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History of the Byzantine empire
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But if the Greeks rejoiced in Theodore’s victory, the Latin emperor, Henry, who feared the brave western mercenaries of Theodore, was also contented with the same victory, however strange it may seem at first sight; since almost all these mercenaries had fallen in the war against the Turks, the victory, in the opinion of Henry, actually weakened the Emperor of Nicaea. A historian of that time said that Henry declared: “Lascaris has been vanquished, and has not vanquished.” Henry was mistaken, however, because shortly after the war Theodore had again at his disposal a considerable number of Franks and well-armed Greeks.
The victory over the Turks allowed Theodore to open hostilities against Henry. At that time Theodore’s specific goal was to attack Constantinople with the support of his already considerable fleet. A very interesting letter, which Gerland called a manifesto, was written by Henry from Pergamon at the beginning of the year 1212, addressed to “all his friends whom its contents may reach” (universis amicis suis ad quos tenor presentium pervenerit). The letter testifies that Henry regarded Theodore as a very dangerous foe; he wrote: “The first and greatest enemy was Lascaris who held the whole land beyond the Strait of Saint George as far as Turkey, and, setting up for an emperor, he often pressed upon us from that part … Lascaris collected a very great number of galleys in order to take possession of Constantinople; therefore the city was trembling in great desolation, so that despairing of our return (from Asia Minor) many of our people were planning to flee across the sea; and a great many passed over to Lascaris promising him help against us … All the Greeks began to murmur against us and promised Lascaris support if he would come to fight Constantinople.” The letter ends with an appeal to the Latins to support Henry. “To have full victory and possess our Empire we need a great number of Latins to whom we may give the land which we are acquiring and which we have acquired; for, as you know, it is not enough to acquire the land, but there must be those who can maintain it.” This letter shows clearly that Henry was greatly alarmed by the hostilities of Theodore Lascaris, and, furthermore, that the spirit of his new subjects was wavering.
Nevertheless, this first attempt of Nicaea to restore the former capital of the Empire miscarried; the Empire of Nicaea was not yet sufficiently strong nor prepared for this purpose. The success was on the side of Henry, who penetrated rather far into the interior of Asia Minor. In a letter recently published and dated apparently in the year 1213, Henry gives a brief account of his victory over the Greeks, who “with such insolence and abuse rose against the Roman church that they considered all its sons, devoted Latins, as dogs and, because of their contempt of our faith, generally called them dogs.”
The peace concluded between the two emperors fixed exactly the borders of the two empires in Asia Minor: the northwestern part of the peninsula remained in the hands of the Latin Empire. In other words, without taking into consideration some insignificant territorial annexations made by the Latin Empire within the country, the Latin possessions in Asia Minor, after that peace, differed very little from the possessions that the Empire had received in the partition of 1204.
In 1216 the talented and energetic Henry died in the prime of life. He was admired and beloved even by the Greeks, and a Byzantine chronicler of the fourteenth century said that Henry was “a real Ares.” The historians of the twentieth century also estimate highly his personality and activities. Gerland declared: “Of the [Latin] Empire Henry became the real founder. His institutions laid the basis upon which the Frankish dominion in Greece developed.” “Henry’s death,” wrote A. Gardner, “was certainly a calamity for the Latins — possibly for the Greeks likewise — since his strong but conciliatory policy might have succeeded, if any policy ever could, in filling up the breach between East and West.” In the person of Henry the most dangerous enemy of Nicaea passed away. His successors on the Constantinopolitan throne were distinguished neither for talent nor energy.
In 1222 the founder of the Empire of Nicaea died. Theodore I Lascaris had created a Hellenic center in Asia Minor, unified the state, and attracted to it the attention of the European Greeks. He had laid the foundation upon which his successor was able to build a vast structure. In his eulogistic letters to Theodore Lascaris, Michael Acominatus wrote: “The capital hurled by the barbarian inundation out of the walls of Byzantium to the shores of Asia in the shape of a miserable fragment has been received by thee, guided, and saved … Thou ought to be called forever the new builder and peopler of the city of Constantine … Looking only to thee and calling thee a savior and universal liberator the people wrecked in the universal deluge take refuge in thy state as in a calm harbour … No one of the emperors who reigned over Constantinople I consider equal to thee, except, of those nearer in time, the great Basil Bulgaroctonus, and of the more ancient, the noble Heraclius.”