Battle of Nineveh (627)

The Battle of Nineveh (Greek: Ἡ μάχη τῆς Νινευί) was the climactic battle of the Byzantine-Sassanid War of 602–628. The Byzantine victory later resulted in civil war in Persia and for a period of time restored the (Eastern) Roman Empire to its ancient boundaries in the Middle East. This resurgence of power and prestige was not to last, as within a matter of a few years, the Arab Caliphate emerged and the empire was once again brought to the brink of destruction.

Prelude

When Emperor Maurice was murdered by the usurper Phocas, Khosrau II declared war to avenge his benefactor's death. While the Persians were successful during the first stages of the war, conquering much of the Levant, Egypt, and even Anatolia, the ascendancy of Heraclius eventually led to the Persians' downfall. Heraclius' campaigns altered the balance, forcing the Persians on the defensive and allowing for the Byzantines to regain momentum. Allied with the Avars, the Persians attempted to take Constantinople, but were defeated.

While the Siege of Constantinople was taking place, Heraclius allied with what Byzantine sources called the Khazars under Ziebel, who are identified with the Western Turkic Khaganate of the Göktürks led by Tong Yabghu,[3] plying him with wondrous gifts and a promise of the reward of the porphyrogenita Eudoxia Epiphania. The Caucasus-based Turks responded by sending 40,000 of their men to ravage the Persian Empire in 626 to start the Third Perso-Turkic War.[4] Joint Byzantine and Göktürk operations were focused on besieging Tiflis.[5]

Invasion of Mesopotamia

In mid-September 627, leaving Ziebel to continue the siege of Tiflis, Heraclius invaded the Persian heartland, this time with between 25,000 and 50,000 troops and 40,000 Göktürks. The Göktürks, however, quickly deserted him because of the strange winter conditions.[1] Heraclius was tailed by Rhahzadh's army of 12,000,[2] but managed to evade Rhahzadh and invaded the heartland of the Persian Empire, in Mesopotamia (modern Iraq).[1] Heraclius acquired food and fodder from the countryside, so Rhahzadh, following through countryside already stripped, could not easily find provisions for his soldiers and animals.[6][7]

Battle of nineveh-mohammad adil rais
Maneuvers before and after the Battle of Nineveh

On December 1, Heraclius crossed the Great Zab River and camped near the ruins of the capital of the former Assyrian Empire of Nineveh in Persian ruled Assyria/Assuristan. This was a movement from south to north, contrary to the expectation of a southward advance. However, this can be seen as a way to avoid being trapped by the Persian army in case of a defeat. Rhahzadh approached Nineveh from a different position. News that 3,000 Persian reinforcements were approaching reached Heraclius, forcing him to act.[7] He gave the appearance of retreating from Persia by crossing the Tigris.[8]

Field of battle

Heraclius had found a plain west of the Great Zab some distance from the ruins of Nineveh.[9] This allowed the Byzantines to take advantage of their strengths in lances and hand-to-hand combat. Furthermore, fog reduced the Persian advantage in missile-shooting soldiers and allowed the Byzantines to charge without great losses from missile barrages.[8] Walter Kaegi believes that this battle took place near Karamlays Creek.[10]

Battle

On December 12, Rhahzadh deployed his forces into three masses and attacked.[11] Heraclius feigned retreat to lead the Persians to the plains before reversing his troops to the surprise of the Persians.[8] After eight hours of fighting, the Persians suddenly retreated to nearby foothills, but it was not a rout.[12][13] 6,000 Persians fell.[2][14]

Nikephoros' Brief History tells that Rhahzadh challenged Heraclius to personal combat. Heraclius accepted and killed Rhahzadh in a single thrust; two other challengers fought and also lost.[2][12] However, doubt has been cast on whether or not this actually occurred.[15][16] In any case, Rhahzadh died sometime in the battle.[2]

The 3,000 Persian reinforcements arrived too late for the battle.[2][17]

Aftermath

Cherub plaque Louvre MRR245
Cherub and Heraclius receiving the submission of Khosrau II; plaque from a cross (Champlevé enamel over gilt copper, 1160–1170, Paris, Louvre)

The victory at Nineveh was not total as the Byzantines were unable to capture the Persian camp.[18] However, this victory was significant enough to shatter the resistance of the Persians.[18]

With no Persian army left to oppose him, Heraclius' victorious army plundered Dastagird, Khosrau's palace, and gained tremendous riches while recovering 300 captured Byzantine/Roman standards accumulated over years of warfare.[19] Khosrau had already fled to the mountains of Susiana to try to rally support for the defense of Ctesiphon.[12][20] Heraclius could not attack Ctesiphon itself because the Nahrawan Canal was blocked by the collapse of a bridge.[19]

The Persian army rebelled and overthrew Khosrau II, raising his son Kavadh II, also known as Siroes, in his stead. Khosrau perished in a dungeon after suffering for five days on bare sustenance—he was shot to death slowly with arrows on the fifth day.[21] Kavadh immediately sent peace offers to Heraclius. Heraclius did not impose harsh terms, knowing that his own empire was also near exhaustion. Under the peace treaty, the Byzantines regained all their lost territories, their captured soldiers, a war indemnity, and of great spiritual significance, the True Cross and other relics that were lost in Jerusalem in 614.[21][22] The battle marked the end of the Roman-Persian Wars.

Notes

  1. ^ a b c Kaegi 2003, pp. 158–159
  2. ^ a b c d e f g Kaegi 2003, p. 167
  3. ^ Kaegi 2003, p. 143
  4. ^ Norwich 1997, p. 92
  5. ^ Kaegi 2003, p. 144
  6. ^ Kaegi 2003, pp. 159
  7. ^ a b Kaegi 2003, pp. 160
  8. ^ a b c Kaegi 2003, pp. 161
  9. ^ Kaegi 2003, pp. 162
  10. ^ Kaegi 2003, pp. 163
  11. ^ Kaegi 2003, pp. 161–162
  12. ^ a b c Norwich 1997, p. 93
  13. ^ Kaegi 2003, p. 163
  14. ^ Kaegi 2003, p. 169
  15. ^ Crawford, Peter (2013). The War of the Three Gods: Romans, Persians and the Rise of Islam. South Yorkshire: Pen & Sword Books Ltd. p. 71. ISBN 978-1-84884-612-8.
  16. ^ Konieczny, Peter (June 5, 2016). "Single Combat? The Duel between Heraclius and Razhadh at the Battle of Nineveh". Karwansaray Publishers. Retrieved February 5, 2018.
  17. ^ Kaegi 2003, pp. 170
  18. ^ a b Kaegi 2003, pp. 168
  19. ^ a b Kaegi 2003, p. 173
  20. ^ Oman 1893, p. 211
  21. ^ a b Norwich 1997, p. 94
  22. ^ Oman 1893, p. 212

References

  • Kaegi, Walter Emil (2003), Heraclius: emperor of Byzantium, Cambridge University Press, ISBN 978-0-521-81459-1
Battle of Nineveh

Battle of Nineveh may refer to:

Battle of Nineveh (612 BC), the fall of Assyria

Battle of Nineveh (627), Roman–Persian Wars

Western Nineveh offensive (2017), Iraqi Civil War, Syrian Civil War

Byzantine army

The Byzantine army or Eastern Roman army was the primary military body of the Byzantine armed forces, serving alongside the Byzantine navy. A direct continuation of the Roman army, the Eastern Roman army maintained a similar level of discipline, strategic prowess and organization. It was among the most effective armies of western Eurasia for much of the Middle Ages. Over time the cavalry arm became more prominent in the Byzantine army as the legion system disappeared in the early 7th century. Later reforms reflected some Germanic and Asian influences – rival forces frequently became sources of mercenary units e.g.; Huns, Cumans, Alans and (following the Battle of Manzikert) Turks, meeting the Empire's demand for light cavalry mercenaries. Since much of the Byzantine military focused on the strategy and skill of generals utilizing militia troops, heavy infantry were recruited from Frankish and later Varangian mercenaries.

From the seventh to the 12th centuries, the Byzantine army was among the most powerful and effective military forces in the world – neither Middle Ages Europe nor (following its early successes) the fracturing Caliphate could match the strategies and the efficiency of the Byzantine army. Restricted to a largely defensive role in the 7th to mid-9th centuries, the Byzantines developed the theme-system to counter the more powerful Caliphate. From the mid-9th century, however, they gradually went on the offensive, culminating in the great conquests of the 10th century under a series of soldier-emperors such as Nikephoros II Phokas, John Tzimiskes and Basil II. The army they led was less reliant on the militia of the themes; it was by now a largely professional force, with a strong and well-drilled infantry at its core and augmented by a revived heavy cavalry arm. With one of the most powerful economies in the world at the time, the Empire had the resources to put to the field a powerful host when needed, in order to reclaim its long-lost territories.

After the collapse of the theme-system in the 11th century, the Byzantines grew increasingly reliant on professional Tagmata troops, including ever-increasing numbers of foreign mercenaries. The Komnenian emperors made great efforts to re-establish a native army, instituting the pronoia system of land grants in exchange for military service. Nevertheless, mercenaries remained a staple feature of late Byzantine armies since the loss of Asia Minor reduced the Empire's recruiting-ground, while the abuse of the pronoia grants led to a progressive feudalism in the Empire. The Komnenian successes were undone by the subsequent Angeloi dynasty, leading to the dissolution of the Empire at the hands of the Fourth Crusade in 1204.

The Emperors of Nicaea managed to form a small but effective force using the same structure of light and heavily armed troops, both natives and foreigners. It proved effective in defending what remained of Byzantine Anatolia and reclaiming much of the Balkans and even Constantinople itself in 1261. Another period of neglect of the military followed in the reign of Andronikos II Palaiologos, which allowed Anatolia to fall prey to an emerging power, the Ottoman emirate. Successive civil wars in the 14th century further sapped the Empire's strength and destroyed any remaining chance of recovery, while the weakening of central authority and the devolution of power to provincial leaders meant that the Byzantine army was now composed of a collection of militias, personal entourages and mercenary detachments.

Byzantine–Sasanian War of 602–628

The Byzantine–Sasanian War of 602–628 was the final and most devastating of the series of wars fought between the Byzantine Empire and the Sasanian Empire of Iran. The previous war between the two powers had ended in 591 after Emperor Maurice helped the Sasanian king Khosrow II regain his throne. In 602 Maurice was murdered by his political rival Phocas. Khosrow proceeded to declare war, ostensibly to avenge the death of Maurice. This became a decades-long conflict, the longest war in the series, and was fought throughout the Middle East: in Egypt, the Levant, Mesopotamia, the Caucasus, Anatolia, Armenia, the Aegean Sea and before the walls of Constantinople itself.

While the Persians proved largely successful during the first stage of the war from 602 to 622, conquering much of the Levant, Egypt, several islands in the Aegean Sea and parts of Anatolia, the ascendancy of emperor Heraclius in 610 led, despite initial setbacks, to a status quo ante bellum. Heraclius' campaigns in Iranian lands from 622 to 626 forced the Persians onto the defensive, allowing his forces to regain momentum. Allied with the Avars and Slavs, the Persians made a final attempt to take Constantinople in 626, but were defeated there. In 627 Heraclius invaded the heartland of Persia. A civil war broke out in Persia, during which the Persians killed their king, and sued for peace.

By the end of the conflict, both sides had exhausted their human and material resources and achieved very little. Consequently, they were vulnerable to the sudden emergence of the Islamic Rashidun Caliphate, whose forces invaded both empires only a few years after the war. The Muslim forces swiftly conquered the entire Sasanian Empire and deprived the Byzantine Empire of its territories in the Levant, the Caucasus, Egypt, and North Africa. Over the following centuries, much of what remained of the Byzantine Empire, and the entire Sasanian Empire, would come under Muslim rule.

Feigned retreat

A feigned retreat is a military tactic whereby a military force pretends to withdraw or to have been routed, in order to lure an enemy into a position of vulnerability.A feigned retreat is one of the more difficult tactics for a military force to undertake, and requires well-disciplined soldiers. This is because, if the enemy presses into the retreating body, undisciplined troops are likely to lose coherence and the rout will become genuine.

History of Palestine

The history of Palestine is the study of the past in the region of Palestine, generally defined as a geographic region in the Southern Levant between the Mediterranean Sea and the Jordan River (where Israel and Palestine are today), and various adjoining lands. Situated at a strategic point between Europe, Asia, and Africa, and the birthplace of Judaism and Christianity, the region has a long and tumultuous history as a crossroads for religion, culture, commerce, and politics. In ancient times, Palestine was intermittently controlled by several independent kingdoms and numerous great powers, including Ancient Egypt, Persia, Alexander the Great and his successors, the Roman Empire, several Muslim dynasties, and the Crusaders. In modern times, the area was ruled by the Ottoman Empire, then the United Kingdom. Since 1948, Palestine has been divided into Israel, the West Bank and the Gaza Strip. Other terms for approximately the same geographic area include Canaan, Zion, the Land of Israel, Southern Syria, Outremer and the Holy Land.

The region was among the earliest in the world to see human habitation, agricultural communities and civilization. During the Early and Middle Bronze Age, independent Canaanite city-states were established, and were influenced by the surrounding civilizations of Mesopotamia, Phoenicia, Minoan Crete, Syria, and ancient Egypt, which ruled the area in the Late Bronze Age (1550–1200 BCE). The following period saw the emergence of the Israelites, who—according to the disputed Biblical tradition—established the United Kingdom of Israel in 1020 BCE, which split between the kingdoms of Israel and Judah. The Neo-Assyrian Empire conquered the region c. 740 BCE, then the Neo-Babylonian Empire in c. 627 BCE. The latter destroyed the Temple of Jerusalem in 586 BCE and deported Jewish leaders to Babylonia. They were only allowed to return by the Achaemenid Emperor Cyrus the Great in 539 BCE. In the 330s BCE, Alexander the Great conquered the Achaemenid Empire, including Palestine, which changed hands numerous times during the wars of his successors, until the Seleucid Empire gained its control between 219 and 200 BCE. In 116 BCE, the Jewish Hasmoneans took their independence from the Seleucids, but their kingdom progressively became a vassal of Rome, which finally annexed Palestine, and created the province of Judea in 6 BCE. Roman rule was nevertheless troubled by several Jewish revolts, to which Rome answered with the Sack of Jerusalem, the second destruction of the Temple, and the deportation of the Jews. After the final Bar Kokhba revolt Hadrian joined the province of Judaea with Syria to form a new province and renamed it Syria Palaestina. Later, with the Christianization of the Roman Empire, Palestine became a center of Christianity, attracting numerous monks and religious scholars.

Region of Palestine was conquered by the Umayyads following the 636 CE Battle of Yarmouk during the Muslim conquest of Syria, and incorporated into the Bilad al-Sham province as the military districts of Urdunn and Filastin. In 661 CE, Muawiyah I founded the Umayyad Caliphate in Jerusalem. His successors notably built there the Dome of the Rock—the world's first great work of Islamic architecture—and the al-Aqsa Mosque. The Abbasids replaced them in 750, but from 878 Palestine was ruled from Egypt by semi-autonomous rulers: the Tulunids, then the Ikhshidids. The Fatimids conquered the region in 969, but lost it to the Great Seljuq Empire in 1073, and recaptured in 1098. However, the next year the Crusaders established the Kingdom of Jerusalem in Palestine, which lasted almost a century until its conquest in 1187 by Saladin, the founder of the Ayyubid Sultanate. Despite seven further Crusades, the Crusaders could not recover their power in the region. The Egyptian Mamluk Sultanate took Palestine from the Mongols (who had conquered the Ayyubid Sultanate) after the pivotal Battle of Ain Jalut in 1260. The Ottoman Turks captured Mamluk Palestine and Syria in 1516. Ottoman rule of the country lasted without interruption for four centuries, until its conquest by Muhammad Ali's Egypt in 1832. Eight years later, the United Kingdom intervened and returned control of the Levant to the Ottomans in return for extraterritorial rights for Europeans living in Palestine. Considerable demographic changes happened during the 19th century, following the repopulation of the area with Egyptian peasants and veterans by Muhammed Ali, and with the regional migrations of Druze, Circassians and Bedouin tribes. The emergence of Zionism also brought many Jewish immigrants from Europe, and the revival of the Hebrew language.During World War I the British government issued the Balfour Declaration of 1917, which favored the establishment of national home for the Jewish people in Palestine. The British captured Jerusalem from the Ottomans a month later. The League of Nations formally awarded Britain a mandate over Palestine in 1922. Continuous Jewish immigration and British colonial rule led to the 1936–1939 Arab revolt in Palestine, the first nationalist movement among Palestinian Arabs. After the Nazi Holocaust, pressure grew for the international recognition of a Jewish state in Palestine, and in 1947 the British Government announced its intention to terminate the Mandate. The United Nations General Assembly voted to partition Palestine into independent Arab and Jewish states. However, the situation in Palestine had deteriorated into a civil war between Arabs and Jews. The former rejected the Partition Plan, while the latter declared the independence of the State of Israel in May 1948. Nearby Arab countries immediately attacked Israel, which nevertheless prevailed in the First Israeli-Arab War. Thanks to its victory, Israel overran far more territory than what the Partition Plan had scheduled. In what is known as the Nakba ("Catastrophe"), 700,000 Palestinians fled or were driven out of their homes, while a wave of Jewish refugees from Arab countries arrived in Israel. Only two regions of Palestine escaped Israeli control: the West Bank (and East-Jerusalem), annexed by Jordan, and the Gaza Strip, in fact controlled by Egypt, which were finally conquered by Israel during the Six-Day War in 1967. Despite international objections, Israel started to establish settlements in these occupied territories. Meanwhile, the Palestinian national movement gradually gained international recognition, largely thanks to the Palestine Liberation Organisation (PLO, founded in 1965) under the leadership of Yasser Arafat. In 1993, the Oslo Peace Accords between Israel and the PLO established a Palestinian National Authority (PNA) as an interim body to run parts of Gaza and the West Bank (but not East Jerusalem) pending an agreed solution to the conflict. Further peace developments never followed though, and in recent history, relations between Israel and Palestinians have been marked by repeated military conflicts, especially with the Islamist group Hamas, which also rejects the PNA. In 2007, Hamas has even won control of Gaza from the PNA, now limited to the West Bank. In November 2012, the State of Palestine (the name used by the PNA) was upgraded in the UN to non-member observer state status, a move that allows it to take part in General Assembly debates and improves its chances of joining other UN agencies.

Khosrow II

Khosrow II (Chosroes II in classical sources; Middle Persian: Husrō(y)), entitled "Aparvēz" ("The Victorious"), also Khusraw Parvēz (New Persian: خسرو پرویز), was the last great king of the Sasanian Empire, reigning from 590 to 628.He was the son of Hormizd IV (reigned 579–590) and the grandson of Khosrow I (reigned 531–579). Khosrow II was the last king of Persia to have a lengthy reign before the Muslim conquest of Iran, which began five years after his death by execution. He lost his throne, then recovered it with Roman help, and, a decade later, went on to emulate the feats of the Achaemenids, conquering the rich Roman provinces of the Middle East; much of his reign was spent in wars with the Byzantine Empire and struggling against usurpers such as Bahram Chobin and Vistahm.

During the climactic Byzantine–Sasanian War of 602–628, Khosrow expanded deep into western Asia Minor, eventually besieging the Byzantine capital of Constantinople in 626 alongside Avar and Slavic allies. Following the failure of the siege, Heraclius started a counterattack, undoing all territorial gains by Khosrow in the Levant, most of Anatolia, the western Caucasus, and Egypt, eventually marching into the Sassanian capital of Ctesiphon. The Byzantines also regained the True Cross, which Khosrow had captured following his conquest of the Levant during the same 602–628 war.

In works of Persian literature such as the Shahnameh and Khosrow and Shirin, a famous tragic romance by Nizami Ganjavi (1141–1209), a highly elaborated fictional version of Khosrow's life made him one of the greatest heroes of the culture, as much as a lover as a king. Khosrow and Shirin tells the story of his love for the Aramean or Roman princess Shirin, who becomes his queen after a lengthy courtship strewn with mishaps and difficulties.

List of battles (alphabetical)

Alphabetical list of historical battles (see also Military history, Lists of battles):

NOTE: Where a year has been used to disambiguate battles it is the year when the battle started. In some cases these may still have gone on for several years.

List of conflicts in Asia

This is a list of wars and conflicts in Asia, particularly East Asia, South Asia, Southeast Asia and Russia. For a list of conflicts in Southwest Asia, see List of conflicts in the Near East for historical conflicts and List of conflicts in the Middle East for contemporary conflicts.

List of conflicts in the Near East

The area known as the "Near East" is usually referred to as Middle East in modern contexts.

For periods predating Classical Antiquity, the common term is Ancient Near East.

The Near East is generally associated with Anatolia, the Levant, Mesopotamia, Persia, Egypt, the Arabian Peninsula, and the Caucasus.

List of wars involving Greece

This is a list of known wars, conflicts, battles/sieges, missions and operations involving ancient Greek city states and kingdoms, Magna Graecia, other Greek colonies (First Greek colonisation, Second Greek colonisation, Greeks in pre-Roman Crimea, Greeks in pre-Roman Gaul, Greeks in Egypt, Greeks in Syria, Greeks in Malta), Greek Kingdoms of Hellenistic period, Indo-Greek Kingdom, Greco-Bactrian Kingdom, Byzantine Empire/ Byzantine Greeks, Byzantine Greek successor states of the Byzantine Empire, Kingdom of Greece and Greece between 3000 BC and the present day.

Military history of Greece

The military history of Greece is the history of the wars and battles of the Greek people in Greece, the Balkans and the Greek colonies in the Mediterranean Sea and the Black Sea since classical antiquity.

Military of the Sasanian Empire

The Sasanian army was the primary military body of the Sasanian armed forces, serving alongside the Sasanian navy. The birth of the army dates back to the rise of Ardashir I (r. 224–241), the founder of the Sasanian Empire, to the throne. Ardashir aimed at the revival of the Persian Empire, and to further this aim, he reformed the military by forming a standing army which was under his personal command and whose officers were separate from satraps, local princes and nobility. He restored the Achaemenid military organizations, retained the Parthian cavalry model, and employed new types of armour and siege warfare techniques. This was the beginning for a military system which served him and his successors for over 400 years, during which the Sasanian Empire was, along with the Roman Empire and later the East Roman Empire, one of the two superpowers of Late Antiquity in Western Eurasia. The Sasanian army protected Eranshahr ("the realm of Iran") from the East against the incursions of central Asiatic nomads like the Hephthalites and Turks, while in the west it was engaged in a recurrent struggle against the Roman Empire.

Timeline of Jerusalem

This is a timeline of major events in the History of Jerusalem; a city that had been fought over sixteen times in its history. During its long history, Jerusalem has been destroyed twice, besieged 23 times, attacked 52 times, and captured and recaptured 44 times.

Timeline of the history of the region of Palestine

This timeline represents major events in the region of Palestine, which at different times during human habitation included a diverse number of people, cultures, religions and nations while being a part of several major empires and an important trade link between Europe and North African coast in the west and Asia and India in the East.

For a more detailed article about the history of region see History of Palestine (region).

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