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The Sons of Hagar in Archbishop Eustathios᾽ The Capture of Thessaloniki: Some Evidence Concerning Late Twelfth Century Byzantine-Turkish Relations

The Sons of Hagar in Archbishop Eustathios᾽ The Capture of Thessaloniki: Some Evidence Concerning Late Twelfth Century Byzantine-Turkish Relations

By Gerasimos A. Merianos

Byzantina Symmeikta Vol.17 (1996)

Introduction: The Capture of Thessaloniki, Eustathios’ account of the conquest of his archbishopric by the Normans of Sicily (1185), constitutes a significant historical source for the period 1180-1185, which supplements the corresponding chapters from Niketas Choniates’ History. In this work Eustathios depicts not only the capture and occupation of his see, but he also offers valuable information about the events prior to the disaster.

Therefore, it is not surprising that in The Capture of Thessaloniki there are some references concerning the Seljuk Turks, which illustrate certain aspects of the later twelfth century Byzantine-Turkish relations. Eustathios’ remarks are valuable, as he outlines to some extent the new balance of power that emerged after two catalytic events: the military defeat of Manuel I Komnenos (1143-1180) by the Seljuk Turks at the battle of Myriokephalon (1176), which diminished Byzantium’s military prestige; and Manuel I’s death (1180), which signalled a period of political instability for the Byzantine Empire.

In order to be precise, it must be stressed that Eustathios’ allusions to Seljuk Turks are meagre; in fact, there are only three relating to them throughout the text, not all being of equal importance for our purpose. However, this key text, even though sparsely, proffers the chance to take a glance at late twelfth century Byzantine-Turkish relations and assemble the additional information from it.

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