|1185||Battle of Dimitritsi (or Demetritsa or Battle of Strymon)||★ ★ ★ ★ ★|
|Outcome:||Byzantine decisive victory against the invading Normans||7 November 1185|
|War & Enemy:||
Normans (of Sicily)
|The Battlefield|| Location:
Near Dimitritsi, a village 20 km from Serres, close to river Strymon, in North Greece
| Modern Country:
|The Byzantines(emperor: Isaac II Angelos)||The Enemies|
|Commander:||General Alexios Vranas||Baldwin & Richard of Acerra|
|Background story:||In 1185, during the reign of the terrible Andronicos I Komnenos, the Normans invaded Greece with the ambitious target to take Constantinople. King William II -the Good- of Sicily sent a fleet of 200 ships and 80,000 men (including 5000 knights!) under the command of counts Baldwin and Richard of Acerra. The huge Norman force, landed in Epirus and after capturing Dyrrhachium, they sacked Thessalonica in August.
After their initial success, the Normans split their force in 3 parts. A small garrison stayed in the city, while another part marched up the Strymon valley pillaging the country from Amphipolis to Serres. A third part moved against Constantinople.
In the meantime, the Byzantines had dethroned Emperor Andronicos. His successor Isaac II Angelos was equally incompetent, but he assigned the war against the Normans to the capable general Alexios Vranas.
Alexios Vranas ambushed and defeated the dispersed Norman forces in Mosynopolis seizing their horses and equipment. Then he moved on to Amphipolis where he defeated another Norman force. From there he marched toward Serres where the main Norman army was operating.
The Byzantines met the Normans near Dimitritsi, on Strymon river. The Normans realized that they were in difficult position and started negotiations. However the revengeful Greek troops attacked without a signal from their generals and after a fierce fight routed the Normans. The Byzantines pushed the Normans to the Strymon river where many of them were drowned. The two Norman commanders, Baldwin and Richard were captured.
Pursued by the Byzantines, the surviving Normans fled to Thessalonica, which was abandoned without battle; the remnants of the Norman army fled to Dyrrhachium on the Adriatic coast, effectively ending the attempted Sicilian conquest of the Empire.
|Noteworthy:||The name of the place was not Dimitritsi at the time. It took its name from general Dimitritsas who was killed in this battle.|
|Aftermath:||It was an important victory for the Byzantines, in a period of decline. The Normans were forced to abandon their ambitious campaign and return to Sicily where, after a few years, their kingdom was conquered by the Germans.|