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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 149

him attempting to retrieve Byzantine prestige in the Balkans with Hungarian
assistance, or trying to safeguard Byzantine interests in the east by coming
to an understanding with Saladin. Indeed Isaac's negotiations with Saladin
reveal the essential rift between the Latins and Greeks and the futility
of hoping for any measure of unity in the Christian ranks. 
 Isaac's successor, Alexius III Angelus, ruled from April 8, 1195, to July
17-18, 1203. His weakness and greed lost the empire what little prestige
it still enjoyed, and played directly into the hands of the western and Balkan
powers. Already in 1195 Barbarossa's son the German emperor Henry VI, now
ruler of Sicily, had demanded from Isaac II the cession of the Greek territory
occupied by the Normans under William II of Sicily. The marriage of his brother
Philip of Swabia to Irene, the daughter of the deposed Isaac II, provided
Henry with a fresh weapon which he did not hesitate to use in his bold policy
of attack. Henry planned a new crusade to conquer Constantinople and the
empire before passing on to Syria and Palestine. Alexius in his fear tried
to meet Henry's demands for heavy tribute, by levying what was known as the
"German" tax, though this would doubtless have afforded only a
temporary breathing space. Henry, in spite of papal opposition, continued
to strengthen his position and was recognized by the rulers of Cyprus and
of Cilician Armenia. The danger was averted only by his unexpected death
in 1197. 
 Meanwhile Byzantine weakness had been further exposed by the advances made
by Serbia and Bulgaria, both of which now judged it expedient to turn to
Rome and to Hungary rather than to Constantinople. In both countries Constantinople
had opportunities to extend its influence, but failed to do so. Stephen of
Serbia, who was married to Alexius III's daughter Eudocia, in vain sought
Byzantine help against his brother Vukan, who succeeded in temporarily gaining
control of the government in 1202 with papal and Hungarian help, though only
at the price of acknowledging Rome's supremacy and Hungary's suzerainty.
The "ban" (ruler) of Bosnia, Kulin, strengthened his position by
similar action. In Bulgaria civil war had broken out, and the throne was
gained by Ioannitsa (Kaloyan), who had lived in Constantinople as a hostage.
But even he, significantly, looked to Rome and not to Byzantium, and in 1204
he was crowned king by the Bulgarian archbishop Basil, who had just been
consecrated primate by Innocent III's legate, cardinal Leo. 

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