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

IV: Byzantium and the Crusades, 1081-1204,   pp. [unnumbered]-151 PDF (14.1 MB)

Page 126

diplomatic situation at this time was perhaps more favorable than in the
west or in the Balkans. The death of Sulaimãn of Rum, the partition
of the sultanate, and the mutual hostility of the emirs had considerably
eased the position and, as always, the precarious balancing of forces in
the Moslem world gave scope of which Byzantine diplomacy was quick to take
 This situation had been exploited to the full by the resourceful Alexius.
It was, however, radically changed by the coming of the western crusaders,
for Greek and Latin aims were marked by fundamental differences. It is unlikely
that Alexius invited the crusade by appealing to Urban II 3; the Byzantine
need was for mercenaries or auxiliaries under imperial control to be employed
as required, whether in the Balkans or in Asia Minor. Latin concentration
on Syria, and particularly Palestine, the natural goal of the devout crusader,
and the refusal of the westerners to put the needs of Byzantine foreign policy
before their own individual ambitions inevitably led to mounting hostility
between eastern and western Christendom during the twelfth century. 
 The advent of the Latin crusaders and their establishment in the eastern
Mediterranean may have influenced, but did not dominate, Alexius' policy
at home and abroad. The more detailed account of the first few crusades 4
has already demonstrated Comnenian adaptability and clear-sighted recognition
of the real danger, never far below the surface, of a western attack on Constantinople
itself. Alexius' exaction of homage and fealty, and of an oath to restore
former Byzantine territory, and his genuine cooperation with western military
leaders, particularly in providing essential supplies and guides, show his
understanding of the feudal tie and its obligations, and his determination
to control and direct the adventure. He reaped his reward in western Asia
Minor, where land was regained, but with the capture of Antioch in 1098 and
the astute maneuvering of his enemy, the Norman Bohemond, he received his
first real check. Antioch, though uncontestably Byzantine and recently in
imperial hands, became the center of a virtually independent principality
ruled by Guiscard's son. The kingdom of Jerusalem and the county of Edessa
were farther off, and for various reasons not of such immediate concern to
 During the years 1096-1108 Alexius had to reckon with open Norman aggression
directed from both Antioch and Italy, and with 
 3 See G. Ostrogorsky, History of the Byzantine State, p. 321; a different
view is to be found in volume I of this work, p. 219. 
 4 See volume I, chapters VIII-X, XIV. 

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