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

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

Page 31

whenever the Byzantines heard of western plans for a new crusade they at
once assumed a negative, defensive posture. With few excep tions most Byzantines
paid no heed at all to the idealism, the pious words of pope Gregory X (1271—1276)
or of certain enlightened western crusader-propagandists like Humbert of
Romans (d. 1277) and Marino Sanudo Torsello (d. 1334). Almost pathologically
the mentality of the Byzantine man on the street came to be deeply conditioned
by the conviction that the crusades were merely orga nized expeditions of
bandits aimed at the resubjugation of Byzan tium. Whatever their guise might
be—whether an overt attempt to restore the Latin empire, a crusade
to take Smyrna, or plans to attack Egypt—all mass movements to the
east on the part of western arms and men were for the Byzantines suspect
and potentially terrifying. 
 The history of Byzantium's connection with the later crusades may be divided
into three major phases. The first, from 1261 to 1331, the death of prince
Philip of Taranto, grandson of Charles I of Anjou and heir to his aspirations,
was dominated by the attempts of western claimants to restore the Latin empire.
In the second phase, extending from 1331 to the battle of Nicopolis in 1396,
western expeditions to the east were motivated both by papal fears and by
the commercial interests of Venice, whose eastern trade and colonies were
increasingly threatened by the advance of the Ottoman Turks. Hence arose
the dual aim of clearing the Aegean of Turkish pirates and establishing a
Latin beachhead in Asia Minor—considerations leading to the remarkable
western-Byzantine coalition of 1334 and the crusade to Smyrna in 1344. Byzantium
was, to be sure, not directly involved in all these expeditions, and never
really responded positively to appeals for a crusade, although a change in
the situation had effected a partial alteration of the Byzantine attitude.
With the end, in 133 1, of overt western attempts to restore the Latin empire
of Constantinople, some Greeks began to realize that their own fate might
well depend on whatever results western arms might be able to achieve against
their oppressors, the Ottoman Turks. The once mighty Byzantine empire had
by then become in large part merely an onlooker, one which gazed as if mesmerized
yet was almost powerless to do anything about events directly affecting its
own destiny. In the third phase, from 1396 to 1453, the overwhelming problem
which cast everything else into the shade was the ever-growing threat of
the Ottoman Turks, who had almost completely encircled Constantino pie and
who, if Constantinople should fall, would even menace the west. Growing increasingly
fearful of the Turks, the leaders of Latin 

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