Dedicated to the military history and civilization of the Eastern Roman Empire (330 to 1453)

"Time in its irresistible and ceaseless flow carries along on its flood all created things and drowns them in the depths of obscurity."

- - - - Princess Anna Comnena (1083–1153) - Byzantine historian

Sunday, November 17, 2013

Catepanate of Italy - Military Province of Byzantium

Bari - Capital of the Byzantine Catapanate of Italy

Byzantine Southern Italy

The Roman domination of southern Italy began in the third century BC and lasted until the fall of the Western Empire in 476 AD.   A period of Roman control lasting over 700 years.

Italy was ruled under the Kingdom of the Ostrogoths for a rather short 60 years period until 553 AD with the re-conquest of Italy by armies sent by the Eastern Emperor Justinian.

The Eastern Empire continued to rule all or part of Italy for more than 500 years until the last Byzantine outpost of Bari fell in April, 1071.  In all, Republican and Imperial control of southern Italy lasted about 1,200 years.

The Roman Republic conquest of Italy.  By the 3rd century BC Rome had
gained control of all of Italy and kept control for another 700 years.

Eastern Roman Army Re-enactors

The Catapanate of Italy

The Catepanate (or Catapanate) of Italy was a military-civilian province of the Eastern Roman Empire, comprising roughly the southern third of mainland Italy south of Naples.

The province was ruled by a Katepano  "[the one] placed at the top", or " the topmost").  The term was a senior Byzantine military rank and office. The word was Latinized as capetanus/catepan, and its meaning seems to have merged with that of the Italian "capitaneus" (which derives from the Latin word "caput", meaning head).

This hybridized term gave rise to the English language term captain and its equivalents in other languages (Capitan, Kapitan, Kapitän, El Capitan, Il Capitano, Kapudan Pasha etc.)

The Italian region of Capitanata derives its name from the Catepanate.

Amalfi and Naples were north of the Catepanate, but they maintained allegiance to Constantinople through the catepan.

In 871, the Byzantines re-conquered the short lives Emirate of Bari from the Muslim Saracens.

Along with the already existing military theme of Calabria, the region of Apulia, around Bari, formed a new theme of Longobardia.

Norman Soldier
In ca. 965, a new theme, that of Lucania, was established, and the stratēgos (military governor) of Bari was raised to the title of katepanō of Italy, usually with the rank of patrikios.

The title of katepanō meant "the uppermost" in Greek. This elevation was deemed militarily necessary after the final loss of nearby Sicily, a previously Byzantine possession, to the Arabs.

The Norman Conquest

Some Norman adventurers, on pilgrimage to Monte Sant'Angelo sul Gargano, lent their swords in 1017 to the Lombard cities of Apulia against the Byzantines.

From 1016 to 1030 the Normans were pure mercenaries, serving either Byzantine or Lombard, and then Duke Sergius IV of Naples.  Installing their leader Ranulf Drengot in the fortress of Aversa in 1030, gave them their first foot hold and they began an organized conquest of the land from the Byzantines.

In 1030 there arrived William and Drogo, the two eldest sons of Tancred of Hauteville, a petty noble of Coutances in Normandy. The two joined in the organized attempt to wrest Apulia from the Byzantines, who had lost most of that province by 1040.

Bari was captured by the Normans in April 1071, and Byzantine authority was finally terminated in Italy, five centuries after the conquests of Justinian I. The Byzantines returned briefly to besiege Bari in 1156.

The title Catapan of Apulia and Campania was revived briefly in 1166 for Gilbert, Count of Gravina, the cousin of the queen regent Margaret of Navarre. In 1167, with his authority as catapan, Gilbert forced German troops out of the Campania and compelled Frederick Barbarossa to raise the siege of Ancona.

The Catapanate of Italy
The approximate territorial extent of the Catapanate of Italy (in yellow).
The themes of Calabria, Longobardia and Lucania together formed a larger military province - the Catepanate of Italy.  The Catepan (military governor) coordinated the local Roman armies of the three themes to defend Italy. 

The Castle of Sant'Aniceto
The castle was a major Byzantine fortification in Rhegion (Reggio Calabria), the capital of the military theme of Calabria. 
The Byzantine castle of Motta Sant'Aniceto was built in the 11th century. In the background, the Etna volcano.  The Byzantine troops in the castle were looking directly at the now Muslim conquered island of Sicily.  The Arabs were constantly attacking Byzantine troops in southern Italy. 

(Military Theme of Calabria)

Bari and its fortress.

Castello Normanno-Svevo (Bari)
The castle was built on a former Byzantine fortified site.  Bari was the capital of the Catepanate of Italy.  The current look and plan of the fortress might be close to the Byzantine floor plan.  The castle is surrounded by a moat on all sides, except the northern section, which was bordering the sea and can be accessed from the bridge and the gate on the southern side.

Catepans  -  Military Governors 

  • 970 – 975 Michael Abidelas
  • before 982 Romanos
  • 982 – 985 Kalokyros Delphinas
  • 985 – 988 Romanos
  • 988 – 998 John Ammiropoulos
  • 999 – 1006 Gregory Tarchaneiotes
  • 1006 – 1008 Alexius Xiphias
  • 1008 – 1010 Ioannes Curcuas
  • 1010 – 1016 Basil Mesardonites
  • May 1017 – December 1017 Leo Tornikios Kontoleon
  • December 1017 – 1027 Basil Boioannes
  • c. 1027 – 1029 Christophoros Burgaris
  • July 1029 – June 1032 Pothos Argyros
  • 1032 – May 1033 Michael Protospatharios
  • May 1033 – 1038 Constantine Opos
  • 1038 – 1039 Michael Spondyles
  • February 1039 – January 1040 Nicephorus Doukeianos
  • November 1040 – Summer of 1041 Michael Doukeianos
  • Summer of 1041 – 1042 Exaugustus Boioannes
  • February 1042 – April 1042 Synodianos
  • April 1042 – September 1042 George Maniakes
  • Autumn 1042 Pardos
  • February 1043 – April 1043 Basil Theodorokanos
  • Autumn of 1045 – September 1046 Eustathios Palatinos
  • September 1046 – December 1046 John Raphael
  • 1050 – 1058 Argyrus
  • 1060 Miriarch
  • 1060 – 1061 Maruli
  • 1062 Sirianus
  • 1064 Perenus
  • 1066 – 1069 Michael Maurex
  • 1069 – 1071 Avartuteles
  • 1071 Stephen Pateran

    A wider view of the Eastern Roman Empire at about 1025 AD
    including the Catepanate of Italy.

    The Fall of Bari
    Bari and Castello Normanno-Svevo.
    The Normans first arrived in Italy in 999AD.  That began a 70 year struggle between the Romans and Normans for control.  By 1060, only a few coastal cities in Apulia were still in Byzantine hands.  During the previous few decades, the Normans had increased their possessions in southern Italy and now aimed to complete the expulsion of the Byzantines from the peninsula.
    The Normans laid siege to Byzantine Bari in August, 1068.  In a three year campaign against Bari and other towns, the Byzantines were forced to surrender Bari in April 1071.  With the fall of Bari, the Byzantine presence in southern Italy ended after 536 years.

    (Norman conquest of Italy)        (Roman Republic)        (Catepanate of Italy)


    No comments: