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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 21st, 2015, 07:55 AM   #31

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The Massacro dei Latini was a bad idea.
Yes, something that people often overlook;

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Massacre_of_the_Latins
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Old November 21st, 2015, 08:16 AM   #32

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Yes, something that people often overlook;

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Massacre_of_the_Latins

No one is overlooking that event. Perhaps you should re-read your own link.
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Old November 21st, 2015, 08:31 AM   #33

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Perhaps you should re-read your own link.
Um, why?
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Old December 25th, 2015, 11:37 PM   #34

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By the point of 1204 the Byznatine were already pretty screwed, sack or no sack, the final blow was probably the dreadful succession problem left in the wake of the Manuel Komnenos' death.

Manuel's reign was perhaps one of the most controversial in the entire middle ages, to contemprory and even many modern reader, you see the glimmer of hope that the Glory of Rome would be revived under him. but almost everything that went wrong after his death which ended up with the 4th Crusade was either directly or indirectly caused by decisions during his reign.

Then again, if he had an adult heir who was relatively capable when he died, maybe that all wouldn't have come to pass either.

But by 1204, Bulgaria had already gone off independent (which was a devastating blow, seeing that after the loss of Asia minor, the gain of Bulgaria was basically the only thing that was softening the financial blow) . And Manuel's heir had long died, and the series of coups and political intrigue that caused his death directly lead to the events which brought the Crusaders into Constantinople.
I read from wiki that the Byzantine Empire at its collapse only had 6000 soldiers on its side; what a sorry excuse for an "empire"!
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Old December 26th, 2015, 06:41 AM   #35

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It would have fell eventually or merged or evolved into another kingdom. By the high middle ages, the Byzantines had been overtaken by France, Silicy, even England, and the Holy Roman Empire as the leading power on the continent. Possibly it could have survived as a Roman city state, even if Ottoman still rose.
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Old December 26th, 2015, 08:36 AM   #36

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It would have fell eventually or merged or evolved into another kingdom. By the high middle ages, the Byzantines had been overtaken by France, Silicy, even England, and the Holy Roman Empire as the leading power on the continent. Possibly it could have survived as a Roman city state, even if Ottoman still rose.
Ottomans would never establish empire without the city, even if they possessed all its former territories, because the emperor there could at any time take on his side unhappy with the ottomans people in balkans and asia minor and cause rebellions, and ask help from the west, etc, Moameth II knew that.
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Old December 27th, 2015, 03:48 AM   #37
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I read from wiki that the Byzantine Empire at its collapse only had 6000 soldiers on its side; what a sorry excuse for an "empire"!
Technically it might have actually been less. Many of that 6000 last-stand garrison were Venetian sailors, mercenaries, monks and adventurers - so not exactly a permanent standing army. Basically little more than a bunch of desperado's and adrenaline junkies.
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Old December 27th, 2015, 04:43 AM   #38
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It would have fell eventually or merged or evolved into another kingdom. By the high middle ages, the Byzantines had been overtaken by France, Silicy, even England, and the Holy Roman Empire as the leading power on the continent. Possibly it could have survived as a Roman city state, even if Ottoman still rose.
There is no way that Byzantium would willingly integrate itself into a Western European state. A lot of westeners fail to understand the depth of the rift that had opened between the Western and Eastern churches. Even without the 4th crusade both churches had excommunicated each other - and it went a lot deeper than that. The cultural, philosophical and theological differences were sharp enough between East and West that there was a level of mutual distrust.

Now yes what many Byzantine enthusiasts, Orthodox Christians and Greeks probably won't like hearing though is that the quality of leadership in Constantinople was too volatile and dependent on the quality of the Emperor, and in the later dynasties, a high quality emperor simply became harder to find - compare that to the first dynasty of Rome, where a whole line of genius Emperors that excelled in generalship, diplomacy and adminstration were able to each follow up on the predecessors legacy.
Contrast to medieval Byzanrium you have periods of decline under poor Emperors leading to civil war and then a new emperor comes out to save the situation and the cycle repeats. Much of the failure of the Empire to respond to the Turks can largely be blamed on poor government.

Basil 2 was probably the last of the great Roman emperors. He manged to restore much of the original East-Roman world and had he a successor in the same calibre, the Empire may have indeed been able to conquer Palestine and Egypt. By 1025 The Empire was the undisputed global superpower. It just took incompetent leadership to throw away all the gains that Basil 2 had made. Much of the decline of the Empire into the Crusader period happened after his reign.


2 points on Basil 2s legacy.

Firstly, Basil 2 had restored border defenses on the Anatolian frontier - were these and the army maintained the Turks might never have made such extensive in-roads into Roman territory.

When the Turkmen invasions started, the Byzantines made the fatal error of massing a large army for a conventional style battle at Manzikert. Now surely they should have known that facing a nomadic army of horse-people from the steppes in the rugged terrain of Anatolia was a mistake. Furthermore larger armies were often more cumbersome in those mountainous environments and prone to ambushes - there really was no advantage to superior numbers in these conditions. It makes one wonder what the Byzantines were thinking? Had they learnt nothing from the wars with the Huns or the Arabs where large classical era armies were repeatedly beaten by smaller raiding parties of nomadic horse-archers?
They should have kept their armies to the open areas, fortified & garrisoned their border towns and deny taking battle to the Turks unless on their own terms. If Turks did penetrate the frontier then it would probably be in smaller and more manageable groups that the Empire could possibly later assimilate and maybe even convert or use as soldiers.
It was sheer incompetence to leave the Anatolian frontiers exposed, and the Byzantines should have known how powerful the Selkuk Turks were becoming and taken preventative action.

Secondly, Basil 2 had an impressive vision for governing Bulgaria. Yes his conquests were certainly brutal but his ultimate aim was to integrate Bulgarian society into the Empire and had the foresight to look beyond mere territorial gain. He didn't burden them with over-taxation and his policies were reasonably generous for a conquerer. Clearly he intended to absorb Bulgaria into the Byzantine state in much the same way that Rome successfully integrated many of the Grecian colonies. Had his successors continued this vision then maybe there would have been the making of a joint Roman-Bulgarian superpower.

It is arguable that that may have been in both countries best interests - the amount of pointless fighting between the 2 states consumed a lot of resources that could have been used in a more productive capacity. Certainly much of Bulgarian culture was borrowed from Byzantium: From religion, to the Cyrillic alphabet to Byzantine customs, technology and education. The seeds had been sown centuries earlier and in a hostile world one can see the logic of having the 2 states fuse together. I can't say how far the Bulgarian elite & peasants would go along with this but I tend to feel like if the Byzantines continued their earlier policies and didn't resort to exploiting their subjects as the successive emperors did then maybe the 2 states had a chance of merging.
Either way the manner in which Basil 2s successors managed the State was a disaster. So really there is a point to be made that had the Byzantine leadership been more astute and less motivated by selfishness then maybe the crusades would never have been needed?

Last edited by Redaxe; December 27th, 2015 at 04:46 AM.
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Old December 27th, 2015, 05:06 AM   #39

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The last dynasty was, ironically, the longest-lasting, despite the continued diminution of shrunken empire's domain and power.
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Old December 27th, 2015, 05:26 AM   #40
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The last dynasty was, ironically, the longest-lasting, despite the continued diminution of shrunken empire's domain and power.
Yes they were and I suspect the steep decline in power was a cause of that. For one thing, with Anatolia and the Balkans being over-run, the powerful landowner aristocracy would disappear. Revenue decline meant that there were less soldiers and less career officers to compete for power.
Also the weak state of the Empire probably had a very sobering effect on the population. Egos and court extravagance was probably replaced with a defeatist mentality. But despite even the length of the last dynasty they still made poor decisions and spent their resources fighting the Bulgarians instead of concentrating on the Turks that were swallowing up the last of the Themes. What motivated the leadership to make these poor choices is certainly a mystery. Even after the Crusader sack, there should have been enough population belonging to the Empire to at least hold Anatolia whilst using diplomatic marriages to secure peace on the European side.
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