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941 Raid on Constantinople ★ ★ ★ ★ ★
Outcome: A big Rus force that attacked Constantinople was repelled and destroyed May 941
War  &  Enemy: Enemy:
Rus & Pechenegs
Byzantine-Rus Wars
Battle Type:
The Battlefield Constantinople Location:
Modern Country:
  The Byzantines(emperor:  Romanos I Lekapenos) The Enemies
Commander: Emperor Romanos I Lekapenos Kaghan Igor of Kiev
Forces: 15 ships 1000 ships, 40,000 men
Losses: The entire fleet was destroyed
Background story: The Rus and their allies, the Pechenegs, led by Igor of Kiev kaghan of the Rus, disembarked on the northern coast of Asia Minor and swarmed over Bithynia in May 941. As in the raid of 860, they seemed to have been well informed that the Imperial capital was defenseless and vulnerable to attack: the Byzantine fleet had been engaged against the Arabs in the Mediterranean, while the bulk of the Imperial army had been stationed along the eastern borders.
After ravaging Bithynia, the Rus attacked the capital.
The Battle:
Greek Fire
Emperor Romanos I Lekapenos organized the defense of Constantinople by quickly equipping 15 old and retired ships with Greek Fire projectors, and launched them against the Rus. The seas were clear and calm, perfect for the use of the lethal Greek Fire. Igor, wishing to capture these vessels and their crews but unaware of the fire-throwers, had his fleet surround them. Then, at an instant, the Greek-fire was hurled through tubes upon the Rus' and their allies.
Liudprand of Cremona wrote: "The Rus, seeing the flames, jumped overboard, preferring water to fire. Some sank, weighed down by the weight of their breastplates and helmets; others caught fire
Only those men who managed to get their ships to the shore quickly enough survived, because the Greek ships with their much deeper draught could not follow them into the shallows. A number of captured Rus were later publicly beheaded.
The Byzantines managed to dispel the Rus fleet but not to prevent the pagans from pillaging the hinterland of Constantinople, venturing as far south as Nicomedia. In September, John Kourkouas and Bardas Phocas, two leading generals, speedily returned to the capital. The Kievans promptly transferred their operations to Thrace, moving their fleet there. When they were about to retreat, laden with trophies, the Byzantine navy under Theophanes fell upon them and destroyed them. Igor managed to escape.
Noteworthy: The Khazar Correspondence reveals that the campaign was incited by the Khazars, who wanted to revenge on the Byzantines for the persecutions of the Jews.
Aftermath: Apparently, many of the Rus ships were not destroyed in the disaster in Constantinople, but a little later on the Thracian coast.
Igor managed to escape and later tried to organize another attempt against Constantinople without success.