The Blind Army

Between the years of 976 and 1018 AD, a state of war existed between Bulgaria and the Byzantine Empire, led by Basil II and nicknamed the "Bulgar-Slayer".

The culmination of one particular episode of the carnage, at the Battle of Kleidion in 1014, was especially grim. 14000 Bulgarian soldiers were ambushed in a valley and trapped, they had little choice but to surrender and were swiftly taken prisoner. King Basil divided the soldiers in to groups of 100, blinded 99 men in each group, and left one man in each with one eye so that he could lead the others home.

It is said that the King of Bulgaria, Samuil, died of a heart attack when he saw his newly blinded army march past him, other reports say he died three months later, either way the effect must have been devastating.

The author of these words shudders at the thought of those thousands of blind men struggling to find their way home, groping in to the darkness and pinning their hopes on just one man, somewhere in the group, with only one eye. He also wonders at he eventual fate of the blinded soldiers, what use did eleventh century Bulgaria have for 14000 blind men? One suspects their subsequent years were spent in poverty and misery.

2 comments:

Connor D said...

Is this where the phrase "The Blind Leading The Blind" arises from?

The Author Of These Words said...

An interesting theory - you might very well be right.