byzantine Perspective from the crusades

By: Adrienne Arrona

Why was Jerusalem important to the Byzantines?

The Council of Chalcedon had established five patriarchs, church officials in a particular region of Antioch, Alexandria, Rome, and later Jerusalem and Constantinople. The patriarch of Constantinople very slowly increased in power also was seen as more important than the other eastern patriarchs of Jerusalem, Antioch and Alexandria. The rift widened more when Charlemagne was crowned as a new Roman emperor by the pope in 800, and when an emperor was already ruling in Constantinople. In 968, the German king Otto the I gave himself the title of Holy Roman Emperor, which brought scorn and indignation from the Byzantines.By 1054 the difference had grown so well that the pope patriarch excommunicated each other over a theological debate.

The reason for the crusades based on the Byzantines point of view?

A new power began to upset the balance of power in the East. A Turkish nomadic people called the Seljuks migrated from the central steppes. They adopted Islam as early as the 10th century and rapidly absorbed Islamic culture.And In the 11th century, groups advanced westward and overran to the eastern states of the Arab Caliphate. Baghdad fell to them in 1055 even though they maintained the Abassid Caliph as merely a symbolic power. Around 1070, led by Alp Arslan, they conquered Syria and Jerusalem.But Byzantium was not as concerned for religious sites such as the Church of the Holy Sepucher in Jerusalem as they were for the threat of being overcome by this new force.

The effects of the crusades on the Byzantines?

A Seljuk army pushed forward to Anatolia and destroyed the Byzantine forces in the battle of Manzikert in 1071 where the emperor was taken prisoner. The emperor was upset at having to fight this battle not with a well-trained military but with mercenaries hastily put together. And even though the Seljuks were not a direct threat, the emperor felt the need to call for assistance.

What are Byzantines perspectives on other groups?

During the Arab conquests in the 7th and 8th centuries, Arab armies overran wealthy Byzantine provinces of Egypt and Syria before advancing on Constantinople. The city held out, eventually turning back the Arabs. Thus, when the European Crusaders set off on their first campaign in the Orient, Byzantine society had already experienced centuries of fighting and confrontation. There had been no sign of a crusading spirit, no union of a" Christian world against an Islamic one." Nor was there a need to unify with the western crusading powers.

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