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The Last Era of Roman Magnificence: 12th Century Byzantium and the Komnenoi Emperors

The Last Era of Roman Magnificence: 12th Century Byzantium and the Komnenoi Emperors

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Published by vasilefs
The period of the Crusades coincided with last era of Roman (Byzantine) magnificence. Until the sack of Constantinople in AD 1201, Byzantium had been the most powerful state in the Mediterranean sphere - except perhaps at sea where its navy, although large, appears weaker than those of Venice and Norman Sicily. As well as the usual stories of wars and place intrigues, this paper also examines the tactics and equipment of the Komnenian army, which campaigned in Anatolia, Syria, Hungary, Dalmatia and Italy.
The period of the Crusades coincided with last era of Roman (Byzantine) magnificence. Until the sack of Constantinople in AD 1201, Byzantium had been the most powerful state in the Mediterranean sphere - except perhaps at sea where its navy, although large, appears weaker than those of Venice and Norman Sicily. As well as the usual stories of wars and place intrigues, this paper also examines the tactics and equipment of the Komnenian army, which campaigned in Anatolia, Syria, Hungary, Dalmatia and Italy.

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Published by: vasilefs on Jan 07, 2011
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O’ROURKE: BYZANTIUM UNDER THE KOMNENOI EMPERORS
THE LAST ERA OF ROMAN MAGNIFICENCE
The Komnenoi emperors and after:a detailed chronicle of Byzantium
 
(
 Basileía Rõmaíõn
), AD 1118 to AD 1220
From the death of Alexios I Komnenos to the Latin sack of Constantinople and the formation of the Lascarid state at Nicaea
 WITH
 
NOTES
 
ON
 
THE
 
TROOP
 
TYPES
 
 AND
 
TACTICS
 
OF
 
THE
 
KOMNENIAN
 
 ARMY 
 by Michael O’RourkeCanberra AustraliaJanuary 2011List of Roman (Byzantine) Emperors1118-43:Ioannes (John) I Komnenos/Comnenus1143-80:Manouel (Manuel) I Komnenos1180-83:Alexios II Komnenos1182-83:(Regent:) Andronikos Komnenos1183-85:(Emperor:) Andronikos I Komnenus1185-95:Isaakios (Isaac) II Angelos1195-1203:Alexios III Angelos1203-04: Isaac II Angelos, restored. Co-emperor Alexius IV Angelos. And Alexios III Angelos, rival emperor in Thrace.*1204:Alexios V Doukas MurtzuphlosRival emperor in Thrace: Alexius III Angelos1204-61:
 Latin rule in Constantinople
1205-21:Theodoros (Theodore) I Laskaris,
Greek emperor at Nicaea
, modernIznik.(*) Thrace is the region of Europe that adjoins Istanbul / Constantinople, i.e.today’s Turkey-in-Europe plus the southern quarter of Bulgaria. Its largest town was (is) Adrianople (modern Edirne).
To disambiguate the several Alexioi:
 Alexios II: son of Manuel Comnenus; grandson of Alexius I. Alexios III: younger brother of Isaac Angelos. Alexios IV: son of Isaac Angelos. Alexios V: husband of Alexius III’s youngest daughter; brother in law of TheodoreLascaris.
1
 
O’ROURKE: BYZANTIUM UNDER THE KOMNENOI EMPERORS
Mini-articles:
In addition to the entries for each year, this paper gives an extended treatment overseveral pages to the following topics:‘The Second Crusade:
 Alamanoi, Keltoi 
and
Germanoi,
1146-47’.‘The Norman Raid on Greece, 1147-48’.‘Byzantium’s Last Italian Campaign, 1154-56’.‘The Comnenian Army’: after 1158.‘The Comnenian Apogee: Byzantium in Benjamin of Tudela’s
 Itinerary,
ca. 1166-68’.‘The March to the Danube, 1167’.‘The Battle of Myriocephalon, 1176’.‘Old and New Cities in 1200’: after the entry for 1185.‘Latin Crusaders attack, capture and plunder Christian Constantinople, 1203-04.’‘The Nicaean Army and Lascaris’s Expedition to the Meander Valley, 1211.’
Introduction: The Mediterranean World in the Early 1100s
Christian princes ruled the northern side of the Mediterranean, while Muslim sultansand emirs controlled North Africa (also southern Spain) and the LevantTaking Islam first, and beginning in the East, we have the Seljuk Turks ruling fromPersia west to Anatolia. The great Seljuk Empire was, however, breaking up: the twostrongest Seljuk-ruled states were the Sultanate of Hamadan in our lower Iraq (includingBaghdad) and the Sultanate of Rum in what is now upland central Turkey. In additionthere were lesser emirates at: Shiraz in Persia; Mosul (our upper Iraq); Ganja in Azerbaijan; Akhlat on the coast of Lake Van (old Armenia); Erzurum; Erzinjan; Sivas(seat of the Danishmendid Turks); and Damascus.There were four Latin Christian (‘Crusader’) states lodged in what had been, until theFirst Crusade, one of the heartlands of Islam: 1 the Kingdom of Jerusalem, ruled by theFrench-born Baldwin II (
 Baodouin de Bourcq
, r. 1118-31); 2 the County of Tripoli; 3 thePrincipality of Antioch in Syria; and 4 the County of Edessa in NW Mesopotamia.The Fatimids (Shi’ite Arabs) ruled Egypt. Our Libya and Tunisia were divided betweenthe Bedouin Arabs of the Beni (Banu) Sulaym tribe, the Beni Hilal nomads, and theZirids of Mahdiya (northern Tunisia).(*) Algeria was ruled by the Hammadid emirs, aBerber line. Finally, we have the Almoravid Empire [
al-murabitun
, “battle-ready”], ruled by another Berber dynasty, covering Morocco and the bottom half of Iberia. Muslim rulestill extended as far as southern Catalonia.(*) The Fatimids had sent the Beni Hilal Bedouin from Egypt west to the Mahgrebin the 10
th
Century to punish the Zirids for abandoning Shi’ism. The historian IbnKhaldun noted that the lands ravaged by Banu Hilal invaders became completely arid desert.Turning to the Christian states, we will begin with Iberia and track east. First, the northof Iberia was divided between the Kingdom of Leon-Castile and the Kingdom of Navarre(seat at Zaragoza from 1118). The Kingdom of France had a small toe-hold on the NW coast of the Mediterranean, dividing the County of Barcelona from the County of Provence (both of which were subject to the Count of Barcelona).*
2
 
O’ROURKE: BYZANTIUM UNDER THE KOMNENOI EMPERORS
(*) To call the upper part of this region ‘Occitania’ would be an anachronism: thename does not appear until 1242. The name
Catalunya
(for the lower part) appearssomewhat earlier, i.e. in the early 1100s.The northern Italian princes were vassals of the ‘German’ Emperor (Franconian orSalian dynasty). (*) In the south, the Norman Kingdom of “Sicily” so-called (also knownas “the Regno”) included not only Sicily but (from 1130) also the whole southern half of the Italian peninsula. It was called ‘Sicily’ because the capital until 1266 was at Palermo.(*) It is perhaps too early to use the term ‘German’. The Salian kings’ subjects were variously Bavarians, Alemanns (Swabians), Franconians, Dutch, Saxons, Slavs andItalians (”Lombards”).Many would argue, however, that a German (as distinct from Frankish) identity 
was
in fact firmly established by the eleventh century. In any event, the Papacy used the term
regnum teutonicorum
or ‘kingdom of the Germans’ against Henry  VI, king from 1056 and emperor from 1084. The pope wanted to restrict Henry’s(Heinrich’s) claim of rulership. Henry II, king from 1002 and emperor from 1014,flourished the title of 
rex Romanorum,
‘king of the Romans’. This was a piece of anti-Byzantine propaganda.
 Rex Romanorum
was used again thereafter by Henry  VI, to emphasise to the Pope and others that his Salian empire extended well beyond the Teutonic realm.It is also noteworthy that the term “holy Empire”, as in ‘Holy Roman Emperor’does not appear until 1157. The full phrase ‘Holy Roman Empire’ (
sacrum Romanum imperium
) is not used until 1254 (Rosenwein 2009: 351). The ‘true’Roman Emperor (Gk:
 Basileus Rhomaion
) of course lived in Constantinople . . .The Adriatic coast of the Balkans was divided between Venice, Byzantium and the Serbs.The latter are often counted as part of the Empire because they were a Greek (Byzantine)protectorate [see 1165] and culturally dominated by Byzantine clergymen.The splintering or devolution of the Muslim powers meant that Byzantium, or as it is better called, ‘the Christian Roman Empire of the Greeks’ [Gk:
 Basileía Rõmaíõn
,
 Romaiki Aftokratoria
], had become once again
the richest and strongest state inthe Mediterranean sphere
 
(albeit initially rather weak at sea)
.
It extended (see next)from our Montenegro and Albania through Greece and Bulgaria to the lowland two-fifthsof what is now Turkey. As we have said, the Seljuk Turks ruled the upland three-fifths of  Asia Minor.
The Empire in 1118
 At the death of Alexios I ‘the Great’ in 1118, the European sector of the empire remainedsomewhat larger than its Asian sector.On the European side the Byzantines controlled or protected parts of the lowerDalmatian coast (Dubrovnik and Kotor); the whole of the Balkans from the Danube atBelgrade to the tip of Greece; Crete; and an outpost in the Crimea. Conquered in 1018,Bulgaria had been a province of the Empire for 100 years. Or rather: several provinces,for the Bulgarian lands were subdivided for the purposes of imperial government. 
 Serbia
[Zeta and Rascia]
was effectively independent, with the upper Dalmatiancoast divided between it and Venice
. Belgrade on the Danube and Dyrrhachium (Durres)on the Adriatic were the far points of the empire in the NW. The Serbians at this timecontrolled only the upper Drina basin and Montenegro; the Morava valley was still in
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Intéressant pour ce qui est de la vulgarisation politico-militaire...
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