|Norman Wars (1081-1185)|
|The Normans under Robert Guiscard captured the Byzantine provinces in southern Italy and then attacked the east coast of the Adriatic, their sights set ultimately on conquering the Byzantine throne. The emperor Alexios I, despite assistance secured from the Venetians, failed to save Dyrrachion, which fell to the Normans in 1081.
Their hordes then proceeded to invade Macedonia and take possession of Kastoria, Skopje and Moglena. A revolt in southern Italy obliged Robert to return there, leaving his son Bohemond in command of the army. However Byzantine resistance gradually grew in strength, and in 1083 Alexios I Komnenos regained the regions occupied by the Normans, while the Venetians won back Dyrrachion.
The death of Robert Guiscard in 1085 brought the Norman war to an end. After the First Crusade was over, the weakened Byzantine empire, under the heirs of Manuel I, was attacked by Hungarians and Serbs. Taking advantage of the situation, the Normans landed at Dyrrachion and captured it again in 1185. They reached Thessalonike and after a brief but bloody siege from land and sea captured and plundered the city.
From Thessalonike one section of the army headed for Serrhai, while the other marched on towards Constantinople. After the Byzantine victory close to Mosynopolis, the Byzantine army advanced into the Amphipolis area where, at the location known as "the place of Dimitritzes", they vanquished the Normans (November 1185), taking captive their admiral Richard and their general Count Aldouin. So devastating was the defeat that the Normans were forced to withdraw from Serrhai, Thessalonike and finally Dyrrachion.