George Maniakes (Greek : Γεώργιος Μανιάκης, transliterated as Georgios Maniaces, Maniakis, or Maniaches, Italian : Giorgio Maniace; died 1043) was a prominent general of the Byzantine Empire during the 11th century. He was the catepan of Italy in 1042. He is known as Gyrgir in Scandinavian sagas. He is popularly said to have been extremely tall and well built, almost a giant.
Maniakes was a Greekgeneral of the Byzantine Empire who first became prominent during a campaign in 1030–1031, when the Byzantine Empire was defeated at Aleppo but went on to capture Edessa from the Arabs. His greatest achievement was the partial reconquest of Sicily from the Arabs beginning in 1038. Here, he was assisted by the Varangian Guard, which was at that time led by Harald Hardrada, who later became king of Norway. There were also Norman mercenaries with him, under William de Hauteville, who won his nickname Iron Arm by defeating the emir of Syracuse in single combat. However, he soon ostracised his admiral, Stephen, whose wife was the sister of John the Eunuch, the highest ranking man at court, and, by publicly humiliating the leader of the Lombard contingent, Arduin, he caused them to desert, along with the Normans and Norsemen. In response, he was recalled by the emperor Michael IV, also brother-in-law of Stephen. Although the Arabs soon took the island back, Maniakes' successes there later inspired the Normans to invade Sicily themselves.
Maniakes' accomplishments in Sicily were largely ignored by the Emperor, and he revolted against Constantine IX in 1042, though he had been appointed catepan of Italy. The individual particularly responsible for antagonizing Maniakes into revolt was one Romanus Sclerus. Sclerus, like Maniakes, was one of the immensely wealthy landowners who owned large areas of Anatolia – his estates neighboured those of Maniakes and the two were rumoured to have attacked each other during a squabble over land. Sclerus owed his influence over the emperor to his famously charming sister Sclerina, who, in most areas was a highly positive influence on Constantine. Finding himself in a position of power, Sclerus used it to poison Constantine against Maniakes – ransacking the latter's house and even seducing his wife, using the charm his family were famed for. Maniakes' response, when faced with Sclerus demanding that he hand command of the empire's forces in Apulia over to him, was to brutally torture the latter to death, after sealing his eyes, ears, nose and mouth with excrement.Maniakes was then proclaimed emperor by his troops (including the Varangians) and marched towards Constantinople. In 1043 his army clashed with troops loyal to Constantine near Thessalonika, and though initially successful, Maniakes was killed during the melee after receiving a fatal wound (according to Psellus' account). Constantine's extravagant punishment of the surviving rebels was to parade them in the Hippodrome, seated backwards on donkeys. With his death, the rebellion ceased. In Sicily, the town of Maniace and the Syracusan fortress of Castello Maniace are both named after him.
The 1040s was a decade of the Julian Calendar which began on January 1, 1040, and ended on December 31, 1049.
Year 1042 (MXLII) was a common year starting on Friday of the Julian calendar.
Michael V Kalaphates was Byzantine emperor for four months in 1041–1042. He was the nephew and successor of Michael IV and the adoptive son of Michael IV's wife Empress Zoe. He was popularly called "the Caulker" (Kalaphates) in accordance with his father's original occupation.
Robert Guiscard was a Norman adventurer remembered for the conquest of southern Italy and Sicily. Robert was born into the Hauteville family in Normandy, went on to become count and then duke of Apulia and Calabria (1057–1059), duke of Sicily (1059–1085), and briefly prince of Benevento (1078–1081) before returning the title to the papacy.
Constantine IX Monomachos, reigned as Byzantine emperor from June 1042 to January 1055. He had been chosen by Empress Zoë Porphyrogenita as a husband and co-emperor in 1042, although she had been exiled for conspiring against her previous husband, Emperor Michael IV the Paphlagonian. They ruled together until Zoë died in 1050, and then ruled with Theodora Porphyrogenita until 1055.
The Varangian Guard was an elite unit of the Byzantine Army from the tenth to the fourteenth century. The members served as personal bodyguards to the Byzantine emperors. The Varangian Guard was known for being primarily composed of recruits from northern Europe, including mainly Norsemen from Scandinavia but also Anglo-Saxons from England. The recruitment of distant foreigners from outside Byzantium to serve as the emperor's personal guard was pursued as a deliberate policy, as they lacked local political loyalties and could be counted upon to suppress revolts by disloyal Byzantine factions.
The Catepanateof Italy was a province of the Byzantine Empire, comprising mainland Italy south of a line drawn from Monte Gargano to the Gulf of Salerno. Amalfi and Naples, although north of that line, maintained allegiance to Constantinople through the catepan. The Italian region of Capitanata derives its name from the Catepanate.
William I of Hauteville, known as William Iron Arm, was a Norman adventurer who was the founder of the fortunes of the Hauteville family. One of twelve sons of Tancred of Hauteville, he journeyed to the Mezzogiorno with his younger brother Drogo in the first half of the eleventh century (c.1035), in response to requests for help made by fellow Normans under Rainulf Drengot, count of Aversa.
Argyrus was a Lombard nobleman and Byzantine general, son of the Lombard hero Melus. He was born in Bari.
John the Orphanotrophos, was the chief court eunuch (parakoimomenos) during the reign of the Byzantine Emperor Romanos III. John was born in the region of Paphlagonia. His family was Greek and it was said that they had been engaged in some disreputable trade, perhaps money-changing or, according to George Kedrenos, forgery. John was the eldest of five brothers. Two, Constantine and George, were also eunuchs, while the other two, Niketas and Michael, were 'bearded' men; the latter became Michael IV the Paphlagonian after John introduced him to the reigning empress Zoë. According to Michael Psellos, the two became lovers and could have hatched a plot to assassinate Zoë's husband, then reigning. Romanos was presumably killed in his bath on 11 April 1034. Certain contemporary sources implicate John in this assassination.
Arduin the Lombard was a Greek-speaking Lombard nobleman who fought originally for the Byzantines on Sicily and later against them as the leader of a band of Norman mercenaries.
Michael Dokeianos, erroneously called Doukeianos by some modern writers, was a Byzantine nobleman and military leader, who married into the Komnenos family. He was active in Sicily under George Maniakes before going to Southern Italy as Catepan of Italy in 1040–41. He was recalled after being twice defeated in battle during the Lombard-Norman revolt of 1041, a decisive moment in the eventual Norman conquest of southern Italy. He is next recorded in 1050, fighting against a Pecheneg raid in Thrace. He was captured during battle but managed to maim the Pecheneg leader, after which he was put to death and mutilated.
The Castello Maniace is a citadel and castle in Syracuse, Sicily, southern Italy. It is situated at the far point of the Ortygia island promontory, where it was constructed between 1232 and 1240 by the Emperor Frederick II. It bears the name of George Maniakes, the Byzantine general who besieged and took the city in 1038. Originally, one could only enter the castle over a bridge spanning a moat. A feature of the castle is the decorated portal. Today the castle is open to public and is a local tourist attraction in Syracuse.
Pardos was the catepan of Italy briefly in 1042 following the short term of George Maniakes.
Basil III Theodorokanos or Theodorocanus was the Byzantine Catepan of Italy from February to the Spring of 1043. He was a patrician and a former companion in arms of George Maniakes when he was appointed to go to Apulia and Calabria and put down the revolts of Maniakes and of Argyrus in 1042. In February 1043, he landed at Bari. Argyrus and his Normans tried to surround Otranto, but the catepan's fleet blocked them. Maniakes, however, debarked for Dyrrhachium with his army. Argyrus eventually made peace with the Greeks and Theodorokanos was replaced by Eustathios Palatinos. Subsequently, he commanded the Byzantine fleet against the Rus' raid in July 1043.
The Norman conquest of southern Italy lasted from 999 to 1139, involving many battles and independent conquerors.
The Battle of Montemaggiore was fought on 4 May 1041, on the river Ofanto near Cannae in Byzantine Italy, between Lombard-Norman rebel forces and the Byzantine Empire. The Norman William Iron Arm led the offence, which was part of a greater revolt, against Michael Dokeianos, the Byzantine Catepan of Italy. Suffering heavy losses in the battle, the Byzantines were eventually defeated, and the remaining forces retreated to Bari. Dokeianos was replaced and transferred to Sicily as a result of the battle. The victory provided the Normans with increasing amounts of resources, as well as a renewed surge of knights joining the rebellion.
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