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Maniakes, Argyros and Guiscard: The Contest for Byzantine Italy, 1038-71

Maniakes, Argyros and Guiscard: The Contest for Byzantine Italy, 1038-71

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'Byzantium', which is the modern name for the Christian Roman Empire of the Greeks, reached the height of its power and influence in AD 1025. But in Italy the half-century thereafter saw the Empire struggle to maintain itself against its subject 'Lombards' (Romance-speaking Italians) and the rapacious Normans that the Lombard princes had hired as mercenaries. Key words: catepan, Argyrus, Hauteville, Stridula, lamellar, Hardrarda, Varangians, tagmata.
'Byzantium', which is the modern name for the Christian Roman Empire of the Greeks, reached the height of its power and influence in AD 1025. But in Italy the half-century thereafter saw the Empire struggle to maintain itself against its subject 'Lombards' (Romance-speaking Italians) and the rapacious Normans that the Lombard princes had hired as mercenaries. Key words: catepan, Argyrus, Hauteville, Stridula, lamellar, Hardrarda, Varangians, tagmata.

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Published by: vasilefs on Nov 29, 2009
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O’ROURKE: BYZANTINE ITALY 1030-71
GREEKS, LOMBARDS AND NORMANS:GEORGE MANIAKES, ARGYRUS, ROBERT GUISCARD ANDTHE MILITARY CONTEST FOR BYZANTINE ITALY, 1030-1071
 With brief notes on the arms, armour, dress and equipmentof the Byzantine army in the 11
th
century  by 
Michael O’Rourke
mjor (at) velocitynet (dot) com (dot) auCanberra AustraliaDecember 2009
I
NTRODUCTION
.................................................................................................................................................2T
HE
G
EOGRAPHY
 
AND
A
DMINISTRATION
 
OF
B
YZANTINE
I
TALY
...............................................................................5T
HE
B
YZANTINE
A
RMY
 
IN
1030......................................................................................................................10L
IST
 
OF
10
TH
C
ENTURY
E
MPERORS
..................................................................................................................15T
HE
E
ARLY
C
AREER
 
OF
G
EORGE
M
ANIAKES
.....................................................................................................16I
TALY
, 1032-37............................................................................................................................................18E
VENTS
 
IN
 
THE
M
EDITERRANEAN
......................................................................................................................20L
AND
, L
OCAL
R
ECRUITS
 
AND
I
MPORTED
S
OLDIERS
 
IN
B
YZANTINE
I
TALY
...............................................................21E
VENTS
 
IN
 
THE
E
AST
, 1036-38.......................................................................................................................24T
HE
S
ICILIAN
E
XPEDITION
, 1038 ....................................................................................................................24L
ANGOBARDIA
, 1039.....................................................................................................................................31A
RDUIN
,
THE
‘S
ECOND
L
OMBARD
R
EVOLT
AND
 
THE
N
ORMANS
...........................................................................35E
MPEROR
M
ICHAEL
V ‘
THE
C
AULKER
’, 1041-42..............................................................................................43S
YNODIANOS
 
AND
M
ANIAKES
 
VERSUS
A
RGYRUS
 
AND
 
THE
N
ORMANS
....................................................................45T
HE
R
EVOLT
 
AND
D
EATH
 
OF
M
ANIAKES
, 1042-43............................................................................................48R
OBERT
‘G
UISCARD
DE
H
AUTEVILLE
...............................................................................................................54A
RGYROS
F
AILS
 
AGAINST
 
THE
N
ORMANS
, 1051-53............................................................................................56T
HE
N
ORMAN
C
ONQUEST
................................................................................................................................62T
HE
C
ONTEST
 
FOR
A
PULIA
, 1062-71...............................................................................................................67F
INAL
E
ND
 
OF
B
YZANTINE
R
ULE
 
IN
S
OUTHERN
I
TALY
.........................................................................................72APPENDIX: EQUIPMENT AND DRESS IN MANIAKES’S ARMY....................................................74S
OURCES
 
AND
R
EFERENCES
..............................................................................................................................77
1
 
O’ROURKE: BYZANTINE ITALY 1030-71
Introduction
In the early 11
th
century, the greatest of the great powers west of India was theChristian Roman Empire of the Greeks, known to us as ‘Byzantium’. The rulers of a lesser power, Germany, held the suzerainty over Old Rome, and usually travelled there to be anointed with the title
imperator Romanorum
(“emperor of the Romans”). So the real Empire of New Rome (
Νε α
Ρω µ η
 Nëa Rhômê
Constantinople) is ocassionally called the ‘Eastern Empire’ to contrast with amore titular German Empire in the West.In this paper I have used mainly the modern adjective ‘Byzantine’ butsometimes ‘Romaic’ to remind us of the Byzantines’ self-image as the trueRomans, and sometimes ‘Greek’ to underline their differences from the Latins(Lombards and Normans).The Empire of New Rome was to reach its greatest territorial expanse in themiddle of the century under the Empress Zoë, d. 1050, and her several husbands,Romanos III (1028-34), Michael IV (1034-41) and Constantine IX (1042-55). A further emperor in this period was Zoë’s adopted son, the nephew of Michael IV,Michael V (1041-42). Not idly did Psellos call Zoë “… she who alone is noble of heart and alone is beautiful, she who alone of all women is free, the mistress of allthe imperial family, the rightful heir to the Empire …” (
Chronographia
, 5.26).As we will see, Zoë’s generals briefly captured eastern Sicily – the easternlittoral including Taormina, Catania and Syracuse - in 1038-43. Armenia, part of  which emperor Basil II, d. 1025, had annexed, was fully incorporated into theempire in 1045. Last of all, the Muslim principality of Edessa [modern Urfa,Sanliurfa] in Mesopotamia was fully annexed in 1052.In the West, the Greek Empire had lost most its North Italian territories to theLombards and Franks during the 8
th
century, and Sicily had been lost to theSaracens (Muslims) during the 9
th
century. In southern Italy, however,Byzantium continued to rule today’s Calabria, Basilicata and Puglia (ancient Apulia) which collectively was called ‘Langouvardia’ or ‘Longobardia’[
Λα γ γ ο β α ρ δ ι α
: Latin
 Longobardia Minor
]. ‘Langouvardia’ in the broad sense meant the whole catepanate (super-province) of southern Italy or ina narrow sense just the province (theme) whose capital was Bari, i.e. our Pugliand eastern Basilicata.The narrow Strait of Messina between Calabria and Sicily—just three km at itsnarrowest—formed the political frontier between Christendom and Islam.Looking east the
 Sarakenoi 
could on a clear day literally see the
 Rum
(Greeks). And looking west, the
 Rhomaioi 
(Byzantines) could see the ‘
 Arabi 
and
al-Barbar
(Sicilian Berbers)
,
or at least they could see their chimney-smokes. Or probably  we should say that Greeks on both sides of the Strait saw Greek chimney smoke, because the great majority of the population of east Sicily under Muslim rule were Greek-speaking Christians. A map of the Empire in AD 1045 can be found here:http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/image:map_byzantine_empire_1045.svg
2
 
O’ROURKE: BYZANTINE ITALY 1030-71
 Above:
11
th
Century costume.The right hand figure is based on a famous miniature of emperor Basil II, d.1025, in parade armour. His boots should be imagined as red with linesof pearls; blue hose; his tunic purple woven with gold; dark blue cloak;and his armour corselet made of brightly gilded iron lamellae. From hiscrown dangle
 pendilia
of pearls.Muslim North Africa and Sicily The viceroys of 
 Ifriqiya
(our Algeria and Tunisia) under the Fatimids were theZirid dynasty, a line of Berber emirs. They ruled from Kairouan in inland north-central Tunisia. The removal of the Fatimid fleet to Egypt (969) made theretention of Sicily impossible for the Zirids. With the sea-link loosened, theKalbid sub-governors in Sicily soon began to rule the island without regard totheir nominal overlords in Tunisia. Then Algeria broke away (1014) under thegovernorship of Hammad ibn Buluggin, who allied himself with the Abbasids inBaghdad.In Sicily the intra-dynastic conflict intensified under Ahmad al-Akhal b. Yusuf, who seized power in Palermo in 1019. Some factions allied themselves withByzantium, others with the Zirids. With some support from the Fatimids, al- Akhal defeated two Byzantine expeditions in 1026 and 1031. But his attempt toraise a heavy tax to pay his mercenaries—many were Sudanese and Slavs—causeda civil war. Al-Akhal now turned (1035) for support to the Byzantines, while his brother Abu Hafs, leader of the rebels, received (1036) troops from the Zirid emirof Ifriqiya, al-Muizz b. Badis. The emir’s 13 years old son Abdallah led, or
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