Constantine X Doukas

Reign of Constantine X Doukas

1059 Nov 23
, İstanbul

Constantine X Doukas was Byzantine emperor from 1059 to 1067. He was the founder and first ruling member of the short-lived Doukid dynasty. During his reign, the Normans took over much of the remaining Byzantine territories in Italy while in the Balkans the Hungarians occupied Belgrade. He also suffered defeats by the Seljuk sultan Alp Arslan.

The Frontier

Weakening of the frontier

1060 Jan 1
, Armenia

Severely undercutting the training and financial support for the armed forces, Constantine X disbanded the Armenian local militia of 50,000 men at a crucial point of time, coinciding with the westward advance of the Seljuk Turks and their Turcoman allies. Undoing many of the necessary reforms of Isaac I Komnenos, he bloated the military bureaucracy with highly paid court officials and crowded the Senate with his supporters.

His decisions to replace standing soldiers with mercenaries and leaving the frontier fortifications unrepaired led Constantine to become naturally unpopular with the supporters of Isaac within the military aristocracy, who attempted to assassinate him in 1061. He also became unpopular with the general population after he raised taxes to try to pay the army.

Zvonimir Grbasic

Norman Conquest of Calabria

1060 Jan 2
, Calabria

At the very start of his reign, the Normans under Robert Guiscard completed the conquest of Byzantine Calabria, except for the territory around Bari, though a resurgence of interest in retaining Apulia occurred under his reign, and he appointed at least four catepans of Italy: Miriarch, Maruli, Sirianus, and Mabrica.

11th century Turkish warriors

Alp Arslan conquers Ani

1064 Jan 1
, Ani

Alp Arslan marched into Armenia and Georgia, which he conquered in 1064. After a siege of 25 days, the Seljuks captured Ani, the capital city of Armenia. An account of the sack and massacres in Ani is given by the historian Sibt ibn al-Jawzi, who quotes an eyewitness saying:

Putting the Persian sword to work, they spared no one... One could see there the grief and calamity of every age of human kind. For children were ravished from the embraces of their mothers and mercilessly hurled against rocks, while the mothers drenched them with tears and blood... The city became filled from one end to the other with bodies of the slain and bodies of the slain became a road. The army entered the city, massacred its inhabitants, pillaged and burned it, leaving it in ruins and taking prisoner all those who remained alive...The dead bodies were so many that they blocked the streets; one could not go anywhere without stepping over them. And the number of prisoners was not less than 50,000 souls. I was determined to enter city and see the destruction with my own eyes. I tried to find a street in which I would not have to walk over the corpses; but that was impossible.

Oghuz Turks invade the Balkans | ©Ubisoft

Oghuz Turks invade the Balkans

1065 Jan 1
, Balkans

The roots of Uzes can be traced back to Oghuz Yabgu State (750-1055) located to the east of Caspian Sea. Oghuz State was the neighbour of the Khazar Khaganate in the west and north of the Caspian Sea. Oghuz-Khazar relations were not stable. Oghuz State was sometimes an ally and sometimes an enemy of the powerful Khazar Khaganate. In the 10th century a group of Oghuz people fought in the Khazar army. (Dukak, the father of Seljuk was one of them.) They fought mainly against Pechenegs, a rival Turkic people. After the Khazar Khaganate disintegrated, they had to move west because of Kypchaks raids from the east.

In 1054 they settled around Dnieper river. However five years later they were defeated by the Kievan Rus. They further moved west to Danube river where they were repelled by their old enemy the Pechenegs in 1065. After 1065 they paid hommage to Byzantine Empire and the Russian princes. Most of them converted to Christianity. They served as soldiers in the Byzantine Empire. During the battle of Manzikert between the Byzantines and the Seljuks in 1071 they served in the right flank of the Byzantine army. However according to some accounts they switched sides and contributed to the Seljuks victory.

Battle of Caesarea

Battle of Caesarea

1067 Jan 1
, Kayseri

The Battle of Caesarea occurred in 1067 when the Seljuk Turks under Alp Arslan attacked Caesarea. Caesarea was sacked and its Cathedral of St. Basil desecrated. Following Caesarea, the Seljuk Turks made another attempt invading Anatolia, with an assault on Iconium in 1069. This provoked Romanos IV Diogenes' second campaign.

Alp Arslan humiliating Emperor Romanos IV. From a 15th-century illustrated French translation of Boccaccio's De Casibus Virorum Illustrium.

Reign of Romanos IV Diogenes

1068 Jan 1
, İstanbul

Romanos IV Diogenes, also known as Romanus IV, was a member of the Byzantine military aristocracy who, after his marriage to the widowed empress Eudokia Makrembolitissa, was crowned Byzantine Emperor and reigned from 1068 to 1071. During his reign, he was determined to halt the decline of the Byzantine military and to stop Turkish incursions into the Byzantine Empire, but in 1071 he was captured and his army routed at the Battle of Manzikert. While still captive he was overthrown in a palace coup, and when released he was quickly defeated and detained by members of the Doukas family. In 1072, he was blinded and sent to a monastery, where he died of his wounds.

Romanos IV fights the Saracens

Romanos IV fights the Saracens

1068 Jan 1
, Aleppo

The first military operations of Romanos did achieve a measure of success, reinforcing his opinions about the outcome of the war. Antioch was exposed to the Saracens of Aleppo who, with help from Turkish troops, began an attempt to reconquer the Byzantine province of Syria. Romanos began marching to the southeastern frontier of the empire to deal with this threat, but as he was advancing towards Lykandos, he received word that a Seljuk army had made an incursion into Pontus and had plundered Neocaesarea. Immediately he selected a small mobile force and quickly raced through Sebaste and the mountains of Tephrike to encounter the Turks on the road, forcing them to abandon their plunder and release their prisoners, though a large number of the Turkish troops managed to escape.

Returning south, Romanos rejoined the main army, and they continued their advance through the passes of Mount Taurus to the north of Germanicia and proceeded to invade the Emirate of Aleppo. Romanos captured Hierapolis, which he fortified to provide protection against further incursions into the south-eastern provinces of the empire. He then engaged in further fighting against the Saracens of Aleppo, but neither side managed a decisive victory. With the campaigning season reaching its end, Romanos returned north via Alexandretta and the Cilician Gates to Podandos. Here he was advised of another Seljuk raid into Asia Minor in which they sacked Amorium but returned to their base so fast that Romanos was in no position to give chase. He eventually reached Constantinople by January 1069.

Siege of Iconium

Siege of Iconium

1069 Jan 1
, Konya

The Siege of Iconium was an unsuccessful attempt by the Turkish Seljuk Empire to capture the Byzantine city of Iconium, modern day Konya. After sacking Ani and Caesarea in 1063 and 1067, respectively (some sources suggest as early as 1064), the Byzantine army in the East was in too poor a shape to resist the advance of the Turks. Had it not been for the efforts of the emperor Romanos IV Diogenes the Byzantine Empire would have suffered her "Manzikert" disaster sooner. From Syria, a successful counter-attack drove the Turks back. After the attack on Iconium was repelled, Romanos IV launched his second campaign. Further campaigning was met with some success by Romanos, despite the ill nature of his army which had been poorly led since the death of Basil II.

The victory was a short respite - sometime after Manzikert, in the midst of civil conflict, Iconium fell to the Turks. The city saw a brief return to Christendom during the First Crusade, possibly under Byzantine rule but the Turks counter-attacked at the Crusade of 1101 and Konya would form the capital of Byzantium's most dangerous opponent. On 18 May 1190, Iconium was briefly regained for Christianity by the forces of Frederick I, Holy Roman Emperor at the Battle of Iconium during the Third Crusade.

Norman mercenaries rebel

Norman mercenaries rebel

1069 Jan 1
, Şanlıurfa

Plans for the following year's campaigning were initially thrown into chaos by a rebellion by one of Romanos' Norman mercenaries, Robert Crispin, who led a contingent of Frankish troops in the pay of the empire. Possibly due to Romanos not paying them on time, they began plundering the countryside near where they were stationed at Edessa, and attacking the imperial tax collectors. Although Crispin was captured and exiled to Abydos, the Franks continued to ravage the Armeniac Theme for some time. Robert was arrested by Romanos after the rebellion.

Depiction of Michael VII Doukas on the back of the Holy Crown of Hungary

Reign of Michael VII Doukas

1071 Jan 1
, İstanbul

Michael VII Doukas (Greek: Μιχαήλ Ζ΄ Δούκας), nicknamed Parapinakes (Greek: Παραπινάκης, lit. "minus a quarter", with reference to the devaluation of the Byzantine currency under his rule), was Byzantine emperor from 1071 to 1078.

Final Byzantine outpost in Italy lost

Final Byzantine outpost in Italy lost

1071 Apr 15
, Bari

Romanos was detained at Constantinople in 1070, while he dealt with many outstanding administrative issues, including the imminent fall of Bari into Norman hands. They had been besieging it since 1068, but it had taken Romanos two years to respond. He ordered a relief fleet to set sail, containing sufficient provisions and troops to enable them to hold out for much longer. The fleet was intercepted, however, and defeated by a Norman squadron under the command of Roger, the younger brother of Robert Guiscard, forcing the final remaining outpost of Byzantine authority in Italy to surrender on 15 April 1071.

In this 15th-century French miniature depicting the Battle of Manzikert, the combatants are clad in contemporary Western European armour.

Battle of Manzikert

1071 Aug 26
, Malazgirt

The Battle of Manzikert or Battle of Malazgirt was fought between the Byzantine Empire and the Seljuk Empire on 26 August 1071 near Manzikert, theme of Iberia (modern Malazgirt in Muş Province, Turkey). The decisive defeat of the Byzantine army and the capture of the Emperor Romanos IV Diogenes played an important role in undermining Byzantine authority in Anatolia and Armenia, and allowed for the gradual Turkification of Anatolia. Many of the Turks, who had been travelling westward during the 11th century, saw the victory at Manzikert as an entrance to Asia Minor.

The brunt of the battle was borne by the Byzantine army's professional soldiers from the eastern and western tagmata, as large numbers of mercenaries and Anatolian levies fled early and survived the battle. The fallout from Manzikert was disastrous for the Byzantines, resulting in civil conflicts and an economic crisis that severely weakened the Byzantine Empire's ability to adequately defend its borders. This led to the mass movement of Turks into central Anatolia—by 1080, an area of 78,000 square kilometres (30,000 sq mi) had been gained by the Seljuk Turks. It took three decades of internal strife before Alexius I (1081 to 1118) restored stability to Byzantium. Historian Thomas Asbridge says: "In 1071, the Seljuqs crushed an imperial army at the Battle of Manzikert (in eastern Asia Minor), and though historians no longer consider this to have been an utterly cataclysmic reversal for the Greeks, it still was a stinging setback." It was the first, and only, time in history a Byzantine emperor became the prisoner of a Muslim commander.

Uprising of Peter III and Georgi Voyteh | ©Angus McBride

Uprising of Georgi Voyteh

1072 Jan 1
, Ohrid

The Uprising of Georgi Voyteh was a Bulgarian uprising in the Byzantine theme of Bulgaria in 1072. It was the second major attempt to restore the Bulgarian Empire after the Uprising of Peter Delyan in 1040-1041.

The main prerequisites for the uprising were the weakness of Byzantium after the invasions of the Pechenegs in the lower Danube, the great defeat at the hands of the Seljuk Turks in the battle of Manzikert (1071) and the invasion of the Normans from southern Italy as well as the rising taxes during the reign of Michael VII. The uprising was prepared by the Bulgarian nobility in Skopje led by Georgi Voyteh. They chose the son of Serbian Prince of Duklja Michael, Constantine Bodin as their leader, as he was a descendant of the Bulgarian Emperor Samuil. In the autumn of 1072 Constantine Bodin arrived at Prizren where he was proclaimed Emperor of the Bulgarians under the name Peter III. The Serbian Prince sent 300 soldiers led by Vojvoda Petrilo.

An army under Damianos Dalassenos was immediately sent from Constantinople to help the strategos of the Theme of Bulgaria, Nikephoros Karantenos. In the battle that followed the Byzantine army was completely defeated. Dalassenos and other Byzantine commanders were captured and Skopie was taken by the Bulgarians troops.

After that success the rebels tried to expand the area under their control. Constantine Bodin headed north and reached Naissus (modern Niš). Because some Bulgarian towns with Byzantine garrisons did not surrender, they were burned down. Petrila marched southwards and captured Ochrid (modern Ohrid) and Devol.

Another army was sent from Constantinople under Michael Saronites. Saronites seized Skoupoi and in December 1072 he defeated the army of Constantine Bodin at a place known as Taonios (in the southern parts of Kosovo Polje). Constantine Bodin and Georgi Voyteh were captured. The army which Prince Michael sent to relieve his son did not achieve anything because its commander, a Norman mercenary defected to the Byzantines. The rebellion was finally crushed in 1073 by doux Nikephoros Bryennios.

Seljuk Turks defeat army of Isaac Komnenos

New army defeated by the Seljuks

1073 Jan 1
, Antakya/Hatay

After Manzikert, the Byzantine government sent a new army to contain the Seljuk Turks under Isaac Komnenos, a brother of the future emperor Alexios I Komnenos, but this army was defeated and its commander captured in 1073. The problem was made worse by the desertion of the Byzantines' western mercenaries under Roussel de Bailleul who were setting up an independent principiality in the region of Galatia and Lycaonia. They became the object of the next military expedition in the area, led by Michael's uncle, Caesar John Doukas. This campaign also ended in failure, and John was likewise captured by the enemy. The victorious Roussel now forced John Doukas to stand as pretender to the throne and sacked Chrysopolis, just opposite Constantinople. The government of Michael VII was forced to recognize the conquests of the Seljuks in Asia Minor in 1074, and to seek their support. A new army under Alexios Komnenos, reinforced by Seljuk troops sent by Malik Shah I, finally defeated the mercenaries and captured John Doukas in 1074.

Reign of Nikephoros III Botaneiates

Reign of Nikephoros III Botaneiates

1078 Jan 7
, İstanbul

Nikephoros came into conflict with Emperor Michael in 1078 when he pleaded with the emperor to address the worsening situation in Byzantine Anatolia, insulting Michael with his frankness. In order to protect himself, Nikephoros gathered an army of native troops and Turkish mercenaries and declared himself emperor in July or October 1077. Nikephoros gathered a strong support base due to his military acumen and family renown and was later recognized by the Byzantine Senate on 7 January 1078, after which he seized the throne with the help of the citizens of Constantinople.

As emperor, Nikephoros faced numerous revolts, including those of Nikephoros Bryennios, Nikephoros Basilakes, and Constantine Doukas, as well as an attempted assassination by the Varangian Guard. Nikephoros embraced the trappings of an emperor, performing many acts to increase his legitimacy and support, such as spending large amounts on donatives for the army and his supporters, forgiving all debt in arrears, and instituting minor legal reforms. Diplomatically, Nikephoros secured the submission of Theodore Gabras and Philaretos Brachamios, governors of Trebizond and Antioch, respectively, who had become de facto independent of the Byzantine Empire due to the constant incursions of the Seljuks into Byzantine Anatolia.

Rebellion of Nikephoros Bryennios

Rebellion of Nikephoros Bryennios

1078 Feb 1
, İstanbul

During the reign of Nikephoros, he had to contend with four revolts and plots before the revolt of Alexios I Komnenos which ultimately ended his reign. The first revolt was that of Nikephoros Bryennios, who had contended for the throne of Michael VII at the same time as Nikephoros III; Nikephoros, now too old to command armies, sent Alexios Komnenos to defeat him. Once Bryennios was defeated, Nikephoros III had him blinded, but granted him and his partisans amnesty.

Alexios's Rebellion

Alexios's Rebellion

1081 Apr 1
, İstanbul

Norman Duke Robert Guiscard of Apulia prepared to invade the Byzantine Empire in 1081 under the pretext of defending the succession of Constantine Doukas, who had been engaged to Robert's daughter Helena; at the same time, the Seljuks captured the town of Cyzicus.

Alexios was entrusted with a substantial army to defeat the Norman threat but conspired with his relative John Doukas to instead take the throne for himself. Alexios raised a rebellion against Nikephoros and was able to quickly surround Constantinople and put it to siege due to the lack of a defensive army. Nikeophoros was unable to secure the support of either the Seljuk Turks or Nikephoros Melissenos, his traditional rivals, and thus was forced to prepare to abdicate. Nikephoros decided that his only choice was to abdicate in favor of Melissenos, who was nearby in Damalis in Anatolia, and sent messengers to him across the Bosphorus; however, these messengers were intercepted by George Palaiologos, a general of Alexios, who persuaded them to support Alexios.

Alexios and his forces broke through the walls of Constantinople on 1 April 1081 and sacked the city; Patriarch Cosmas convinced Nikephoros to abdicate to Alexios rather than prolong the civil war. Nikephoros then fled to the Hagia Sophia and sought sanctuary inside of it. Michael, the logothete of Alexios, then escorted Nikephoros to the Monastery of Peribleptus, where he abdicated and became a monk. He died later that year.


References for Doukid dynasty.

  • Dumbarton Oaks (1973), Catalogue of the Byzantine Coins in the Dumbarton Oaks Collection and in the Whittemore Collection: Leo III to Nicephorus III, 717–1081
  • Finlay, George (1854), History of the Byzantine and Greek Empires from 1057–1453, vol. 2, William Blackwood & Sons
  • Garland, Lynda (25 May 2007), Anna Dalassena, Mother of Alexius I Comnenus (1081-1118), De Imperatoribus Romanis (An Online Encyclopedia of Roman Rulers)
  • Kazhdan, Alexander, ed. (1991). The Oxford Dictionary of Byzantium. Oxford and New York: Oxford University Press. ISBN 0-19-504652-8.
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  • Norwich, John Julius (1993), Byzantium: The Apogee, Penguin, ISBN 0-14-011448-3
  • Norwich, John J. (1995), Byzantium: The Decline and Fall, Alfred A. Knopf, Inc., ISBN 978-0-679-41650-0
  • Norwich, John Julius (1996), Byzantium: The Decline and Fall, Penguin, ISBN 0-14-011449-1
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  • Soloviev, A.V. (1935), "Les emblèmes héraldiques de Byzance et les Slaves", Seminarium Kondakovianum (in French), 7