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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 37

command of Tancred, count of Lecce and future king of Sicily, was never defeated.
It cruised in the neighborhood of Constantinople for seventeen days waiting
for the army to arrive to lay siege to the city. Afterwards it withdrew in
good order to Sicily, ravaging islands and the Greek coast on the way. The
war continued relentlessly. To avenge the defeat on the Strymon, William
sent a fleet under the command of the sea-captain Margarit of Brindisi to
Cyprus to assist the governor of the island, Isaac Comnenus, who had now
proclaimed himself emperor. This episode began the career of Margarit, later
admiral and count of Malta, nicknamed king, or even god (Neptunus), of the
sea.44 When a Byzantine fleet put into Cyprus, where it discharged an army,
Margarit destroyed a large part of it while Isaac Comnenus defeated the army
and turned the captured Byzantine generals over to Margarit for confinement
in Sicily. Shortly thereafter, Margarit inflicted another defeat on a Byzantine
fleet en route to Palestine to support Saladin. 
 The Norman attack on the Byzantine empire had no little influence on the
situation in the east. For one thing, it strengthened Saladin's position
on the eve of his conquest of Jerusalem. Up to this moment the alliance between
the Latins of Jerusalem and the Byzantines had proved one of the bulwarks
of the Christian position in the east, withstanding even the test of the
common defeat at Damietta in 1169. But, in fear of a Sicilian (or even a
combined German-Sicilian) attack, Andronicus had accepted Saladin's overtures
and concluded a treaty which was later confirmed by Isaac II Angelus. The
Kurdish leader maintained good relations with both Isaac Angelus in Constantinople
and Isaac Comnenus in Cyprus. On the other hand, while the attack on the
Greek empire had brought the Sicilian king no gain, and probably a serious
loss of prestige, it considerably weakened the empire on the Bosporus and
showed the way to the conquest of 1203-1204. 
 The Sicilian assault had clearly revealed the military weakness of Byzantium.
Not since Guiscard's time had the Normans come nearer their goal, and if
they had followed up their victory at Thessalonica by marching immediately
on the capital, instead of 
history of the siege, Nicetas copied Eustathius. Other sources include Ibn-Jubair,
Rihlah (Amari, BAS, I); Annales Ceccanenses (MGH, SS., XIX), p. 287; and
Estoire d'Eracles, XXIV, 5, 6 (RHC, 0cc., II), pp. 112-113. Compare G. Spata,
I Siciliani a Salonica (Palermo, 1892), which includes an Italian translation
of Eustathius, and Chalandon, Domination normande, II, 400-415. On Byzantium
under the Comneni, see below, chapter IV, pp. 123-146. 
 44 Nicetas Choniates, Historia; De Isaacio Angelo, I (CSHB), pp. 474 ff.,
484. See Chalandon, Domination normana'e, II, 415; Rohricht, Geschichte des
Konigreichs Jerusalem, p. 494, note; and G. Hill, History of Cyprus (4 vols.,
Cambridge, 1948-1952), II, 312-314. 

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