|626||Siege of Constantinople||★ ★ ★ ★ ★|
|Outcome:||A historical and unsuccessful siege by Avars and Persians||29 Jun-10 Aug 626|
|War & Enemy:||
Wars against Avars & Slavs
|The Battlefield|| Location:
| Modern Country:
|The Byzantines(emperor: Heraclius)||The Enemies|
|Commander:||PatriarchSergius, Magister Bonus||Unknown|
|Forces:||12,000||80,000 Avars + unknown number of Persians|
|Background story:||On March 25, 624, Emperor Heraclius left Constantinople, entrusting the city to Sergius and general Bonus as regents of his son Constantine. He assembled his forces in Bithynia, and launched a new counter-offensive against the Sassanid Persians, which took on the character of a holy war .
The Avars, in the meantime, together with Slavs and other northern tribes (Bulgars, Gepids etc.), took advantage of the situation to overrun the Balkans.
Despite his advancement into Mesopotamia, Heraclius was unable to stop the enemies behind from laying siege to his capital where from Chalcedon, across from Constantinople on the Bosporus, they were able to launch their attack. Assisting in the siege -from the European side of the city- was a host of 80,000 Avars. The Persians had captured Chalcedon a long time ago (since 611), but it was only when the Avars began moving forward heavy siege equipment towards the Theodosian Walls that the Byzantines realized that they were under a siege.
The soldiers in the capital numbered some 12,000 and consisted of cavalry - normally an elite branch of the army. The role of the Patriarch Sergius was also crucial. His cries for religious zeal among the peasantry around Constantinople was made ever more effective by the fact that they were facing pagans. He endlessly marched along the great walls of Constantinople with an Icon of the Theotokos in hand, and bolstered the faith of the defenders. The miracle came soon after. In the night between 6th and 7th August, while Persians and Avars were preparing their final attack, a great storm with huge tidal waves destroyed most of their fleet. After this, the attackers were discouraged and finally had to retreat. The critical factors of one of history’s greatest defenses were the lack of supplies for both attacking armies, the strength of the city’ s walls, and the Byzantine naval superiority which prevented the Persians to land forces on the west side and to coordinate effectively with the Avars..
The walls of Constantinople
The faithful of Constantinople spontaneously filled the Church of the Theotokos at Vlachernae on the Golden Horn, and with the Patriarch Sergius officiating, they prayed all night singing praises to the Virgin Mary without sitting. Hence the title of the Hymn "Akathistos", in Greek meaning 'not seated'.
|Aftermath:||Following this defeat, the Avars' prestige and power declined. Their chaganate disappeared in 3 decades.|