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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 141

ally, but only at the cost of permitting the steady growth of a Moslem principality
on his very borders. Nicetas Choniates says that the sultan of Rum observed
that the worse the "Romans" were treated, the more splendid were
the presents which their emperor gave.21 
 It might be pointed out that the difficulties with Iconium had been fomented
by Frederick Barbarossa, at heart an enemy of the empire, who revealed his
real plans in a letter to Manuel after Myriokephalon in which he announced
himself as the heir of the Roman emperors with authority over the "rex
Grecorum" and the "regnum Greciae". 
 The rise of Frederick Barbarossa and the dramatic humiliation of Myriokephalon
should not be allowed to obscure Manuel's achievements and his statesmanship.
His diplomacy was marked by a bold attempt to adapt a traditional policy
to changing circumstances. His conception of imperial authority might have
been held by any Byzantine ruler, but its execution had certain original
features, such as his project for uniting the thrones of Hungary and Constantinople
in the person of his prospective son-in-law Bela Alexius, or of Sicily and
Constantinople by a marriage alliance with William II (and possibly, earlier,
with Roger II), demonstrating by this latter move a flexibility of outlook
with regard to the Norman problem. The main threat to the empire was from
the western, rather than the Moslem, powers. Manuel did at least succeed
in postponing during his lifetime a fresh crusade, which would perhaps have
struck its first blow at Constantinople, as in 1204, and if successful in
the east would in any case have weakened Byzantine influence there. Almost
his last move, the marriage of his son Alexius to Agnes of France, was an
attempt to stay the hand of Louis VII, who, with pope Alexander III, was
contemplating a new crusade. To condemn Manuel for not having concentrated
exclusively on strengthening his position in Anatolia and Syria would be
completely to misunderstand the practical needs of Byzantium. 
 The internal life of the empire at this time shows no marked break with
the days of the earlier Comneni. Its main features were concentration on
needs of defense, the steady growth in the use of grants in pronoia and of
the power of the landowner, and the continuity of the normal activities of
a cultured society. As under John Comnenus, the army was well organized and
well disciplined. Recruitment presented serious problems. Manuel tried to
 21 Nicetas Choniates, Historia; De Manuele Comneno, III, 9 (CSHB, p. 163).

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