It was with great pleasure that I received the task of committing the actions of our benevolent Emperor Constantine XI to artificial memory, in that I am forever the servant of my sovereign and the more so since I have been awarded the Duchy of Nikaia.
This position of government within our greatest empire has bestowed not only power but also perspective which I offer in every way unbiased within this account.
Thus I begin my history in 1205 when I received the province, when our Emperor was in the thirty-third year of his life and serious military preparations began.
1205 - 1210μ.Χ.
None disagreed with the notion at this time that Sultan Aybak I of the Turkish host would not fail to persecute our people further should a peaceful policy be followed, and to this end I was recalled from the garrison at Ankyra and ordered to join our Emperor in southern Lydia where we were to meet with my brother, Duke of Rhodos, who brought two battalions of infantry from that isle.
With gratitude to the wise supervision of our Emperor Constantine XI, the empire was fortunate to maintain a powerful navy unmatched by any in the east, and this we sought to benefit from by sending the fleets further out towards the Arabic conquest of Alexandria and christian Palestine, that trade might flourish. Proper trading establishments were also organised on my behalf within Nikaia in this year.
My brother in Rhodos meanwhile sought to remedy the weakness of the cavalry arm within our army by preparing facilities for the training of horsemen within his province, as it was expected that a significant force of horse would be requisite in defeating the Turk.
I must add that by no means was any weakness perceived in our military forces to be faulted with our Emperor Constantine XI, who has in the last decade done nothing to damage our reputation of might but has rather increased it beyond what we all thought possible.
In 1206 it was ordered of my brother in Rhodos that horse archers should be brought forthwith and should report to the army within four years in the number of 160 individuals. This was a most difficult task for the Duke as the island is not known for fine horsemen. I meanwhile was tasked with the recruitment of a similar number of lancers, which I found easily in sufficient number amongst the refugees fleeing from Trebizond. In this year also it was noted that the kingdoms of Aragon and Castile were highly interested in alliance with our greatest of empires, and we accepted them within our influential protection.
King Hugh I also begged our consent to invade Syria and punish the aggression of the Arab, which our Emperor granted unto him. We also extended the possibility of endorsement and assistance to the much Lesser Armenian King Philip I, and he accepted our benevolence with desperation.
By 1208 much of the required cavalry had been recruited but to the disappointment of our most patient Emperor the army could not safely attack the Turkic holdings in Anatolia until 1210. In this year however the Turks launched a fleet of Baggalas along the coast of Lesser Armenia and this was sufficiently dangerous for trade between the christian kingdoms that an attack was ordered by our most prudent Emperor upon these boats.
They were successfully destroyed of course.
In response to this, many siege engines and barbarous, poorly armed Turkic infantry were marched into Anatolia under the leadership of their highest chief, the Sultan Aybak I. Despite this move in 1209 however it was of much encouragement for us, as a mobilisation of Turkish forces showed them to be vastly inferior.
In 1210 the army was brought together under myself, my brother and our Emperor Constantine XI in Nikaia. It amounted to 100 of the Kataphraktoi, 160 lancers, 160 horse archers, 300 of the infantry lead in part by myself and my brother Duke of Rhodos, 60 of the Varangian Guard and 60 of the toxotai. A catapult was also available for use and we had the good fortune to stumble across a Turkish mortar [A highly modern weapon unknown to most of us] on a preliminary reconnaissance into Anatolia, which we intended to use against formations and fortifications alike.
All preparations for infrastructure and government were finished in this year, and we marched confidently east against the Turk.
A perfect, gradually sloping valley separated the Turkish horde from our columns, and they nested upon a steep plateau which ran unguarded and open to the south. An approach by our infantry through the northern wooded hills would see the enemy retreat along this ridge, so it was decided amongst the staff that the light cavalry newly recruited would be entrusted to hold the Turks from making this move or at least harass them as they did.
The Kataphraktoi accompanied our battalions as we passed over a wooded hillock and into the sheltered northern section of the valley where we were shielded momentarily from the constant enemy missiles while we bore our arms up the opposite slope. The Varangians held our left flank as we moved to gain a level footing with the enemy host.
The Sultan had meanwhile began to retreat his cavalry along the ridge, but were soon harried by the horse archers who, guarded by the lancers, battered the Turks with impunity. The enemy were forced back by these men towards our advance.
My battalion was lowest on the slope and we were surprised on cresting the plateau to see a group of spears attempting to cut around below us. The men looked haggard and poorly armed, even less did they appear prepared to fight, and so I took the initiative and led my battalion down the slope and began the battle with this engagement.
A much larger battalion of spears came rampaging down from beyond a rise and looked to be cutting us off from the rest when they were met by the Duke of Rhodos' battalion which checked them from the higher ground. Unfortunately for the Turks, these spears represented the bulk of their infantry and they were forced to attempt a breakthrough to their beset troops by a charge of their elite Futuwwa formation. This also was ambushed before it could reach the main fight.
Despite an arduous march, our infantry tore through the lines of Turks and inflicted great casualties very quickly. In fact, the infantry battalions were superior to every enemy formation on the field.
A rout was soon begun by the enemy infantry, and this signalled to the light cavalry the moment to close on the flanks. All the Turkish horse was disrupted and fled, attacked from all directions and caught by the Kataphraktoi.
Finally the Sultan Aybak I, having ambushed and routed 80 of the horse archers, was surrounded with his guard and captured.
Very few Turks escaped this engagement, 145 being captured and 350 killed, with a loss of 160 on our part.
Now I must add that our most victorious of Emperors Constantine XI did slay more than 50 of the Turkic hordes in this action, constituting one seventh of all the enemy which were destroyed. He is honoured above all for his merit in battle.
In this same year past, King Philip I invaded Turkish land also and seized their seat of government in Rum, besieging a large amount of the enemy in a castle there.
The Sultan Aybak I was ransomed for 6000 florins and allowed to return to Armenia, whilst the keep in Anatolia remains under siege.
This much then to suffice for an account of five years of the reign of our Emperor Constantine XI, whose exploits in the extension of the empire have not nearly been lauded enough. This account, which states truly all matters which weighed seriously upon our minds and everything most pertinent to the throne in the city of Constantine, which we reckon to be the unshakeable physical monument to the power of our sovereign.
I cede all praise to our eastern empire and her lord.
Theodorus Cantacuzenus, Duke of Nikaia. 1210