Siege of Serdica (809)
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|Siege of Serdica|
|Part of the Byzantine-Bulgarian Wars|
|Bulgarian Empire||Byzantine Empire|
|Commanders and leaders|
|Casualties and losses|
After the destruction of the Avar Khaganate, Khan Krum turned his gaze to the southwest to liberate the Slavs who populated the valley of the Struma River and Macedonia. The main obstacle was the strong Byzantine-held fortress of Serdica (Sofia). The Byzantine Empire was the first to initiate the conflict. In 807, the emperor Nikephoros I marches against Bulgaria but is soon forced to return to Constantinople due to a conspiracy against him. The following year, the Bulgarians, in response to an equestrian raid in the valley of the Struma river, defeated the Byzantines and captured their baggage. In the spring of 809, Khan Krum surprises his enemies with the siege of Serdika.
In the beginning of 809 Krum besieged the city but he could not break the resistance of the garrison for several weeks. The food supplies of the city were in decline and the number of garrisons were reduced due from the fact that part of the hired mercenaries were released during the winter. The Byzantines were soon forced to give the city. Khan Krum promised to give safe conduct for the Byzantines on condition they yield the fortress. They agreed and Krum entered Serdica before Easter but he killed the whole 6,000 garrison and some citizens nonetheless. Nikephoros I was unhappy with the Byzantines who escaped from the city and some of them decided to stay with the Bulgarians. One of these people is the highly skilled mechanic Evmat who will help Krum later on with the construction of siege machines.
The successful siege was of great importance for Bulgaria, because Serdica was a major crossroad in the Balkans. It was used as a main base by the later rulers of the country to expand their borders and influence to the south and southwest.
- Васил Н. Златарски, История на българската държава през средните векове, Част I, II изд., Наука и изкуство, София 1970.
- Атанас Пейчев и колектив, 1300 години на стража, Военно издателство, София 1984.
- Йордан Андреев, Милчо Лалков, Българските ханове и царе, Велико Търново, 1996.
- Norwich, John J. (1991). Byzantium: The Apogee. Alfred A. Knopf, Inc. ISBN 0-394-53779-3.