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Wolff, R. L.; Hazard, H. W. (ed.) / The later Crusades, 1189-1311
(1969)

III: The Crusades of Frederick Barbarossa and Henry VI,   pp. 86-122 PDF (14.1 MB)


Page 99

Ch. III THE CRUSADES OF FREDERICK I AND HENRY VI 99 
and the army more carefully by a splendid reception of his own men and the
preparation of a good market.' Ambassadors would be awaiting him in Sofia.
Instead Frederick was greeted at Nish by an embassy from Alexius, a cousin
of Isaac's, who blamed the Greek treatment of the Germans upon the duke of
Branits, who 'had been much at fault in not guiding them reliably, and in
not rendering . . . the service . . . agreed upon.' Henceforward 'adequate
guides and a market all through Greece' would be furnished provided that
Frederick and his army 'entered peace fully'. Frederick was warned that at
Sofia he would find a Greek army guarding the passes into Thrace, not against
the Germans but against the counts of Serbia, the invaders of Byzantine territory.
'Hence no suspicion of warlike intent should be harbored against him [Isaac]
or the Greeks.' 'In all, however, that he [Alexius] or the chancellor of
the emperor of Constantinople said, they mouthed one thing and meant another.'
 Meanwhile at Nish on July 27 Frederick and the leaders of the army received
Stephen Nemanya, the 'grand zupan" of Serbia, and the leader of the
Serbs' rebellion against Byzantium, together with his two brothers. The Serb
leaders were determined to take full advantage of Frederick's passage to
make secure their rebellion. They loaded him and the leaders of the army
closest to him with a wide variety of gifts: wine, grain, sheep, cattle,
'a tame boar, and three live stags, likewise tame'. The Serb counts offered
an alliance to Frederick 'to help the present expedition, and in particular
against the emperor of Greece, should he happen to resist the army of Christ.'
They were willing moreover to become the vassals of Frederick for the Byzantine
territory they had recently conquered and 'to receive that very land . .
. from the hand of the emperor of the Romans himself'. 9 This must have been
an altogether pleasant prospect for Frederick and his crusading chiefs at
a moment when it seemed likely that Byzantine opposition might obstruct their
march. 
 Yet the Hohenstaufen emperor was not ready at the moment to ally himself
with rebels and thus force the hand of Isaac. He did 'not want,' the chronicler
says, 'by means of a war against someone else, to alter or abandon the proposed
march against the invaders of the Holy Sepulcher.' Nor did he, of course,
wish to preclude a possible use of the Serbs for the future. He replied therefore
'to those counts in a kindly manner. He said that for the love of Christ
he had undertaken a toilsome pilgrimage against the oppressors of 
 9 Ibid., p. 30, lines 7-27. 


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