Battle of Versinikia - Aftermath


The victory at Versinikia further worsened the grim situation of Byzantium and gave the Bulgarian Khan an opportunity to launch attacks in the vicinity of the Byzantine capital itself. It also sealed the fate of Michael I Rangabe who was forced to abdicate and withdraw to a monastery. The Byzantine throne was taken by Leo V the Armenian (813-820) who was distinguished from his predecessor as a strong-charactered and energetic man. He immediately took hasty precautions for the defense of Constantinople because he expected a Bulgarian assault.

The way to Constantionople was clear and the Bulgarian army headed straight to the city without facing any resistance. There were still several fortresses in Thrace which remained in Byzantine hands, particularly Adrianople which was besieged by Krum's brother. On 17 July 813 Krum himself reached the walls of Constantinople and set his camp without hindrance. Within the sight of the citizens of Constantinople, Krum who was also the high priest made a sacrifice to the Bulgar god Tangra, performed some pagan rituals, then the Bulgarians built trenches along the whole length of the city's walls and then suddenly Krum offered peace.

Leo V agreed to negotiations but he intended to treacherously kill Khan Krum and eliminate the threat over the Byzantine Empire. During the negotiations, the Byzantines fired arrows on the Bulgarian delegation killing some of them, including the kavkhan or other high official, but Krum himself remained intact.

Infuriated by the treachery of the Byzantines, Krum ordered all churches, monasteries and palaces outside Constantinople to be destroyed, the captured Byzantines were slain and the riches from the palaces were sent to Bulgaria on carts. After that all enemy fortresses in the surroundings of Constantinople and Marmara Sea were seized and razed to the ground. The castles and settlements in the interior of Eastern Thrace were looted and the whole region devastated. Then Krum returned to Adrianople and strengthened the besieging forces. With the help of mangonels and battering rams he forced the city to surrender. The Bulgarians captured 10,000 people who were resettled in Bulgaria across the Danube. Further 50,000 from other settlements in Thrace were deported there. During the winter Krum returned to Bulgaria and launched serious preparation for the final assault on Constantinople. The siege machines had to be transported to Constantinople by 5,000 iron-covered carts hauled by 10,000 oxen. However, he died during the height of the preparations on 13 April 814.

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