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A.A. Vasiliev
History of the Byzantine empire

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Foreign policy of the Angeli

 

Characteristics of the Emperors of the House of the Angeli.

The dynasty of the Angeli, elevated to the throne by the revolution of 1185, sprang from a contemporary of Alexius Comnenus, Constantine Angelus, of the city of Philadelphia in Asia Minor, a man of low birth, who was married to a daughter of the Emperor Alexius; he was the grandfather of Isaac II Angelus, the first emperor from this house, who was therefore related by the female side to the Comneni.

            One of the aims of the late Andronicus had been to establish a national government; obviously he had failed in this task and at the close of his reign he had begun to incline to the West. After his death, the need of a national government became thoroughly felt, so that, as a recent Italian historian of the rule of Isaac II Angelus, Cognasso, wrote: “The revolution of the twelfth of September (1185) became especially nationalistic and aristocratic in its plans; thus, from the advantages derived from the revolution all classes were excluded except the Byzantine aristocracy.”

            Isaac II (1185-95) who represented, to quote Gelzer, “the embodied evil conscience which sat now upon the rotten throne of the Caesars,” possessed no administrative talents at all. The excessive luxury and foolish lavishness of the court together with arbitrary and unendurable extortions and violence, lack of will power and of any definite plan in ruling the state in its external relations, especially in the Balkan peninsula where a new danger to the Empire appeared in the Second Bulgarian Kingdom, and in Asia Minor, where the Turks continued their successful advance unchecked by the fruitless Third Crusade, — all this created an atmosphere of discontent and agitation in the country. From time to time revolts broke out in favor of one or another claimant to the throne. But perhaps the chief cause of general discontent was “the fatigue of the population at enduring the two evils well recognized by Andronicus: the insatiability of the fiscal administration and the arrogance of the rich.” Finally, in 1195, a plot against Isaac was formed by his brother Alexius, who, with the help of a certain part of the nobility and troops, dethroned the Emperor. Isaac was blinded and imprisoned, and his brother Alexius became Emperor. He is known as Alexius III Angelus (1195-1203), or Angelus Comnenus, sometimes surnamed Bambacoratius (Βαμβακοραβδης).

In his qualities and capacities the new Emperor scarcely differed from his brother. The same foolish lavishness, the same lack of any political talent or interest in government, the same military incapacity brought the Empire by rapid steps far on the way towards disintegration and humiliation. Not without malicious irony Nicetas Choniates remarked concerning Alexius III: “Whatever paper might be presented to the Emperor for his signature, he signed it immediately; it did not matter that in this paper there was a senseless agglomeration of words, or that the supplicant demanded that one might sail by land or till the sea, or that mountains should be transferred into the middle of the seas or, as a tale says, that Athos should be put upon Olympus.” The Emperor’s conduct found imitators among the nobility of the capital, who exerted themselves to the utmost to compete with each other in expense and luxury. Riots took place in both the capital and the provinces. The foreigners who resided in Constantinople, the Venetians and Pisans, often met in bloody conflicts on the streets of the capital. External relations were also unsuccessful.

            Meanwhile, the son of the deposed Isaac II, the young prince Alexius, had succeeded in escaping on a Pisan vessel from Byzantium to Italy; he went then to Germany, to the court of Philip of Swabia, king of Germany, who was married to his sister Irene, daughter of Isaac Angelus. It was the time of the beginning of the Fourth Crusade. The prince begged the pope and the king of Germany, his brother-in-law, to help him to restore the throne to his blind father Isaac. After many complications Alexius succeeded in inducing the crusaders in the Venetian vessels to sail to Constantinople instead of Egypt. In 1203 the crusaders seized the capital of Byzantium and, deposing Alexius III, re-established upon the throne the old and blind Isaac (1203-1204); then they seated his son Alexius by the side of his father, as his co-emperor (Alexius IV). The crusaders encamped close to Constantinople expecting the accomplishment of the terms for which they had stipulated.

            But it was impossible for the Emperors to fulfill those terms, and their complete obedience to the crusaders roused a riot in the capital which resulted in the proclamation as Emperor of a certain Alexius V Ducas Mourtzouphlos (1204), related to the family of the Angeli and married to a daughter of Alexius III. Isaac II and Alexius IV perished during the revolt. The crusaders, seeing that they had lost their chief support in the capital in the persons of the two dead Emperors, and realizing that Mourtzouphlos, who had raised the banner of the anti-Latin movement, was their enemy, decided to take Constantinople for themselves. After a stubborn attack by the Latins and desperate resistance by the inhabitants of the capital, on April 13, 1204, Constantinople passed over into the hands of the western knights and was given up to terrific devastation. Emperor Mourtzouphlos had time to flee from the capital. The Byzantine Empire fell. In its place there were formed the feudal Latin Empire with Constantinople as its capital and a certain number of vassal states in various regions of the Eastern Empire.

            The dynasty of the Angeli or Angeli-Comneni, Greek in its origin, gave the Empire not one talented emperor; it only accelerated the ruin of the Empire, already weakened without and disunited within.

 

 

Relations with the Normans and Turks and the Second Bulgarian kingdom.

            In the year of the revolution of 1185, which dethroned Andronicus I and elevated Isaac Angelus to the throne, the condition of the Empire was very dangerous. After the taking of Thessalonica, the Norman land army started to advance towards the capital, where the Norman fleet had already arrived. But, drunk with their successes, the Normans began to pillage the captured regions; overconfident and having too little respect for the Byzantine army, they were defeated and forced to evacuate Thessalonica and Dyrrachium. This failure of the Normans to land obliged their vessels to leave Constantinople. A treaty of peace concluded between Isaac Angelus and William II put an end to the Norman war. As for the Seljuq danger in Asia Minor, Isaac Angelus succeeded in reducing it temporarily by rich presents and an annual tribute to the Turkish sultan.

            For Isaac Angelus even a temporary interruption of hostilities against the Normans was of very great advantage, for in the first years of his reign events of great importance to the Empire had taken place in the Balkan peninsula. Bulgaria, which had been conquered by Basil II Bulgaroctonus in 1018, after several unsuccessful attempts to regain her independence finally threw off the Byzantine yoke and in 1186 established the so-called Second Bulgarian Kingdom.

            At the head of this movement stood two brothers, Peter or Kalopeter and Asen (Asan). The question of their origin and of the participation of the Wallachian element in the insurrection of 1186 has been several times discussed, and formerly historians believed that the brothers had grown up among the Wallachs and had adopted their tongue. “In the persons of the leaders,” said V. Vasilievsky, “there was embodied exactly that fusion into one unit of the two nationalities, Bulgarian and Wallachian, that has been obvious in all narratives of the struggle for freedom and has been emphasized by modern historians.” More recently, Bulgarian historians have traced the origin of Peter and Asen to the Cuman-Bulgarian racial elements in northern Bulgaria, denied the strength of the Wallachian-Roumanian element in the insurrection of 1186, and considered the foundation of the Second Bulgarian Kingdom of Trnovo a national Bulgarian achievement. Modern Roumanian historians, however, vigorously emphasize again the importance of the part played by the Wallachians in the formation of the Second Bulgarian Kingdom and say that the dynasty of the new kingdom was of Wallachian, i.e. Roumanian, origin.

            Some elements of Bulgarian and Roumanian nationalism have become involved in this question, so that it is necessary to reconsider it with all possible scholarly detachment and disinterestedness. On the basis of reliable evidence, the conclusion is that the liberating movement of the second half of the twelfth century in the Balkans was originated and vigorously prosecuted by the Wallachians, ancestors of the Roumanians of today; it was joined by the Bulgarians, and to some extent by the Cumans from beyond the Danube. The Wallachian participation in this important event cannot be disregarded. The best contemporary Greek source, Nicetas Choniates, clearly stated that the insurrection was begun by the Vlachs (Blachi); that their leaders, Peter and Asen (Asan), belonged to the same race; that the second campaign of the Byzantine Empire during this period was waged against the Vlachs; and that after the death of Peter and Asen the Empire of the Vlachs passed to their younger brother John. Whenever Nicetas mentioned the Bulgarians, he gave their name jointly with that of the Vlachs: Bulgarians and Vlachs. The western cleric Ansbert, who followed the Emperor Frederick Barbarossa in his crusade (1189-1190), narrated that in the Balkans the Emperor had to fight against Greeks and Vlachs, and calls Peter or KalopeterEmperor of the Vlachs and of the most part of the Bulgarians” (Blacorum et maxime partis Bulgarorum dominus) or “imperator of the Vlachs and Cumans,” or simplyEmperor of the Vlachs who was called by them the Emperor of Greece” (Kalopetrus Bachorum [Blachorum] dominus itemque a suis dictus imperator Grecie). Finally, Pope Innocent III in his letters to the Bulgarian King John (Calojoannes) in 1204 addressed him as “King of Bulgarians and Vlachs” (Bulgarorum et Blacorum rex); in answering the pope, John calls himself “imperator omnium Bulgarorum et Blacorum,” but signs himself “imperator Bulgariae Calojoannes;” the archbishop of Trnovo calls himself “totius Bulgariae et Blaciae Primas.”

            Although the Wallachians initiated the movement of liberation, the Bulgarians without doubt took an active part in it with them, and probably contributed largely to the internal organization of the new kingdom. The Cumans also shared in the movement. The new Bulgarian kingdom was ethnologtcally a Wallachian-Bulgarian-Cuman state, its dynasty, if the assertion of Nicetas Choniates is accepted, being Wallachian.

            The cause of the revolt was the discontent with the Byzantine sway felt by both Wallachians and Bulgarians, and their desire for independence. The time seemed particularly auspicious to them, since the Empire, which was still enduring the consequences of the troubles of Andronicustime and the revolution of 1185, was unable to take adequate measures to put down the revolt. Nicetas Choniates naively said that the revolt was caused by the driving away of the Wallachscattle for the festivities held on the occasion of the marriage of Isaac Angelus to a daughter of the king of Hungary.

            Peter, this “renegade and evil slave,” as he was called by the metropolitan of Athens, Michael Acominatus, and Asen at first received some defeats from the Byzantine troops; but they were able to enlist the aid of the Cumans, who lived beyond the Danube. The struggle grew more difficult for the Empire, and Peter and Asen succeeded in concluding a sort of treaty. Peter had already assumed the title of tsar at the outset of the revolt and had begun to wear the imperial robes. Now the new Bulgarian state was recognized as politically independent of Byzantium, with a capital at Trnovo and an independent national church. The new kingdom was known as the Bulgarian Kingdom of Trnovo, Simultaneously with the Bulgarian insurrection a similar movement arose in Serbian territory, where the founder of the dynasty of Nemanya, the “Great Župan” (Great Ruler) Stephen Nemanja, who laid the foundation for the unification of Serbia, made an alliance with Peter of Bulgaria for the common fight against the Empire.

            In 1189, as a participant in the Third Crusade, Frederick Barbarossa of Germany was passing across the Balkan peninsula towards Constantinople on his way to the Holy Land. The Serbs and Bulgarians intended to use that favorable opportunity and to obtain their aim with Frederick’s help. During his stay at Nish Frederick received Serbian envoys and the Great Župan Stephen Nemanya himself, and at the same time opened negotiations with the Bulgarians. The Serbs and Bulgarians proposed to Frederick an alliance against the Byzantine Emperor, but on condition that Frederick should allow Serbia to annex Dalmatia and retain the regions which had been taken away from Byzantium, as well as that he should leave the Asens in permanent possession of Bulgaria and secure the imperial title to Peter. Frederick gave them no decisive reply and continued his march. In this connection a historian of the nineteenth century, V. Vasilievsky, remarked: “There was a moment when the solution of the Slavonic problem in the Balkan peninsula was in the hands of the western Emperor; there was a moment when Barbarossa was about to accept the help of the Serbian and Bulgarian leaders against Byzantium, which undoubtedly would have led to the ruin of the Greek Empire.

            Soon after the crossing of the crusaders into Asia Minor the Byzantine army was severely defeated by the Bulgarians. The Emperor himself narrowly escaped capture. A contemporary source reported, “The many slain filled the cities with weeping and made villages sing mournful songs.”

            In 1195 a revolution occurred in Byzantium which deprived Isaac of the throne and of his sight and made his brother Alexius Emperor. First of all, Alexius had to confirm himself on the throne and therefore he opened peace negotiations with the Bulgarians. But they presented unacceptable terms. Some time later, in 1196, by means of Greek intrigues, both the brothers, Asen and later Peter, were murdered. Thereupon John, their younger brother, who had formerly lived for some time in Constantinople as hostage and had become very well acquainted with Byzantine customs, reigned in Bulgaria. He was the famous Tsar Kalojan, “from 1196 a threat to the Greeks and later to the Latins.” Byzantium could not cope alone with the new Bulgarian tsar who, entering into negotiations with Pope Innocent III, received a royal crown through his legate. The Bulgarians recognized the pope as their head, and the archbishop of Trnovo was raised to the rank of primate.

            Thus, during the dynasty of the Angeli a powerful rival to Byzantium arose in the Balkan peninsula in the person of the Bulgarian king. The Second Bulgarian Kingdom, which had increased in power towards the end of the reign of the Angeli, became a real menace to the Latin Empire which was founded in the place of the Byzantine Empire.

 

The Third Crusade and Byzantium.

            After the fruitless Second Crusade the condition of the Christian dominions in the East continued to cause serious apprehensions: the internal dissensions among the princes, the court intrigues, the quarrels of the military orders, and the pursuit of private interests — all these weakened the Christians more and more and facilitated the advance of the Muslims. The most important centers of the Christian dominions, Antioch and Jerusalem, were not strong enough to protect themselves successfully. The energetic ruler of Syria, Nurad-Din Mahmud, who in the middle of the twelfth century had taken possession of Damascus, began to threaten Antioch. Moreover, a real danger came from Egypt, where the Kurd Saladin, a talented leader and clever politician with ambitious plans, had overthrown the ruler of the Fatimid dynasty, which was ruling there, had taken possession of Egypt at the end of the seventh decade of the twelfth century, and had founded the dynasty of the Ayyoubids. Profiting by Nur-ad-Din’s death, Saladin conquered Syria and then most of Mesopotamia, and thereby surrounded the Kingdom of Jerusalem on the south, east, and north.

            At that time there were serious troubles in Jerusalem, of which Saladin was aware. Learning that one of the Muslim caravans, in which his sister was traveling, had been pillaged by the Christians, Saladin entered the territory of the Kingdom of Jerusalem and in 1187, in the battle of Hittin (Hattin), close to the sea of Tiberias, defeated the Christian army. The king of Jerusalem and many other Christian princes fell into the hands of Saladin. Then he took a number of maritime places, such as Beirut, Sidon, Jaffa and so on, and thus cut off the Christians from the possibility of getting reinforcements by sea. After that Saladin marched upon Jerusalem and in the autumn of the same year (1187), without much difficulty, captured the Holy City. All the sacrifices offered by Europe and all her religious enthusiasm were of no avail. Jerusalem passed again into the hands of the infidel. A new crusade was necessary.

            The pope was acting energetically in the west in favor of the new crusade. He succeeded in rousing three sovereigns: Philip II Augustus, king of France, Richard I the Lion-Hearted (Coeur-de-Lion), king of England, and Frederick I Barbarossa, king of Germany, joined the movement. But in that crusade which began so brilliantly there was no general guiding idea. The participants in the crusade endeavored, first of all, to secure for themselves friendly relations with the rulers of the countries through which they had to pass. Philip Augustus and Richard marched via Sicily, and therefore they had to be on good terms with the king of Sicily. Intending to go to the east through the Balkan peninsula, Frederick Barbarossa entered into negotiations with the king of Hungary, the Great Župan of Serbia, the Emperor Isaac Angelus, and even with the sultan of Iconium in Asia Minor, Saladin’s enemy, a Muslim. Political combinations and concerns forbade the sovereign-crusader to regard his Muslim ally with pride or indifference. At the same time the Christians faced as their adversary no disunited Muslim forces, as they had before, but Saladin, victoriousespecially after the taking of Jerusalemtalented and energetic, who had concentrated in his hands the forces of Egypt, Palestine, and Syria. On hearing of the projected crusade he appealed to the Muslims for an energetic and untiring struggle against the Christians, these “barking dogs” and “foolish men,” as he designated them in a letter to his brother. It was a kind of countercrusade against the Christians. A medieval legend relates that Saladin himself had, before this, made a tour of Europe in order to become acquainted with the position of different Christian countries. A modern historian stated, “No crusade had ever had before so clearly the character of a duel between Christianity and Islam.”

            Frederick Barbarossa passed safely through Hungary and, advancing through the Balkan peninsula, entered into negotiations with the Serbs and Bulgarians. For the success of his further advance, the question of what relations he could establish with Isaac Angelus was extremely important.

            Since the massacre of the Latins in Constantinople in 1182 relations between the Christian East and West had been strained. The friendly understanding of Frederick Barbarossa with the Normans, which had taken the form of the marriage of his son to the heiress of the Kingdom of Sicily, forced Isaac to regard him with still greater suspicion. Despite the treaty made at Nürnberg by an envoy of the Byzantine Emperor with Frederick before his departure for the crusade, Isaac Angelus opened negotiations with Saladin, against whom the crusade was being directed. Saladin’s envoys made their appearance at the court of Isaac. They made an alliance against the sultan of Iconium, by virtue of which Isaac, as far as he could, was to hinder Frederick from advancing to the East; at the same time Saladin promised to return the Holy Land to the Greeks. Isaac’s attitude toward Frederick was growing very doubtful. Frederick’s negotiations with the Serbs and Bulgarians, which had been clearly aimed against Byzantium, could not but alarm Isaac.

            Meanwhile the crusading army of Frederick occupied Philippopolis. In his message to the western Emperor, Isaac named him “the king of Alemannia” and himself “the emperor of the Romans;” he accused him of intending to conquer the eastern Empire, but promised to help him cross the Hellespont, if Frederick would give him noble German hostages and pledge himself to deliver him half of the land conquered by the Germans in Asia. The German ambassadors who were in Constantinople were imprisoned. Matters came to such a pass that Frederick had already determined to conquer Constantinople and had written to his son Henry to assemble the fleet in Italy and to obtain from the pope the preaching of a crusade against the Greeks. Meanwhile, after the taking of Hadrianople, Frederick’s troops occupied Thrace, almost as far as the very walls of Constantinople. A source said, “the whole city of Constantinople is shivering with fright thinking that its destruction and the extermination of its population are near.”

            At that critical moment Isaac yielded. He made peace with Frederick at Hadrianople, and the chief conditions were: Isaac provided the vessels for transferring Frederick’s troops across the Hellespont into Asia Minor, delivered him hostages, and promised to supply the crusaders with food. In the spring, 1190, the German army crossed the Hellespont.

            Frederick’s expedition is known to have ended in complete failure. After an exhausting march through Asia Minor the crusading army reached the limits of the state of Armenia Minor, in Cilicia. There, in 1190, the Emperor was, by mere accident, drowned in a river; thereupon his army was dispersed. In Frederick the most dangerous adversary of Saladin passed away.

            The expedition of the two other west European sovereigns, Philip II Augustus and Richard I the Lion-Hearted, who had gone to Palestine from Sicily by sea, encroached upon the interests of Byzantium much less. However, with the name of Richard is closely connected the problem of Byzantium’s definite loss of the island of Cyprus, which was an important strategic point in the eastern part of the Mediterranean.

            During the tyranny of Andronicus I, Isaac Comnenus had seceded from the Empire, proclaimed himself independent ruler of Cyprus, and entered into an agreement with the king of Sicily. Isaac Angelusattempt to regain the island had ended in failure. During his expedition to the East Richard the Lion-Hearted was irritated by the attitude of the ruler of Cyprus towards the vessels bearing Richard’s sister and bride, which had been wrecked off the shores of the island. Then Richard landed at Cyprus and, after Isaac Comnenusdefeat and deposition, handed over the island to Guy de Lusignan, ex-king of Jerusalem. In 1192 the latter became ruler of Cyprus and founded there the dynasty of the Lusignans, giving up his illusive rights to the Kingdom of Jerusalem, which at that time did not belong to the Christians. It seemed that the new Latin state in Cyprus should play a very important role as a strategic basis of operation for the future Christian enterprises in the East.

            The crusade accomplished nothing. Without having obtained any result both the sovereigns returned to Europe. Jerusalem remained in the power of the Muhammedans. The Christians preserved for themselves only a narrow shore strip, from Jaffa to Tyre. Saladin was master of the situation.

 

Henry VI and his eastern plans.

            If the danger had been great for Byzantium under Frederick Barbarossa, it became still more threatening under his son and successor, Henry VI. The latter, filled with the Hohenstaufen idea of unrestricted power granted him by God, could not, for this reason alone, have a friendly attitude towards another emperor who claimed to possess the same absolute power, that is, the Emperor of Byzantium. But besides that, he inherited, as the husband of the Norman princess Constance, the Kingdom of the Two Sicilies; therewith he inherited also the whole stubborn enmity of the Normans for Byzantium, and their aggressive plans. It seemed left for Henry VI to carry out what his father had not done, namely to annex Byzantium to the Western Empire. A sort of ultimatum was sent to Constantinople. In it Henry reclaimed from Isaac Angelus the cession of the territory in the Balkan peninsula between Dyrrachium and Thessalonica, which had been conquered by the Normans but later restored to Byzantium; in the same document the question was raised of compensation for the damages which Frederick Barbarossa had suffered during the crusade and of help for Henry by the Byzantine fleet in his expedition to Palestine. Isaac had scarcely sent Henry an embassy when in 1195, he was dethroned and blinded by his brother, Alexius III.

            After this revolution the conduct of Henry VI became still more threatening. He arranged the marriage of his brother Philip of Swabia to Irene, daughter of the deposed Emperor Isaac, and thereby created for his brother some rights to Byzantium. In the person of Henry VI the new Byzantine Emperor “was to fear not only the Western Emperor, the heir of the Norman kings and crusader, but also, first of all, an avenger in behalf of the dethroned Isaac and his family.” The objective of the crusade which was being fitted out by Henry was as much Constantinople as Palestine. His plans embraced the possession of all the Christian East, including Byzantium. Circumstances seemed to be favorable to his aim: an embassy from the ruler of Cyprus came to Henry begging the Emperor to confer upon him the royal title and expressing the desire to be “forever a man (i.e., vassal) of the Roman Empire” (homo imperil esse Romani). The ruler of Armenia Minor applied to Henry with a similar request for the royal title. Had Henry succeeded in establishing himself in Syria, he would have been able entirely to surround the Byzantine Empire.

            At this critical moment the pope took the side of Byzantium. He understood very well that, if the dream of the Hohenstaufens of a universal monarchy, including Byzantium, should be realized, the papacy would be doomed to permanent impotence. Therefore the pope exerted himself to the utmost to restrain Henry from his offensive plans against the Eastern Empire; the schismatic belief of the Byzantine Emperor seems not to have alarmed the successor of St. Peter. Perhaps for the first time in history, as Norden suggested, the Greek problem almost entirely lost for the papacy its religious character and presented itself as exclusively political. “What would a spiritual victory signify for the curia if it were to be bought at the price of the political liquidation of the Papacy!” To the papacy it seemed a secondary question whether Byzantium, as a buffer state against western imperialism, would be a Catholic or schismatic state, whether a legitimate Greek emperor or a usurper would sit on the Byzantine throne; to the papacy of the end of the twelfth century the principal thing was that the Byzantine state should preserve its independence intact.

            Meanwhile Henry sent a threatening message to Alexius III, similar to that which had been sent before to Isaac. Alexius could buy peace only by paying to Henry an enormous amount of money; for that purpose Alexius introduced in the whole state a special tax, which was calledAlamanian” (αλαμανικον) and took off precious ornaments from the imperial tombs. Only by such humiliation did he succeed in buying peace from his terrible adversary. At the end of the summer of 1197 Henry arrived at Messina in order to attend personally the setting out of the crusade. An enormous fleet had been assembled, which had perhaps as its aim not the Holy Land, but Constantinople. But just at that moment the young and vigorous Henry fell ill with fever and died in the autumn of the same year, 1197. With Henry’s death his ambitious plans broke down; for the second time within a brief period the East escaped the Hohenstaufens. Byzantium met the news of Henry’s death and the release from the “Alamanian tax” with great joy. The pope also breathed a sigh of relief.

            Henry’s activity, which showed the complete triumph of political ideas in crusading enterprises, had a very important significance for the future destinies of Byzantium. “Henry raised definitely the problem of the Byzantine Empire, the solution of which was soon to become a preliminary condition of the success of the crusades.”

            That Henry VI dreamed of a world monarchy and of the conquest of Constantinople is now absolutely denied by some historians, who point out that such a statement is based only on the authority of a Byzantine historian of that epoch, Nicetas Choniates, and that the western sources afford no evidence for it. These writers contend that the statement emphasized by Norden, whom Bréhier followed, is not authentic; they believe that in 1196 Henry had no serious thought of any attack on Byzantium; that Henry’s crusade had nothing to do with the Byzantine policy, and that the foundation of a world monarchy by Henry is to be referred to the realm of fables. But one cannot reject the evidence of the contemporary Nicetas Choniates, who made a clear statement of Henry’s aggressive plans against Byzantium. Such a policy, moreover, was an immediate continuation and result of that of his father, Frederick Barbarossa; in the course of the Third Crusade Frederick had been on the point of seizing Constantinople. Therefore the policy of Henry VI was not only the policy of a crusader, but also the policy of a man absorbed in the illusive idea of creating a world monarchy in which Byzantium was to become the most important part.

 

 




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