Author Topic: A lecture by the university of Constantinople: The battle of Nineveh  (Read 337 times)

Leontinos Seleucus

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It is a hot day of December, 1317. The city is busy as always, merchants from all over the world walk past you selling their wares from all over the world. However the Palace Hall of Magnaura seems busier than ever before. A great number of people stands right in the entrance of the Pandidaktirion, that is, the imperial University established in 425 AD by the Emperor Theodosius the Calligrapher, which is one of the oldest universities in the world.


The first thing that can be seen upon entering the University, apart from the richly decorated halls and walls with well coloured iconographic paintings and statues, is the statue of the Emperor Theodosius, the Man responsible for the building of the university. Next to it, stands a placard memorating a summary of his achievements, most notably the Theodosian law, the walls of Constantinople, and his wars against the Huns and the Persians


If one walks forward he will meet the library of the Pandidaktirion, a large room filled with all kind of books from all over the world addressing a variety of subjects, from science and mathematics to philosophy, grammar and oratory. Greek, Latin and Arab dominate the written language of most of these texts. Everyone who would attempt to study here would find out that many bookmakers in our empire are monks and many Roman monasteries and schools keep libraries filled not only with sacred texts but also with literary, scientific, and philosophical works by authors long forgotten. However, the Greek authors of our era are one of the few in the world that can create books with multi-colored illustrations and lettering in gold and silver ink, and that is a further reason why so many scholars and merchants around the world visit Constantinople.


Next to the library is a hall with a substantial amount of small-sized desk in it, each occupied by one, two or even three persons, usually young men and women, eager to watch the lecture.  It is one of the rooms where a lecturer would teach grammar, philosophy or mathematics to people of various backgrounds, from peasants to noble and even women, a unique status for our dark and murky world. Perhaps one can say that there is no better place for one to educate himself than in Constantinople, especially if he is not an Arab.

Everyone went silent when the class attended a very aged man, with a long beard and wearing a well-coloured costume embroidered with a yellow eagle standing in front of a red cross symbolizing one of the religius emblems of our Roman Empire,  and a simple white tunic (chlamys), this man was clearly wealthy, and was also very popular among the students: He was "Nikephoros Choumnos", a very famous scholar of his time, , stateman, rhetorician and philosopher, for his intense intellectual rivalry with another man of letters, Theodoros Metochites, having served in the imperial politics as a  "mystikos" (privy councillor) and "mesaz┼Źn" (in effect, chief minister),and the man of "epi tou kanikleiou", that is, the head of the imperial chancellery, and for a while, he even served as the governor of the Empire's second largest city, Thessalonica.


"Welcome, children of God, welcome to relive the story of our great forefather, Heraclius, as he defeated the Persians and walked into their heartland. Such was the divine will, that Heraclius captured their pagan palaces and  brought back the True Cross and many relics that were lost in Jerusalem"

And with these words the story begun to unfold.

Leontinos Seleucus

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Re: A lecture by the university of Constantinople: The battle of Nineveh
« Reply #1 on: 12 December, 2017, 07:33:31 PM »
(OOC) The Battle of Nineveh was in fact the climactic, or final and most decisive battle of the Byzantine-Sassanian war of 602-628.  was the final and most devastating of the series of wars fought between the Byzantine (Eastern Roman) Empire and the Sasanian Empire of Persia. 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 even before the walls of Constantinople itself.

However, it was then when Heraclius rose in prominence and displayed his superior military skills, pushing back Persians into western Persia.


Emperor Heraclius

It all statred In mid-September 627, when Heraclius invaded the Persian heartland  with between 25,000 and 50,000 troops. Heraclius was tailed by the very effective Persian commandser Rhahzadh's army  but Heraclius managed to evade Rhahzadh and invaded the heartland of the Persian Empire, in Mesopotamia (modern Iraq). 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.
Both Heraclius and the Persians approached from the east of the ruins of the ancient Assyrian Empire capital of Nineveh in Assuristan (Assyria) province. Persian reinforcements were near Mosul. After the battle, Heraclius went back east while the Persians looped back to Nineveh itself before following Heraclius again.



On 1 December, 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. He gave the appearance of retreating from Persia by crossing the Tigris, but in the same time he had found a plain west of the Great Zab some distance from the ruins of Nineveh which allowed the Byzantines to take advantage of their strengths in lances and hand-to-hand combat.

Believing that Heraclius is in a disadvantages position,  Rhahzadh deployed his forces into three masses and attacked. Heraclius feigned retreat to lead the Persians to the aforementioned plains before reversing his troops to the surprise of the Persians. After eight hours of fighting, the Persians retreated to nearby foothills having 6.000 casualties.

The Greek army was mainly cavalry, with some heavy infantry, foot archers and possibly javelin-armed skirmishers. Horsemen had become the main arm of the East Roman military, with infantry used as the base for maneuver and rallying. The infantry formed the center, usually with two lines, spearmen in the front two ranks, archers in the immediate rear. There may have been lightly armored Armenian javelinmen present as well, arrayed in front of the center.

The two wings of the army were cavalry, also in two lines. The first line of each wing was probably barbarian auxiliaries (Onogurs, Huns, or similar steppe horsemen) armed with bows. They would use harassing fire on the enemy. The second line consisted of the dreaded cataphracts, the heavily armed and armored "tanks" of the time. These men wielded bows, maces, lances, and even hand-thrown darts. Held in reserve was the commander's personal bodyguard (called the Optimates), usually barbarian retainers trained to fight with spears and bows, and heavily armored.

The only casualty figures given for this battle were for the Persians, with 6,000 soldiers slain in the battle. Byzantine casualties were probably similar. They must have been significant enough to keep the Romans from occupying and looting the Persian camp.

 The remaining Sassanids retreated westward towards the ruins of Nineveh, where they met the Persian reinforcements. The Romans, surprisingly, turned east and south, into the heart of the Persian Empire. The Greeks continued to burn and pillage, even reaching one of the main palaces of Khosrau. They took considerable wealth, but also found over 300 Byzantine battle standards accumulated over several hundred years of warfare.



the famous Fresco by Piero della Francesca, c. 1452 depicting the battle