Episode 199 – The Battle of Dyrrachium

The Byzantine Balkans 1081AD. Major Roman garrisons in red.

The Byzantine Balkans 1081AD. Major Roman garrisons in red.

Robert Guiscard, the Norman leader in Southern Italy, invades the Empire. He surrounds the key port city of Dyrrachium and Alexios gathers an army to stop him.

Period: 1081-2

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Categories: Podcast | 3 Comments

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3 thoughts on “Episode 199 – The Battle of Dyrrachium

  1. David Thompson

    It seems Alexius’ reign was a big break with the past even early on. If I recall, he reformed the currency, court titles and taxation such that they were never the same again. There is also the crusades.

    He seems to be considered a great ruler, but longer term didn’t almost all of his reforms and initiatives turn to disaster? I guess he had immediate problems he had to solve, and maybe his successors should have picked up the ball, but the destruction of the army seems to have been almost entirely his doing.

    It seems as though his predecessors may have been lack lustre but they kept to the Byzantine way of not putting all your eggs (or soldiers) in one basket and then fling it around your head.


  2. dustz92

    I think that it is a bit like Diocletian, whose reforms were needed and were good for solving the immediate problems but in the long term were partially responsible for the collapse of the 5th century. Similarly, in both cases things seem to have worked pretty well as long as the rulers were capable, but gone downhill fast as soon as mediocre people got in charge.

    • David Thompson

      It seems like that with everything really I suppose. The seeds of defeat are sown in the successes of the past. I guess people thought since it worked for Alexius, it should work for me too. You could say that Augustus’ reforms in order to stabilize the Roman state led to an autocratic regime that created monsters like Caligula and Nero that caused internal strife. I suppose the founding fathers of the US, by successfully welding together the U.S. North and South, sewed the seeds for the civil war.

      That being said though, it seems that Alexius’ tax policy of giving the Venetians free reign and his heavy involvement with the West and the Turks are heavily criticized by a lot of people who are in the know. It could be hindsight, but in episode 200, Robin says that Alexis pretty much gave the Turks several cities in order to secure their use as mercenaries. It seems he had brilliant short term instincts though, but more along the lines of “what do I have to do to survive”. I suppose Robin will assess his reign at the end and we will get a comprehensive overview of his legacy.

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