|838||Battle of Dazimon (Dasymon)||★ ★ ★ ★ ★|
|Outcome:||A major defeat by the Arabs and a serious failure for Emperor Theophilos||22 July 838|
|War & Enemy:||
|The Battlefield|| Location:
At the fort of Dazimon, at a strategic position between Amaseia and Tokate in modern Turkey.
| Modern Country:
|The Byzantines(emperor: Theophilos)||The Enemies|
|Commander:||Emperor Theophilos||Afshin Khaydar|
|Forces:||25,000 to 40,000||20,000 to 30,000 (incl. 10,000 Turkish horse-archers)|
|Background story:||When the young and ambitious emperor Theophilos ascended the Byzantine throne (829) launched a series of moderately successful campaigns against the Arabs, allowing him to portray himself as a victorious warrior. In 837, Theophilos sacked the cities of Arsamosata and Sozopetra – the birthplace of the Abbasid Caliph- and forced Melitene to pay tribute.
In response, Caliph al-Mu’tasim launched a major punitive expedition, targeting the two major Byzantine cities of central Anatolia, Ancyra and Amorion. He gathered a vast army at Tarsus (80,000 men ), divided into two branches: One branch, under commander Afshin, would invade the Armeniac theme from the region of Melitene, joining up with the forces of the city's emir, Omar al-Aqta. The southern, main force, under the Caliph himself, would pass the Cilician Gates into Cappadocia and head to Ancyra. After the city was taken, the Arab armies would join and march to Amorion.
In mid-June, Afshin crossed the Anti-Taurus Mountains and encamped at the fort of Dazimon. The Emperor marched east to confront him. On July 21, the imperial army came into view of the Arab force, and encamped on a hill in the plain of Dazimonitis south of the fort of Dazimon, named Anzen.
The Byzantine army attacked at dawn, and initially made good progress: they drove back one wing of the opposite army, inflicting 3,000 casualties on the Arabs. Around noon, Theophilos resolved to reinforce the other wing, and detached 2,000 Byzantines and the Kurdish contingent to do so, abandoning his post and passing behind his own army's lines. At this point, however, Afshin launched his Turkish horse-archers in a ferocious counter-attack which stymied the Byzantine advance and allowed the Arab forces to regroup.
Theophilos escaping in Anzen
The Byzantine troops noticed the emperor's absence, and, thinking he had been killed, began to waver. This soon turned into a disorderly retreat; some men fled as far as Constantinople, bringing with them the rumor that the Emperor had been killed. Some units, however, were apparently able to retreat in good order and assemble at a place called Chiliokomon.
Theophilos found himself isolated with his tagmata and the Kurds on the hill of Anzen. The Arabs proceeded to surround the hill, but the Byzantines were saved by a sudden rain, which loosened the strings of the Turkish bows, rendering them useless. Afshin then sent for catapults to be brought up to batter the Byzantine position.
At the same time, Theophilos' officers, afraid of treachery by the Kurdish troops, persuaded him to withdraw. Breaking through the Arab lines and suffering many wounds in the process, Theophilos and his small escort managed to reach safety at Chiliokomon, where he gradually re-assembled the remnants of his army.
|Noteworthy:||It was the first confrontation of the Byzantine army with the Turkic nomads from Central Asia, whose descendants would emerge as Byzantium's major antagonists in the future.|
|Aftermath:||With rumors circulating of his death, Theophilos' fled to the capital. Ancyra and Amorion were captured by the Arabs.
Theophilos died young in 842 and it is believed that his health had deteriorated after Anzen and never recovered.