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1176 Battle of Myriokephalon  (Myriocephalum) ★ ★ ★ ★
Outcome: A Disastrous Byzantine defeat 17 September 1176
War  &  Enemy: Enemy:
Seljuk Turks
War:
Seljuk Wars
Battle Type:
Ambush
The Battlefield Myriokephalon Location:
Near Lake Beysehir, Turkey (in the mountains of ancient Pisidia)
Modern Country:
Turkey
  The Byzantines(emperor:  Manuel I Komnenos) The Enemies
Commander: Emperor Manuel I Komnenos Sultan Kilij Arslan II
Forces: 25,000 to 35,000 Unknown
Losses: Possibly heavy Heavy
Background story: Emperor Manuel I Komnenos decided that it was time to deal with the Turks once and for all, he assembled the full imperial army, and marched toward Iconium the Seljuk capital.
The Turks destroyed crops and poisoned water supplies, to make Manuel's march more difficult and harassed the Byzantine army in order to force it into the Meander valley, and specifically the mountain pass of Myriokephalon.
The Battle:
Myriokephalon
"Surprised by the Turks" by Gustave Doré
Just outside the entrance to the pass, Manuel was met by Turkish ambassadors, who offered peace on generous terms. Most of Manuel's generals urged him to accept the offer. The emperor preferred to continue.
Manuel made serious tactical errors, such as failing to properly scout out the route ahead and moving his army in a column 10 miles long. These failings caused him to lead his forces straight into a classic ambush. His army was ambushed while marching through the narrow mountain pass. The Byzantines were too dispersed, and were surrounded. The suffered heavy casualties and their siege equipment was destroyed. Manuel lost his nerve both during and after the battle and, moreover, without siege engines, he abandoned his plans to attack Iconium and he was forced to sign a treaty with the Seljuk sultan Kilij Arslan II.
Noteworthy: Myriokephalon cut Manuel -the most powerful and prestigious ruler of his time- down to a humbler size: not that of Emperor of the Romans but that of King of the Greeks.
Aftermath: The defeat was an embarrassment for Manuel and for Byzantium. It has often been depicted as a cataclysmic catastrophe. Manuel himself compared it to Manzikert; In reality, it was not too costly, and did not ruin the Byzantine army.