The Weak Relations between the Byzantines and the Franks during the Crusades

This is a paper written by my son Michael examining the relationship between Byzantium and West during the period of the Fourth Crusade.

By Michael Michalopulos

In the year 1054AD, the world of Christians was thrown into a shock. A schism occurred that effectively formed the Eastern Orthodox and Western Catholic churches.1 There were a multitude of reasons that led to the excommunication of each church by the other, but a major factor was the claim of Papal Supremacy. The Patriarch of Rome, now referred to as the Pope, declared that his position claimed authority over any other patriarchs and that he was the head of the church; this belief still holds true in the Catholic Church today.2 Naturally, the Eastern patriarchs were unwilling to accept this change and be forced into a lesser role behind Rome. The remaining patriarchs continued to argue that they were all equal, and the patriarch of Constantinople especially refused to be second to anyone. Eventually, all of the quarreling over supreme authority led to the Great Schism of 1054.

While debate of which clergyman is over the other may seem trivial, this led to serious tensions between Eastern and Western Christians. Tensions of jealousy, greed, suspicion, and malice stemmed from dispute over authority. Many times during the crusades, the sides did not cooperate with each other even though they were allies. The gap between the churches grew wider until the Franks sacked the Byzantine capital city of Constantinople during the Fourth Crusade in 1204AD, and sealed the fate of the schism. The fallout between the Franks and the Byzantines, which resulted from the greed of power that grew more intense with each passing year, considerably hindered the potential success of the Christians during the crusades.

Before I begin to actually provide evidence for my argument, I will briefly introduce the sources I am analyzing. From this point on, most all of the sources will be primary sources; sources which come from firsthand civilians of the time the events happened. Due to the fact that these excerpts came from specific witnesses of the event, there is a definite bias to be found in them, as well as exaggerations. While these sources are not entirely truthful and we have no way of fully deciphering the true event, it is safe to say that the general message and events they convey actually happened. They can be viewed as partial truths and certainly cannot be fully discredited or ignored. Having established that, I will now analyze the sources and explain how they support my opinion of how the relations between the Byzantines and Franks was poor at best during the crusades and how it altered the outcome.

The greatest evidence on any of the crusades from a Byzantine perspective comes from Anna Comnena. She was the daughter of Alexius I Comnenus, the Byzantine emperor during the First Crusade. She wrote a detailed history of his life that included all she encountered from the crusades. In her writings, an example of mistrust toward the Franks can be found. Anna wrote “if they [the Franks] were of one mind they could take Constantinople itself…apparently they were making an expedition to Jerusalem; in reality, however, they wanted to divest the Emperor of his kingdom and take Constantinople.”3 Alexius asked the West for help against the Turks, but his court along with himself still doubted those who showed up as his aid. While a massive army outside the city wall warranted nervousness by the ruler, this was an unfair statement to describe the intentions of the crusaders during the First Crusade. Thousands answered the call from Pope Urban II when he asked Catholics to respond to the “hurt and dire sufferings [of] our Christian brothers, members in Christ.”4 The motivation of the majority of the army that ventured to the Holy Lands was to help their Christian brethren and to pilgrimage for forgiveness of sins. With piety as the drive for the expedition, the precautionary suspicion of the Byzantines was unnecessary for the First Crusade. This is a prime example of how a lack of communication and distrust between the allies persisted.

To be fair, the Byzantines had valid reasoning to question the Franks intentions. A main leader of the Franks, Bohemund, was particularly hated by the Byzantines. Analysis of Anna Comnena’s history explains that Bohemund previously waged a war against Alexius, in which he tried to capture the city with a Norman army.5 Since that conflict, the Byzantines greatly despised Bohemund. He was described by Comnena as “so dishonest. In everything, in his words as well as his deeds”6 she even explained that “he never chose the right path.”7 The sentiment Anna portrayed was a view was widely held amongst many Greeks of Constantinople as a result of Bohemund’s siege attempt of the city.

Since Bohemund was a major leader of the First Crusade, and a former enemy of Byzantium, much of the Byzantine distrust towards the Franks was a result of his presence. Bohemund crusaded for the wrong reasons. Bohemund always pursued his own political power and did not care about the state of the Byzantine Empire during or after the First Crusade. Nor did he care about the holy implications of a pilgrimage to Jerusalem. Due to primogeniture, only the legitimate first born sons could inherit their father’s property. Inconveniently for Bohemund, his father divorced his mother and Bohemund became illegitimate.8 With no kingdom to inherit, Bohemund had to fight and conquer if he wished to become a ruler. This desire was his sole purpose of embarking on the First Crusade. Of all the leaders of the Franks, Bohemund received the strongest opposition and suspicion from Alexius. In fact, Alexius even tested Bohemund by offering him cooked food, expecting Bohemund would reject it thinking it was poisoned. This is exactly what happened.9 Since the allied leaders did not trust each other enough to share a meal together for fear that it was poisoned, it was clear from the start that this was not the best circumstance to efficiently wage a war together.

The Byzantines also did not help mend the differences with the Franks when Alexius made his specific, unrealistic demands of the crusade leaders. Alexius coerced the Franks to take an oath of feudalism to him deciding that whichever lands belonged to the Byzantine Empire prior to the Turkish raids would be returned to him unconditionally.10 While Urban II called the crusade to help the Franks’ neighboring Christians, it was hard to convince the army that had traveled great distances, been forced to fight, and put on the brink of starvation multiple times, to hand over any lands they conquered. The Frankish nobles, Bohemund in particular, refused to abide by this oath even though they swore to it. The Frankish armies elected their own rulers for each city they conquered, which effectively formed the Crusader kingdoms and bypassed the notion that the lands would be returned to the Emperor of Constantinople. The Crusaders’ failure to turn over the lands to Constantinople further frustrated the Byzantines.

While the Franks already had their differences with the Byzantines since the schism of 1054, which stressed their relationship, a sense of inferiority to the Greeks made the Franks dislike the Byzantines even more. Since Constantinople was the continuation of the Roman Empire, it had a vast selection of artwork, architecture, and daily formalities that the Franks had never seen. In many cases, the structure of Constantinople was far too advanced to be sustained in the Frankish towns and villages; Constantinople was a large city able to support many evolutionary amenities. Odo of Deuil, a chronicler of the Second Crusade and chaplain of King Louis VII of France’s entourage, was quick to say that Constantinople was “arrogant in her wealth, treacherous in her practices, corrupt in her faith”11 and that “[i]f she did not have these vices, however, she would be preferable to all other places.”12 Even in complimenting the beauty of the city, Odo did not refrain from pointing out its flaws. Oftentimes jealousy causes people to discredit the object in discretion, to justify why it is not theirs and create the illusion that it is not worth having. It is clear that Odo found the flaws of the city greater than its strengths, regardless of the fact that his native land had nothing in comparison. Feeling a sense of inferiority to the Byzantines gave the Franks another reason to envy the Byzantines.

When the crusaders met hard times on the First Crusade, the Franks used the Byzantines as a scapegoat. Since Alexius Comnenus asked the Franks for help and created a pseudo-lord/vassal relationship with the Frankish leaders, he was bound to offer them support when they needed it. The best way he could provide aid during the First Crusade was to offer the Franks food, guides, generals, and engineers who were accustomed to siege warfare. Being new to this type of combat, terrain, and climate quickly took its toll on the Franks; by the time they reached Antioch the situation was dire. All of the Frankish chroniclers wrote about the hardships they experienced, but Raymond d’Aguilers placed the blame of their struggles on the Byzantines. Raymond described a certain guide provided by Alexius Comnenus, named Tatius, who was “mangled in nose and all virtue”13 and who “deserved to be abandoned to oblivion forever.”14 This suggests that the miserable state of the army was somehow a result of Tatius.. Tatius claimed that Alexius was sending an army to Antioch to help the crusaders capture the city, but Raymond believed he was lying and that the supposed army of the Byzantines would never come.15 In a sense, both Tatius and Raymond were correct.

As Tatius has promised the struggling soldiers, the Byzantine army marched to Antioch, but it never reached Antioch just as Raymond d’Aguilers had expected all along. This only angered the Franks more, as it appeared the Byzantines were abandoning them out in the desert. However, the reason the army never made it was a result of Stephen of Blois, a minor leader of the First Crusade who deserted at Antioch. On Stephen’s march back to Constantinople, he met the Byzantine army that Tatius spoke of and told them “You may as well know the truth. Antioch has fallen, but the citadel has not, and all of our men are so grievously beset that I think that at this moment they have been killed by the Turks. Retreat as rapidly as you can lest they find you and your following.”16 The Byzantines believed Stephen and immediately turned around to head back to the capital. Ironically a Frank was the actual reason the relief of the Byzantines never made it to the crusaders at Antioch, and wrongfully attributed to the Frankish dislike of the Byzantines.

Odo of Deuil was perhaps the chronicler who disliked the Byzantines the most which certainly showed in his history. He could not stand the Greeks, did not trust them, and wanted to wage a later crusade against them. Odo described the Byzantines as being effeminate and “putting aside all manly vigor.”17 His distrust of them epitomized the Franks views of the Byzantine trickery, saying “they lightly swore whatever they thought would please us, but they neither kept the faith with us nor maintained respect for themselves.”18 In the middle ages, where feudalism dominated Europe, it was especially frowned upon to break ones word. In fact, Odo was so distrusting of the Byzantines that even when they were helping the Franks he remained suspicious.

When King Louis VII and his camp arrived in Constantinople, he was not pleased with how the Byzantines greeted the army. Ironically, his anger came when the Byzantines treated them well. Odo wrote “[a]lthough the Greeks furnished us no proof that they were treacherous, I believe that they would not have exhibited such unremitting servitude if they had had good intentions. Actually, they were concealing the wrongs which were to be avenged after we crossed the Arm.”19 Considering that the Byzantines did everything in their power to aid the crusaders by giving them supplies, guides, food, engineers, and even military relief, these accusations by Odo were a harsh reality of how the Franks felt about their allies.

Even with their differences, the Byzantines and Franks officially supported each other and they were able to work together at times as allies normally do. When Alexius made the Frankish leaders swear fealty to him, he also rewarded them. It was said that Godfrey of Bouillon “was enriched with great gifts by the Emperor; he was received in the imperial palace and magnificently dined at the royal table.”20 Immediately after he took the oath, even Bohemund, an enemy of Alexius, was given a good sum of wealth. This displays the gratitude Alexius had toward the armies that showed up to fight for him. When Pope Urban II called for the First Crusade at Clermont in 1095AD, all the chronicles show that he had a goal to help the Orthodox Christian brothers to the east.21 At the beginning of the crusades, it was actually feasible to think that the Catholics and Orthodox churches could reunite and forget the spat of 1054, proving that their differences were able to be settled. The unfortunate events of the Fourth Crusade, where Constantinople was sacked, was a result of the Frankish army, but Pope Innocent III tried to prevent the events from happening by threatening excommunication to those who attacked fellow Christians.22 The disapproval of the attacks on Constantinople by the Pope, who was the supreme authority of the crusades, emphasizes that the Franks were not supposed to view the Byzantines as enemies and that there were many who were in full support of the Orthodox Christians.

The point when the tensions between the two sides erupted into war was during the Fourth Crusade. With the revolving door of Byzantine Emperors at the time, the Franks were eager to put Prince Alexius, who was more western in culture, on the thrown of the eastern empire. Many Franks felt he would implement policies that would favor their goals and that he should claim the throne that was rightfully his.23 Prince Alexius himself gave many promises to the Frankish armies that if they succeeded in helping him be crowned as emperor, they would receive just rewards. However, soon after being crowned emperor, he discovered that he did not have sufficient funds to uphold the promises he made.24 The willingness of the Franks to attack Christians and postpone their travels to the Holy Lands, which was the purpose of the Fourth Crusade, describes how deteriorated the relations between the two powers had become. To the dismay of the civilians of Constantinople, the Franks convinced themselves that the Byzantines were heretics due to their disobedience of Rome and that “one ought certainly to attack them, and that it was not a sin, but an act of great charity.”25 During the Fourth Crusade, the violent Frank army was eager to sack Constantinople.

Once the attacks had begun, both sides knew that the possibility for reunification of the churches was gone. Geoffrey de Villehardouin, a primary Frank chronicler of the Fourth Crusade, captured the frustration that the Greeks felt when they were attacked by the crusaders, “The Greeks, who were thus embroiled with the Franks, saw there was no longer any possibility of peace.”26 The Greek historian, Niketas Choniates, described the intensity of the sack and the “deeds wrought by these nefarious men”27 as “the most heinous sins”28 that were committed by the Franks with great enthusiasm. The passion of Choniates toward the men that sacked his city is evident in his documentation. The rape and murder of civilians understandably left a horrendous mark on the relations between the Franks and the Christians, which is still an issue in the minds of Greeks.

The sack of Constantinople brought the Fourth Crusade to a screeching halt. Similarly to the previous crusades, the main objective promoted by Innocent III was “to avenge the shame of Jesus Christ and to reconquer [sic] Jerusalem”29 as well as the lands surrounding it. Clearly that never happened and the implications of the sack further weakened Christianity’s power in the east. In his letter to Peter of St. Marcellus, a cardinal priest, Pope Innocent III made his disgust evident. His letter read, “How, indeed, is the Greek church to be brought back into ecclesiastical union and to a devotion for the apostolic see….that she now, and with reason, detests the Latins more than dogs?”.30 Innocent further realized that the expedition was a wasted opportunity that left the Crusader States of the Holy Lands “destitute of men”31 and lacking protection, meaning “its last state was worse than the first.”32 What the crusading army did not realize at the time was that after attacking Constantinople, the city was never able to fully recover. Losing the power of the Byzantines in the east made it more difficult, and truly impossible, for later crusades to capture the Holy Lands. The ability of Constantinople to provide supplies and military support was taken for granted by the early crusaders, and would surely be missed by future crusades following the sack of 1204. The sack hampered the overall potential for the crusades to have any lasting effect.

While the sack of Constantinople took a heavy toll on the Byzantines, many of the remaining citizens went on and rebelled against the Frank forces in the aftermath of the defeat. Geoffrey de Villehardouin wrote the accord caused by the rebellious Byzantines, who “had not rid their hearts of treachery” and rallied under Johanitsa, the King of Vlachias and Bulgaria.33 At this point, the Byzantines were furious and wanted vengeance on the Franks; the tragedy of Constantinople greatly motivated them to rid their lands of the Franks. The Franks had a consistent stream of “bad news day after day: the Greeks were rising up everywhere and killing those Franks whom they found in possession of the land.”34 From the fall of Constantinople in 1204AD until 1261AD, when the Byzantines were finally able to recover Constantinople from the Franks, the two factions of Christianity were at war with each other.35 The relationship between the two sides completely changed from the beginning of the crusades to the end; they were once allies with the hope of reunification, but concluded as enemies.

In conclusion, the Franks and Byzantines had a complicated and strained relationship with each other, regardless of the fact that the crusades were supposed to create unity between them. The disagreements began before the crusades when Pope Leo IX claimed himself and all of his future successors as the supreme authority of all lands. The eastern patriarchates, in defiance of papal supremacy which they believed was absurd, were both excommunicated by Rome and dealt their own excommunications toward Rome. The split of the churches was brought on by a struggle for power. The Byzantine Empire had large amounts of land and much influence, both politically and militarily. Furthermore, its capital Constantinople was a magnificent and highly sophisticated city. When many of the Franks arrived at Constantinople after Pope Urban II’s call to crusading, they were amazed at the sight of the city and knew their homes were inferior in comparison. This inferiority would only create more animosity from the Franks toward the Byzantines.

The more time the Franks and Byzantines spent working with each other as allies over the course of the crusades, the more the two sides grew apart. The support that allies generally share was never truly achieved by either side. Chroniclers from both sides captured the frustrations of each counterpart. Anna Comnena gave her biased, Byzantine perspective on how the Franks were treacherous and not to be trusted. Odo of Deuil, Geoffrey de Villehardouin, and Raymond d’Aguilers presented the Franks’ discrepancies against the Byzantines in their histories. The common theme between all of these historians is that they did not care for their ally; they even called for the attack on their Christian brothers at times. While the words of these historians do not speak for the entire populations they represent, the displays of dislike by each faction were widely accepted views by the common people of their respective cultures. Certainly not everything that is found in the primary sources is true and it is fair to claim that the authors exaggerated some events. Although the general concepts and messages were accurate, the slander that the Franks and Byzantines shared with each other was not always fair. Each side had negative contributions in the relationship that created the harsh feelings. Even when things between the sides were tolerable and the idea of reunification to the old, universal church was present, the Franks and Byzantines could not maintain friendly relations.

Eventually, the great malice led to war between them. The Frankish army of the Fourth Crusade abandoned their initial goal of the Holy Lands and turned their sights to Constantinople. In the year 1204, the city was mercilessly sacked by the Franks and the split was sealed. What could have been labeled as a spat between the Orthodox and Catholic Christians prior to the Fourth Crusade was escalated to true hate. Fighting between the armies broke out and persisted for years, until the Franks vacated Constantinople. The inability of cooperation between the Byzantines and the Franks made their goals unachievable. The only way that an army could have completely rid the Holy Lands of Muslim presence would have been through superb leadership and unity. The call for the First Crusade came as a result of Islamic raids on the Byzantine Empire. The lands that were lost could never permanently be recovered and Christianity’s influence in the east would only be further weakened by the crusades, thanks to the poor relations of the Byzantines and the Franks.



  1. “The World of the Crusaders: Islam, East Rome, and the Popes,” in The First Crusade, ed. Edward Peters, The Chronicle of Fulcher of Chartres and other Source Materials, Second Edition (Philadelphia: University of Pennsylvania Press, 1998), 5.
  2. Jill N. Claster, Sacred Violence (Toronto: University of Toronto Press, 2009), 23.
  3. “Godfrey of Bouillon: The Version of Anna Comnena,” in The First Crusade, ed. Edward Peters, The Chronicle of Fulcher of Chartres and other Source Materials, Second Edition (Philadelphia: University of Pennsylvania Press, 1998), 168.
  4. “The Speech of Urban: The Version of Baldric of Dol,” in The First Crusade, ed. Edward Peters, The Chronicle of Fulcher of Chartres and other Source Materials, Second Edition (Philadelphia: University of Pennsylvania Press, 1998), 29.
  5. “Bohemund: The Version of Anna Comnena,” in The First Crusade, ed. Edward Peters, The Chronicle of Fulcher of Chartres and other Source Materials, Second Edition (Philadelphia: University of Pennsylvania Press, 1998), 174.
  6. “Bohemund: The Version of Anna Comnena,” in The First Crusade, ed. Edward Peters, The Chronicle of Fulcher of Chartres and other Source Materials, Second Edition (Philadelphia: University of Pennsylvania Press, 1998), 175.
  7. “Bohemund: The Version of Anna Comnena,” in The First Crusade, ed. Edward Peters, The Chronicle of Fulcher of Chartres and other Source Materials, Second Edition (Philadelphia: University of Pennsylvania Press, 1998), 175.
  8. Lecture Notes, History 3113:The Crusades (University of Oklahoma, Spring 2011) 2/17/11.
  9. “Bohemund: The Version of Anna Comnena,” in The First Crusade, ed. Edward Peters, The Chronicle of Fulcher of Chartres and other Source Materials, Second Edition (Philadelphia: University of Pennsylvania Press, 1998), 175.
  10. “Godfrey of Bouillon: The Version of Anna Comnena,” “Bohemund: The Version of Anna Comnena,” in The First Crusade, ed. Edward Peters, The Chronicle of Fulcher of Chartres and other Source Materials, Second Edition (Philadelphia: University of Pennsylvania Press, 1998), 171.
  11. Odo of Deuil, in History 3113: The Crusades (University of Oklahoma, Spring 2011), 14.
  12. Odo of Deuil, in History 3113: The Crusades (University of Oklahoma, Spring 2011), 14.
  13. “The Sufferings of the Crusaders: The Version of Raymond d’Aguilers,” in The First Crusade, ed. Edward Peters, The Chronicle of Fulcher of Chartres and other Source Materials, Second Edition (Philadelphia: University of Pennsylvania Press, 1998), 197.
  14. “The Sufferings of the Crusaders: The Version of Raymond d’Aguilers,” in The First Crusade, ed. Edward Peters, The Chronicle of Fulcher of Chartres and other Source Materials, Second Edition (Philadelphia: University of Pennsylvania Press, 1998), 197.
  15. “The Sufferings of the Crusaders: The Version of Raymond d’Aguilers,” in The First Crusade, ed. Edward Peters, The Chronicle of Fulcher of Chartres and other Source Materials, Second Edition (Philadelphia: University of Pennsylvania Press, 1998), 197-198.
  16. “The Sufferings of the Crusaders: The Version of Peter Tudebode,” in The First Crusade, ed. Edward Peters, The Chronicle of Fulcher of Chartres and other Source Materials, Second Edition (Philadelphia: University of Pennsylvania Press, 1998), 202.
  17. Odo of Deuil, in History 3113: The Crusades (University of Oklahoma, Spring 2011), 14.
  18. Odo of Deuil, in History 3113: The Crusades (University of Oklahoma, Spring 2011), 14.
  19. “Odo of Deuil: The Journey of Louis VII to the East,” in The Crusades: A Reader, ed. S. J. Allen and Emilie Amt, Reading in Medieval Civilizations and Cultures 8 (Toronto: Broadview Press, 2003), 142.
  20. “Godfrey of Bouillon: The Version of Anna Comnena,” “Bohemund: The Version of Anna Comnena,” in The First Crusade, ed. Edward Peters, The Chronicle of Fulcher of Chartres and other Source Materials, Second Edition (Philadelphia: University of Pennsylvania Press, 1998), 171.
  21. “The Speech of Urban: The Version of Baldric of Dol,” in The First Crusade, ed. Edward Peters, The Chronicle of Fulcher of Chartres and other Source Materials, Second Edition (Philadelphia: University of Pennsylvania Press, 1998), 29.
  22. “Accounts of the Fourth Crusade,” in The Crusades: A Reader, ed. S. J. Allen and Emilie Amt, Reading in Medieval Civilizations and Cultures 8 (Toronto: Broadview Press, 2003), 229.
  23. “Accounts of the Fourth Crusade,” in The Crusades: A Reader, ed. S. J. Allen and Emilie Amt, Reading in Medieval Civilizations and Cultures 8 (Toronto: Broadview Press, 2003), 230.
  24. Caroline Smith, trans, Joinville and Villehardouin, (Harmondsworth: Penguin, 2008), 57.
  25. “Accounts of the Fourth Crusade,” in The Crusades: A Reader, ed. S. J. Allen and Emilie Amt, Reading in Medieval Civilizations and Cultures 8 (Toronto: Broadview Press, 2003), 232.
  26. Caroline Smith, trans, Joinville and Villehardouin, (Harmondsworth: Penguin, 2008), 59.
  27. “Documents on the Sack of Constantinople,” in The Crusades: A Reader, ed. S. J. Allen and Emilie Amt, Reading in Medieval Civilizations and Cultures 8 (Toronto: Broadview Press, 2003), 234.
  28. “Documents on the Sack of Constantinople,” in The Crusades: A Reader, ed. S. J. Allen and Emilie Amt, Reading in Medieval Civilizations and Cultures 8 (Toronto: Broadview Press, 2003), 235.
  29. “Accounts of the Fourth Crusade,” in The Crusades: A Reader, ed. S. J. Allen and Emilie Amt, Reading in Medieval Civilizations and Cultures 8 (Toronto: Broadview Press, 2003), 225.
  30. “Documents on the Sack of Constantinople,” in The Crusades: A Reader, ed. S. J. Allen and Emilie Amt, Reading in Medieval Civilizations and Cultures 8 (Toronto: Broadview Press, 2003), 240.
  31. “Documents on the Sack of Constantinople,” in The Crusades: A Reader, ed. S. J. Allen and Emilie Amt, Reading in Medieval Civilizations and Cultures 8 (Toronto: Broadview Press, 2003), 239.
  32. “Documents on the Sack of Constantinople,” in The Crusades: A Reader, ed. S. J. Allen and Emilie Amt, Reading in Medieval Civilizations and Cultures 8 (Toronto: Broadview Press, 2003), 239.
  33. Caroline Smith, trans, Joinville and Villehardouin, (Harmondsworth: Penguin, 2008), 90.
  34. Caroline Smith, trans, Joinville and Villehardouin, (Harmondsworth: Penguin, 2008), 91.
  35. Jill N. Claster, Sacred Violence (Toronto: University of Toronto Press, 2009), 217.


  1. The Great Schism of 1054 — which split the Christian Church into Roman Catholic and Eastern Orthodox divisions — had a significant impact in encouraging the Franks to sack the Byzantine capital of Constantinople (now Istanbul) during the Fourth Crusade.

    Had the Great Schism not occurred — and if the Christian Church had remained harmoniously unified — the Franks and Byzantines may well have succeeded in their effort to recover the Holy Land from the Muslims during the Fourth Crusade.

  2. cynthia curran says

    Well, another problem was the masscure of the Latins in 1183 when a Byzantine mob masscured thousands of Italian merchants which might have played a role in the fourth crusade. Actually, the lower classes hated foreigners more than the upper classes in Constantinople since the upper classes gave refugee to the Italian merchants and at the fall of Byzantium a lot of upper class Byzantines fleed to the west particulary to Italy if they were able.

  3. Dean Calvert says

    Dear George,

    Please give my congratulations to your son…he has obviously been bitten by the “Byzantine historical bug.” As such, he’s embarked on a long journey in which his opinions will ebb and flow, feelings about nationalism will run hot and cold. My best advice – First, ignore and avoid most of the Greek historians like Constantelos etc…they give a distortedly nationalistic view of the whole period which could take years to overcome. Second, if he sticks to it, he will eventually arrive at a sober minded admiration of one of the world’s truly spectacular, and least understood civilizations. I would make sure that he ends up with Obolensky’s book in particular – because he outlines the area, the church, where Byzantine effort was rewarded spectacularly. Finally, I particularly admire Michael’s efforts and initiative in going back to the primary sources – that’s a GREAT move…because later opinions of the Byzantines have tended to be so lopsidedly negative.

    That said, my only quarrel would be the jump he makes, from 1054 to the First Crusade, implying that one led to the other, that the seeds of antagonism were sown in 1054, which eventually and presumably inevitably led to 1204.

    My reading of original sources does not suggest the same thing. In fact, while there was clearly growing antagonism between the East and West, the “event” of 1054 really did not influence things too much. Reading sources written in the early 1100’s thru the 1200’s, surprisingly little is written about that event (the papal bull of excommunication being placed on the altar at Hagia Sophia) until much later (post recovery of C’nople things take a decided turn). We seem to pay much more attention to it than the ordinary Byzantine of the 11th or 12th century would have. At least that’s my interpretation. I would point him to two books from the period in particular, The Deeds of John and Manuel Comnenus by Kinnamos, and O City of Byzantium, Annals of Niketas Choniates: Annals of Niketas Choniates, translated by Harry Magoulias (right here in Detroit!). In those two books, he will get a very distinctive “taste” of life in Byzantium during the Crusades, including one of the only Eastern eyewitness accounts of the evacuation of C’nople following the Fourth Crusade (in the second book).

    That said, he is certainly wondering about the right questions, of which there are many: What could have been done differently to stem the Muslim advance? Could the Christian Middle East have been somehow saved? How is it that it collapsed so rapidly? What could have been done differently later on, to reverse the decline in Byzantium itself? What was the true reason for the decline, and to what degree did the commercial policies followed by Byzantium vis a vis Venice and later Genoa contribute to the eventual collapse? In that last question, he may even see quite a few parallels to the modern day USA.

    It’s an incredibly fascinating period, probably made moreso by the lack of information.

    Once again…nice job!!!

    Best Regards,

    PS And i’m not kidding about avoiding all the (modern) Greek historians…they will only retard his progress, adding chaos and confusion to the journey.

    • Geo Michalopulos says

      thanks Dean!

    • Peter A. Papoutsis says

      Dear Dean:

      Two things: 1) please drop the “R” word as that word is offensive to many, many people, especially those with developmental difficulties.
      2) not All Modern Greek historians are biased, because ALL historians are biased to one degree or another. Take Gibbons for example. He was completely Anti-Greek. So it swings both ways. The best thing to do is to NOT avoid anybody, but read everybody, then go back to the original sources, which are biased themselves to some degree, and through critical thinking and discernment come to the best conclusion you can. This is how most modern historians actually deal with these issues.

      Peter A. Papoutsis

      • Dean Calvert says

        Dear Peter,

        I had to read the piece three times to figure out what you meant.

        With due respect, I don’t think I will drop the verb “retard”, as it was used properly and accurately.

        Definition of RETARD

        transitive verb
        : to slow up especially by preventing or hindering advance or accomplishment : impede
        : to delay academic progress by failure to promote

        It’s a pretty sad day when we have to stop using accurate language in our writings due to political correctness.

        Second, I also disagree completely with you with regard to the Greek historians. it does not “swing both ways”, as you suggest. While many Western historians were clearly anti-Byzantine, they were at least accurate in many of their descriptions. The Russian histories, Primary Chronicle and “Russian Travelers to Constantinople in the Fourteenth and Fifteenth Centuries” (Dumbarton Oaks Studies) have anti Byzantine rhetoric and commentary (which I take to have been standard usage in the Russian state of the time) which will put anything Gibbon said to shame. But at least, once again, they provide additional information.

        The modern Greek historians, on the other hand, with a few exceptions (I would definitely exclude John Geankoplos and Aristedes Papadakis for example) provide a very distorted, and decidedly nationalistic view of the period, one which is completely without justification or foundation. Some of the more extreme basically describe a Greek Empire (and call it such) from the time of Alexander until 1453 – which of course is preposterous. Others are not so blatant, but are more insidious, such as a consistent translation of the word “Romios” as “Greek”, which I find equally incorrect and confusing. Finally, there are those like Fr. Constantelos who are simply doing the Ecumenical Patriarchate’s bidding. As such their histories are really more editorials than factual.

        No, I would not simply read everything. I would start with the good historians, Ostrogorsky, Vasiliev, Runciman, Treadgold, Meyendorff, and Nicol just to name a few of my favorites. Then, I would move back to the original works – Eusebius, Procopius, The Strategikon of Maurice, Psellus, Kinnamos, The Alexiad, Choniates, (as well as the Latin works of the period), Syropoulos, Sphrantzes, Dukas. Finally, I would go to as many Russian and Arabic sources as you can find – I find the foreign descriptions of the Byzantine era to be particularly fascinating – mainly because they write from the standpoint of a complete stranger, unfamiliar with the surroundings. As such, they tend to give much more detailed descriptions of events and places. By comparison, many Byzantines write much as a New Yorker might write about New York – i.e, with the assumption that the reader will be familiar with the surroundings.

        If, after all of that, you still have time on your hands, feel free to waste it on the modern Greek historians, but only because you will need the comic relief by then.

        Best Regards

        • Peter A. Papoutsis says


          You miss the point in regards to the modern Greek Historians, and all historians for that matter. I would not stop reading Gibbons even though he had a clear anti-Greek and anti-Christian bias, but would take that bias into consideration. Further, your point would be accurate if Michael was somewhat of a novice without any critical abilities. I have not seen that in Michael.

          What I have seen is a genuine interest in Byzantine history and an appriciation of the original sources. How people interpret those sources is also a good way of learning another persons perspective and view that may or is a distortion. Please understand I am not disagreeing with you in regards to the issue of bias that you raise, but argue for an inclisive and balanced approach instead of an exclusive approarch that can make one unprepared to address these views and arguments when they present themselves.

          As for your use of the “R” word I will let you deal with it, but just know it is inapropriate and does hurt. You give me a dictionary definition. I’m giving you a child that comes home crying and his parents have to consol him when some uses that word or he hears it and it brings up bad memories or what happend to him. I suggest you read the following article:

          If, after all of that, you still have time on your hands or the inclination to use the “R” word, feel free, but only because you will need to use it for your own immature reasons. Next time deal with people not dictionary definitions.

          Best Regards


          • I must rise to the defense of modern Greek historians. When a nation is in a nation-building stage, all elements of society, including clergy and academicians, are mobilized in support of the nation. Also, this phase by necessity involves differentiating one’ own (good) from others (bad), particularly nations around the new nation and alien religious and ethnic groups within her geographical boundaries. Finally, all sorts of theories that advance The Cause are taken seriously, with religious precepts and scholarly standards taking a back seat. Thus, most modern Turkish, Greek, Serbian, Macedonian, Bulgarian, Romanian historians are not as reliable as they should be, but their works are usable as indicators of their respective national weltanschauung.

            • Peter A. Papoutsis says

              I agree. Carl is right.


            • Bishop Tikhon (Fitzgerald) says

              What hogwash! “Usable as indicators of their respective national weltanschauung?” What for? Don’t we already KNOW their respective WeltanschauungEN?” Someone might opine that Carl is just desperate to find some way to overcome the humiliation of never getting it right so he’ll grasp at anything written by someone else who showed his opponents were not so superior, as he fears, but I wouldn’t care to comment on that.

          • Jane Rachel says

            Peter, what??

            The Special Olympics folks don’t say anything about banishing the word “reTARD”. It’s just a plain old word, a verb meaning “to slow down”. Kids should be told the difference if they don’t already know.

            • Peter A. Papoutsis says

              JR it is in the very first line of the very first paragraph. Take care.


              • Peter, they’re obviously talking about ending its use as a casual pejorative, not in its legitimate use as a verb.

                • Peter A. Papoutsis says

                  Yes as to casual pejorative, but also its causal general use (i.e. Verb). The two are not as unrelated as we might think. I made my point on the issue, and I will leave others to decide how they want to use or discontinue using said word. Just know that the word carries alot of baggage with it. I as well used it in a a very casual and non-pejorative way for a long time. I thought nothing of it. Then I met a child that changed my mind on the issue – on the word itself. This is me. Just me. Whether others are there yet on this word or not I do not know. It is up to them.

                  No one should be forced to do anything, but only to do something that they know is right and causes the lest amount of pain. Again, that’s me. I can only ask. I cannot force.


            • Bishop Tikhon (Fitzgerald) says

              Jane, thanks for indicating where the accent goes on the verb “reTARD”, a verb which offends no one. Mr. Papoutsis seems to be confusing the verb reTARD, with the pejorative slang-word, a noun, “REtard.” I found his exhortations on the topic to be lame indeed: they seem to handicap and even cripple any propositions he makes relative to the main topic. It’s called “obfuscation.”

              • Peter A. Papoutsis says

                Your Grace I have not confused anything, and read very closely what you just wrote. I saw what you said and meant. In any event I was giving my perspective and experience, and only asking for its non-use nothing more. I ask for your forgivness if I offended you as that was not my intention. I also forgive you for your “Lame” comment. Take care and Merry Christmas to you and yours.


      • Bishop Tikhon (Fitzgerald) says

        There is no “s” in Gibbon. There is a colloquial use of the VERB, “retard,” as a noun. People speak or write pejoratively of ‘retards” and mean persons of lesser than normal intellectual ability. it was originally short for “retarded person,” or “retarded child”, both respectable usages. I have in my own 79-plus years NEVER heard the word used that way in reference to a person so hampered in function. I’ve only heard it used as a label and/or synonym for stupid, ignorant, or uninformed.
        Be that as it may, it is HOW the word is used that may offend. It certainly is permissible in music transcription and in giving directions orally in music. Also, some environmentalists in a perfectly acceptable and responsible way may encourage the use of certain farming practices to retard the proliferation of weeds and pests.
        One reads, without offense against anyone with learning challenges, that Republicans are trying to retard the progress of democratic legislation through political devices.
        And there is nothing reprehensible or even suspect of being such in Dean Calvert’s words. His critic knows this, but he had, apparently, to find something to supplement his defense of chauvinism, no matter how base and argumentum ad hominem in nature it was.

        Of course, Dean Calvert is spot on, relative to modern Greek historians.
        I think it would be good to ignore ALL Greek historians and thus avoid the suspicion of chauvinism, when discovering the seeds of the Fourth Crusade in the FIRST Crusade, particularly in the conquest of Jerusalem, where the Greek Orthodox and Jews were living in SAFETY under the Muslims. According to Western, Frankish, NON-Greek, NON-Eastern eye-witness accounts, the Greek Orthodox were slaughtered indiscriminately from the Muslims, while the Jews were rounded up and burnt alive parents and children in their own synagogues. Remember, we know this from the BRAGGING accounts of knight-crusaders, soldiers of the Pope. THEY recorded how, when the Muslim defenders of the city had displayed the bodies of dead Crusaders fallen in bsttle, on the walls of the city, the Western, Frankish knights of the Pope and Western Christendom, responded by bringing out their POWs, ALIVE, in order to behead them in full view of the Muslim defenders of the city, and then to catapult those heads over the walls into the city..
        The Western accounts BRAGGED about how deep the blood of Muslims and Greek Christians ran in the streets.
        While the First Crusade was egregious, the Fourth Crusade was simply the incarnation of sin: Greed.

        • Peter A. Papoutsis says

          To be exclusive of sources and knowledge is a terrible think and leave one open to counter-attack and rebuttal and unprepared to deal with a counter-argument. You Grace, please note AGAIN, that I am not disagreeing with Mr. Calvert’s assessment. I am disagreeing with his exclusion of historical interpretation. Inclusion of information is better than exclusion. Please read the following article in regards to the issue of ancient historical bias:

          Now in the article present in the link makes the follwoing important point:

          The Greeks on the Persians

          The Greeks called the Persians “barbarians”: but we must remember what this means for the Greeks: anyone who doesn’t speak Greek is a barbarian. Many barbarians in the Greek sense, then, were perfectly civilized, and the Greeks themselves recognized many of the achievements of their neighbors, including the Persians. This doesn’t mean that they thought their neighbors were like them; the Greeks, as most peoples, usually though of other cultures as being somewhat strange and, on the whole, inferior. Thus the Persians, for all their artistic glory and massive empire, were not free; they were effeminate, over-fond of luxury, and, ultimately, no match for virtuous manly Greeks.

          This was the lense through which even the great Herodotus viewed and commented on the Persians. Was not Heroditus biased? Further, Peter Green in his Book The Greco-Persion Wars writes concerning Greco-Persian attitudes and even Herodotus’ attitude towards the Persians:

          “One of the oddest, and surely the most significant, facts about Graeco-Persian relations is the abysmal ignorance, tinged with contempt, which each civilazation maintained concerning the other. Even so sympathetic a student as Herodotus knew virtually nothing of the Persian aristocratic ideal…”

          Green goes on to cite Burn’s description of the Persian aristocratic idea as: “The Persian Gentleman of the great days was…encouraged by his religion to be manly, honourable, athletic and courages; devoted to hunting and the promotion and protection of agriculture; contemtuous of trade, and shunning debt, which “led to lying”, dignified in his manners, even a little prudish.” Is this what Herodotus and other ancient Greeks knew and thought of the Persians? No! The Greeks were the victors and they got to write the history, and when the ancient Greek historians from Herodotus onward wrote the history of the Persians it was a BIASED history.

          In fact, this is exactly what ancient Near East, Professor Olmstead argued in his book History of the Persian Empire. When Persian History is presented from the Persians point of view it is not as evil or debased as the ancient Greek made it out to be. In fact, Green further states in The Greco-Persian Wars that: “Zoroaster [Zarathustra] had promulgated the doctrine that all men must work for the establishment of God’s Righteous Order on earth…”
          This type of Persian virture was not understood by the Greeks. Just was the Persians never understood the Greek viture of Self-governance based upon democratic priciples, free exchange of ideas and opinion and trade.

          So the ancient Greek historian Herodotus was biased, as were the subsequent Greek Historians towards Persian, and this bias found its way into the West and for Centuries we ignored a culture that was older and just as refined and beautiful as the Greeks all because of one man’s and one’s culture’s bias. And yet, do we ignore Herodotus? No, but we gather ALL the historical evidence and sift through it to discover, as best we can, the truth of a given matter.

          Now take this article for example in regards to the Modern Greek Historians and the issue of Modern Day Macedonia:

          Now, here is the theory postulated that Modern Greek Historians, for their own national and patriotic reasons, are interpreting King Philip II of Macedon as a “Uniter” of the Greeks and NOT as a “Subjugator” of the Greeks. Obviously this has modern concerns and connections in regards to modern-day Balkan politics. Again, this goes directly to Carl’s point that these Modern-Day Greek AND Macedonian Historians need to be looked at and investigated because maybe one or the other OR BOTH were biased.

          Classical Greek Scholars disagree with Risto Stefov’s historical interpretation, but noe everything he says can be disgarded. Macedonians were not viewed as “Greeks” by the whole of Greece, and only the Royals had adopted Greek ways, or more specifically Athenian Ways, but what does this say for the regular everyday joe? So are Modern Day Macedonian Historians biased? Absolutely! However, do they make good points? Do they make a decent and solid argument? Yes! Do I necessarily agree with it? Most no, but partly yes. So there you go.

          So why exclude? why not include? Carl Kraeff makes a good and reasonable point. And if we are to ignore Historians because of their bias then lets ignore Herodotus.

          Then we go to Thucydides and his history of the Peloponnesian War. Thucydides did a much better job with the facts, and historical record and got dates and chonologies correct, or mostly correct, but be as well was biased. Do we disregard Thucydides? Absolutely not!

          I can keep going but I made my point. It is better to be inclusive than exclusive, especially on the historical front. The accumulation of knowledge and evidence and then applying one’s critical thinking is what is paramount, not the exclusion of information.

          Peter A. papoutsis

          • Bishop Tikhon (Fitzgerald) says

            Well, I know that two plus two equals four: however, I don’t expect anyone to state such to me or anyone on this site as a revelation or piece of previously unknown esoterica. The biases of historians have been remarked and recorded from the beginning of historiography: especially hackneyed, trite, overworked and tiresome are comments on the notorious biases of ancient Greek histories relative to qualities of the Persian empire and its peoples. While some may feel that Alexander’s destruction of Persepolis was a savage, beastly, barbarian, vandalizing act of a jealous primitive, exceeding in egregiousness the preserving instincts of Lord Elgin. (…..) you’ll find no appreciation of the magnificence of Persepolis in the ancient Greek histories. There’s hardly anything worthy of historical esthetic note outside the Acropolis of Athens right?
            Perhaps Dean Calvert could also have said, “If you refer to modern Greek historians, be very careful, they often don’t even try to give an appearance of objectivity. You will see that if you do consult them and probably discard their testimonies: I recommend that you take my word for it and save yourself some time by not INCLUDING them in your research. Save them for delivery to some historian who wants to write about “Bad Histories.’
            I feel these modern Greek historians may fail von Ranke by trying to be critics of history.
            Since the notorious Herodotus has been introduced into this discussion, I feel I just have to state that the very best history of Persia (Iran) was published rather recently: ‘A HISTORY OF IRAN: Empire of the Mind”, by Michael Axworthy, published by Basic Books, 2009.

            • Peter A. Papoutsis says

              OK. Enjoy.

            • Peter A. Papoutsis says

              Oh by the way, just so people know who these modern Greek Historians are that are so bad and distort history here are their names:

              1.) A.B. Daskalakis
              2.) Nikolaos Martis
              3.) Manolis Andronikos
              4.) Michael Sakellariou

              Now one of the things that these guys have in common is that they support the notion that Macedonia is part of the Greek World. Obviously Macedonians and maybe Slavs and Slvophiles in general may hate their bias because they are pro Greek , something that obviously irks many in the OCA and MP supporters. Maybe that’s why these Modern Greek Historians are Biased and BAD and need to be disregarded? Hmmm?

              Or how about the other modern Greek Historians that chronicals Greek History under the Ottomans and were, again Pro-Greek and Pro-EP, again something that Irks the OCA/Slavs/Russians. This is not the only thing they talk about, but do talk about Greek history and Greek interests.There names are:

              1.) Basil C. Gounaris
              2.) Paschalis Kitromilides
              3.) Alexis Politis
              4.) Dimitris Tziovas

              So you starting to see a pattern? OCA Russians hate Greek History and their BIAS. Thank you your Grace for enlightening me on the continued hatred of all things Greek by the OCA. I am staring to thing for all the grips of the Greeks and the EP having a “Superiority” complex it seems to me that somebody else is having an “Inferiority” complex. What was that about two and two again your Grace?

              Peter A. Papoutsis

              • Bishop Tikhon (Fitzgerald) says

                I didn’t mean for Peter to go all to pieces. Anybody know what he means by “all things Greek?”
                I’m with ever-memorable Father George Florovsky, who got in hot water while teaching at Holy Cross that while the Russians got EVERYTHING from the Greeks, it’s a shame the Greeks didn’t keep some it of for themselves.
                I do like the Greek language and Greek people. Two out of my three main girl friends at Wayne State were Greeks: one of them I met in my Modern Greek classes, taught by Prof. Maskellaris, a Cretan, there. However, while liking things Greek and Greek people, in Church matters (and only in Church matters), I am, indeed, a Russophile. It’s a crime how the Greek Orthodox Church in Greece and the Greek Orthodox people were brutalized by a lack of education and a loss of anything resembling Greek culture outside of folk dancing and folk music. Why the Mystery of Penance almost died out in Greece. When opportunities finally opened up to educate clergy, the only avenues allowed to them were in Germany or England. One writer in the 19 century said he could tell in five minutes, upon being introduced to a Greek clergyman, whether they studied at Heidelberg or at the Tuebinger Stift. Manuals and collections of “symbolic” books in Greek were published and the fear of Russia and Slavs that prejudiced so many Germans, especially Protestants, against Russia, caused the Greeks to flee as from Satan the idea of studying at Orthodox schools in the Orthodox Empire of Russia. Even today, a kind of superstitious fear of Russian learning animates the writings of those “loyal” to the “Greek heritage.”
                Now as for the Macedonian “question.” They seem to be Slavs and think of themselves as such. It was once often heard that scholars, ethnologists and anthropologists expressed doubts whether ANY of the denizens of modern Greece were descended from the Greeks of classical times, and theorized that the whole population was mostly Slavic, Bulgarian to wit, mixed up with various miscellanies: Catalans, Crusaders, Genoese, Venetians, and Turks. But now these questions can be settled. Is anyone doing genetic research relative to the “Greek genome?” Surely the hypothesis about the ethnicity of modern Greeks could tested?
                Peter lists four “Greek historians” that…support the notion that Macedonia is part of the “Greek World” (now there’s a vague enough concept: “The Greek World”). Are there Macedonian scholars or Bulgarian scholars who consider modern Hellas to be “part of the Slavic World?”
                Oh, yes, with Prof. Maskellaris, I am a firm supporter of the demotic. I suppose Peter is a valiant defender of “Katharevousa?”

                • Peter A. Papoutsis says

                  No I support demotiki Greek as it is the natural evolution of the Greek language. I even support it’s use in the liturgy in The Church of Greece, which they only recently reluctantly started to use. I’m with you on that one. Also I didn’t go to pieces. It takes alot more for that to happen. In any event we are still talking and still friendly. Let’s leave it at that.


  4. cynthia curran says

    Venice and Genoa were given some tax immunity that ordinary Byzantine merchants were not which lead to more dominance of Italian merchants in Byzantium which Dean is discussing here. It just could be that Byzantium like Old Rome made mistakes that in the long run lead to its demissed. What I find interesting is in the earlier period problems in the late 6th to the mid-7th reduced the Eastern Roman Empire a lot losing most of the Balkins and of course a lot of the reconquered areas as well as the very important provnices like Egypt which was the empire’s bread basket and Syria. In later centuries the Eastern Romans conquered some of this back.

    • Dean Calvert says


      I read a book one time about the history of wheat, or flour. It described a little known fact, one that contributed much of the wealth of Byzantium: their control of the wheat trade for Europe. it was a fascinating book, unfortunately I can’t remember the name. But it gave facts and figures about the proportion of gold tolls collected at Byzantium strictly because of the wheat trade. Wheat would be grown in Ukraine, and transported down to the Byzantine colonies on the northern Black Sea coast. At that point, the wheat would be handled by Byzantines all the way to Western Europe.

      The Byzantine control of this critical commodity, for about 1000 years, contributed significantly to the wealth of the Byzantine state.

      Just an interesting tidbit of (useless) information LOL

      Best Regards

  5. cynthia curran says

    I agree I would avoid some of the modern Greek Historians on the matter.

  6. cynthia curran says

    The violence Franks did the sacking. Well, what about the Venicians? I was in Venice in 1992 and some of the Byzantine items stolen during the sack were really nice including the bronze horses from the Hippodrome. Medieval Warfare involved a lot of sacking and looting and booty was always important but unlike the sacks of Rome in late anquity where religious items were hands off, the Byzantines were unable to control the Crusaders. Now who is going to get back theo stolen items from 1204, the Turks since it was stolen from Constantinople or the Greeks in modern day Greece since it was some of their ancestors since Byzantium included people that were not of Greek ancestory. Now the Catholic Church giving back relics to the Orthodox Church which is less compliocated than items stolen from churches, public buildings and wealthy houses or the Church of the Apostles which had a lot of jewerly there since for centruies several Byzantine emperor and empresses had their tombs there. It reminds me also of the Elgin horses anceint Greek items I believe which were removed from Greece by Lord Elgin to England.

  7. cynthia curran says

    I tried to be in the middle on the Byzantines. In the Orthodox World it is sometimes romancitized and in the west until the mid 20th century or later it was villianized since it was considered a lesser Rome. Granted, Gibbon didn’t hate every byzantine emperor its that he thought it was a lesser Roman Empire than the height of the Roman Empire in the 2nd Century.

  8. cynthia curran says

    Diocletian I feel is really more the culprit in the fall of Rome since he divded the Roman Empire in regions and the East which was stronger survive while the West decline. Most historians think that he save the empire from the chaos of the 3rd century since it had several emperors because of constant military coups but this created a new problem and probably after Diocletain there were fewer periods where Rome was ruled by one emperor, Theodosius the First was the last, after his death his sons rule one in Constantinople and one in Milan which is where the emperor ruled in the early 5th instead of Rome.

  9. cynthia curran says

    I wonder if the Franks thought of the Byzantines or Greeks as they refer them as womanly since their were eunuchs at court and some poor eunuchs were used for sexual purposes. Anyway, the law codes of Justinian and so forth actually forbid eunuchs but the imperial court had many staffed in high office like the chamberlain of the sacred bedchamber, so families made their son’s eunuchs. Some eunuchs not known to the Franks were tough characters like Narses about 700 years earlier actually conquered Italy for the Byzantines around 552 or so. The Byzantines were known to protect themselves by setting enemies against each other and bribering enemies which probably the Franks more into a warrior Germanic background thought of as cowards.

  10. cynthia curran says

    Well, that’s true one probably needs to read both eastern and western historians to get a more accurate view on a emotionally charged event like the crusades. My copy of Gibbon deals with mainly the late Roman Period rather than the Byzantine period. It does have some sections that Gibbon wrote about Justinian and Theodora and actually I can’t excused him of biases there since he did read the primarly sources and is heavily depended upon Procopius and in Gibbon’s day you would take the anicent or medieval souces literally and not try to figure which may or may not be true.

  11. cynthia curran says

    Well, the Byzantines killed Italian Merchants in 1183’s that the other side of the coin. No to start a fight but someone brought this up, so I would not blame westerners for all the violence and Moselms were also known to used violence. Sometimes the Moslems were better than either the Byzantines or westerners and sometimes they were not. Depends upon which time period and which region.

  12. Peter A. Papoutsis says


    I wanted to say to you as well as to your son Michael that the article was a very good article, and that he should continue to explor the history or Byzantium and World history in general. Contrary to his Grace Tikon’s and Dean Calvert’s advice, have Michael read EVERYTHING. A broad perspective is better than a narrow one. Biased or not any light thrown on a given subject is good, and it also helps one’s critical thinking and ability to establish a reliable burden of proof. This is how critical thinking is developed and fed. Not by reading things that are same, but reading everything. As long as he is guided by you and others with more experience make his plate of information as varied as possible, and allow him to think for himself and to identify with a place and society previously unknown.

    In the end that’s the benefit from all this history stuff. Its also a nice way for the Old man to spend time with his son and for a son to spend time with his dad. Take from me those Modern Greek Historians may have been biased, but it was great spending time with my dad learning about them. Take care and I hope you and Michael enjoy the ride. Its fun.

    Peter A. Papoutsis