The Crusades~Perspective of the byzantine

by~yuliana cortorreal AKA yuliisCrAyCrAy

     Why was it important for us Byzantine's to control the wonderful city, Jerusalem? It was important for us to control Jerusalem because of many different precedents. In 1054, we started to look towards the patriarch in Constantinople instead of the pope of Rome. Antioch, Alexandria, Rome, Jerusalem and Constantinople were involved in the patriarch. Slowly, the patriarch of Constantinople grew power and became more important than the other eastern patriarchs. Another precedent supporting this statement is how our Byzantine church continued to be seen as a role to protect Christians or making pilgrimages to the Orient.

     From the Byzantine perspective, we think the first crusade started because of a new power upsetting the balance of power in the East. A group called the Seljuks (Turkish people) migrated from Asia, and adopted Islam around the 10th century. The Seljuks then rapidly absorbed the Islamic culture. In the 11th century though, things changed. Different groups advanced westward and invaded eastern states of Arab Caliphate. In 1055, Baghdad fell to the Seljuks, although they maintained (as a symbolic power) the Abassid Caliph. Then in 1070, followed by Arp Arslan, the Seljuks conquered Jerusalem and Syria. Us Byzantines were more concerned about being overruled by the Seljuks than concerned about the church of the Holy Sepucher over in Jerusalem. Our forces were destroyed because of a Seljuk army. They destroyed our forces in 1071 during the battle of Manzikert. Another thing that happened during that battle is our emperor was taken prisoner. I heard he was upset with the army we had because the military wasn't well trained.

     The second crusade we believe happened because of German armies. A man named Conrad(the German King) sent a letter to the emperor when he was at the port of Byzantion. In the letter, it read, "One who possesses intelligence, emperor, must consider not merely a problem in itself, but particularly inquire the reason whence it arose. Whoever depends on a prejudice frequently fails to commend what is good, and does not naturally blame what appears base. And, contrary to general opinion, one sometimes meets with good from enemies, but again experiences something ill from friends. Do not impute to us the causes of the damages lately wrought by the commonality of our army in your land, nor be wroth on that account, since we ourselves have not been causes of such things, but the mob's impulse, recklessly hastening onward, was capable of doing this of its own will. For when a foreign and out-land army is everywhere wandering roving about, partly to investigate the land, partly to gather necessaries, I think it not unreasonable that such injuries occur on every hand." Since the emperor believed the sarcasm, he wrote back, "The inclination of the multitude, perpetually unmanageable and uncontrollable, has not escaped our empire. Indeed, it was our care that you, foreign strangers, would pass uninjured through our [realm] without alleging or really experiencing any harm from us, lest we gain an ill repute among mankind for acting contrary to hospitality. Since, however, such things apparently seem unworthy to blame to your, inasmuch as you are very clever and well skilled in accurately investigating the nature of affairs, we owe you thanks. We shall not then consider how we should rein in the mass impulse of our people, but we shall attribute it to the mob's folly, as you have kindly instructed us. So it will no longer profit you to take the road in groups, nor thus to wander in a foreign land. Since this has seemed right, and the commonality are allowed to exercise their passions on every hand, foreigners are likely to suffer much from natives." This is what he sent them back. Since he knew that the Roman's army was less than the Barbarians, the emperor planned to do the following; the emperor commanded Prosouch and Basil Tzikandyles along with many other Roman generals to take a stand confronting the Germans. They way they fought in war was by having the least warlike in the front, then armored and well-armed in the middle along with the people who rode swift horses, and the Cumans, Turks, and the Roman's archer force in the back. when the Germans saw this, they started the battle. Then the Romans slew them.  

       The crusades affected us Byzantines in many different ways. To start with, they were the final fatal weakening to our empire. The crusades didn't help us recover Anatolia from the Turks, and in 1204 the sack of Constantinople destroyed Byzantium. During the late 1300's, us Byzantines encouraged the Turks (in order to protect us from the Europeans) to invade the Balkans. We were useful to the Turks because we helped them contact with the west, and when it became useless, they took it over in 1453.

     We don't really get along with the Franks. If anything, we don't like the Franks even one bit! One day, all the Franks were giving an oath to the emperor, and one of them had the courage to sit in his throne. While the emperor stayed quite about the situation, a man named Baldwin came to him and said, "You ought not to sit there; that is an honor which the emperor permits to no one. Now that you are in this country, why do you not observe its customs ?" Then the man sitting in the throne spoke(almost as if to himself) "This must be a rude fellow who would alone remain seated when so many brave warriors are standing up." Another man named Alexis told him to learn about what he said, but the interpreter told hi he didn't complain about the Franks. But anyway, Alexis didn't forget about the matter.


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2 years ago