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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 148

and in the early summer of 1189 he renewed the treaty which Andronicus had
made with Saladin, probably in 1185. Frederick prepared to take the offensive
against Isaac, who had no diplomatic finesse and mishandled the situation.
Philippopolis and Adrianople were occupied by the Germans, who then approached
Constantinople. Frederick had already written to his son Henry telling him
to bring a fleet to attack the city by sea. Constantinople awaited its fate,
fearing that, like Thessalonica, it would be captured and looted. Isaac had
no option but to accept Frederick's terms, and in February 1190 he agreed
to the treaty of Adrianople, which granted the Germans transport and shipping
and Byzantine hostages. Thus Barbarossa had very nearly anticipated events
of 1204; he had certainly demonstrated the weakness of the Byzantine government.
Meanwhile he crossed into Asia Minor and shortly afterwards his untimely
death removed a dangerous enemy. 
 His western fellows in the Third Crusade, Richard the Lion-hearted of England
and Philip Augustus of France, reached the Holy Land, but achieved little
for the Christian cause there. But an event of significance for eastern Mediterranean
politics in the later Middle Ages was Richard's conquest of the strategic
island of Cyprus, then under the independent control of the Byzantine, Isaac
Comnenus. From Richard it passed first to the Templars, and then in 1192
to Guy of Lusignan and his dynasty. 
 Temporarily freed from the German danger, Isaac hastened to retrieve the
position in the Balkans. In the autumn of 1190 he defeated the Serbs and
came to terms with Stephen Nemanya. The "grand zupan" was allowed
to retain certain of his conquests and was given the title of sebastocrator
and the emperor's niece Eudocia as wife for his son Stephen. Though Isaac
could not subdue the Serbian ruler as Manuel had done, in true Byzantine
fashion he did at least try to retain him in the hierarchy of princes under
the "Roman" basileus. Bulgaria proved more difficult to tame and
Byzantine expeditions were defeated. Isaac was undertaking a fresh campaign
with Hungarian help when his brother Alexius III deposed and blinded him,
and ascended the throne on April 8, 1195. 
Isaac has been, perhaps unfairly, denounced as "utterly ineffectual".35
Faced with contemporaries of the caliber of Frederick Barbarossa, Henry VI,
Stephen Nemanya, Peter and Asen, and Saladin, he could not hope to hold his
own. But unwise and impetuous and shortsighted as he was, particularly in
his internal policy, his military expeditions and his diplomatic activity
do at least show 
 35 Runciman, Crusades, II, 429. 

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