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the First Crusade

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Rachel Dearth
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« Reply #165 on: March 02, 2009, 05:35:55 am »

Byzantine wars

Bohemond served under his father in the great attack on the Byzantine Empire (1080–1085) and commanded the Normans during Guiscard's absence (1082–1084), penetrating into Thessaly as far as Larissa, but being eventually repulsed by Alexius I Comnenus. This early hostility to Alexius had a great influence in determining the course and policy of the emperor's reign from time of Bohemond (whom his father had destined for the throne of Constantinople) to that of Roger II of Sicily.

It seems that Guiscard left his son with orders to continue the advance into the Byzantine west and perhaps as far as possible, even to Constantinople. Accordingly, in Spring 1082, Bohemond left Kastoria and besieged Ioannina. In the region around Ioannina were settled Vlach foederati of the empire and Bohemond made peace with them, probably garnering their military support, for he left behind him many fortified places still in the hands of the Greeks. Alexius met Bohemond in battle in the environs of Ioannina, which the Norman had been ravaging. Both generals altered their strategies in light of prior engagements, but Bohemond was victorious and again near Arta a short while later. These defeats deeply hurt Byzantine prestige in the region and even Ochrid, seat of the Bulgarian archbishopric, submitted to the Normans. Bohemond stayed at Ochrid, though he could not take the citadel, and from there began organising the defence of his conquests. Alexius responded to Bohemond's ascendance by sowing dissension among his top officers. Bohemond then advanced on Larissa, where he intended to winter. The siege lasted six months until Alexius forced the Normans to retreat in the spring. Bohemond returned to Kastoria and was there besieged until the city fell in October or November 1083. In 1084, Guiscard and his other sons, Roger Borsa and Guy, arrived with a new army in Greece. In winter, Bohemond was ill and returned to Italy.

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