|792||Battle of Marcellae (2nd)||★ ★ ★ ★ ★|
|Outcome:||An ill-planned Byzantine expedition which ended in a major defeat||end of July 792|
|War & Enemy:||
Early Bulgarian Wars
|The Battlefield|| Location:
At the border castle of Marcellae, 7.5 km from the modern town of Karnobat, in Burgas Province, in SE Bulgaria
| Modern Country:
|The Byzantines(emperor: Constantine VI the Blind)||The Enemies|
|Commander:||Emperr Constantine VI (the Blind)||Khan Kardam|
|Background story:||In the last quarter of the 8th century Bulgaria overcame the internal political crisis after the end of the rule of the Dulo. The state was stabilized and the Bulgarians began to raid the Balkans again. In 789 they penetrated deep into the valley of the Strymon river and heavily defeated the Byzantines, killing the strategos of Thrace Filites . In order to distract the Bulgarian attention from Macedonia, the Byzantine emperor Constantine VI started a campaign in northern Thrace in April 791.
The armies met near the fortress of Provat (20 km east of Odrin) and the Byzantines were forced to retreat but their defeat was not decisive and in the following year the campaign was renewed.
In the summer of the next year Constantine VI led his army north and on 20 July was confronted by the Bulgarians under Kardam near the border castle Marcelae. The Bulgarians had built ramparts blocking the roads to the Rishki Pass and the capital Pliska.
For several days Emperor Constantine VI did not dare to attack but by the end of July he was convinced by "false astrologists" (according to the Byzantine chronicler Theophanes the Confessor) that the stars predicted his victory and attacked. Before the beginning of the battle, while awaiting the Byzantine assault, the Bulgarian ruler secretly placed part of his cavalry behind the hills surrounding the battlefield.
Due to the rugged terrain the advancing Byzantine army broke its order. Taking advantage of that mistake, Kardam ordered a counterattack which was successful. The Bulgarian cavalry went round the Byzantines and cut their way back to their fortified camp and the fortress of Marcellae. The Bulgarians took the supplies, the treasury and the tent of the emperor and they chased Constantine VI to Constantinople. Many Byzantine commanders and officers perished in the battle.
|Noteworthy:||A weapon called arkani was used by the Bulgarians in this battle: the arkani consisted of a long pole with an attachment similar to a lasso at one end.|
|Aftermath:||After the defeat, Constantine VI had to conclude peace with Kardam and had to pay tribute. The Bulgarians entered the 9th century stronger and united.|