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The Battle of Beroia (modern Stara Zagoramarker) was fought between the Pechenegs and Emperor John II Komnenos of the Byzantine Empire in the year 1122 in what is now Bulgariamarker, and resulted in the disappearance of the Pecheneg people as an independent force.

Background

In 1091, the Pechenegs had invaded the Byzantine Empire, and had been crushingly defeated by John II's father Alexios I Komnenos at the Battle of Levounion. This defeat had meant the almost total extinction of all the Pechenegs who had taken part in the expedition; however, some Pechenegs had remained behind. Attacked again in 1094 by the Cumans, many Pechenegs were slain or absorbed. Yet even so, they still had not yet been absorbed by neighbouring peoples.

In 1122, Pechenegs from the Russian steppes invaded the Byzantine Empire by crossing the Danube frontier into Byzantine territory. According to Michael Angold, it is possible that their invasion took place with the connivance of Vladimir Monomakh (11131125), the ruler of Kievmarker. The Pechenegs had once been his auxiliaries. Either way, the invasion was a threat to Byzantine control over the northern Balkans. Emperor John II Komnenos of Byzantium (11181143) determined to meet the invaders in the field and drive them back, and therefore transferred his field army from Asia Minormarker (where it had been engaged against the Turks) to Europe, and prepared to march north.

Battle

The Byzantine emperor gathered his forces near Constantinople, and set out to meet the Pecheneg army as soon as possible. Meanwhile the Pechenegs had set up a wagon laager near the city of Beroiamarker in Bulgaria. The emperor at first offered the Pecheneg chiefs presents, offering to grant them a treaty that was favourable to their interests. The Pechenegs were taken in by this deception, and were as a result taken by surprise when the Byzantines suddenly launched a major attack on their laager. The battle was hard fought, but when John ordered in the Varangian Guard, the elite Palace Guard of the Byzantine Emperors, the Pechenegs were forced back. The Varangians hacked their way through the Pecheneg circle of wagons, collapsing the Pecheneg position and causing a general rout in their camp. The Byzantine victory was complete, and the Pecheneg survivors were rounded up and enlisted into the Byzantine army.

Aftermath



The Byzantine victory effectively destroyed the Pechenegs as an independent force. For some time, significant communities of Pechenegs still remained in Hungarymarker, but eventually the Pechenegs ceased to be a distinct people and were assimilated by neighboring peoples such as the Bulgars and Magyars. For the Byzantines, the victory did not immediately lead to peace, however. In 1128, the Byzantines were attacked by the Hungarians, and it was not until 1130 that they were able to finally secure their Danube frontier. Nevertheless, the battle marks a continuation of the Komnenian restoration of the Byzantine Empire. The victory over the Pechenegs and later the Hungarians ensured that much of the Balkan peninsula would remain Byzantine, which in turn allowed John to turn his attention to extending Byzantine power and influence further in Asia Minor and the Holy Land.

Bibliography

  • Angold, Michael (1997). The Byzantine Empire 1025–1204, A Political History. Longman. ISBN 0-582-29468-1
  • Haldon, John (2001). The Byzantine Wars. Tempus. ISBN 0-7524-1777-0


See also




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