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Medieval and Byzantine History Medieval and Byzantine History Forum - Period of History between classical antiquity and modern times, roughly the 5th through 16th Centuries


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Old November 19th, 2012, 10:13 AM   #1

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Byzantine Frontier Policy c.1100


I was just wondering in the Byzantinists on the foum could help me out here as I was kicking this round in my head and with others the other day.


In the wake of the First Crusade, Alexios I reestablished control and authority over many regions of Annatolia, making use of the successes and mopping up in the aftermath of the Fransk. While the Franks go off to form the various crusader states, what does Alexios and his successors do the ensure that the reconquered territory remains in Byzantine hands.

How is the Byzantine frontier in Annatolia managed, is there a particular policy, if indeed once might even use the term polic for tha matter. The Turks are still present, how are they managed, how do the Byzantines sure up their advances? Fortifications and/or diplomatic practices specifically for the frontier region?




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Old November 19th, 2012, 12:11 PM   #2
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The principality of Antioche was always a ''vassal'', but only with a strong army and a strong king was that assessment ever enforced. I do not know about Alexios's policies so well (I think he was more focused on Danishmendids and the proto-Seljuks), but John II was fast to subdue ''rebellious'' Cilicia and wave his big stick around Raymond of Antioche and Jocelyn II of Ruha, although lands claimed by the Empire were never formally returned. His successor Manuel II was the only emperor to take that situation seriously by forcing (with a large amount of shame) Renaud de Chatillon to submit to him. Things after Myriokephalon seems blurry.

A good book on the subject:

Byzantium and the Crusader States 1096-1204: Amazon.ca: Ralph-Johannes Lilie: Books
Byzantium and the Crusader States 1096-1204: Amazon.ca: Ralph-Johannes Lilie: Books

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Old November 19th, 2012, 01:46 PM   #3

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Quote:
Originally Posted by DreamWeaver View Post
I was just wondering in the Byzantinists on the foum could help me out here as I was kicking this round in my head and with others the other day.


In the wake of the First Crusade, Alexios I reestablished control and authority over many regions of Annatolia, making use of the successes and mopping up in the aftermath of the Fransk. While the Franks go off to form the various crusader states, what does Alexios and his successors do the ensure that the reconquered territory remains in Byzantine hands.

How is the Byzantine frontier in Annatolia managed, is there a particular policy, if indeed once might even use the term polic for tha matter. The Turks are still present, how are they managed, how do the Byzantines sure up their advances? Fortifications and/or diplomatic practices specifically for the frontier region?




...answers on a postcard.
In short, I was thinking of doing research on this topic last year and I really don't know at this point. I was thinking of taking it up again for the Oxford Byzantine Studies Graduate Conference, but I'm preparing a different paper for that now. The big question that I see here is whether the Byzantines actually tried to get rid of the Turks, or simply tried to confine the Turks to the steppe regions in Asia so they would have a source of mercenaries to draw on. I think it's clear that although several attempts were made to expel the Turks, they were often half-hearted expeditions that had their priorities elsewhere. When John II died, Manuel was with the army but immediately headed for Constantinople. We see something similar another time during a Byzantine siege of Konya (?) when hearing of a conspiracy in Constantinople Manuel packed up his army and departed back to the capital. Clearly family matters and the capital were so important that even if a significant blow was delivered to the Turks/Crusaders the emperor might find himself without a throne. In the wake of the First Crusade Alexios' policies seem to have been to secure the prosperous coastline of Asia. He would attack deeper into Anatolia later, but this expedition seems to have been focused on getting Christians out of the Turkish zones of control (whether they left willingly, we don't know) and resettling them where they could benefit the coffers of the state. Manuel's campaign that led to Myriokephalon was probably an attempt to court favour with the west more than an attempt to seriously dislodge the Turks, as Magdalino has argued that the lands retaken if Konya had fallen would take many years to equal the cost of the expedition. That said, though, the defeat has certainly been overplayed. Manuel immediately broke his treaty with the Turks and began building border castles, which makes me think that his goal was containment and propaganda more than anything. Breaking the treaty showed that he was still strong, was probably intended to help to alleviate his poor handling of the Second Crusade, and revealed that the weakness of Konya's power at this point.

All of my crusade-era Byzantine stuff is many thousands of kms away at home, so you get no references.
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Old November 20th, 2012, 07:16 AM   #4

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I was just curious, since Im familiar enough with Frankish practices in the 12th and 13th Centuries in Syria and Palestien, I wondered how their Byzantine contemporaries faired comparatively.
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Old November 21st, 2012, 06:43 AM   #5

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Is there much archaeological or literary evidence to suggest the fortification of the frontier, or the reoccupation and redevelopment of old fortifications?
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Old November 21st, 2012, 03:08 PM   #6
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Is there much archaeological or literary evidence to suggest the fortification of the frontier, or the reoccupation and redevelopment of old fortifications?
The idea of frontier we may have now surely differs in many respects to what contemporaries thought of buffer zones between ''peoples''. Manuel is known to have restored some fortifications west of Eskisehir plain (forgot the names), but even with a ''line'' of fortifications, Turkomans still brought their horses and cattle to pastures in byzantine territory. If you want the exact information, try to look for the peace treaty following Myriokephalon, because one of the conditions was the destruction of newly built fortresses.
After the disintegration of the Empire in the early 13th century, Niceans took the habit of ambushing Turkomans in the woods (where they couldn't run to escape their pursuers) but as far as I know never went on to built an elaborate complex of fortresses.
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