BlackWolf-Studio's avatar

Desperta Ferro

84 24 18K (1 Today)
By BlackWolf-Studio   |   Watch
Published: June 1, 2008
"¡Desperta Ferro!" ("Wake up Iron!")

With this Catalan battle shout, striking their weapons against flint stones and giving off sparks, the almogavars, the shock troops of the Crown of Aragon, entered into combat formed by light infantry, assets in the Mediterranean between the 13th and 14th centuries.

The origin of the word "almogavar" come from the Arabic al-mogâuar meaning "raider", "devastator".
The almogavars came originally from the Pyrenees, and were in later times recruited mainly in Navarre, Aragon, Catalonia, Valencia and other territories from the medieval Spain and other Mediterranean places. They were frontiersmen and foot-soldiers who wore no armour, dressed in skins, were shod with brogues, and carried the arms similar to those of Roman legionaries: two heavy javelins, or "assegai" (atzagaia in Catalan); and a short stabbing sword or big knife named coltell and sometimes a small round shield like only defense.
They were a class of professional soldiers from the Spanish kingdoms well-known during the Christian reconquista ("reconquest") of the Iberian peninsula against the Moors, when they were accustomed to do incursions in Muslim territories (of a duration of one to two days), structured in squads of twelve men, commanded by an almogaten (from the Arab al-mucaddem, "captain", "the one that directs") and if it were an operation of greater spread by an adalid (from the Arab al-dalla, "to teach the way", "guide"), of royal designation.
Later they were much employed as mercenaries in Italy, Latin Greece and the Levant.

When the peace of Caltabellotta (Sicily) in 1302 ended the war in southern Italy, the almogavars, under the leadership of Roger de Flor (born in Brindisi as Rutger von Blume and also knowed like Ruggiero della Fiore, an ancient Knight Templar and pirate), formed the Great Catalan Company of Almogavars (Societate Catallanorum) in the service of the emperor of the East, Andronicus II Palaeologus (Andronikos II Palaiologos in Greek), to fight against the Turks. Both kings of Aragon and Sicily agreed with the idea since peace had been reached and it was viable alternative to having the almogavar standing army unemployed in their realms.
For this Eastern campaign Roger De Flor requested a niece of the Emperor like wife and the title of Mega Dux of the Empire, to the Byzantine Emperor, which was granted him.

The campaigns of the almogavars in Asia Minor during 1303 and 1304 was a series of spectacular military victories, but upon insistance in receiving payment for their services as agreed was received with refusal from the Emperor there after turned into violence making their presence intolerable to the Byzantine population. Roger de Flor and his liutenants were assassinated in April 1305 by the Alanian mercenaries of the chief Girgon, following orders from the Emperor's son, Michael IX Palaeologus (Mikhaēl IX Palaiologos in Greek), while meeting to discuss terms on their compensation in Andrinopolis (Edirne in present-day, Turkey), presumably by instigation of the Genoese merchants who were conspiring to keep their own position of influence and power and keep the Catalans out of the loop. This betrayal resulted in the almogavars ravaging the neighbourhood of Constantinople. The almogavars had been already unhappy with their employer (before the assassination of Roger de Flor) and after the betrayal that resulted with the death of Roger de Flor and his guard, they rise in arms against the Byzantine Empire, episode that later would be known like the Catalan Revenge (Venjança Catalana) under the command of Berenguer d'Entença and Bernat de Rocafort, two knights of the Catalonian-Aragonese nobility.

Subsequently they marched against the duke of Athens, under the rule of the French House of Brienne. Walter V of Brienne was defeated and slain by the almogavars with all his knights at the Battle of the Cephissus, or Orchomenus, in Boeotia in March 1310. They then divided the wives and possessions of the Frenchmen by lot, and summoned a prince of the house of Aragon to rule over them.

The foundation of the Aragonese duchies of Athens and Neopatria was to be the culminating achievement of the almogavars. By the 16th century the name had died out.

This pic shows the triunfal parade of the Catalan Company in the streets of Constantinople (the ancient Byzantium and the modern Istanbul), with Roger de Flor heading the parade, followed by his lieutenants and accompanied by his fierce almogavars.
Behind of them the byzantine court observes distrustful with the impressive church of Hagia Sophia ("Divine Wisdom") dominating the picture (obviously the church appears here without the four minarets that surrounds it today, at the beginning of 14th century still there are 150 years for that the city falls in hands of the Ottoman Turks).

:#1: Special thanks to :icontrolldunord: to lend me his "Black Knight" (here the left horseman with flag, that he represents Berenguer d'Entença) for this work.

:deviator: Original Size: 5906 x 4724 pix. / 50 x 40 cm.

© BlackWolf.Studio JAN. 2008.
Image size
5906x4724px 19.33 MB
anonymous's avatar
Join the community to add your comment. Already a deviant? Log In
Vader999's avatar
It's actually quite funny that the Orthodox rejected Latin rule (they overthrew the Latin Empire of Constantinople) and yet asked the Latins for help and got angry when few people answered the call. I mean, let us imagine the alternative:

Imagine, if you will, the Ottomans face more resistance from the rest of the Muslim world, and they delay their conquest of Constantinople up until the 1530s. Then by that time, the Spanish Empire would have already existed, and they'd be married into the Hapsburg family of the Holy Roman Empire, with the Spanish King becoming Holy Roman Emperor(most likely Charles V). Imagine that there was no Protestant Reformation, the Germans and the Spanish united their forces behind this new monarch, and this Western Emperor sets up a MASSIVE rescue force and sends it east to save Constantinople from the Turks, or if it already fell, to retake it for Christendom. Imagine they smash through the Turks like a bowling ball through ninepins and the Ottomans were driven from Constantinople. The Western Emperor marches into Constantinople in a victory parade through the city streets, while his forces chase the Turks out into Asia Minor.

And then what? 

Since the Byzantines by that time would barely have an army, the Spanish would have to occupy the city and its surrounding areas to keep the Turks from returning, and the Eastern Roman Empire would practically become a puppet state for the Spanish Empire, just another appendage for the King of Spain/Holy Roman Emperor to add to his growing Empire. He either A) places a puppet on the throne of Byzantium, or B) adds the title of "Eastern Roman Emperor" to his list of titles and becomes the Eastern Emperor himself. He then appoints a new Patriarch in Hagia Sophia who is, by all intents and purposes, a servant of the Pope in Rome. Then the Orthodox riot, because no "stinking Latins" are going to tell them what to do, be it in Church matters or in State matters. So either A) the Spanish massacre all Orthodox clergy and rioters who oppose them and force them all to bow down to the Pope or die, or B) the Spanish leave, the Turks return, and take/retake the city.

The Byzantines said it themselves: better the turban of the prophet than the Pope's tiara. Even if the Pope's henchmen saved them, the Byzantines would have never accepted Latin rule over Constantinople ever again. They rejected the Latin Emperors. They would have rejected them again, even if the Latins drove out all the Turks. So yes, in the end, the Byzantines got what they wanted: no more Latin rule of Constantinople. They hated the Latins more than they hated the Muslims. So it stands to reason that few Latins would come to their aid (mostly those with trade links to Constantinople) and most just ignored their cries for help.
Bimbazava's avatar
you dream,,,,byzantium is dead until eternal,,,,killed by Turks
supernova93's avatar
Oh, an old story from my country. We are very proud of the almogavars in Catalonia. If you're more interested in our history, you should read the "Tirant lo Blanc" of Joanot Martorell, the greatest chivalry novel from the 14th century. Tirant was a knight who lead the almogavars to Constantinople in order to defend it from the Ottomans. It's a little bit fantastic, but it's a wonderful novel.
ziyade's avatar
The name of the city of Istanbul and will remain so forever!
pantocratormaster's avatar
History is not finish you lil`...Pages and pages will be written! 

GreekMacedonian's avatar
For centuries the name was Constantinople... You are historically inacurate
ziyade's avatar
and for centuries the name was İstanbul.. Since 1453..
pantocratormaster's avatar
Did you know what is meaning of the old Turkish word Istanbul, hmm? 
Optimusnorm's avatar
1453 is not a long time ago in European history...maybe long for the barbarian invaders from the steppes of Asia and whose ancestors adopted Arabian religion and conquered lands from the Greeks, Armenians and Kurds though.

Until that's admitted we'll damn well call it Constantinople, the jewel of Anatolia, which belongs to the Greeks, Kurds and Armenian's.
ziyade's avatar
He he :) You go play in the sand..
Optimusnorm's avatar
I lived in the middle east for 15 years....know a lot about sand.
GreekMacedonian's avatar
since 1930!!! The name chanced in 1930 by Mustafa Kemal
ziyade's avatar
Mehmed II Do you know you? Great Conqueror!
pantocratormaster's avatar
What happened with great sultan Murad against Serbs in Serbian Holy Kosovo...28th of June in 1389?
GreekMacedonian's avatar
I said about the name
Asukav's avatar
The typical assho$% who visits Byzantine pictures just to criticize...
astuareg's avatar
not constantinople. istanbul
BlackWolf-Studio's avatar
Before than Istanbul it was Constantinople and before Byzantium since I have said in the explanation of the pic. Three different names for the same city across the centuries. Anyway in the age than the pic shows Istanbul like name not exist yet.
Sigma253's avatar
This is truly awesome.
Ancalagan's avatar
AncalaganProfessional Traditional Artist
Pentegass's avatar
PentegassStudent Artist
istanbul?:D constantinapolis lolz
Asukav's avatar
Well although the name change, the city remained as beautiful. :)
BlackWolf-Studio's avatar
Byzantium, Constantinopolis, Istanbul... So many History between the walls of a same city. :#1:
Kajuah's avatar
Kajuah Interface Designer
wow this reminds me of LOTR meets monty python
anonymous's avatar
Join the community to add your comment. Already a deviant? Log In