Byzantine Empire Macedonian dynasty
Humiliating Defeat at AleppoAzaz, Syria
In 1030 Romanos III resolved to lead an army in person against the Mirdasids of Aleppo, despite their having accepted the Byzantines as overlords, with disastrous results. The army camped at a waterless site and its scouts were ambushed. An attack by the Byzantine cavalry was defeated. That night Romanos held an imperial council at which the demoralised Byzantines resolved to abandon the campaign and return to Byzantine territory. Romanos also ordered his siege engines to be burned. On 10 August 1030 the army departed its camp and made for Antioch. Discipline broke down in the Byzantine army, with Armenian mercenaries using the withdrawal as an opportunity to pillage the camp's stores. The Emir of Aleppo launched an attack and the imperial army broke and fled. Only the imperial bodyguard, the Hetaireia, held firm, but Romanos was nearly captured. Accounts vary on the battle losses: John Skylitzes wrote that the Byzantines suffered a "terrible rout" and that some troops were killed in a chaotic stampede by their fellow soldiers, Yahya of Antioch wrote that the Byzantines suffered remarkably few casualties. According to Yahya, two high ranking Byzantine officers were among the fatalities, and another officer was captured by the Arabs. After this defeat the army became a "laughing-stock".