Wednesday, March 16, 2011

Likario:The Legendary Italian from Vicenza.

Kastelli :Likario's base of operations in Euboea(Negreponte). 

Likario was born in  Karystus  in the Greek island of Euvoia at the begining of the 13th century. His father was a mercenary of noble ancestry from Vicenza and his mother was Greek, perhaps she was too from from Karystus.As a character he was from a young age a restless person. When he became adult(15-18 years old) his father tired from his bad attitude gave him some money and sent him away forever.

He didn't go far away, at least at the begining. He visited Negreponte(present day Chalkida) which was the capital of the the duchy of the island which had the same name.There somehow he achieved to be hired at the personal guard of the count of Negreponte Giberto de Verona(Guiberto Dalle Carceri).Apparently because of his father's noble ancestry he may have learned at a young age how to use a sword.
At this stage of his life there were series of events that would affect his later deeds critically. The island of Negreponte was divided in three counties. In one of those the seat of the count was vacant as he probably died without heirs and whoever married his widow would take also the 35% of the island.Her name was Felicia and  somehow she met Likario and fell in love with him.
This relationship was unacceptable for the morals of the time. It was impossible for an inferior to marry someone of noble birth. The family of Felicia was criticizing her and condemned this relationship. Their intentions although may not have been purely moralistic.Felicia was under the protection of Lord Giberto's family(she was Guiberto's sister). This meant that if they could keep her unmarried they would be able to control her and thus control 60% of the island. Likario may also have maintained this relationship because of his ambition to become someday a great man(maybe he had a father rejection complex)

Likario and Felicia married in secret and when Felicia's family learned it they got really angry.However they didn't turn to become spectators of this situation. Apparently the noble family had strong bonds with the church and the Vatican and they succeded to cancel this wedding.

Likario got furious with his former master and left Negreponte heading to the south of the island somewhere near his homeland. There he established a lair and became a pirate. He was very succesful in his new "career" He pillaged the surrounding villages and he also sailed to assault merchant ships passing nearby. Because of his success he became famous for his smart pirate tactics and for the fear he caused in the region.

Some years passed but his hatred for the count had never ceased. As a pirate he wasn't able to harm him so he got into contact with the Byzantine emperor who was the main enemy of the Latin duchies of Greece.
The emperor knowing already his qualities offered him a position in the Byzantine army and later in the Byzantine navy.Meanwhile his wife Felicia had long before died in the island under no clear circumastances.
Map of the island of Negreponte(modern Euboea)
She was 42 years old when she died while Likario was much more younger. You can make your own speculations on how she may have died or how she was killed.

Continuing with the history Likario gained the trust of the emperor and he was given imperial forces at his disposal for the task of conquering the whole island of Euvoia for the Byzantine empire. If he succeeded it as a reward the emperor would appoint him Lord of  the whole island. The Byzantines had already won in several battles against the Latins in their effort to reconquer Greece and had conquered an important fort in Euvoia.

Likario reinforced with Byzantine units invaded Euvoia in 1273 A.D and conquered all its fortresses in a short time. The only fortress that was still Latin was the capital of the island Negreponte .The count of Negreponte had already sent calls for aid from the Latin Duchy of Athens and the principality of Achaia. It was the year 1275 and Likario had left the island for a while to fight in Minor Asia the enemies of Byzantium.The prince of Achaia achieved to reclaim some important forts relieving the city of Negreponte but his victories made him so overconfident that he immediately attacked to reclaim the whole island with only 700 experienced knights.In one of    his battles he lost a significant portion of his army and eventually withdrew back to Achaia.
In 1276 after his victory in the battle of Demetrias against the Latins Likario renewed his contract with the emperor about the island and he was again offered the seat of the governor of Negreponte and instead he would send 200 knights of the island in the service of the emperor. In the same year he was appointed as Megas doux(leader of the navy) of the empire and he became the first foreigner to take such a high title in the Byzantine empire.
Likario invaded again Euvoia with the whole Byzantine navy at his disposal and easily recaptured all the forts that were lost during the Prince's of Achaia campaigns.He didn't dare to besiege the capital and instead he turned to capture other Aegean islands for the Byzantine empire.
In 1280 reinforced with Catalan and Sicilian mercenaries he returned  to capture his "big desire" the capital Negreponte. The brother of Felicia along with the Duke of Athens went out of the castle to deal with him. Likario achieved an important victory against their army in a village near Negreponte.In the battle it was reported that Guiberto was killed and the duke of Athens was sent as a captive in Constantinople were he was perhaps executed in public display.
The reaction of the Latins was admirably quick despite the noble casualties. The lord of Argos Iakobo de la Roche organised well the defences of Negreponte and the Venetian fleet reclaimed many of the islands that were captured by Likario. By failing to take Negreponte Likario and the Byzantine army withdrew from the island which was reclaimed by the Lombards in 1289. The traces of Likario are lost in history since 1290.
He probably died some years later in Constantinople.

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