letter from all directions, and when his preparations were quite complete, took the road against the Comans. When he had collected the whole army and occupied Anchialus, he summoned his sister's husband, the Caesar Nicephorus Melissenus, and George Palaeologus and his nephew, John Taronites, and sent them to Beroë to keep watch there and ensure safety for that town and its neighbours. Next he broke up the army and appointed as commanders to divers sections, the nobles Dabatenus, George Euphorbenus and Constantine Hubertopoulos, and dispatched them to guard the mountain-passes round the Zygum. Afterwards he moved on and took up his position at Chortarea (this is the name of a mountain-pass of the Zygum) and traversed the whole Zygum to investigate whether the men entrusted with the task had fully carried out the orders he had given them the last time, or whether anything was only half-done or not done, and if so, to put it right so that the Comans might not find it easy to traverse the passes. After putting everything in order he returned from Chortarea and fixed his palisades by the so-called Holy Lake close to Anchialus.

At night a certain Pudilus, a Vlach nobleman, came in and reported that the Comans were crossing the Danube, so the Emperor judged it wise to assemble the leading men among his relations and officers at dawn of day and consult on the steps to be taken. As they were all of opinion that he ought to be at Anchialus, he at once dispatched Cantacuzenus and Taticius to the village called Therma with a few barbarian auxiliaries, and Scaliarius, the son of Elchan, and ome other picked men to keep guard over that part of the country, and he him self left for Anchialus. He was then informed that the Comans were moving towards Adrianople so he sent for all the leading men of Adrianople, pre-eminent among whom were Catacalon, [239] nicknamed Tarchaniotes, and Nicephorus, the son of that Bryennius who once aimed at the throne, and had himself done the same and been deprived of his eyes. The Emperor enjoined these men to guard the fortified city very strictly, and said that if the Comans did approach, they were not to engage in battle with them faint-heartedly, but take a definite aim, and shoot at them from a fixed distance. He also advised that the gates should be kept closed most of the time, and promised them many privileges if they carried out his orders. After recommending these measures to Bryennius and the others he sent them back to Adrianople in good spirits. Next he sent orders by letter to Catacalon Eaphorbenus Constantine to take the man called Monastras (he was a semi-barbarian who had picked up much military experience and Michael Anemas with their respective detachments, and directly he heard that the Comans had come through the passes to follow them up closely and attack them unexpectedly.

III The Comans, however, were shown the paths over the passes by the Vlachs, and by using them crossed the Zygum easily. As soon as they approached Goloë, the inhabitants of that town put the captain of the garrison in chains and handed him over to the Comans, and received the latter with delight and shouts of joy. But Catacalon Constantine, with the Emperor's directions fresh in his mind, fell in with the Comans who had gone out to forage, attacked them vigorously and led off about a hundred of them as captives. The Emperor received him and rewarded him on the spot with the title of 'nobilissimus.' When the inhabitants of the neighbouring towns, Diabolis and the others, saw the Comans in possession of Goloë they capitulated, welcomed them with pleasure, handed over their cities and acclaimed the pseudo-Diogenes. He gradually made himself master of all and then with the whole Coman army marched to Anchialus, intending probably to make an attack upon its walls. The Emperor, who was inside and from youth upwards had acquired long experience in warfare, knew that the position of the town would prevent the Comans from making an attack, for it was an additional defence to the walls, so he divided his forces, threw open the gates of the fortress and drew up his men in troops of close formation outside. Near the tip of the Coman lines . . . a portion of the Roman army with shouts . . . they routed them and pursued them down to the sea. The Emperor observed this, and as his [241] forces were quite inadequate to oppose such masses he commanded all the soldiers to stand together in close formation for the time being arid said that no one was to move out from the lines. The Comans drew up their lines too, and stood right in front of the Romans; however, they did not attack either. This was carried out for three days from morning to night ; for the lie of the land impeded the Comans in their longing to fight as did also the fact that not a single Roman moved out from their lines against them. Now the site of the fortress Anchialus was like this, on the right lay the Pontic sea, and on the left the ground was very rough and impassable and overgrown with vines and did not afford any foothold for riders. What was the result ? The Barbarians after seeing the Emperor's endurance, gave up their plans in despair and turned away along another path to Adrianople. The pretender deceived them by saying, " Directly Bryermius Nicephorus hears that I have come to Adrianople,he will open the gate and receive me with delight, he will provide money and bestow many a kindness on me. For although it was not a tie of nature, but of choice,he always had a brotherly feeling for my father. And directly that fortress has been surrendered to us, then we can start on our onward road to the capital." He used also to call Bryermius 'uncle,' perverting what had a foundation of truth. For it was a fact that the former Emperor Romanus Diogenes, knowing that the man Bryennius excelled all his contemporaries in judgment, and observing his open disposition and general truthfulness in word and deed had desired to adopt him as brother. And as both parties were willing this adoption was effected. These facts are true and known as such by all, but the Pretender was so shameless that he actually called Bryennius ' uncle.'

So much then for the Pretender's tricks. The Comans being barbarians have lightheartedness and changeableness as natural characteristics, so they listened to his words, reached Adrianople and encamped outside the city. (Then for forty-eight days engagements took place daily, for the younger men who were eager for a fight went out daily and joined in battle with the barbarians.)

One day Nicephorus Bryennius was called for by the Pretender who stood below, so Nicephorus bent forward over the wall and said that as far as he could judge from the man's voice, he did not recognize him as the son of Romanus Diogenes who had been his brother by choice, as just mentioned and as often happens, and that Romanus' real son had been killed [242] at Antioch. With these words he dismissed the Pretender in disgrace. As the time dragged on, the inhabitants began to be in want and solicited succour from the Emperor by letter. He forthwith ordered Constantine Euphorbenus to select a sufficient number of the Counts under his command, and with them to effect an entrance into Adrianople at night from the side of Calathades. And Catacalon at once took the road to Orestias with high hopes, thinking he would escape the notice of the Comans. But he was wrong in his conjecture. For they caught sight of him, rode out in vastly superior numbers to the attack, drove him backwards and pursued him fiercely. On this occasion this man's son Nicephorus (who later became the husband of my younger sister Maria Porphyrogenita) wielding a long spear turned round sharply to face the Scythian who was pursuing him, and struck him in the chest, whereupon the latter straightway fell down dead. For of a sooth he knew how to brandish a spear and cover himself with a shield; and anyone seeing him ride, would have conjectured that he was not a Roman but had come from Normandy. For the young man was a marvel on horseback, and a magnificent work of nature; he was strong in his piety to God, and sweet and gracious to men. Forty-eight days had not yet passed before, at the bidding of Nicephorus Bryennius (who had plenary jurisdiction over Adrianople), the gates were thrown open all at once and the brave soldiers marched out against the Comans. A fierce conflict ensued in which certainly a large number of Romans fell fighting bravely in utter disregard of their lives, but they killed still more. Here too Marianus Mavrocatacalon picked out Togortac (the chief commander of the Coman army) for he laid hold of a long spear, gave his horse his head and rode straight at him and was within an ace of killing him, had not the Comans near him rescued him, and very nearly killed Marianus too. Although this Marianus was young and only lately admitted to young man's estate, yet he often rode out from the gates of Orestias and fought with the Comans, and every time he returned in triumph having wounded, or killed, his man. For he was truly a very brave warrior, and had apparently inherited courage as an ancestral heritage, and been born a still braver scion of very brave ancestors. After he had been saved from his imminent peril, he boiled with anger and looked for Pseudo-Diogenes. He found him standing on the further bank of the river, on the very spot where be, Marianus, had been [243] fighting with the barbarians, clad in red and decked in imperial guise and his friends all dispersed, so he lifted up his whip and cut him across the face mercilessly while he stigmatised him as a Pretender-King.

IV When the Emperor learnt of the persistency of the Comans at Adrianople and the frequent battles there, he judged it necessary to leave Anchialus and go thither in person. So he summoned the chief commanders and the head men of the town and discussed what should be done. A man called Alacaseus stepped forward and said: " My father was formerly an intimate friend of this Pretender's father. So let me go and I will take him to some fort and arrest him." Naturally he was asked how he meant to set about this work; then he imitated Zopyrus, the contemporary of Cyrus, and suggested his device to the Emperor, for he said he would disfigure himself and shave off his beard and hair and go to Diogenes and pretend that the Emperor had had all this done to him. Now he did not say these things and not do them; neither did he promise them and then not fulfil his promise, but directly the Emperor sanctioned the enterprise, Alacaseus shaved himself very closely, disfigured his body and started off to that fictitious Diogenes. Among other things he reminded him of their old-time friendship, and said, " Now that I have been so badly treated by the Emperor Alexius, I come to you relying on my father's former friendship with your majesty to assist you in your present enterprise." For he used these terms of flattery in order to attract him the more readily. And to enlarge a little about his doings-he took a pass from the Emperor Alexius and likewise a letter for the prefect of the garrison of the fort called Putza, which said "Whatsoever the bearer of this letter suggests to you, that do promptly, in accordance with his orders." (The Emperor had guessed aright that when the Comans moved from Adrianople they would go to that town.) When these arrangements had been made, Alacaseus, as we have said, approached the Pretender, all closely shaven, and said, " It is because of you that I have been ill-treated, for your sake I have been insulted and thrown into chains, for your sake I have been imprisoned for many days, ever since you crossed the Roman frontier, and I have become an object of suspicion to the Emperor because of my father's friendship with you. However, I have secretly escaped to you, my real master, after freeing myself from my chains, and will now give you salutary advice." Diogenes received him well [244] and enquired what he must do to accomplish his object; to this the other replied, " Do you see this fort and this broad plain which is sufficient for feeding your horses for as many days as you like to rest yourself and your army? We had better not go on any farther for some time, but stay here a little for you to take possession of this fort, and for the Comans to sally forth and bring in necessaries and then we will commence our march to the capital. And if the idea pleases you, I will see the guardian of this fort who was formerly devoted to me and will arrange for him to surrender it to you without battle." This proposition pleased Diogenes. In the night accordingly Alacaseus tied the Emperor's letter to an arrow and shot it into the fort, and when the Governor had read it, he made ready to hand over the said fort. In the morning Alacaseus approached the gates first and pretended to be talking with the Governor; beforehand he had arranged a signal with Diogenes and told him that directly he saw it he was to walk straight into the fort. After feigning conversation with the Governor for a little time, and giving the signal he had agreed upon beforehand with the pseudo-Diogenes, the latter on seeing it, took with him some soldiers, not many, and boldly entered. The inhabitants received him with joy, and the Governor of Putza invited him to a bath, which Diogenes accepted at the instigation of Alacaseus. Afterwards they spread a rich banquet for him and the Comans accompanying him. When they had, one and all, feasted exceedingly well, and filled themselves with wine which they gulped down from full skins, they lay on the ground snoring. Then Alacaseus himself and the Governor and a few more went round, took away the horses and their arms, left Diogenes snoring where he lay, but killed his attendants and cast them straightway into some trenches as if into natural graves. Now when Catacalon who followed up the Coman army according to the Emperor's orders, had seen Diogenes enter the fort and the Comans disperse for foraging, he went away and fixed his camp near the town we have just mentioned. As the Comans were dispersed all over the country, Alacaseus did not dare to send the Emperor news about Diogenes, but took him and made straight for Tzouroulus in order to return to the capital. But the Emperor's mistress-mother who was staying in the palace, heard of this and at once dispatched the 'Drungaire' of the fleet, the eunuch Eustathius Cyminianus with orders to arrest Diogenes and bring him to the capital. Eustathius had with him a certain Turk, Camyres [245] by name, and made use of this man for the blinding of Diogenes.

Meanwhile the Emperor, still at Anchialus, heard that the Comans were dispersed for foraging purposes over the adjacent territories, so moved away and occupied little Nicxa. Next he heard that Citzes, one of the commanders of the Coman army, had collected about twelve thousand Comans whom he had sent out to plunder, and having in this way gained a large amount of spoil, had now seized the ridge of Taurocomus. Consequently he marched down with his forces and halted on the bank of the river which flows across the plain situated at the foot of this ridge. This place was covered with germander-bushes and young trees. There he stationed his forces ; then he selected a large body of Turks, especially skilled in archery, and launched them against the Comans, hoping that if they started the fight with them by making a few sallies they would lure them down the hill. But the Comans attacked them and pursued them incontinently up to the Roman lines ; then they drew up their horses for a few minutes, reformed their lines and got ready to dash at the Roman army.

The Emperor saw a haughty Coman horseman bound out from the body of the army, ride along the lines and almost seem to challenge somebody to come and fight him, so he could not endure to wait for the right or left wing, but in view of all he put his horse at the gallop and first transfixed the barbarian champion with his spear and then driving his sword right through his chest, hurled him off his horse; thus on this day he showed himself more as a soldier than a general. This deed inspired the Roman ranks with great confidence, and the Scythians with no less alarm, so that when he moved towards them like a tower of strength, he soon split up their army. And now that their serried ranks were broken they scattered in all directions and fled without restraint. On that day about seven thousand Comans fell in battle, and three thousand were taken alive. But the Emperor did not allow the soldiers of the Roman army to divide all the booty they had taken among themselves, according to the usual custom, because it had been recently plundered from the districts around, but ordered it to be restored to the natives. The Imperial decree flew like a bird through all the country round about, and all those who had been robbed, came and each claimed his own property and carried it off. And with beatings of breasts and with suppliant hands raised to heaven, [246] they prayed for blessings upon the Emperor; and the mingled cries of men and women could be heard rising almost to the disc of the moon. So much for this. Afterwards the Emperor joyfully collected his troops and returned to the aforementioned little Nicaea. There he halted for two days, and on the third he left it and reached Adrianople where he stayed for several days in the house of Sylvester. On the other hand all the leaders of the Comans separated from the rest of their army and with intent to deceive the Emperor, came to him as if of their own will and pretended they would make a truce with him, in order that while time was being wasted over the treaty, the Coman army could advance further.

For three days then they waited and after the third day they left at night and took the road homewards. The Emperor, alive to the Comans' stratagem, sent swift runners to make clear to the men commissioned with guarding the paths through the Zygum that they must not relax but keep a sharp look-out and capture the Comans if possible. But when he was informed that the whole army of the Comans was journeying forwards, he at once took the soldiers that were at hand, and reached a place called Scutarium, eighteen,,) stades distant from Adrianople, and the next day he reached Agathonice. There he heard that the Coman army was still near Abrilebo (this place is not very far from the two towns just mentioned), so he went in that direction and looked from a distance at the countless camp-fires they had lighted, and afterwards sent for Nicolas Mavrocatacalon and the other chief officers of the army and with them considered the steps to take.

It was decided that it would be best to summon the captains of the auxiliary troops, namely, Uzas (he was of the Sauromati), and Caratzas the Scythian, and the semi-barbarian Monastras and arrange that they should go and prepare and light fifteen or more bonfires near every tent, so that when the Comans saw all these fires they would think the Roman army was immense and get frightened and not attack them so boldly in future. This was done and produced great fear in the minds of the Comans. The Emperor got ready in the morning and taking the troops he had, advanced against them, and after a conflict the Comans turned their backs. Then the Emperor divided his army and sent the light-armed troops on ahead and himself rode in rapid pursuit of the Comans who were in mad flight. He caught them up near the Sidera Cleisura and killed many, but took most [247] prisoners; the troops that had been sent ahead recovered all the booty from the Comans and returned. The Emperor spent the whole night on the mountain-ridge of the Sidera Cleisura owing to a severe storm, and when day dawned arrived at Goloë. There he stayed for a day and night, in order to do honour to the men who had fought bravely, and reward them with very rich gifts ; and as he had accomplished his purpose he dismissed them all gratefully to their homes, and himself regained the palace in two days and nights.

V After a short rest from his many toils, he found that the Turks were overrunning the interior of Bithynia and plundering everything, and that on the other side affairs in the West were calling for the Emperor's attention. He was more troubled about the former than the latter (for his business was naturally to attend to what was urgent) and he devised a device which was really magnificent and worthy of his brain, and by this contrivance he safely fenced off Bithynia with a canal against the Turks' incursions. And it is worth while describing this contrivance. The river Sangaris [*= or Sangarius] and the coast-line which runs straight as far as the village Chele and the other which turns to the north enclose within them a large tract of country. Now this country was easily devastated by the men who from of old have been troublesome neighbours, to us; that is, the Ishmaelites, for due to the entire absence of any who could prevent them they came through the Maryandeni and from beyond the Sangaris, and they used to cross the river and especially oppress the town of Nicomedia. The Emperor wished to check these barbarian inroads and raids upon the country, and above all to protect the town of Nicomedia. Below the Lake of Baana he noticed a very long trench, and following it up to its end he gathered from its position and shape that it had not been dug out by mere chance, nor been hollowed by nature, but was the cunning work of some hand. After making close enquiries about the place, he found out from somebody that it was indeed Anastasius Dicurus [*= Emperor Anastasius II] who was the originator of this trench. With what intent they could not say; but to the Emperor Alexius it seemed that the former Emperor had wished to divert the water from the lake into this artificial canal, and consequently he was led to the same idea and ordered the trench to be dug out very deep. He was afraid, however, that the river might be fordable at the junction of the streams, so he erected a very strong fort, safe and impregnable on all sides, by reason of the river and the height and thickness of [248] its walls; and from this it got the name of 'Iron.' And now this 'Iron Tower ' is a city in front of a city, and an advanced fortification of a fortification! The Emperor himself superintended the building of the fort from morning till evening, in spite of the great heat, for the sun had already passed the summer solstice, and he put up with the burning heat and the dust. He incurred great expenses in order to ensure by these means that the fort should be very strong and impregnable, and he lavished money upon the men who dragged the stones, one by one, no matter whether there were fifty, or a hundred, men. Thus it came about that they were not just anybody, but that every soldier and soldier-servant, both native and foreign, was stirred to help with the hauling of these stones by seeing the lavish pay and the Emperor himself presiding like a judge at the games. His craft was also shown in this for by the flocking together of so many men the hauling of these immense stones was made much easier. For the Emperor was ever like that, very deep in his ideas, and magnificent in executing them. The Emperor's reign had proceeded as I have described up to the . . . Indiction of the . . . year.

Before he had enjoyed even a short rest, he heard a report of the approach of innumerable Frankish armies. Now he dreaded their arrival for he knew their irresistible manner of attack, their unstable and mobile character and all the peculiar natural and concomitant characteristics which the Frank retains throughout; and he also knew that they were always agape for money, and seemed to disregard their truces readily for any reason that cropped up. For he had always heard this reported of them, and found it very true. However, he did not lose heart, but prepared himself in every way so that, when the occasion called, he would be ready for battle. And indeed the actual facts were far greater and more terrible than rumour made them. For the whole of the West and all the barbarian tribes which dwell between the further side of the Adriatic and the pillars of Heracles, had all migrated in a body and were marching into Asia through the intervening Europe, and were making the journey with all their household. The reason of this upheaval was more or less the following. A certain Frank, Peter by name, nicknamed Cucupeter [*= Peter of the Cowl], had gone to worship at the Holy Sepulchre and after suffering many things at the hands of the Turks and Saracens who were ravaging Asia, [249] he got back to his own country with difficulty. But he was angry at having failed in his object, and wanted to undertake the same journey again. However, he saw that he ought not to make the journey to the Holy Sepulchre alone again, lest worse things befall him, so he worked out a cunning plan. This was to preach in all the Latin countries that ' the voice of God bids me announce to all the Counts in France that they should all leave their homes and set out to worship at the Holy Sepulchre, and to endeavour wholeheartedly with hand and mind to deliver Jerusalem from the hand of the Hagarenes.' And he really succeeded. For after inspiring the souls of all with this quasi-divine command he contrived to assemble the Franks from all sides, one after the other, with arms, horses and all the other paraphernalia of war. And they were all so zealous and eager that every highroad was full of them. And those Frankish soldiers were accompanied by an unarmed host more numerous than the sand or the stars, carrying palms and crosses on their shoulders; women and children, too, came away from their countries. And the sight of them was like many rivers streaming from all sides, and they were advancing towards us through Dacia generally with all their hosts. Now the coming of these many peoples was preceded by a locust which did not touch the wheat, but made a terrible attack on the vines. This was really a presage as the diviners of the time interpreted it, and meant that this enormous Frankish army would, when it came, refrain from interference in Christian affairs, but fall very heavily upon the barbarian Ishmaelites who were slaves to drunkenness, wine, and Dionysus. For this race is under the sway of Dionysus and Eros, rushes headlong into all kind of sexual intercourse, and is not circumcised either in the flesh or in their passions. It is nothing but a slave, nay triply enslaved, to the ills wrought by Aphrodite. For this reason they worship and adore Astarte and Ashtaroth too and value above all the image of the moon, and the golden figure of Hobar in their country. Now in these symbols Christianity was taken to be the corn because of its wineless and very nutritive qualities; in this manner the diviners interpreted the vines and the wheat. However let the matter of the prophecy rest.

The incidents of the barbarians' approach followed in the order I have described, and persons of intelligence could feel that they were witnessing a strange occurrence. The arrival of these multitudes did not take place at the same [250] time nor by the same road (for how indeed could such masses starting from different places have crossed the straits of Lombardy all together?) Some first, some next, others after them and thus successively all accomplished the transit, and then marched through the Continent. Each army was preceded, as we said, by an unspeakable number of locusts; and all who saw this more than once recognized them as forerunners of the Frankish armies. When the first of them began crossing the straits of Lombardy sporadically the Emperor summoned certain leaders of the Roman forces, and sent them to the parts of Dyrrachium and Valona with instructions to off er a courteous welcome to the Franks who had crossed, and to collect abundant supplies from all the countries along their route; then to follow and watch them covertly all the time, and if they saw them making any foraging excursions, they were to come out from under cover and check them by light skirmishing. These captains were accompanied by some men who knew the Latin tongue, so that they might settle any disputes that arose between them.

Let me, however, give an account of this subject more clearly and in due order. According to universal rumour Godfrey, who had sold his country, was the first to start on the appointed road; this man was very rich and very proud of his bravery, courage and conspicuous lineage; for every Frank is anxious to outdo the others. And such an upheaval of both men and women took place then as had never occurred within human memory, the simpler-minded were urged on by the real desire of worshipping at our Lord's Sepulchre, and visiting the sacred places; but the more astute, especially men like Bohemund and those of like mind, had another secret reason, namely, the hope that while on their travels they might by some means be able to seize the capital itself, looking upon this as a kind of corollary. And Bohemund disturbed the minds of many nobler men by thus cherishing his old grudge against the Emperor. Meanwhile Peter, after he had delivered his message, crossed the straits of Lombardy before anybody else with eighty thousand men on foot, and one hundred thousand on horseback, and reached the capital by way of Hungary. For the Frankish race, as one may conjecture, is always very hotheaded and eager, but when once it has espoused a cause, it is uncontrollable.

VI The Emperor, knowing what Peter had suffered [251] before from the Turks, advised him to wait for the arrival of the other Counts, but Peter would not listen for he trusted to the multitude of his followers, so crossed and pitched his camp near a small town called Helenopolis. After him followed the Normans numbering ten thousand, who separated themselves from the rest of the army and devastated the country round Nicaea, and behaved most cruelly to all. For they dismembered some of the children and fixed others on wooden spits and roasted them at the fire, and on persons advanced in age they inflicted every kind of torture. But when the inhabitants of Nicaea became aware of these doings, they threw open their gates and marched out upon them, and after a violent conflict had taken place they had to dash back inside their citadel as the Normans fought so bravely. And thus the latter recovered all the booty and returned to Helenopolis. Then a dispute arose between them and the others who had not gone out with them, as is usual in such cases, for the minds of those who had stayed behind were aflame with envy, and thus caused a skirmish after which the headstrong Normans drew apart again, marched to Xerigordus and took it by assault. When the Sultan heard what had happened, he dispatched Elchanes against them with a substantial force. He came, and recaptured Xerigordus and sacrificed some of the Normans to the sword, and took others captive, at the same time laid plans to catch those who had remained behind with Cucupeter. He placed ambushes in suitable spots so that any coming from the camp in the direction of Nicaea would fall into them unexpectedly and be killed. Besides this, as he knew the Franks' love of money, he sent for two active-minded men and ordered them to go to Cucupeter's camp and proclaim there that the Normans had gained possession of Nicaea, and were now dividing everything in it. When this report was circulated among Peter's followers, it upset them terribly. Directly they heard the words I partition' and 'money' they started in a disorderly crowd along the road to Nicaea, all but unmindful of their military experience and the discipline which is essential for those starting out to battle. For, as I remarked above, the Latin race is always very fond of money, but more especially when it is bent on raiding a country ; it then loses its reason and gets beyond control. As they journeyed neither in ranks nor in squadrons, they fell foul of the Turkish ambuscades near the river Dracon and perished miserably. And such a large number of Franks and Normans were the victims of the [252] Ishmaelite sword, that when they piled up the corpses of the slaughtered men which were lying on either side they formed, I say, not a very large hill or mound or a peak, but a high mountain as it were, of very considerable depth and breadth -so great was the pyramid of bones. And later men of the same tribe as the slaughtered barbarians built a wall and used the bones of the dead to fill the interstices as if they were pebbles, and thus made the city their tomb in a way. This fortified city is still standing to day with its walls built of a mixture of stones and bones. When they had all in this way fallen a prey to the sword, Peter alone with a few others escaped and re-entered Helenopolis; and the Turks who wanted to capture him, set fresh ambushes for him. But when the Emperor received reliable information of all this, and the terrible massacre, he was very worried lest Peter should have been captured. He therefore summoned Constantine Catacalon Euphorbenus (who has already been mentioned many times in this history), and gave him a large force which was embarked on ships of war and sent him across the straits to Peter's succour. Directly the Turks saw him land they fled. Constantine, without the slightest delay, picked up Peter and his followers, who were but few, and brought them saf e and sound to the Emperor. On the Emperor's reminding him of his original thoughtlessness and saying that it was due to his not having obeyed his, the Emperor's advice that he had incurred such disasters, Peter, being a haughty Latin, would not admit that he himself was the cause of the trouble, but said it was the others who did not listen to him, but followed their own wills, and he denounced them as robbers and plunderers who, for that reason, were not allowed by the Saviour to worship at His Holy Sepulchre. Others of the Latins, such as Bohemund and men of like mind, who had long cherished a desire for the Roman Empire, and wished to win it for themselves, found a pretext in Peter's preaching, as I have said, deceived the more single-minded, caused this great upheaval and were selling their own estates under the pretence that they were marching against the Turks to redeem the Holy Sepulchre.

VII One Ubus, [*=Hugh, Count of Vermandois] brother of the King of France, and as proud as Novatus of his nobility, riches and power, when on the point of leaving his native land, ostensibly to go to the Holy Sepulchre, sent a ridiculous message to the Emperor, with a view to arranging beforehand that he should [253] have a magnificent reception. "Know, O Emperor," he wrote, "that I am the king of kings and the greatest of those under heaven; and it behoves you to meet and treat me on arrival with all pomp and in a manner worthy of my nobility." At the time that this message arrived, John, the son of the Sebastocrator Isaac (of whom mention has been made above) happened to be Duke of Dyrrachium, and Nicolas Mavrocatacalon, a Duke of the Fleet, had anchored the ships at intervals round the harbour of Dyrrachium, and made frequent excursions from there and scoured the seas so that no pirate-ships might sail past without his noticing them. On receipt of this message the Emperor at once sent letters to these two, commanding the Duke of Dyrrachium to keep watch over land and sea for the Franks' coming, and to signify the Emperor of his arrival at once by a swift messenger, bidding him also receive Ubus with all ceremony, and exhort the Duke of the Fleet in no way to relax his vigilance or be negligent, but to be on the look-out all the time. When Ubus had arrived safely at the seaboard of Lombardy, he sent ambassadors from there to the Duke of Dyrrachium, twenty-four in number, protected with cuirasses and greaves of gold, together with the Count Tzerpenterius [*=Charpentier] and Elias who had deserted from the Emperor at Thessalonica. They spoke as follows to the Duke, " Be it known to thee, Duke, that our Lord Ubus is on the point of arriving, and is bringing with him from Rome the golden standard of Saint Peter. Understand, too, that he is the leader of the whole Frankish army. Therefore prepare a reception for him, and the forces under him, which will be worthy of His Highness, and get ready yourself to meet 1-iim." While the envoys were thus speaking to the Duke, Ubus, who, as has been said, travelled through Rome to Lombardy, and was crossing from Bari to Illyria, was caught in a very severe storm and lost the greater number of his vessels, crews, soldiers and all, and only the one skiff on which he was, was spat out, so to say, by the waves on to the coast between Dyrrachium, and a place called Palus, and he on it half-broken. After he had been thus miraculously saved, two of the men who were on the look-out for his arrival, found him, and addressing him by name, said, " The Duke is anxiously looking for your coming, and is most desirous to see you." Thereupon Ubus at once asked for a horse, and one of the two men dismounted and very willingly gave him his horse. Thus the Duke met him after his deliverance, and welcomed him and asked him about his journey and his [254] country, and heard about the disaster which overtook him on his crossing ; so he comforted him with fair promises, and finally set a rich banquet before him. After the feast he detained him and left him, not without supervision, but certainly free. He speedily acquainted the Emperor with the facts, and then waited to receive further instructions. On receipt of the news the Emperor quickly sent Buturnites to Epidamnus (which we have often called Dyrrachium) to f etch Ubus and escort him to the capital, but not to travel along the direct road, but to deviate from it, and pass through Philippopolis. For he was afraid of the Frankish hosts and armies which were coming behind him. The Emperor received him with all honour and shewed him much friendliness, and by also giving him a large sum of money he persuaded him to become his 'man ' at once and to swear thereto by the customary oath of the Latins.

VIII Now this story of what happened to Ubus may serve as a preface. Bohemund (who has often been mentioned in this history already) crossed scarcely fifteen days later to the coast of Cabalion with various Counts and an army that was beyond all numbering. This Cabalion is a place near Boüsa; these are the names of places in those parts. Let no one find fault with me for introducing these barbaric names which are a stain on the style of my history; for not even Homer disdained to mention Boeotians and certain barbarian islands for the sake of accuracy in his history.

Close on his heels the Count of Prebentza [*=Provence] came down to the shores of the straits of Lombardy, since he also wished to cross. He hired a three-masted pirate-vessel capable of carrying 10,000 measures, for six thousand gold 'staters,' there were two hundred rowers to it, and three tenders accompanied it. He however did not sail in the direction of Valona, as the other Latin armies did, but fearing the Roman fleet, he loosed his cables, tacked a little and meeting a favouring breeze, sailed straight to Chimara. But whilst trying to avoid the smoke, he fell into the fire. For he did not stumble upon the ships which were watching the straits of Lombardy at different points, but upon Nicolas Mavrocatacalon himself, the Duke of the whole Roman fleet. The Duke had heard about this pirate-vessel from afar, and had consequently taken with him all the biremes, triremes and a few fast cruisers from the whole fleet and stationed himself at Cabalion opposite Ason, the port from which he had sailed out, and [255] where he had left the large fleet. And he sent the so-called 'second Count ' with his own galley (called by the sailors 'excussatum') with injunctions that directly he saw the sailors of the aforementioned ship loose the cables and throw them into the sea, he should light a torch. The Count went off and did as he was bid. On seeing the signal the Duke Nicolas at once had the sails of some of the ships spread for sailing, the others, like polypods, he worked with oars and sailed towards the Count who was crossing. And he caught him before he had sailed more than three stades from the mainland and was hurrying towards the opposite coast of Epidamnus, and he had on board one thousand five hundred soldiers besides the eighty horses of the nobles. When the helmsman of the ship saw him he said to the Count of Prebentza, "The Syrian fleet is bearing down upon us, and we risk falling victims to the knife and sword." So the Count at once ordered all to put on their armour and fight valiantly. Though it was the middle of winter, the day of commemoration of Nicolas, the greatest saint in the Hierarchy, yet there was an absolute calm, and the full moon was shining more brightly than in spring. As all the winds had fallen, the pirate-vessel was no longer able to move under sail, so that she lay there motionless upon the waters.

Having reached this point in my history, I should like to descant on the exploits of Marianus. He at once asked his father, the Duke of the fleet, for the lighter vessels, and then steered for the Count's ship, and dashing into its prow, attacked it.

The warriors at once flocked to that spot, as they saw he was strongly armed for battle. But Marianus, speaking in their language, advised the Latins to have no fear, and not to fight against fellow-Christians. But one of the Latins hit his helmet with his crossbow. This cross-bow is a bow of the barbarians quite unknown to the Greeks; and it is not stretched by the right hand pulling the string whilst the left pulls the bow in a contrary direction, but he who stretches this warlike and very far-shooting weapon must lie, one might say, almost on his back and apply both feet strongly against the semi-circle of the bow and with his two hands pull the string with all his might in the contrary direction. In the middle of the string is a socket, a cylindrical kind of cup fitted to the string itself, and about as long as an arrow of considerable size which reaches from the string to the very middle of the bow; and through this arrows of many sorts are shot out. [256] The arrows used with this bow are very short in length, but very thick, fitted in front with a very heavy iron tip. And in discharging them the string shoots them out with enormous violence and force, and whatever these darts chance to hit, they do not fall back, but they pierce through a shield, then cut through a heavy iron corselet and wing their way through and out at the other side. So violent and ineluctable is the discharge of arrows of this kind. Such an arrow has been known to pierce a bronze statue, and if it hits the wall of a very large town, the point of the arrow either protrudes on the inner side or it buries itself in the middle of the wall and is lost. Such then is this monster of a crossbow, and verily a devilish invention. And the wretched man who is struck by it, dies without feeling anything, not even feeling the blow, however strong it be.

To resume, the arrow from the crossbow struck the top of Marianus' helmet and pierced it in its flight without touching a hair of his head, for Providence warded it off. Then the man speedily discharged another arrow at the Count, and hit him in the arm; the arrow bored through the shield, passed through his cuirass of scale armour, and touched his side. A certain Latin priest who happened to be standing in the stem with twelve other fighting men, saw this, and let fly several arrows against Marianus. Not even then did Marianus surrender, but fought fiercely himself and encouraged his men to do the same, so that three times over the men with the priest had to be replaced, as they were wounded and sore pressed. The priest himself, however, although he had received many blows, and was streaming with his own blood, remained quite fearless. For the rules concerning priests are not the same among the Latins as they are with us ; For we are given the command by the canonical laws and the teaching of the Gospel, " Touch not, taste not, handle not! For thou art consecrated." Whereas the Latin barbarian will simultaneously handle divine things, and wear his shield on his left arm, and hold his spear in his right hand, and at one and the same time he communicates the body and blood of God, and looks murderously and becomes 'a man of blood,' as it says in the psalm of David. For this barbarian race is no less devoted to sacred things than it is to war. And so this man of violence rather than priest, wore his priestly garb at the same time that he handled the oar and had an eye equally to naval or land warfare, fighting simultaneously with the sea and with men. But [257] our rules, as I have just remarked, are derived from the . . . of Aaron and Moses and our first high-priest. After the battle had raged fiercely from the evening till next midday, the Latins surrendered to Marianus, much against their will, after asking and obtaining a promise of immunity.

But that most bellicose priest did not stop fighting, even while the truce was being concluded, but as he had emptied his quiver of darts, he picked up a sling-stone and hurled it at Marianus. The latter protected his head with his shield, but the stone struck the shield and broke it in four pieces and shattered his helmet. And Marianus was overwhelmed by the blow from the stone, and at once fell unconscious, and lay speechless a long time, just as the hero Hector almost gave up the ghost when hit with a stone by Ajax. He recovered with difficulty, and then pulled himself together and by shooting arrows at him, thrice hit the man who had struck him. Yet that polemarch, rather than priest, was not even then sated with fighting, and as he had hurled all the stones he had, he was now utterly unarmed and bereft both of stones and of darts ; so not knowing what to do or how to defend himself against his adversary, he grew impatient, and stormed and raged and twisted himself about like a wild beast ; and directly he saw anything handy he used it. Then he discovered a sack of barley-cakes and began throwing out the barley-cakes from the sack as though they were stones, as if he were officiating and taking a service, and turning war into a sacred celebration. And one barley-cake he picked up, drove it with all his might, aiming at Marianus' face, and hit him on the cheek. So much for that priest and the ship and its crew. The Count of Prebentza, after surrendering himself and his ship and his soldiers to Marianus, immediately followed him. And when they had reached land and were disembarking, that same priest often and repeatedly asked for Marianus and, because he did not know his name, he called him by the colour of his clothes. When he found him, he threw his arms round him and embraced him, whilst saying boastfully, " If you had met me on dry land, many of you would have been killed by my hands." Then he pulled out and gave him a large silver cup worth one hundred and thirty staters. And with these words and this gift he breathed his last.

IX Now Count Godfrey crossed about this time, too, with more Counts, and an army of ten thousand horsemen and seventy thousand foot, and on reaching the capital he [258] quartered his army near the Propontis, and it reached from the bridge nearest to the monastery of Cosmidium right up to the church of St. Phocas. But when the Emperor urged him to cross the straits of the Propontis, he let one day pass after another and postponed doing so on one pretext after another; the truth was that he was awaiting the arrival of Bohemund and the rest of the Counts. For although Peter for his part undertook this great journey originally only to worship at the Holy Sepulchre, yet the rest of the Counts, and especially Bohemund, who cherished an old grudge against the Emperor, were seeking an opportunity of taking their vengeance on him for that brilliant victory he had gained over Bohemund when he engaged in battle with him at Larissa. The other Counts agreed to Bohemund's plan, and in their dreams of capturing the capital had come to the same decision (which I have often mentioned already) that while in appearance making the journey to Jerusalem, in reality their object was to dethrone the Emperor and to capture the capital. But the Emperor, aware of their rascality from previous experience, sent an order by letter that the auxiliary forces with their officers should move from Athyra to Phileas (a seaside town on the Euxine) and station themselves there by squadrons, and watch whether any messenger came from Godfrey to Bohemund and the other Counts behind, or contrariwise one from them to him, and if so, to prevent their passage. But in the meantime the following incident occurred. The Emperor invited some of the Counts with Godfrey in order to advise them to suggest to Godfrey to take the oath ; and as time was wasted owing to the longwinded talkativeness of the Latins, a false rumour reached the others that the Counts had been thrown into prison by the Emperor. Immediately numerous regiments moved on Byzantium, and to begin with they demolished the palace near the so-called Silver Lake. They also made an attack on the walls of Byzantium, not with siege-engines indeed, as they had none, but trusting to their numbers they actually had the impudence to try to set fire to the gate below the palace which is close to the chapel built long ago by one of the Emperors to the memory of Nicolas, the greatest saint in the hierarchy. Now it was not only the promiscuous mob of Byzantines, who were utterly cowardly and unused to war, that wailed and howled when they saw the Latin troops, and beat their breasts, not knowing what to do for fear, but the loyal adherents of the Emperor, recalling that Friday on which the [259] city was taken, were alarmed lest on this day vengeance might be taken on them for their former actions. All who had military knowledge rushed helter-skelter to the palace. But the Emperor did not trouble to arm himself, did not even put on his corselet of scale armour, nor take shield or spear in hand, nor gird on his sword, but sat firmly on his throne and with cheerful countenance encouraged and inspired confidence in them all, while deliberating with his kinsmen and generals, about the action to take. To begin with he insisted that not a single person should go out of the city to fight the Latins, firstly, because of the sacredness of that day (for it was the Friday of the greatest and holiest week, the day on which our Saviour suffered an ignominious death for us all) and secondly, because he wanted to avoid civil strife. So he sent frequent messengers to persuade the Latins to desist from their undertaking; "Reverence," he said, "the God who was slain for us all today, who for the sake of our salvation refused neither the Cross nor the nails nor the lance, things fit only for malefactors. But if you really desire war, we shall be ready for you the day after our Lord's resurrection." Not only did the Latins not obey him, but they even placed their troops more closely and sent such heavy showers of darts that one of the men standing by the Emperor's throne was hit in the chest. Seeing this most of those who were standing on either side of the Emperor proceeded to draw back. But he sat on unmoved, consoling and gently chiding them in a way; this demeanour filled all with amazement. However, when he saw that the Latins approached the walls quite shamelessly and would not listen to sensible advice, he sent first for his son-in-law, Nicephorus, my Caesar. Him he ordered to take stout soldiers, skilled archers, and station them on the top of the wall, and added the command that they should shoot plenty of arrows at the Latins without taking aim, but should rather miss, so as to terrify them by the frequency of the darts, but by no means to kill. For, as I said above, he respected the sanctity of the day and did not wish for civil war. Then he bade others of the nobles, most of whom carried bows, and others wielding long lances, to throw open the gate of St. Romanus and make a display of a violent assault upon them. They were to draw themselves up in this order. . . . each of the spear-bearers was guarded by two peltasts on either side ; then in this order they were to proceed at a slow pace, but send a few skilled archers ahead to shoot at the Franks from a distance, and to keep [260] turning about from one side to another. And as soon as they saw only a narrow space left between the armies, they were to give the order to the archers accompanying them to direct a shower of arrows at the horses, not the riders, and to dash at full speed against the Latins, partly to break the violence of the Franks' onrush by wounding the horses so that they could not ride against the Romans, and secondly, which was more important, to prevent any Christians being killed. The nobles joyfully fulfilled the Emperor's bidding ; threw open the gates, and now galloping at full speed against the enemy, and now checking the horses, they killed many of them while only a few of their own party were wounded on this day. I leave them to their perdition.

My lord, the Caesar, took, as I have said, the experienced archers and stood on the towers shooting at the barbarians. And all aimed well and shot far; for all these young men were as skilled as the Homeric Teucer in the use of the bow. But the Caesar's bow was in very deed the bow of Apollo; and he did not after the manner of the Homeric Greeks draw the string to his breast and place the arrow and fit it to the bow exhibiting like them the art of the hunter, but like a second Heracles, he discharged deadly arrows from immortal bows and provided he willed it, he never missed the mark at which he aimed. For on other occasions during the time of strife and battle, he invariably hit whatever object he proposed himself, and whatever part of a man he aimed at, that part exactly he always struck. With such strength he stretched his bow, and with such swiftness he sent his arrows that in archery he appeared to excel even Teucer himself, and the two Ajaxes. But although he was so skilful, he respected the sanctity of the day and took the Emperor's injunction to heart, and when he saw the Latins recklessly approaching the walls while protecting themselves with shield and helmet, he did indeed stretch his bow and fix the arrow to the string, but purposely shot without aim, launching them sometimes short of the foe, and sometimes beyond. Even though on that day he only pretended to aim properly at the Latins, yet if a reckless and impudent Latin not only aimed several arrows at them up above, but also seemed to be shouting out insults in his own tongue, than the Caesar did indeed stretch his bow at him. And the arrow did not leap from his hand in vain, but pierced through the long shield and the corselet of mail and pinned the man's arm to his side. And he, as says the poet, at once lay on the ground speechless. And [261] the cry went up to heaven of our men congratulating the Caesar and of the Latins lamenting over the fallen. As our cavalry was fighting bravely outside, and our men on the walls equally so, a serious and severe battle was kindled between the two armies. Finally the, Emperor threw in his own troops and drove the Latins into headlong flight.

On the following day Ubus went and advised Godfrey to yield to the Emperor's wish, unless he wanted to have a second experience of the latter's military skill, and to swear that he would keep good faith with him. But Godfrey reprimanded him severely and said, " You who came from your own country as a king with great wealth and a great army have brought yourself down from that high position to the rank of a slave; and then just as if you had won some great success you come and advise me to do the same? " The other replied, " We ought to have remained in our own countries and not have interfered in foreign affairs; but as we have come as far as this where we sorely need the Emperor's protection, matters willnot turn out wellfor us if we do not fall in with his wishes." But since Godfrey sent Ubus away without his having effected anything and the Emperor received news that the Counts coming after were already near, he sent a selected few of the generals with their troops, and enjoined them again to advise, nay even to compel, Godfrey to cross the straits. Directly the Latins caught sight of them, without waiting even a minute or asking what they wanted, they betook themselves to battle and fighting. A severe battle arose between them in which many fell on either side, and . . . the Emperor's . . . were wounded, who had attacked him too recklessly. As the imperial troops fought very bravely, the Latins turned their backs. In consequence Godfrey shortly afterwards yielded to the Emperor's wish. He went to the Emperor and swore the oath which was required of him, namely, that whatever towns, countries or forts he managed to take which had formerly belonged to the Roman Empire, he would deliver up to the Governor expressly sent by the Emperor for this purpose. After he had taken this oath, and received a large sum of money, he was invited to the Emperor's hearth and table, and feasted luxuriously, and afterwards crossed the straits and encamped near Pelecanus. Thereupon the Emperor gave orders that abundant supplies of food should be conveyed to them.

X After this man the Count called Raoul arrived with fifteen thousand horse and foot and bivouacked by the [262] Propontis near the so-called monastery of the Patriarch with the Counts under him, and the rest he quartered on the shore right up to Sosthenium. He, with the same intention as Godfrey, put off crossing as he, too, was awaiting the arrival of the others who were coming after him, but the Emperor foreseeing what might happen, dreaded their advent, and tried to hurry on Raoul's crossing by every possible means. So he sent and had Opus fetched (a man of noble mind and not inferior to anyone in military experience), and when he arrived he dispatched him with some other brave men overland to Raoul with orders to compel the latter to cross the straits. But when he found that Raoul would certainly not obey the Emperor's order, but rather spoke impudently and most insolently of the Emperor, he drew up his lines for battle, thinking perhaps to terrify the barbarian, and in this way persuade him to sail across to the other side.

But Raoul drew up the Franks he had with him more quickly than can be told, and rejoiced 'like a lion that has lighted upon a huge carcass,' and straightway commenced a serious battle with Opus. Now Pegasius came to the place by sea in order to transport the Franks, and when he saw the battle being fought on land, and the Franks attacking the Roman army very boldly, he disembarked, and himself attacked the Franks from the rear. In this battle many were killed, but a far greater number wounded, and consequently the survivors asked to be put across the sea. Now the Emperor in his great prudence reflected that if they joined Godfrey and related what had happened to them, the latter would be enraged against him, so he gladly received their request, put them on boats and transported them by sea to the Saviour's tomb, at their own urgent request. To the Counts who were expected he sent envoys carrying messages of kindly greeting and holding out great expectations, consequently on arrival they willingly fulfilled all his orders. This is sufficient about Count Raoul.

After him came another innumerable, heterogeneous crowd, collected from nearly all the Frankish countries, together with their leaders, kings, dukes, counts and even bishops. The Emperor sent men to receive them kindly and to convey promises of reasonable help, for he was always clever at providing for the future, and in grasping at a glance what was expedient for the moment. He also gave orders to men specially appointed for this purpose to supply them with victuals on their journey, so that they might not for any [263] reason whatsoever have a handle for a quarrel against him. And they (the Crusaders) hastened on to the capital. One might have likened them to the stars of heaven or the sand poured out along the edge of the sea. For these men that hurried on to approach Constantinople were 'as many as there are leaves and flowers in the spring time,' as Homer says. Though I much desire to do so, I cannot detail the names of the leaders. For my speech is paralysed partly because I cannot articulate these strange names which are so unpronounceable, and partly because of the number of them. And, why indeed should we endeavour to recount the names of such a multitude, when even the men who were present were soon filled with indifference at the sight ? When they finally reached the capital they disposed their armies at the Emperor's bidding close to the Monastery of Cosmidium and they extended right up to the Hieron. It was not nine heralds, as formerly in Greece, who controlled this army by their shouts, but a large number of brave hoplites who accompanied them and persuaded them to yield to the Emperor's orders. Now the Emperor was anxious to force them all to take the same oath as Godfrey had taken, so he invited them separately and conversed with them privately about his wishes, and made use of the more reasonable ones as intermediaries with the more recalcitrant. As they would not obey, for they were expecting Bohemund to arrive, but found various means of evasion by continually making some fresh demands, the Emperor very easily saw through their pretences and by harassing them in every possible way, he forced them to take Godfrey's oath, and sent for Godfrey from over the sea at Pelecanus that he might be present during the taking of the oath. Thus they all assembled, Godfrey amongst them, and after the oath had been taken by all the Counts, a certain venturesome noble sat down on the Emperor's seat. The Emperor put up with him and said not a word, knowing of old the Latins' haughty nature. But Count Balduinus stepped forward and taking him by the hand raised him up, rebuked him severely, and said, " It was wrong of you to do such a thing here, and that too when you have promised fealty to the Emperor; for it is not customary for the Roman Emperors to allow their subjects to sit beside them on the throne, and those who become his Majesty's sworn bondmen must observe the customs of the country." He made no reply to Balduinus, but darted a fierce glance at the Emperor and muttered some words to [264] himself in his own language, saying, "Look at this rustic that keeps his seat, while such valiant captains are standing round him." The movement of the Latin's lips did not escape the Emperor, who called one of the interpreters of the Latin tongue and asked the purport of his words. When he heard what the remark was, he said nothing to the Latin for some time, but kept the saying in his heart. As they were all taking leave of the Emperor, he called that haughty minded, audacious Latin, and enquired who he was and of what country and lineage. "I am a Frank of the purest nobility," he replied, "all that I know is that at the crossroads in the country whence I come there stands an old sanctuary, to which everyone who desires to fight in single combat goes ready accoutred for single combat, and there prays to God for help while he waits in expectation of the man who will dare to fight him. At those crossroads I too have often tarried, waiting and longing for an antagonist ; but never has one appeared who dared to fight me." In reply to this the Emperor said, "If you did not find a fight when you sought for it then, now the time has come which will give you your fill of fighting. But I strongly advise you not to place yourself in the rear nor in the front of your line, but to stand in the centre of the 'hemilochitae,' for I have had a long experience of the Turkish method of fighting." It was not to this man only that he gave this advice, but to all the others he foretold the accidents likely to happen on their journey, and counselled them never to pursue the barbarians very far when God granted them a victory over them, for fear of being killed by falling into ambushes.

XI So much then about Godfrey and Raoul and the others who accompanied them. Now when Bohemund reached Apros with the other Counts, he reflected that he was not sprung from the nobility, nor was he bringing a large force owing to his poverty, but he was anxious to win the Emperor's goodwill and at the same time conceal his own designs against him, so leaving the other Counts behind he rode ahead with only ten Franks and hastened to reach the capital. As the Emperor knew his machinations and had been long aware of his treacherous and scheming nature, he desired to talk with him before the other Counts arrived, and to hear what he had to say, and to persuade him to cross into Asia before the others in order that he might not join those who were on the point of arriving, and corrupt their minds also. So when Bohemund entered, he smiled at [265] him cheerfully and asked him about his journey and where he had left the Counts. All these things Bohemund explained clearly as he thought best, and then the Emperor joked and reminded him of his former daring deeds at Dyrrachium and his former enmity. To this the other replied, " Though I was certainly your adversary and enemy at that time, yet now I come of my own free will as a friend of your Majesty." The Emperor talked of many things with him, and lightly sounded his feelings, and as he perceived that he would agree to take the oath of fidelity, he dismissed him saying, " You must be tired from your journey and must go and rest now; tomorrow we can talk of whatever we like." So Bohemund went away to Cosmidium where a lodging had been prepared for him, and a rich table spread for him, laden with all manner of meats and eatables. The cooks also brought in the uncooked flesh of land-animals and birds, and said, "You see, we have prepared the food in our usual fashion ; but if those do not please you, see, here is raw meat which shall be cooked in whatever way you like." For they prepared the food and spoke in this way by the Emperor's orders. For he was wonderfully clever in judging a man's character, clever, too, in penetrating to the heart and ferreting out a man's thoughts, and as he knew Bohemund's suspicions and maliciousness, he guessed at the truth. Consequently, to prevent Bohemund suspecting him, he ordered those raw meats to be taken to him at the same time in order to allay any suspicion. Nor was he wrong in his surmise. For that dreadful Bohemund not only refrained from tasting the viands at all, or even touching them with the tips of his fingers, but pushed them all away at once, and, though he did not speak of his secret suspicion, he divided them up amongst the attendants, pretending to all appearance to be doing them a kindness, but in reality, if you look at it aright, he was mixing a cup of death for them. And he did not even conceal his craft, for he treated his servants with contempt. The raw meats, however, he ordered his own cooks to prepare in the usual Frankish way. The next day he asked the men who had eaten the supper how they felt. When they replied that they felt exceedingly well and had not suffered even the slightest discomfort from it, he discovered his hidden thought, and said, " When I recalled my wars with him and that terrible battle I must own I was afraid that he would perhaps arrange my death by mixing poison with my food." So spake Bohemund. I have never seen a wicked man who did not [266] act wrongly in all his words and deeds; for whenever a man deserts the middle course of action, to whatever extreme he inclines, he stands far away from goodness.

The Emperor sent for Bohemund and requested him to take the customary oath of the Latins. And he, mindful of his own position, namely, that he was not descended from illustrious ancestors, nor had a great supply of money, and for this reason not even many troops, but only a very limited number of Frankish retainers, and being moreover by nature ready to swear falsely, yielded readily to the Emperor's wish. Then the Emperor selected a room in the palace and had the floor strewn with every kind of riches. . . . and so filled the chamber with garments and stamped gold and silver, and other materials of lesser value, that one could not even walk because of their quantity. And he told the man who was to show Bohemund these things, to throw open the doors suddenly. Bohemund was amazed at the sight and exclaimed "If all these treasures were mine, I should have made myself master of many countries long ere this! " and the attendant replied, "The Emperor makes you a present of all these riches to-day." Bohemund was overjoyed and after thanking for the present he went away to rest in the house where he lodged. But when these treasures were brought to him, he who had admired them before had changed his mind and said, " Never did I imagine that the Emperor would inflict such dishonour on me. Take them away and give them back to him who sent them." But the Emperor, knowing the Latins' characteristic fickleness, quoted the popular proverb, 'Let bad things return to their own master.' When Bohemund heard of this and saw the porters carefully packing the presents up again, he changed his mind - he, who a minute before was sending them away and was annoyed at them, now gave the porters pleasant looks, just like a polypus that changes its form in an instant. For by nature the man was a rogue and ready for any eventualities; in roguery and courage he was far superior to all the Latins who came through then, as he was inferior to them in forces and money. But in spite of his surpassing all in superabundant activity in mischief, yet fickleness like some natural Latin appendage attended him too. So he who first rejected the presents, afterwards accepted them with great pleasure. For he was sad in mind as he had left his country a landless man, ostensibly to worship at the Holy Sepulchre, but in reality with the intent of gaining a kingdom for himself, or rather, if it were possible, to follow his father's advice [267] and seize the Roman Empire itself, and as he wanted to let out every reef, as the proverb has it, he required a great deal of money. But the Emperor, who understood his melancholy and iu-natured disposition, did his best cleverly to remove anything that would assist him in his secret plans. Therefore when Bohemund demanded the office of Great Domestic of the East, he did not gain his request, for he was trying to ' out-Cretan a Cretan.' For the Emperor feared that if he gained power he would make the other Counts his captives and bring them round afterwards to doing whatever he wished. Further, he did not want Bohemund to have the slightest suspicion that he was already detected, so he flattered him with fair hopes by saying, " The time for that has not come yet; but by your energy and reputation and above all by your fidelity it will come ere long." After this conversation and after bestowing gifts and honours of many kinds on them, the next day he took his seat on the imperial throne and summoned Bohemund and all the Counts. To them he discoursed of the things likely to befall them on their journey, and gave them useful advice; he also instructed them in the Turks' usual methods of warfare, and suggested the manner in which they should dispose the army and arrange their ranks, and advised them not to go far in pursuit of the Turks when they fled. And after he had in this way somewhat softened their savage behaviour by dint of money and advice, and had given them good counsel, he suggested their crossing into Asia. Isangeles [*=Raymond, Count of St. Giles] he liked especially because of his superior wisdom and genuine sincerity and purity of life, also because he recognized that he valued truth above everything; for he 'shone' amidst all the Latins 'as the sun amidst the stars of heaven.' And for this reason he kept him by him for some time. After the Counts had all taken leave of the Emperor and reached Damalium by crossing the Propontis, and the Emperor was relieved from the disturbance they caused, he often sent for Isangeles and explained to him more clearly what he suspected would happen to the Latins on their journey, and he also laid bare to him the suspicions he had of the Franks' intention. He often repeated these things to Isangeles and opened, so to say, the doors of his soul to him and, after stating everything clearly, he enjoined him to be ever on the watch against Bohemund's wickedness and if the latter tried to break his oath to check him and by all possible means frustrate his plans. Isangeles replied to the [268] Emperor, " Bohemund has acquired perjury and treachery as a species of ancestral heritage, and it would be a miracle if he kept his oath. However, I will endeavour as far as in me lies always to carry out your orders." And taking his leave of the Emperor, he went away to rejoin the whole Frankish army.

Now the Emperor desired to march against the barbarians with the Franks, but their countless masses terrified him. So he decided it would be wise to go to Pelecanus and stay there, so that being close to Nicaea he could learn how the Franks fared and hear also about the Turks' expeditions outside the city and the state of affairs within. For he considered it would be a pity if in the meantime he did not succeed in some military exploit and he aimed at capturing Nicaea himself, if the occasion seemed propitious, and not receiving it from the Franks in accordance with their pledged word. He kept this plan to himself and the arrangements he made, and the reason for them only he himself understood, and Butumites who was his sole confidant. Him he sent to win over the barbarians inside Nicaea partly by promising them complete immunity beside many other things, and partly by warning them that they would endure terrible sufferings and fall a prey to the sword if the city were taken by the Franks. For the Emperor had found out before this that Butumites was most loyal to him, and very energetic in missions of this nature. These events, then, followed this course from the beginning.


Complete Text | Introduction | Book 1 | Book 2 | Book 3 | Book 4 | Book 5 | Book 6 |
Book 7  | Book 8 | Book 9 | Book 10 | Book 11 | Book 12 | Book 13 | Book 14  | Book 15


Source.

Anna Comnena (Komnene). The Alexiad. Edited and translated by Elizabeth A. Dawes. London: Routledge, Kegan, Paul, 1928.

Inquiries into the copyright on this text indicate that US copyright was not renewed, nor was any claim filed under the GATT. Barnes and Noble published the text in the US in 1967 with no claim of copyright, and thus under the laws at the time as a public domain work. Correspondence with Routledge (on file) indicated that they had no records whatsoever about the book, including the date of its first sale in the US (putting one copy on sale would constitute "publication" under GATT).

Notes:

This etext slightly alters the organization and much of the typography of the printed edition.

Page numbers of the printed edition are indicated in the texts by numbers in brackets, e.g. [57].

Some short notes are placed in the text in brackets [*like this].

Longer notes are marked in the text with two asterisks **, and placed at the end of each chapter


This text is part of the Internet Medieval Source Book. The Sourcebook is a collection of public domain and copy-permitted texts related to medieval and Byzantine history.

Unless otherwise indicated the specific electronic form of the document is copyright. Permission is granted for electronic copying, distribution in print form for educational purposes and personal use. If you do reduplicate the document, indicate the source. No permission is granted for commercial use.

Paul Halsall, February 2001
halsall@fordham.edu