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1274 (?) Battle of Demetrias ★ ★ ★ ★ ★
Outcome: A Byzantine victory at sea against Venetians and Lombards early 1270’s
War  &  Enemy: Enemy:
Lombards & Venetians
Byzantine-Latin Wars
Battle Type:
Naval Battle
The Battlefield Demetrias Location:
Demetrias, near Volos Greece
Modern Country:
  The Byzantines(emperor:  Michael VIII Palaiologos) The Enemies
Commander: Sebastokrator John Palaiologos Fillippo Sanudo
Forces: 73 ships 30–62 ships
Losses: Heavy Heavy. All but 2 ships were destroyed
Background story: In the early 1270s (the exact date is uncertain, most recent scholars favor 1272/1273 or 1274/1275), the Byzantine Emperor Michael VIII Palaiologos launched a major campaign against John I Doukas the Greek ruler of Thessaly. It was to be headed by his own brother, the despotes John Palaiologos. To prevent any aid coming to him from the Latin principalities, he also dispatched a fleet of 73 ships, headed by Alexios Philanthropenos, to harass their coasts. The Byzantine army, however, was defeated at the Battle of Neopatras with the aid of troops from the Duchy of Athens. At the news of this, the Latin lords took heart, and resolved to attack the Byzantine navy, anchored at the port of Demetrias, near modern Volos.
The Battle:
The joint Latin fleet, composed of Lombard and Venetian vessels from Negroponte (Euboea) and Venetian-held Crete, is variously given at 30 to 62 ships. In any case, it is confirmed that the Latin fleet was numerically inferior by about a third.
The Latin fleet caught the Byzantines by surprise, and their initial attack was so effective that they almost won. Their ships, on which high wooden towers had been erected, had the advantage, and many Byzantine seamen and soldiers were killed or drowned. Just as victory seemed theirs, however, Greek reinforcements arrived led by the despotes John Palaiologos. While retreating from Neopatras, the despotes had learned of the impending battle. Gathering whatever men he could, he rode in one night 40 miles and reached Demetrias just as the Byzantine fleet was beginning to waver.
His arrival boosted the Byzantines' morale, and Palaiologos' men, ferried on board the ships by small boats, began to replenish their casualties and turn the tide. The battle continued all day, but by nightfall, all but two Latin ships had been captured. The Latin casualties were heavy, and included the triarch of Negroponte Guglielmo II da Verona. Many other nobles were captured, including the Venetian Fillippo Sanudo, who was probably the fleet's overall commander.
Aftermath: The victory at Demetrias mitigated the disaster of Neopatras for the Byzantines. It also marked the beginning of a sustained offensive across the Aegean in which admiral Licario took most of the islands in the Aegean.