07/06/2020

War with the Normans part 16

But when he heard the news sent by Bryennius and realized the craftiness and the victory won by guile he was naturally, indeed, furious with the Emperor, but in no wise cast down, so brave was he. A few selected Franks in full armour who were with him, then mounted a small hill opposite Larissa. Directly our heavy troops caught sight of them they demanded very eagerly to be allowed to attack them, but Alexius restrained them from this enterprise.

Nevertheless quite a number from the different divisions and of various types did join together and mounted the hill and attacked the Franks, who immediately rushed at them and killed about five hundred. Then the Emperor guessing at the spot where Bohemund was likely to pass, dispatched brave soldiers with the Turks and Migidenus as chief commander, but as they drew near, Bohemund set upon them and beat them and pursued them to the river.

VII As dawn broke on the following day Bohemund crossed the river we have mentioned with his attendant Counts, Bryennius himself among them, and when he found a swampy place in the neighbourhood of Larissa and a tree-covered plain between two hills which ran out into a very narrow pass (this is called a “cleisura “), the plain was named “the palace of Domenicus,” he entered by the pass and fixed his palisades there. The next day at dawn the leader of the phalanx, Michael Ducas, my maternal uncle, caught him there with all the army.

Emperor gave strict injunctions

This man was celebrated for his prudence, and in beauty and stature surpassed not only all his contemporaries, but all who have ever been born! (for all who saw him were amazed); he was, too, very quick and almost unrivalled in his conjectures of the future, his investigations of the actual and in taking action accordingly. The Emperor gave strict injunctions to this man not to let all the troops enter the mouth of the “cleisura”; but to leave the mass of them outside in squadrons, and to pick out a few of the Turks and Sauromatians who were skilled archers and allow these to enter, and to command them to use no weapon but their arrows.

These entered and made cavalry attacks on the Latins, and the men outside, burning for a fight, vied with each other as to who should enter the mouth. Bollemund, who was an expert in strategic science, commanded his men to form in close order and to stand quietly and protect themselves with their shields. When the Protostrator saw the men under him gradually melting away and entering the mouth of the pass he went in himself.

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