Byzantine Battles

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Battle of Dorostalon  (Dorystolon) 971
13 Apr-21 Jul 971
The Byzantines under Tzimisces besieged and took the fortress from the Rus ★ ★ ★ ★ ★
Dorostolon (modern Silistra, Bulgaria, on the Danube)
Battle Type:
Fort Capture
Byzantine-Rus Wars
Modern Country:

  The Byzantines(emperor:  John I Tzimiskes) The Enemies
Commander: Emperor John I Tzimiskes Svyatoslav I of Kiev
Forces: 30,000 + 300 ships 50,000
Losses: 350 (?) 15,000 (?)

Background story:
During the course of the Russo-Bulgarian war, Svyatoslav I of Kiev overran the eastern part of the First Bulgarian Empire and established his capital at Pereyaslavets on the Danube. Once John I Tzimiskes usurped the throne, the Byzantines launched a counteroffensive. After they defeated the united Russo-Bulgarian-Pecheneg forces in the Battle of Arcadiopolis and recaptured Pereyaslavets, Svyatoslav was forced to flee to the northern fortress of Dorostolon, on the Danube river.

The Battle:
Svyatoslav leaving Dorostolon
The Emperor laid siege to Dorostolon, which lasted for sixty five days. His army was reinforced by a fleet of 300 ships equipped with Greek fire.There were several engagements before the walls of the city; these demonstrated to the Byzantines that the Rus lacked skill in cavalry warfare. Among the casualties were the Emperor's relative, Ioannes Kourkouas (whose severed head was displayed by the Rus from one of the towers).
The Rus and their Bulgarian allies were reduced to extremities by famine. In order to appease their pagan gods, they drowned prisoners and even babies in the Danube, but the sacrifices did not improve their position. As their hardships became intense, 2,000 Rus warriors (including some women) sallied out at night, defeated a Byzantine force and went in search of supplies to the Danube; they later rejoined the besieged.
The Rus felt they could not break the siege and agreed to sign a peace treaty with the Byzantine Empire, whereby they renounced their interests towards the Bulgarian lands and the Byzantine city of Chersonesos in Crimea. Svyatoslav bitterly remarked that all his allies (Magyars, Pechenegs) betrayed him during this decisive moment. He was allowed to evacuate his army to Berezan Island, while the Byzantines entered Dorostolon and renamed it Theodoropolis, after the reigning empress. Svyatoslav on the way home was killed by Pecheneg Turks at the Dnieper .

On his return to Constantinople, Tzimiskes celebrated a triumph, built as thanksgiving the Church of the Chalke, divested the captive Bulgarian Emperor Boris II of the Imperial symbols, and proclaimed Bulgaria annexed.