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)
126 A HISTORY OF THE CRUSADES II 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 advantage. 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 Constantinople. 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.
Copyright 1969 The Board of Regents of the University of Wisconsin System. All rights reserved. Use of this material falling outside the purview of "fair use" requires the permission of the University of Wisconsin Press. To buy the paperback book, see: http://www.wisc.edu/wisconsinpress/books/1733.htm