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1079 Battle of Calavrye  (or Kalavrye or Kalavryta) ★ ★ ★ ★
Outcome: Victory of the Imperial forces under Alexios 1079
War  &  Enemy: Enemy:
(Civil War)
Military Revolts
Battle Type:
Pitched Battle
The Battlefield Calavrye Location:
Modern Marmara Ereglisi in the Marmara region of the eastern Thrace, Turkey
Modern Country:
  The Byzantines(emperor:  Nikephoros III Botaneiates) The Enemies
Commander: Alexios Komnenos Nikephoros Bryennios
Forces: 5,500-6,500 12,000
Losses: Heavy Heavy
Background story: After the defeat at the Battle of Manzikert in 1071 against the Seljuk Turks and the deposition of Romanos IV, the Byzantine Empire experienced a decade of near-continuous internal turmoil and rebellions. The constant warfare depleted the Empire's armies, devastated Asia Minor and left it defenseless to the increasing encroachment of the Turks.
The government of Michael VII Doukas (r. 1071–1078) failed to deal with the situation effectively, and rapidly lost support among the military aristocracy. One of those who revolted against him was Nikephoros Bryennios who marched against Constantinople, hoping it would surrender, but the pillaging of its suburbs by his troops deterred the capital's inhabitants, and he had to retreat. At the same time, another rebel general, Nikephoros Botaneiates, was luckier in Asia Minor and became emperor. Bryennios continued his own revolt and threatened Constantinople. After failed negotiations, Botaneiates sent the young general Alexios Komnenos with whatever forces he could gather to confront him.
The rebel army comprised 12,000 mostly seasoned men from the regiments of the west provinces, as well as Frankish mercenaries and a contingent of Pechenegs. Alexios' forces included 2,000 Turkish horse-archers, 2,000 Chomatenoi (troops from the Choma fortress in Anatolia), a few hundred Frankish knights from Italy, and the newly raised regiment of the Immortals. It is clear that the imperial army of Alexios was smaller and far less experienced.
The Battle:
The two armies clashed at Kalavrye on the Halmyros river, in Thrace. Alexios Komnenos tried to ambush Bryennios' army. The ambush failed, and the wings of his army were driven back by the rebels. The left wing, in particular, collapsed. Alexios himself barely managed to break through with his personal retinue, but succeeded in regrouping his scattered men.
In the meantime, his right wing was outflanked and attacked in the rear by the Pechenegs. The Chomatenoi there broke and fled, and Alexios' fate seemed sealed. At this point, however, the Pechenegs did not follow up their success, and instead turned back and began looting Bryennios' own camp. After gathering what plunder they could, they left the battle and made for their homes
Bryennios' army fell into disorder after having seemingly won the battle, and due to the attack on its camp by its own Pecheneg allies. Reinforced by Turkish mercenaries, Alexios faked a retreat and lured the troops of Bryennios into another ambush which this time was successful. The rebel army broke and routed. Bryennios himself was captured.
Noteworthy: This is one of the most well-documented battles of the Middle Ages, thanks to the Anna Komnenos' account in Alexiad.
Aftermath: The end of the revolt of Bryennios who was captured and blinded. Later he was pardoned and took back his titles and fortune. Alexios Komnenos seized the throne himself in 1081.