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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 138

emperor should the kingdom of Sicily be united to the Byzantine empire. But
the marriage proposal came to nothing, possibly because the news of Maria's
betrothal to Bela had become known, though no specific explanation is given,
only the cryptic phrase "for various reasons". Later on, after
1170, a second attempt was made, and negotiations were so far carried through
that the young William II went to Taranto to meet a bride who never came.
It was a humiliating experience for the Norman, all the more so if he realized
that Manuel may have changed his plans because he thought that there might
be a possibility of marrying Maria to the heir of Frederick I. 
 Throughout the second phase of Manuel's western policy (1158-1180) he was
also involved in constant negotiation with the various Italian cities, particularly
Venice, Pisa, and Genoa. Venice had always had substantial commercial interests
in the east; the rapid rise of Pisa and Genoa now introduced rivals and provided
Constantinople with alternative allies, particularly in the Genoese. Support
could be bought only by trading concessions, as Alexius and John Comnenus
had found; further, it was impossible to satisfy one party without arousing
the dangerous hostility of others, and in any case the privileged position
of foreign merchants within the empire was bitterly resented by the Greeks
themselves. Hence the mounting tension in Manuel's reign, and a radical change
in relations which was one of the underlying causes of the Fourth Crusade.
Common distrust, first of Roger II, and then of Barbarossa, had for a time
united Venice and Constantinople. But Venetian suspicion had been aroused
by Byzantine activities in Italy, and partially successful designs on Dalmatia,
as well as by the concessions granted to their Italian rivals; treaties were
made with Genoa in 1169 and with Pisa in 1170.16 Venetians within the empire
had long been hated for their arrogance and envied for their wealth. In 1162
they had taken part in an attack on the Genoese in Constantinople which had
annoyed Manuel, who was at that time trying to win Genoese support. He himself
may still have resented the Venetian parody of him at the time of Corfu's
recapture from the Normans in 1148, when the Venetians had a mock Byzantine
ceremony in which the part of the emperor was played by a huge negro. And
it is suggested by a Venetian source that his anger had been aroused by his
failure to receive the active support of Venice against the Normans, whose
ruler he had alienated by withholding the promised Byzantine bride. Thus
the accumu- 
 16 Dolger, Regesten, nos. 1488, 1497, 1498, 1499. 

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