Normans in Albania (11th - 13th centuries) Oct 6, 2010 16:41:40 GMT -5
Post by Emperor AAdmin on Oct 6, 2010 16:41:40 GMT -5
Several families of Byzantine Greece were of Norman mercenary origin during the period of the Comnenian Restoration, when Byzantine emperors were seeking out western European warriors. The Raoulii were descended from an Italo-Norman named Raoul, the Petraliphae were descended from a Pierre d'Aulps, and that group of Albanian clans known as the Maniakates were descended from Normans who served under George Maniaces in the Sicilian expedition of 1038.
In Albania (11th - 13th centuries)
After successfully establishing their feudal state, the Normans originating from 11th century Normandy, France, under the duke Robert Guiscard ultimately drove out the Byzantines from southern Italy. Having obtained pope Gregory VII's consent and acting as his vassal, Robert continued his campaign in conquering the Balkan peninsula as a foothold for western feudal lords and the Catholic Church. After allying himself with Croatia and the Catholic cities of Dalmatia, in the year 1081 an army of 30,000 men in 300 ships landed in the southern shores of Albania, capturing Valona, Kanina, Jericho (Orikum), reaching Butrint after numerous pillages. They joined the fleet that had previously conquered Corfu. The Normans attacked Dyrrachium from land and sea, devastating everything along the way. Under these harsh circumstances, the locals accepted emperor Alexius I Comnenus' call to join forces with the Byzantines against the Normans who besieged Dyrrachium. The Albanian forces could not take part in the ensuing battle, because it had started too early, before their arrival. According to contemporary sources, this was one of the main causes the Byzantines were defeated in October 18, 1081 in the southern hills of Dyrrachium. Some time before, the Byzantine fleet, aided by the Venetians, had secured a victory in the coast north of the city. Forced to retreat, Alexius ceded the command to a high Albanian official named Comiscortes in the service of Byzantium. The city's garrison resisted until February 1082, when Dyrrachium was betrayed to the Normans by the Venetian and Amalfitan merchants who had settled in the city. The Normans were now free to penetrate in the hinterland; they took Ioannina, some minor cities in Southwestern Macedonia, Thessaly and appeared before the gates of Thessalonica. Dissension among the high ranks coerced the Normans to retreat in Italy; they lost Dyrrachium, Valona and Butrint in 1085 after the death of Robert. A few years after the First Crusade, in 1107, the Normans under the command of Bohemond, Robert's son, landed in Valona and besieged Dyrrachium using the most sophisticated military equipment of the time, but to no avail. Meanwhile, they occupied Petrela, the citadel of Mili at the banks of the river Deabolis, Gllavinica (Ballsh), Kanina and Jericho. This time, the Albanians sided with the Normans, dissatisfied by the heavy taxes the Byzantines had imposed upon them. With their help, the Normans secured the Arbanon passes and opened their way to Dibra. The lack of supplies, disease and Byzantine resistance forced Bohemond to retreat from his campaign and sign a peace treaty with the Byzantines in the city of Deabolis. The further decline of Byzantine state-of-affairs paved the road to a third attack in 1185, when a large Norman army invaded Dyrrachium, owing to the betrayal of high Byzantine officials. Some time later, Dyrrachium - one of the most important naval bases of the Adriatic - fell again to Byzantine hands.