University of Wisconsin Digital Collections
Link to University of Wisconsin Digital Collections
Link to University of Wisconsin Digital Collections
The History Collection

Page View

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

I: The Norman Kingdom of Sicily and the Crusades,   pp. 2-43 PDF (56.8 KB)

Page 11

April 12, 1143, the emperor John died. Manuel, designated as his father's
successor, had to fight a rival for the throne, and the negotiations for
his marriage came to a temporary standstill. 
 Roger skillfully exploited this opportunity, by trying to win over the Byzantines.
He too had a marriage to propose, between duke Roger, his eldest son, and
a Byzantine princess. For a moment it seemed that the curious project might
succeed. Angered by alleged associations between his rival to the Byzantine
throne and the Norman refugees at Conrad's court, Manuel sent one of his
courtiers, Basil Xeros, to Sicily to negotiate a pact with Roger. According
to the historian Cinnamus, Basil accepted Sicilian money to write into the
pact provisions detrimental to the interests of the Byzantine emperor - conceivably
recognition of Roger's claim to Antioch, or some other territory claimed
by Byzantium. At any rate, upon seeing the text Manuel threw into prison
the Norman ambassadors who had come to Constantinople for ratification (Basil
had died on the return trip) and broke off relations with Sicily, insults
which Roger never forgave. 
 Manuel then resumed negotiations with Conrad, and in January 1146 he married
Bertha of Sulzbach at Constantinople in the presence of Conrad's ambassadors.
She became the empress Irene. At the same time, the political alliance against
"the invader of two empires" was ratified. As a further step, Conrad
sent his halfbrother Otto, bishop of Freising, to Rome to notify pope Eugenius
III of the new alliance and to announce Conrad's own early arrival in Italy.
Suddenly, however, fortune began to favor the kingdom of Sicily. At Viterbo
in November 1145 pope Eugenius received the news of Zengi's capture of Edessa.
He decided to preach a new crusade. 
 No sooner was the new crusading movement announced than an anti-Byzantine
faction raised its head in France and looked to Roger of Sicily for leadership.
As early as 1140, in the face of the German-Byzantine threat, Roger had turned
a hopeful eye toward France. Many ties of family relationships, tradition,
and natural affinity bound the Italian Hautevilles to their country of origin
and its royal house. As later events were to show, Roger had gained friends
among those French leaders who believed that the great stumbling block to
the success of the Franks in the east was the Byzantine empire.13 Although
it is doubtful that this idea had 
 13 On the Sicilian-French rapprochements see Caspar, RogerII, pp.365-370,
and Chalandon, Domination normande, II, 106-107. Roger won the friendship
of Bernard of Clairvaux by allowing Cistercian monks to settle in Sicily.
See Bernardi epistolae, nos. 207, 208, 209, 447 (FL, CLXXXII). The letters
must be dated after the peace of Mignano, 1139, when Bernard 

Go up to Top of Page