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)
Ch. I NORMAN KINGDOM OF SICILY AND THE CRUSADES 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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