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5) Relations in the wake of the battle and the propaganda war.

a. The Byzantines: A long way home

The things which happened immediately after the battle in the Byzantine camp are clear. According to Choniates, Manuel tried to select another return route (possibly Kaballa-Philomelium-Dorylaeum-Nicea-Lopadion), but his guides, which this time seem to have been agents of the sultan, said that the army should go by the same road, where they could observe the results of the massacre, especially the bodies without testicles and scalps. Later historians have left a dramatic description of this sight. The valleys were filled with dead bodies and the forests were full of dead. This was not all, however; after passing through the defile Manuel was attacked by hordes of Turcomans. According to Michael the Syrian, the defeated emperor asked officials of the sultanate about the attackers, and they answered that these were not subjects of their master.159 The emperor later described his condition in his letter to Henry II. Manuel; his heart was full of grief; he turned back to Constantinople carrying the hard weight of remorse for those who had died because of his fault. The battle at Myriokephalon ruined his personality; according to a person who observed him before and after the battle, the emperor was never the same.160

Despite the difficult state of mind of its leader, the Byzantine army, even after the massacre, was still able to defend itself. The emperor attacked the nomads and, despite heavy losses among the injured, defeated them; small raids on the long army column on the march continued until the army entered more or less safe territory, probably near Soublaion. This fortress was destroyed; the destiny of garrison is not known, but probably it left with the retreating imperial forces. A large mass of soldiers, covered by rearguard forces, finally arrived in Chonae; here Manuel gave a silver stater to every injured man and went to Lopadion through the valley of Dorylaion, where he left this city untouched. The later chronicler blames the emperor for this, but for me this step is quite understandable. The conditions of the peace he had signed also stipulated that the sultan would serve the emperor with all his might; just the next day, the Turcomans, who were the core of the Seljuk army at Myriokephalon, attacked the remnants of the Byzantine regiments. This rendered the peace partly invalid, and in a gesture of reciprocation, the emperor refused to destroy one of the fortresses as had been agreed. Here the idea seems to be simple: If the enemy did not want to meet the conditions, why should the emperor? Some time after his arrival, Manuel received an embassy from Kilic Arslan II, which probably brought him back the captured relics and his baggage, all for a significant ransom. In addition, the ambassadors, whose names are not known, asked Manuel to destroy Dorylaion and were refused.161 This was the beginning of the last, but not the least, campaign of Manuel Komnenos, which, despite the interest of scholars, will not be pursued here any further.162

The moment of the return was the beginning of another battle--a battle of letters. The change in the relations between the two states was important, but no less was the perception of this change in the eyes of friends and enemies. An informative “official version” was probably received at that time by some imperial officials and later historians used it as a basis for their works. A full and informative account with a proclamation of victory over the Seljuks was sent to Henry II and probably to the other Western monarchs and church leaders as well.163 The enemies were also informed about the battle; in 1177, a Byzantine embassy arrived at the court of the most “beloved brother” of Manuel, FrederickBarbarossa, who received it on the same day as the embassy of the Seljuk sultan. This situation was known to the author of Annales Stadenses, who seems to have had some fun in describing the meeting of the two “victors.”164



b. The Seljuks: All the sultan’s men


What happened in the sultans’ camp immediately after the proclamation of the peace with the Byzantines clearly shows the limits of Kilic Arslan’s power over his victorious army. As is stated by Michael the Syrian, the Turcomans shouted at the sultan, calling him no more, no less than a “traitor,” and cursing him for restoring the peace. In that moment, and for this group of people, their master of yesterday was clearly perceived as the same enemy as the Byzantines. The army was no longer under control, and, as a result, the Byzantine column was attacked on its way back, despite all the conditions of peace. The poor hostages which were given to Manuel could only tell the truth, namely, that their master was no longer the lord over a huge mass of armed nomads, which probably stopped being his army on the evening of 17 September and was gathered near the Byzantine camp only with the promise of a huge amount of booty, which, as is known, was never captured. The pursuit of the retreating enemy, which was de facto allowed by Kilic Arslan, solved two main problems of the sultan: harassing the army of the enemy without an open disavowal of the armistice and getting rid of a huge group of armed soldiers which had become openly hostile to him. What happened next is not known. The only thing that is known, mainly from Choniates, is that the greater part of the Seljuk army was sent home by the sultan.

The diplomatic side of the victory was also important. Messages, prisoners, and spoils of war, including scalps of fallen enemies, were sent, according to Michael the Syrian, to the “sultan of Khorasan and the caliph of Baghdad,” while another group of scalps, with the hair of the enemy, became part of a special ritual when they were carried on the ends of the lances and trampled under the hooves of the horses of the victorious army.165 The symbolic meaning here is ambivalent: on the one hand, cut-off heads are a traditional proof of triumph in the Moslem East, while the scalps and severed testicles of the enemy are more characteristic for the tribes of the steppes, where a similar thing has been attested among the Huns. Letters of information were written for the Western kings--one arrived at the court of Frederick Barbarossa together with the Byzantine embassy, while another one seems to have reached Sicily, where it was used as a source of information by the famous chronicler, Romoald of Salerno. As can clearly be seen, the battle of swords led to a battle of letters, which, happily was much less bloody.166


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