Κυριακή, 15 Νοεμβρίου 2015

Komnenos Dynasty - The Byzantine Greeks between the barbarians Western Crusaders and the infidel muslims of East

Alexios I Komnenos (Αλέξιος Α'ʹ Κομνηνός, 1048or 1056 – 15 August 1118), Latinized as Alexius I Comnenus, was Byzantine emperor from 1081 to 1118. Although he was not the founder of the Komnenian dynasty, it was during his reign that the Komnenos family came to full power. Inheriting a collapsing empire and faced with constant warfare during his reign against both the Seljuq Turks in Asia Minor and the Normans in the western Balkans, Alexios was able to halt the Byzantine decline and begin the military, financial, and territorial recovery known as the Komnenian restoration. The basis for this recovery were various reforms initiated by Alexios. His appeals to Western Europe for help against the Turks were also the catalyst that likely contributed to the convoking of the Crusades. By the time Alexios ascended the throne, the Seljuqs had taken most of Asia Minor. Alexios was able to secure much of the coastal regions by sending peasant soldiers to raid the Seljuq camps, but these victories were unable to stop the Turks altogether. As early as 1090, Alexios had taken reconciliatory measures towards the Papacy, with the intention of seeking western support against the Seljuqs. In 1095 his ambassadors appeared before Pope Urban II at the Council of Piacenza. The help he sought from the West was simply some mercenary forces, not the immense hosts that arrived, to his consternation and embarrassment, after the pope preached the First Crusade at the Council of Clermont later that same year. Not quite ready to supply this number of people as they traversed his territories, the emperor saw his Balkan possessions subjected to further pillage at the hands of his own allies. Alexios dealt with the first disorganized group of Crusaders, led by the preacher Peter the Hermit, by sending them on to Asia Minor, where they were massacred by the Turks in 1096.The second and much more formidable host of crusaders gradually made its way to Constantinople, led in sections by Godfrey of Bouillon, Bohemond of Taranto, Raymond IV of Toulouse, and other important members of the western nobility. Alexios used the opportunity to meet the crusader leaders separately as they arrived, extracting from them oaths of homage and the promise to turn over conquered lands to the Byzantine Empire. Transferring each contingent into Asia, Alexios promised to supply them with provisions in return for their oaths of homage. The crusade was a notable success for Byzantium, as Alexios recovered a number of important cities and islands. The siege of Nicaea by the crusaders forced the city to surrender to the emperor in 1097, and the subsequent crusader victory at Dorylaion allowed the Byzantine forces to recover much of western Asia Minor. John Doukas re-established Byzantine rule in Chios, Rhodes, Smyrna, Ephesus, Sardis, and Philadelphia in 1097–1099. This success is ascribed by Alexios' daughter Anna to his policy and diplomacy, but by the Latin historians of the crusade to his treachery and deception. In 1099, a Byzantine fleet of ten ships was sent to assist the crusaders in capturing Laodicea and other coastal towns as far as Tripoli. The crusaders believed their oaths were made invalid when the Byzantine contingent under Tatikios failed to help them during the siege of Antioch; Bohemund, who had set himself up as Prince of Antioch, briefly went to war with Alexios in the Balkans, but he was blockaded by the Byzantine forces and agreed to become a vassal of Alexios by the Treaty of Devol in 1108. In 1116, though already terminally ill, Alexios conducted a series of defensive operations in Bythinia and Mysia to defend his Anatolian territories against the inroads of Malik Shah, the Seljuq Sultan of Iconium. In 1117 he moved onto the offensive and pushed his army deep into the Turkish-dominated Anatolian Plateau, where he defeated the Seljuq sultan at the Battle of Philomelion. John II Komnenos or Comnenus (Ίωάννης Βʹ Κομνηνός, Iōannēs II Komnēnos; September 13, 1087 – April 8, 1143) was Byzantine Emperor from 1118 to 1143. Also known as "John the Beautiful" or "John the Good" (Kaloïōannēs), he was the eldest son of Emperor Alexios I Komnenos and Irene Doukaina and the second emperor to rule during the Komnenian restoration of the Byzantine Empire. John was a pious and dedicated monarch who was determined to undo the damage his empire had suffered following the battle of Manzikert, half a century earlier. John has been assessed as the greatest of the Komnenian emperors. In the course of his twenty-five year reign, John made alliances with the Holy Roman Empire in the west, decisively defeated the Pechenegs, Hungarians and Serbsin the Balkans, and personally led numerous campaigns against the Turks in Asia Minor. John's campaigns fundamentally changed the balance of power in the east, forcing the Turks onto the defensive and restoring to the Byzantines many towns, fortresses and cities right across the peninsula. In the southeast, John extended Byzantine control from the Maeander in the west all the way to Cilicia and Tarsus in the east. In an effort to demonstrate the Byzantine ideal of the emperor's role as the leader of the Christian world, John marched intoMuslim Syria at the head of the combined forces of Byzantium and the Crusader states; yet despite the great vigour with which he pressed the campaign, John's hopes were disappointed by evasiveness of his Crusader allies and their reluctance to fight alongside his forces. Also under John, the empire's population recovered to about 10 million people.Unfortunately, John's reign is less well recorded by contemporary or near-contemporary writers than those of either his father, Alexios I, or his son, Manuel I. In particular little is known of the history of John's domestic rule or policies. Early in John's reign the Turks were pressing forward against the Byzantine frontier in western Asia Minor, and he was determined to drive them back. In 1119, the Seljuqs had cut the land route to the city of Attaleia on the southern coast of Anatolia. John II and Axouch the Grand Domestic recaptured Laodicea and Sozopolis, re-opening land communication with Attaleia. This route was especially important as it also led to Cilicia and the Crusader states of Syria. Following the end of hostilities with Hungary, John was able to concentrate on Asia Minor during most of his remaining years. He undertook a campaign against the Danishmendid emirate in Malatya on the upper Euphrates from 1130 to 1135. Thanks to his energetic campaigning, Turkish attempts at expansion in Asia Minor were halted, and John prepared to take the fight to the enemy. In order to restore the region to Byzantine control, he led a series of well planned and executed campaigns against the Turks, one of which resulted in the reconquest of the ancestral home of the Komnenoi at Kastamonu (Kastra Komnenon); he then left a garrison of 2,000 men at Gangra. John quickly earned a formidable reputation as a wall-breaker, taking one stronghold after another from his enemies. Regions that had been lost to the empire since the Battle of Manzikert were recovered and garrisoned. Yet resistance, particularly from the Danishmends of the northeast, was strong, and the difficult nature of holding the new conquests is illustrated by the fact that Kastamonu was recaptured by the Turks even as John was in Constantinople celebrating its return to Byzantine rule. John persevered, however, and Kastamonu soon changed hands once more. In the spring of 1139, the emperor campaigned with success against Turks, probably nomadic Turkomans, who were raiding the regions along the Sangarios River, striking their means of subsistence by driving off their herds. He then marched for the final time against the Danishmend Turks, his army proceeding along the southern coast of the Black Sea through Bithynia and Paphlagonia. The breakaway Byzantine regime of Constantine Gabras in Trebizond was ended, and the region of Chaldia brought back under direct imperial control. John then besieged but failed to take the city of Neocaesarea, in 1140. The Byzantines were defeated by the conditions rather than by the Turks: the weather was very bad, large numbers of the army's horses died, and provisions became scarce. In the Levant, the emperor sought to re-inforce Byzantine claims to suzerainty over the Crusader States and to assert his rights over Antioch. In 1137 he conquered Tarsus,Adana, and Mopsuestia from the Principality of Armenian Cilicia, and in 1138 Prince Levon I of Armenia and most of his family were brought as captives to Constantinople.This opened the route to the Principality of Antioch, where Raymond of Poitiers, Prince of Antioch, and Joscelin II, Count of Edessa, recognized themselves as vassals of the emperor in 1137. Even Raymond II, the Count of Tripoli, hastened northwards to pay homage to John, repeating the homage that his predecessor had given John's father in 1109. There then followed a joint campaign as John led the armies of Byzantium, Antioch, and Edessa against Muslim Syria. Aleppo proved too strong to attack, but the fortresses of Balat, Biza'a, Athereb, Maarat al-Numan, and Kafartab were taken by assault.
Manuel I Komnenos (Μανουήλ Α' Κομνηνός, Manouēl I Komnēnos; 28 November 1118 – 24 September 1180) was a Byzantine Emperor of the 12th century who reigned over a crucial turning point in the history of Byzantium and the Mediterranean. Eager to restore his empire to its past glories as the superpower of the Mediterranean world, Manuel pursued an energetic and ambitious foreign policy. In the process he made alliances with the Pope and the resurgentWest. He invaded the Norman Kingdom of Sicily, although unsuccessfully. The passage of the potentially dangerous Second Crusade was adroitly managed through his empire. Manuel established a Byzantine protectorateover the Crusader states of Outremer. Facing Muslim advances in the Holy Land, he made common cause with the Kingdom of Jerusalem and participated in a combined invasion of Fatimid Egypt. Manuel reshaped the political maps of the Balkans and the eastern Mediterranean, placing the kingdoms ofHungary and Outremer under Byzantinehegemony and campaigning aggressively against his neighbours both in the west and in the east. However, towards the end of his reign Manuel's achievements in the east were compromised by a serious defeat at Myriokephalon, which in large part resulted from his arrogance in attacking a well-defended Seljuk position. Although the Byzantines recovered and Manuel concluded an advantageous peace with Sultan Kilij Arslan II, Myriokephalon proved to be the final, unsuccessful effort by the empire to recover the interior of Anatolia from the Turks. Called ho Megas (Μέγας, translated as "the Great") by the Greeks, Manuel is known to have inspired intense loyalty in those who served him. He also appears as the hero of a history written by his secretary, John Kinnamos, in which every virtue is attributed to him. Manuel, who was influenced by his contact with western Crusaders, enjoyed the reputation of "the most blessed emperor of Constantinople" in parts of the Latin world as well. Modern historians, however, have been less enthusiastic about him. Some of them assert that the great power he wielded was not his own personal achievement, but that of the dynasty he represented; they also argue that, since Byzantine imperial power declined catastrophically after Manuel's death, it is only natural to look for the causes of this decline in his reign. The Fourth Crusade (1202–04) was a Western European armed expedition originally intended to conquer Muslim-controlled Jerusalem by means of an invasion through Egypt. A sequence of events culminated in the Crusaders sacking of Constantinople, the capital of the Christian-controlled Byzantine Empire. In January 1203, en route to Jerusalem, the majority of the crusader leadership entered into an agreement with the Byzantine prince Alexios Angelos to divert to Constantinople and restore his deposed father as emperor. The intention of the crusaders was then to continue to the Holy Land with promised Byzantine financial and military assistance. On 23 June 1203 the main crusader fleet reached Constantinople. Smaller contingents continued to Acre. In August 1203, following clashes outside Constantinople, Alexios Angelos was crowned as co-Emperor (Alexios IV Angelos) with crusader support. However, in January 1204, he was deposed by a popular uprising in Constantinople. The Western crusaders were no longer able to receive their promised payments, and when Alexios IV was murdered on 8 February 1204, the crusaders and Venetians decided on the outright conquest of Constantinople. In April 1204, they captured and brutally sacked the city, and set up a new Latin Empire as well as partitioning other Byzantine territories between themselves. Byzantine resistance based on unconquered sections of the empire such as Nicaea, Trebizond, and Epirus ultimately recovered Constantinople. The Fourth Crusade is considered to be one of the final acts in the Great Schism between the Eastern Orthodox Church and Roman Catholic Church, and a key turning point in the decline of the Byzantine Empire.
"O City, City, eye of all cities, universal boast, supramundane wonder, nurse of churches, leader of the faith, guide of Orthodoxy, beloved topic of orations, the abode of every good thing! Oh City, that hast drunk at the hand of the Lord the cup of his fury! O City, consumed by fire..." Niketas Choniates laments the fall of Constantinople to the Crusaders. Constantinople was considered as a bastion of Christianity that defended Europe from the advancing forces of Islam, and the Fourth Crusade's sack of the city dealt an irreparable blow to this eastern bulwark. Although the Greeks retook Constantinople after 57 years of Latin rule, the Byzantine Empire had been crippled by the Fourth Crusade. Reduced to Constantinople, north-western Anatolia, and a portion of the southern Balkans, the empire fell to the Ottoman Turks who captured the city in 1453. The Fourth Crusade was one of the last of the major crusades to be launched by the Papacy, though it quickly fell out of Papal control. After bickering between laymen and the papal legate led to the collapse of the Fifth Crusade, later crusades were directed by individual monarchs, mostly against Egypt. One subsequent crusade, the Sixth, succeeded in restoring Jerusalem to Christian rule for 15 years.
Πηγή: https://en.m.wikipedia.org/wiki/Alexios_I_Komnenos#Wars_against_the_Normans.2C_Pechenegs.2C_and_Tzachas
https://en.m.wikipedia.org/wiki/John_II_Komnenos
https://en.m.wikipedia.org/wiki/Manuel_I_Komnenos
https://en.m.wikipedia.org/wiki/Fourth_Crusade

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