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586 Siege of Thessalonica ★ ★ ★ ★
Outcome: Unsuccessful siege by the Slavs with the help of saint Demetrius September 586
War  &  Enemy: Enemy:
Wars against Avars & Slavs
Battle Type:
The Battlefield Thessalonica Location:
Modern Thessaloniki, Northern Greece
Modern Country:
  The Byzantines(emperor:  Maurice (Mauricius)) The Enemies
Commander: Unknown Unknown
Forces: Unknown Unknown
Background story: Large scale Slavic settlement in the Balkans began in the late 570s and early 580s, when perhaps 100,000 Slave poured into Thrace and Illyricum. Following sweeping Avar raids along the Danube Valley to the Black Sea, Slav tribes moved across Thrace towards Constantinople.
As Maurice's forces were tied down in a war against the Persians he could muster only a small army against the Avars and Slavs. As opposed to the Persian war theatre, the Illyrian theatre proved little possibility for a soldier to bolster his pay by pillaging, thus making fighting rather unattractive. Maurice's badly motivated troops found it difficult to achieve even minor and local success. Rather an exception, a victory won by Comentiolus at Adrianople 584/585 deflected Slavic incursions to Greece, away from Constantinople.
The Battle:
The Slavs appeared before the walls of Thessaloniki for the first time in September 586 (or 597). According to bishop Ioannes, the barbarian army numbered some 100,000 men and attacked the city with surprisingly elaborate and fearsome siege-engines. According to the same source, St. Demetrius, the city’s patron saint, appeared on the walls in the guise of a warrior and instilled courage into the hearts of the defenders and fear into the enemy. The week-long siege failed and the salvation of Thessaloniki was attributed to St. Demetrius.