The Byzantines abandon the Anatolian interior in the 7th and/or 8th century

Futurist

Ad Honoris
May 2014
19,936
SoCal
#1
What if the Byzantines would have abandoned the Anatolian interior in the 7th and/or 8th century and instead left the interior of Anatolia to the Arabs--believing that Anatolia's coastal areas are more important and that difficult logistics in the Anatolian interior means that the Arabs can have it? Basically, I am thinking of having the Byzantines do what they were compelled to do after Manikert (followed by a partial Komnenian recovery, of course), but several centuries earlier than in real life--and with the Anatolian interior being abandoned to the Arabs instead of to the Turks (as was the case several centuries later in real life).

Anyway, any thoughts on how this would have unfolded and on what would have happened afterwards in such a scenario?

@Kirialax @JeanDukeofAlecon @DiocletianIsBetterThanYou Any thoughts on this?
 
Oct 2011
275
Croatia
#2
@Futurist It would have made their situation significantly worse. Yes, coastlands were more fertile. However, interior of Anatolia provided the Empire with significant strategic depth - to get to Constantinople, or anywhere of note, really, Arabs had to either a) go by sea, or b) face harsh climate of nearly empty Anatolia. As a result, their fighting effectiveness was significantly reduced simply by having to walk through Anatolia, and that is before considering that Romans would not have just let them stroll through - any Arab army would have been shadowed and harrassed, and Romans also often adopted "scorched earth" strategy of defense. This is where another advantage of Anatolia lies, as even if you burn half of it in front of advancing Arab army, you have not suffered significant losses (that is precisely what Romans did in Cilicia).

Further, keeping inner Anatolia meant that nominal border was relatively short, so inner themes could be used to reinforce themes at the outer edge. By 11th century, Western Anatolia was so safe that most soldiers there did not even keep weapons, and government often exchanged their military service for money to pay mercenaries - stupid idea in retrospect, but it shows the strategic situation. Once inner Anatolia was lost, all of the remaining Anatolian themes were under direct threat.
 
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sparky

Ad Honorem
Jan 2017
4,710
Sydney
#3
when the Turkik raiders took control of central Anatolia , this led to a very serious strategic weakening for Byzantium
instead of holding to far off Armenia , the enemy was solidly established at the very gates
as often in strategy what one loose is as important that what the opponent gain
 

Futurist

Ad Honoris
May 2014
19,936
SoCal
#4
@Futurist It would have made their situation significantly worse. Yes, coastlands were more fertile. However, interior of Anatolia provided the Empire with significant strategic depth - to get to Constantinople, or anywhere of note, really, Arabs had to either a) go by sea, or b) face harsh climate of nearly empty Anatolia. As a result, their fighting effectiveness was significantly reduced simply by having to walk through Anatolia, and that is before considering that Romans would not have just let them stroll through - any Arab army would have been shadowed and harrassed, and Romans also often adopted "scorched earth" strategy of defense. This is where another advantage of Anatolia lies, as even if you burn half of it in front of advancing Arab army, you have not suffered significant losses (that is precisely what Romans did in Cilicia).

Further, keeping inner Anatolia meant that nominal border was relatively short, so inner themes could be used to reinforce themes at the outer edge. By 11th century, Western Anatolia was so safe that most soldiers there did not even keep weapons, and government often exchanged their military service for money to pay mercenaries - stupid idea in retrospect, but it shows the strategic situation. Once inner Anatolia was lost, all of the remaining Anatolian themes were under direct threat.
The loss of strategic depth by the Byzantines starting from 1071 doesn't appear to have hurt them too badly until 1204, though.
 
Oct 2011
275
Croatia
#5
The loss of strategic depth by the Byzantines starting from 1071 doesn't appear to have hurt them too badly until 1204, though.
It was enough for them to call for the First Crusade, albeit losses after Manzikert were almost entire Anatolia, so yeah. Now, after Western Anatolia was recovered, I may agree - but fact remains that they were still in more precarious position than when they held entire Anatolia (albeit some of it was due to developments in the West).
 
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