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Hazard, H. W. (ed.) / The fourteenth and fifteenth centuries
(1975)

II: Byzantium and the Crusades, 1261-1354,   pp. [unnumbered]-68 PDF (16.6 MB)


Page 33

Ch. II BYZANTIUM AND THE CRUSADES, 1261-1 354 33 
among the lower classes, came to prefer as the lesser of two evils the possibility
of Turkish occupation to a renewed Latin domination. In any discussion of
Byzantium and the later crusades, therefore, many complex factors must be
considered: political, social, economic, and religious. In the final analysis,
however, it is the last-mentioned factor, the question of accepting or rejecting
union with Rome, that always seems to lie near the surface, and gives an
element of con tinuity to the total picture. 
 The reign of Michael VIII Palaeologus (126 1—1282), 7 which opens
the first phase of Byzantium's involvement in the later crusades, is in a
sense the prototype for all east-west relations up to 1453. It was he who
established that pattern of imperial diplomacy, so often to recur, of offering
religious union to the papacy in exchange for support in thwarting the designs
of external enemies against Con stantinople. Almost immediately upon recovering
Constantinople in 1261 Michael had to face the problem of western attempts
to restore the Latin empire, often through the launching of a new crusade.
For in conquering Constantinople Michael had not only ended Latin rule but
had, at the same time, terminated papal jurisdiction over the Greek church,
a control which at least technically the popes had exercised since 1204.
From 1261 onward it was the aim of almost all popes to seek by one means
or another the return of the "schis matic" Greeks to the "bosom of the Roman
church," an aim which many western ecclesiastics believed could best be accomplished
through the medium of a new crusade. 
 The immediate reaction of pope Urban IV, on hearing of the Greek recovery
of Constantinople, 8 was to look to the preservation of the remaining Latin
possessions in Achaea, Negroponte, and the Aegean islands, while at the same
time taking measures to secure western support for the dethroned Latin emperor
Baldwin II. To this end Urban commanded the preaching of a crusade in France,
Poland, and Aragon—a crusade whose stated goal was not, as before,
the Holy Land, but the recovery of Constantinople.9 Urban's directive is
significant because it is the first in history to order the preaching of
a crusade specifically against the Greeks. Though, to be sure, in 1204 Innocent
III had finally sanctioned the conquest of Constantinople by the western
armies of the Fourth Crusade, his earlier, more 
 7. On Michael's relations with the west, especially the papacy, see Geanakoplos,
Emperor Michael. 
 8. Ibid., chap. V. 
 9. Ibid., pp. 139—142. 


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