Just a few years after Alexios Komnenos’ triumph over Roussel Balliol’s rebellion, the Byzantine Empire was again in chaos. In the province of Dyrrakhion, along the Adriatic Sea, a new threat had emerged: Nikephoros Bryennios the Elder, the province’s disgruntled doux (military governor), was massing troops in rebellion. In Anatolia, a separate rebellion under Nikephoros Botaneiates, the aged provincial governor, had already begun marching toward Constantinople. Emperor Michael VII Doukas, weary and scrambling to keep the empire together, was surrounded.
This time, Michael chose diplomacy instead of battle. With a hostile force on both sides of the Bosporus, the required all-out attack on either would have left the capital open to the other, and Michael knew it. He chose instead to send some of the empire’s best diplomats to negotiate with Bryennios, perhaps hoping that a speedy, peaceful resolution would allow him to focus his military efforts on Botaneiates.
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