Romanus IV Diogenis 1068-1071

Romanus IV Diogenis born in Kappadokia, came to throne in 1st January 1068, after his marriage with Eudokia. Immediately he organized the byzantine army which was left abandoned by Konstantinos X Doukas and the political party that ruled the empire for several decades. In a period of 3 months managed to gather 35000 soldiers. In the meantime Seljuks (a nomadic tribe from Moggolia) under Alp Arslan, pillaged and burned to ashes christian cities in the eastern frontiers of the empire. Armenia, Iviria, Kappadokia were transformed to deserted areas. This was the beginning of the holocaust of christian people in Minor Asia.

Historian Attaliatis describes the campaign of Romanus to Kappadokia and Kilikia. Arabs of Chalepion, were allied with Seljouks and they also caused terror to byzantine cities in Kilikia and Kappadokia. Romanus defeated the barbarians in a battle near Sevasteia (Sivas), and again in Ierapolis, a city between Edessa (Ourfa) and Antioxeia. Seljucs, a nomadic tribe, moved faster and the byzantine army followed them with difficulty. In the meantime they attacked and destroyed Neokaesareia. They looted the city and took with them many prisoners. After they destroyed and looted Amorio. In January 1069 Romanus passed from Alexandretta (Iskenderun) and returned to "Vasileuousa" to rest his men.

The political party, which was supported from byzantine aristocracy was another enemy of Romanus. All that period behaved in a treacherous way, and his only effort was to seize the power, indifferent for the destruction on the eastern areas of the empire. Their behaviour marked the fate of the empire, marked the fate of hellenism, marked the fate of Mikra Asia.

In April 1069, Romanus started a new campaign. Historian Micahel Psellos and Attaliatis took part in the new campaign. He reached Dorylaeon (Eski Sehir), where he gathered more soldiers for his army. After he moved to Kaesareia, capital of Kappadokia, devastated from the numerous attacks of Turks. When they were preparing to camp, they were attacked from the turkish cavalry. They won the battle with heavy losses. Greek army moved very slowly and could not follow Seljuk Turks, who attacked also the capital of Likaonia, Iconion. Finally a decissive battle was won by Romanus in Tarsos, Kilikia, where 2000 turks were killed, and the rest found refuge in Chalepion of Syria. In December 1069, Romanus ended this campaign and returned from Klaudioupolis of Seleukeia to Constantinople.

But Next year 1070, Romanus put in charge of the army in the interior of Micra Asia, a young general, Manouel Komnenos, brother of Alexios Komnenos (1081-1118). Manouel organized the army with 3 lines of defense. First in the area of Meletini, second line in Tzamandos pass and third line in Kaesareia. 3 historians of that period, Skilintzis, Attaliatis and Zonaras, write about his military successes. In the meantime Alp Arslan with an army of 25000 soldiers, entered Chalepion of Syria. From there he could send troops to hit cities, like Ierapolis (Yiaramplous), Edessa (Ourfa) and Manzikert. Manouel was defeated in Sevasteia of Kappadokia and was taken prisoner with Nikiphoros Melissinos and Michael Taronitis. Turks again pillaged and burnt cities like the city Chonai, birthplace of historian Nikitas Choniatis. Romanus was dissapointed watching his birthplace Kappadokia, suffering from those sauvages tribes.

In January 1071, Manzikert and Arje surrendered to Alp Arslan who tried again to take Ierapolis and Edessa, in the area of Kilikia. Romanus organized a huge army and moved to Nicaea. There he gathered more soldiers and procedded to Malagia and Dorylaeon (Eski Sechir). In May 1071, entered the capital of Kappadokia, Kaesareia (his homeland) where had a meeting with his generals, Iosif Traxaneiotis, Nikiforos Bruenios, Michael Psellos and others. They decided to move fast and try retake Manzikert and Chliat, cities in the east frontiers of the empire (near lake Van). The army of about 100000 men, moved from Kaesareia and passed Sevasteia, Koloneia, Theodosioupolis (Arje-Rum), where he recruited more men.

Alp Arslan was surprised by this sudden move of Romanus, and called for help from all Musulmans, for a holy war against christians. So his army consisted of Arabs, Kurds, tribes from Iran, Iraq, Syria and of course Turks. In 20th August 1071, Greeks retook Manzikert. But Iosif Traxaniotis and normand Rousell, in an act of treason, after obyeing orders of the political party, abandoned Romanus, and moved back to Melittini (Malatia), taking with them 1/4 of the army.

In 21th August 1071, Seljouks with their allies won a battle near Chliat, where Nikiforos Brienios was wounded and general Nikiforos Vasilakis was taken prisoner. Byzantines could not follow the moggolic cavalry, which moved faster and fought better. In 22th August 1071, Byzantines in a revanche, won a battle near the river Mourat Tsai where Moggols tried to cut the greek army from water supplies.

The last praxis of drama began in 25th August of 1071. Romanus prepared his army for the final attack, north of Van lake, on a vast steppe, near Manzikert. He was on the front of his army with 15000 of the finest soldiers. The left side consisted of greeks from Makedonia, Thrace, Thessaly and also Slavs with Nikiforo Briennio as commander. On his right there were Armenian and Ivirian (Georgian) soldiers and mercaneries from Scandinavia and Russia with Theothoro Attaliati from Kappadokia as their commander. On the rear were less competent soldiers and a part from aristocracy which was forced to follow Romanus in his campaign. Also mercenaries from Germany, Petzeneks and Franks. Commander of this part was Andronikos Doukas, non faithful to the emperor, but faithful to his political enemies.

About midday started the battle. Romanus tried to fight man to man, because his soldiers were heavily armoured. But Seljouks were retreating, without staying to fight. The front line of greek army, in the afternoon was far away from the rear line, in an effort to smash the enemy cavalry. So the political enemies of Romanus, and mainly Andronikos Doukas spread the news that the emperor was killed, and the rear line retreated in a panic. The front line was left to fight, abandoned from the rest of the army. Alp Arslan, from a hill, observed the without reason disorganization of byzantines, and ordered all his army to attack. Soon Romanus and his few men could not resist alone to the enemy attack and he fell wounded.

So ended the battle of Manzikert. Barbarians were free to enter the holy land of Kappadokia, Mikra Asia, Pontus. Alp Arslan was generous to Romanus, and after 8 days Romanus was free to go. Aristocracy in "Vasilevousa" had the great chance to get rid of Romanus. They ran after him and on April of 1072, Andronikos Doukas managed to arrest him in "Kilikiae Pylae", between Dokea and mount Tavros. They blinded him, and martyr ROMANUS died on island Proti of Propontis, south of Constantinople. This was the end of a brave man who tried to save his empire.


Manzikert, Nikolaos Tsaggas