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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 132

brought it great wealth, though also great unpopularity. John's attempt to
reduce Venetian influence resulted in attacks on Byzantine territory, particularly
the islands, during the years 1122-1126. Finally he judged it expedient to
make peace and in 1126 renewed the privileges granted by his father. He had
to recognize that Venetian enmity would damage his position in Italy. He
did, however, attempt to establish good relations with Venice's rivals, Pisa
and Genoa. Pisa, which was being approached by Roger II of Sicily, was courted
by a Byzantine embassy in 1136, followed by the confirmation of the trading
privileges, which had been granted it by Alexius Comnenus. The Genoese, who
were to play so important a role in the later empire, also wished for a share
in imperial trade, and they appear to have been in Constantinople in 1 142
for purposes of negotiation. 
 At the opening of John's reign affairs in Germany and Italy were not unfavorable
to him. Emperor Henry V of Germany and pope Gelasius II were at loggerheads
and Apulia was rent by feuds. But when Roger II united the Norman lands in
southern Italy and Sicily in 1127 and was crowned king in 1130, danger threatened.
John sought to counter this by a rapprochement with the German rulers, first
Lothair II, who followed Henry in 1125, and then his successor, Conrad III.
Throughout he also kept in touch with the popes, who were precariously placed
between the Normans and the Germans; he approached first Calixtus II in 1124,
and then Honorius II in 1126,8a with the prospect of ecclesiastical reunion.
In particular, he suggested an understanding whereby the pope would have
the spiritual, and the "Roman" (Byzantine) emperor the secular,
supremacy, though the actual wording of this famous letter is so vague as
to defy precise elucidation (which was perhaps what was intended). 
 With his position to some extent safeguarded by his network of alliances
in the west, John in 1136 judged it opportune to attempt the extension of
his authority in the east by striking at both Moslem and Christian powers.
His goal was full control of Antioch and the implementation of the treaty
of Devol, which his father had made with Bohemond in 1108. Apart from constant
vigilance towards his Selchükid neighbors at Iconium (Konya), John's
more particular concern in Anatolia at this time was the rising power of
the Danishmendids, who had in 1125 captured Melitene. They had penetrated
into Cilicia, compelling the Roupenids to pay tribute, and 
 8a Some scholars suggest the years 1139 and 1141 in Innocent II's pontificate.
See Lamma, Comneni e Staufer, I, 28. 

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