Battle of the Orontes

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Battle of the Orontes
Part of the Arab–Byzantine wars
Arab-Byzantine frontier zone.svg
Map of the Arab–Byzantine frontier zone
Date15 September 994
Result Fatimid victory
Byzantine Empire
Fatimid Caliphate
Commanders and leaders
Michael Bourtzes Manjutakin
Casualties and losses
at least 5,000 Unknown

The Battle of the Orontes was fought on 15 September 994 between the Byzantines and their Hamdanid allies under Michael Bourtzes against the forces of the Fatimid vizier of Damascus, the Turkish general Manjutakin. The battle was a Fatimid victory.[1]


In the 990s, the Byzantine Empire and the Fatimids were involved in a war in Syria, which also involved the Byzantine vassal state of Aleppo, controlled by the Hamdanid dynasty. In 993/994, the Fatimid governor of Damascus, the Turkish general Manjutakin, besieged Apamea, and Bourtzes, the Byzantine doux of Antioch, came forth to relieve the city.


The two armies met across two fords on the Orontes River near Apamea on 15 September 994. Manjutakin sent his forces to attack the Byzantines' Hamdanid allies across one ford while pinning the main Byzantine force down on the other with his Turks and mercenary units.[2] His men succeeded in breaking through the Hamdanids, turned round and attacked the Byzantine force in the rear. The Byzantine army panicked and fled, losing some 5,000 men in the process.[3]


Shortly after the battle, the Fatimid caliphate took control of Syria, removing the Hamdanids from power they had held since 890.[4] Manjutakin went on to capture Azaz and continued his siege of Aleppo.[5]

This defeat led to the direct intervention of Byzantine emperor Basil II in a lightning campaign the next year,[6] and Bourtzes' dismissal from his post and his replacement by Damian Dalassenos.


  1. ^ J. Gordon Melton, 2014, p.256
  2. ^ Trombley, 1997, pp.269–270
  3. ^ Ibid, 440f.
  4. ^ J. Gordon Melton, 2014, p.256
  5. ^ Trombley, 1997, pp.269–270
  6. ^ Holmes,2005,pp.346–347


  • Trombley, Frank (1997), "The Taktika of Nikephoros Ouranos and Military Encyclopaedism", in Binkley, Peter (ed.), Pre-modern encyclopaedic texts: proceedings of the second COMERS Congress, Groningen, 1-4 July 1996, BRILL, pp. 269–270, ISBN 978-90-04-10830-1
  • J. Gordon Melton, Faiths across Time, 5000 Years of Religious History, Abc-Clio, Oxford, 2014, p256
  • Holmes, Catherine (2005). Basil II and the Governance of Empire (976–1025). Oxford: Oxford University Press. ISBN 978-0-19-927968-5.

Coordinates: 35°15′N 36°35′E / 35.250°N 36.583°E / 35.250; 36.583