War with the Normans (1082-83) (i-vii) : Alexius’ First Battle with Heretics – John Italus (viii-ix)

I And meanwhile Robert, entirely freed from anxiety, collected all the booty and the Imperial tent, and, with these trophies and with much exultation, settled down again in the plain which he had occupied before when besieging Dyrrachium. After a short rest he began to consider whether he ought to make another attempt on that city’s walls, or postpone the siege to the following spring and for the present invest Glabinitza and Joanina, and winter there, while lodging all his troops in the sequestered vales that lie above the plain of Dyrrachium.

But the inhabitants of Dyrrachium (the majority of whom were colonists from Amalfi and Venice, as already stated), on hearing of the Emperor’s misfortune, and the terrible carnage, and the death of so many valiant men and the departure of the fleet and Robert’s intention of renewing the siege in the coming spring-on hearing all this they began individually to deliberate what action they had better take to ensure their safety and not incur such risks again. Consequently they called an assembly where they openly stated their private opinions and after discussing the vital points they thought they had found the only path, as it were, out of a pathless wood, which was to decide to listen to Robert and surrender the city to him.

One of the colonists from Amalfi still further incited them to this course, so they allowed themselves to be persuaded by his arguments, and threw open the gates and gave Robert entrance. After taking possession, he sent for the troops and dividing them according to race, enquired of each soldier individually whether he had been seriously wounded or had perhaps received a slight scratch from a sword; at the same time he found out how many and what class of men had fallen in the preceding battles. And, during the winter which was then close at hand, he intended to collect a second army of mercenaries and recruit foreign troops, and at the coming of spring to march against the Emperor with his whole army.

However, Robert was not alone in formulating such plans, although he congratulated himself on being the victor and winning the trophies, for the Emperor, worsted and badly wounded, was scared, so to say, and much depressed by this intolerable defeat and the loss of so many brave soldiers-but in spite of this as he never underestimated his own powers and had not slackened in his reasoning, his whole mind was intent on the problem of retrieving this defeat in the following spring.

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