|Battle of Strumica|
|Part of the Byzantine-Bulgarian Wars|
|Bulgarian Empire||Byzantine Empire|
|Commanders and leaders|
|Gavril Radomir||Theophylactus Botaniates †|
|Casualties and losses|
The Battle of Strumica took place in August 1014, near Strumica (or Strumitsa), present-day North Macedonia, between Bulgarian and Byzantine forces. Bulgarian troops under Emperor Samuil's son Gavril Radomir defeated the army of the governor of Thessaloniki, Theophylactus Botaniates, who perished in the battle. After his death the Byzantine Emperor Basil II was forced to pull back from Bulgaria and was unable to take advantage of his success in the recent Battle of Kleidion.
After his victory on 29 July 1014, when a large part of the Bulgarian army was destroyed, Basil II marched westwards and seized the small fortress of Matsukion near Strumitsa, but the town itself remained in Bulgarian hands. That is why the Byzantine Emperor sent an army led by one of his most capable generals, Theophylactus Botaniates, to destroy the palisades to the south of the town, which had been built by Samuil before the campaign. Thus he would clear the way of the Byzantines to Thessaloniki through the valley of the Vardar river.
He [Botaniates] marched on and the Bulgarians who guarded the surroundings allowed him to make his way undisturbed. But when he was preparing to go back to the Emperor after he had fulfilled his orders, he was ambushed in a long gorge. When he entered he was surrounded and fired with stones and arrows; he was killed and no one could help him...— John Skylitzes, Historia, v. II, p. 66
The historian Vasil Zlatarski specifies the battlefield at the Kosturino gorge between the mountains Belasitsa and Plavush. The Byzantines could not organize their defense in the narrow pass and were annihilated. Most of their troops perished including their commander. According to bishop Michael of Devol, Botaniates was killed by the heir to the Bulgarian throne Gavril Radomir, who pierced the Byzantine general with his spear. Upon the news of that unexpected and heavy defeat, Basil II was forced to immediately retreat eastwards and not through the planned route via Thessaloniki. He also lifted the siege of Strumitsa. In order to break the spirit of the Bulgarians, Basil II blinded thousands of soldiers previously captured at Kleidion and sent them to Samuil.