The Belasitza military operation (1014) - Списание "Македонски преглед"

четвъртък, 23 септември 2021 г.

The Belasitza military operation (1014)

The article is entirely based on data from historical sources about the events of 1014. An important place among them is occupied by the Byzantine chronicle Historia Imperatorum. In Bulgaria, it was published as part of the chronicle of Georgius Monachus continuation (GIBI VI). The author examines the various editions of this source. 

 He goes on to present the events of the summer of 1014 – the march of Byzantine Emperor Basil II (976–1025) along the valley of the Strumeshnitsa River, the actions of the strategos of Philippopolis, Nikephoros Xiphias and the Byzantine victory at Klyuch (July 29, 1014). Attention is drawn to the differences in the historical texts of John Skylitzes on the one hand and Kekaumenos on the other. The two Byzantine authors present the clash between the Bulgarians and Byzantines very simply – just as a battle at the fortifications of Belasitsa mountains. In fact, the struggle continued after that. It is believed that the relatively easy passage of the Nikephoros Xiphias’ unit through the mountain heights of Belasitsa was made with the help of Wallachian shepherds who helped the Romans by showing them convenient paths through the impassable mountain. 

According to the author, it is unlikely that Tsar Samuel (997–1014) stayed on the battlefield at Klyuch. Rather, he was one day away from the fortiifications – dema – in Strumitsa or nearby. After the breakthrough at Klyuch, the Romans continued their advance in the direction of Makrievo, where they attacked the Bulgarian camp, and then captured the fortress of Matsukion. After the defeat suffered by the Bulgarians, Tsar Samuel was saved by his son Gabriel Radomir, but thousands of Bulgarian soldiers were captured by Basil II. After the victory, the Byzantine general Theophylactus Botaneiates tried to pave the way for the Roman army to the Vardar valley, but was killed by Gabriel Radomir, who took control of the surviving Bulgarian army. 

With that, Basil II's military operation ended and he was forced to return. In his hands were thousands of Bulgarian captives, whom he could not release, and who hindered his movement. He therefore ordered them to be blinded, turning them into harmless potential adversaries. In all likelihood, the captives were blinded after the assassination of Theophylactus Botaneiates, when Basil II set out back west. The military operation of Basil II in 1014 was a spectacular tactical success, which, however, could not stop the resistance of the Bulgarians, which continued after that.

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