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904 Sack of Thessalonica ★ ★ ★ ★ ★
Outcome: Saracen pirates captured and pillaged the city 29 July 904
War  &  Enemy: Enemy:
Saracen Pirates
Saracen Mediterranean Raids
Battle Type:
The Battlefield Thessalonica Location:
Modern Thessaloniki, Northern Greece
Modern Country:
  The Byzantines(emperor:  Leo VI the Wise) The Enemies
Commander: Petronas, Leo Chitzilakes, Niketas Leo of Tripoli
Forces: Unknown Unknown
Losses: A massacre of the Greek population
Background story: A Muslim fleet, led by the Greek renegade Leo of Tripoli, and with Constantinople as its initial target, sailed from Syria. The Muslims were deterred from attacking Constantinople, and instead turned to Thessalonica, totally surprising the Byzantines, whose navy was unable to react in time.
The city walls, especially towards the sea, were in bad condition, while the city's two commanders issued conflicting orders. Furthermore, Emperor Leo VI (the Wise) did not respond well and did not send help.
The Battle:
The sack of Thessaloniki
The ships of the Saracens appeared in front of Thessalonica on 29th of July and they started their attacks on the same day after a short and silent inspection of the fortification of the city.
The terrified "Thessalonians" tried to defend with some success in the beginning. After continuous attacks from the sea for two days, the Saracens were able to storm the seaward walls, overcome the Thessalonians' resistance and take the city. The sacking continued for a full week, before the raiders departed for their base in the Levant.
4000 Muslim prisoners were freed and 60 ships were captured.
Noteworthy: The sack is chronicled by one of the Greek prisoners, the priest John Kaminiates. It is interesting that Thessalonica was sacked 3 times during the Byzantine era and for each time a very descriptive chronicle had been written.
Aftermath: It was one of the worst disasters to befall the Byzantine Empire in the 10th century. Leo of Tripoli tried again to sail against Byzantium in 907 and 912. He was defeated finally in 924.