- Jan 2016
- Victoria, Canada
The Byzantines developed positive relations with Saladin only under the Angeloi, after diplomatic relations with the Crusader states had soured (for a number of reasons, but particularly Richard the Lionheart's conquest of Cyprus). Manuel, on the other hand, maintained a very close relationship with the Crusader states, including Jerusalem in particular, the vulnerability of which he used to his advantage in pressuring the kingdom into becoming what amounted to a Roman protectorate. Manuel launched a major joint expedition against Egypt with Jerusalem in 1169 (contributing a full expeditionary force and 200 warships), though it didn't end up a success, and brought 70-150 ships to the Levant to prepare to launch another in 1176-7, though it was called off for unknown reasons; he also sponsored the construction of a number of monasteries and churches in the Kingdom, which featured fresco and mosaic portraits of himself (in one case alongside the King), arranged marriage alliances with Baldwin III and Amalric, invested Baldwin III with royal regalia in Cilicia (according to Armenian chroniclers), and received Amalric in Constantinople (asking in person for assistance against Saladin) in a grand ceremonial reception in which the King was seated on a lower throne to the Emperor's side, symbolizing his subservience (a ritual also standard for the Dukes of Antioch and Roman vassals in Serbia, and performed earlier on a smaller scale with Baldwin III). Manuel additionally payed the immense ransoms of many Crusader nobles, including Bohemond III of Antioch and Raynard of Chatillon, lord of Oultejordain and a major figure in the administration of Amalric's successor, Baldwin IV. The source for the above is mainly Magdelino's The Empire of Manuel Komnenos.I find it very unlikely that he would have been able to have any effect on Jerusalem's status, one way or the other. If I recall correctly the Byzantines had fairly positive (or at least not negative) diplomatic relations with Saladin, seeing him as much less of a threat than the Seljuks were. I doubt that the Byzantines would have gone to war with him just to defend Jerusalem, a city with no strategic or economic benefits to anybody, and a city that they also had no interest in from a practical perspective (Emperor Alexius expressed frustration when the crusaders attacked the Fatamids to take Jerusalem rather than fighting solely the Seljuks). Sending an army to help the crusaders would not have benefited the Byzantines in any meaningful way, not least because the majority of the crusader states had little to no interest in maintaining good relations let alone an alliance with the Byzantines (with the exception of the complicated status of Antioch).
Had he lived longer -- or his policies been continued by Alexios II -- I don't doubt either Emperor would be thrilled to be able to play the part of heroic protector of Christendom in Jerusalem against the advances of Saladin, particularly in light of the abject failure of Manuel's highly publicized 1176 campaign against the Sultanate of Ikonion. Preventing the fall of the Holy City to the Muslims would dramatically increase the prestige of the Emperor(s) in Latin Europe, and draw Jerusalem further into a state of Roman dependence, not to mention promote the Church union worked towards by Manuel his entire reign -- it would also prevent a repeat of the tumultuous Kings' Crusade of 1147, as indeed happened historically. Manuel and Alexios were additionally still formally allied to the Kingdom of Jerusalem in any case, and had emphasized its status as dependent on Roman support, so not coming to its aid would be perceived as downright treacherous.