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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 30

that in these tenth-century Byzantine expeditions to Syria and Pales tine,
the Greek soldiers did not wear the cross as a badge, nor did they term their
wars "crusades."4 Rather, behind their expeditions was not so much the concept
of freeing the Holy Land from "the pollution of the infidel" as the desire
to restore to the authority of the basileus certain lost areas of the Basileia,
the sacred empire, in particular Syria and Palestine. 
 The Byzantine lack of appreciation for the religious aspect of western crusading
ideology may already be seen during the First Crusade. Even the usually astute
Anna Comnena demonstrated a certain lack of insight when she viewed all the
western knights merely as predatory, bent only on looting the empire. Nor
does the sophisticated emperor Alexius I seem truly to have appreciated the
extent of the genuine piety in crusader motivations. He was, to be sure,
amazed at the masses of westerners who left home and family to take the cross.
But he always suspected that the motive of self-aggrandizement, the personal
ambition of the leaders, was at the bottom of all crusading ventures, despite
the outpouring of pious fervor that manifested itself on the surface. Alexius's
worst fears of Latin motivations were confirmed by the aggressive actions
of Bohe mond—fears transmitted to his grandson, Manuel I, and from
him to all subsequent Greek emperors. By Manuel's time (1143—1180)
there was greater reason for the Byzantine suspicion of the crusading movement.
For during the Second Crusade (1147) Louis VII of France had contemplated
taking Constantinople, and similarly in 1185 the late Manuel's archenemy,
the German emperor Frederick I Barbarossa, encamped before the walls of the
capital, had pondered whether to assault the city. After the Fourth Crusade
in 1204, with its unparalleled looting of Constantinople and enforced Greek
con version to "Catholicism," Byzantine suspicions and fears of the Latins
had became so ineradicably a part of their psychology that nothing thereafter
seemed able to assuage them. 
 Accordingly, from the time of the Greek recovery of Constantino ple by Michael
VIII in 1261 until the final fall of the city in 1453, 
croisade: Les premiers croisades (Paris, 1959), is of little help on the
Byzantine side. See also S. Runciman, "The Byzantine Provincial Peoples and
the Crusade," Relazioni del X Congresso Internazionale di Scienze Storiche,
III (1955), 621—624. 
 4. Possibly the first, or one of the first, Byzantine uses of the western
term crusade is in Nicetas Choniates (staurophoroi: bearers of the cross),
referring to the western knights of the First Crusade coming to Constantinople.
This term is not used during the 9th- and 10th-century Byzantine campaigns
in Syria and Palestine, and the Greek church, though it blessed the Greek
armies and was anxious for the recovery of the holy places and holy relics,
did not promise any special rewards such as remission of sins to the expedition's
partici pants. 

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