DIR Logo
An Online Encyclopedia of Roman Emperors

mapDIR Atlas

Manuel I Comnenus (A.D. 1143-1180)

Andrew Stone
University of Western Australia

Introduction: sources

The reign of the emperor Manuel I Comnenus (5 April 1143- 24 September 1180) could well be regarded as a high-water mark of Byzantine civilization. It was the apogee of the so-called "Comnenian Restoration". Politically, the emperor undertook an ambitious foreign policy which has been seen by some, particularly in the light of many ultimate failures, as "misguided imperialism"[[1]], recent scholarship has come to question this traditional judgment and suggests instead that the the Comnenian foreign policy was rather an energetic seizing of the different opportunities that presented themselves in the rapidly changing constellations of powers of the time[[2]]. Such measures were made possible by the internal security of the empire under this, its third, Comnenian incumbent, although there were a few other aspirants to the throne, not least among them the emperor's cousin Andronicus. Manuel and other key members of the "Comnenian system", as it has been called, were patrons of rhetoric and other forms of learning and literature, and Manuel himself became keenly interested in ecclesiastical affairs, even if here his imperialistic agenda was a factor as he tried to bring Constantinopolitan theology in line with that of the west in a bid to unite the Church under his crown.

In terms of volume of contemporary material, Manuel is the most eulogised of all Byzantine emperors, and the panegyric addressed to him supplements the two major Byzantine historians of the reign, the more critical Nicetas Choniates and the laudatory John Cinnamus, as primary sources for the student of the period to study. The Crusader historian William of Tyre met Manuel personally, and such was the scope of Manuel's diplomacy that he is mentioned incidentally in western sources, such as Romuald of Salerno. Among authors of the encomia (panegyrics) we have mentioned are Theodore Prodromus and the so-called "Manganeios" Prodromus, who wrote in verse, and the prose encomiasts Michael the Rhetor, Eustathius of Thessalonica and Euthymius Malaces, to name the most important.  Manuel, with his penchant for the Latins and their ways, left a legacy of Byzantine resentment against these outsiders, which was to be ruthlessly exploited by Andronicus in the end.

Manuel as sebastokrator

Manuel was born in the imperial porphyry birthchamber on 28 November 1118. He was the fourth of John II's sons, so it seemed very unlikely that he would succeed. As a youth, Manuel evidently accompanied John on campaign, for in the Anatolian expedition of 1139-41 we find Manuel rashly charging a small group of the Turkish enemy, an action for which he was castigated by his father, even though John, we are told, was inwardly impressed (mention of the incident is made in John's deathbed speech in both John Cinnamus and Nicetas Choniates[[3]]).   John negotiated a marriage contract for Manuel with Conrad III of Germany; he was to marry Bertha of Sulzbach. It seems to have been John's plan to carve out a client principality for Manuel from Cilicia, Cyprus and Coele Syria. In the event, it was Manuel who succeeded him.

The securing of the succession 1143

In the article on John II it is related how the dying John chose his youngest son Manuel to succeed him in preference to his other surviving son Isaac. Manuel was acclaimed emperor by the armies on 5 April 1143. Manuel stayed in Cilicia, where the army was stationed, for thirty days, to complete the funeral rites for his father. He sent his father's right-hand man John Axuch, however, to Constantinople to confine Isaac to the Pantokrator monastery and to effect a donation of two hundredweight of silver coin to the clergy of the Great Church. The surviving encomium of Michael Italicus, Teacher of the Gospel, for the new emperor can be regarded as a return gift for this largesse. In the meantime the Caesar John Roger, husband of Manuel's eldest sister Maria, had been plotting to seize the throne; the plot was, however, given away by his wife before it could take effect.  Manuel marched home to enter Constantinople c. July 1143. He secured the good-will of the people by commanding that every household should be granted two gold coins. Isaac the younger (Manuel's brother) and Isaac the elder (Manuel's paternal uncle), were both released from captivity and reconciled with him. Manuel chose Michael Oxeites as the new patriarch and was crowned either in August or November 1143.

Manuel confirmed John Axuch in the office of Grand Domestic, that is, commander of the army, appointed John of Poutze as procurator of public taxes, grand commissioner and inspector of accounts and John Hagiotheodorites as chancellor. John of Poutze proved to be an oppressive tax collector, but was also unsusceptible to bribery. However, this John diverted monies levied for the navy into the treasury, which would, as we shall see, further Byzantine dependence on the maritime Italian city-states of Venice, Genoa and Pisa.

Early campaigns 1144-1146

Manuel's first concern was to consolidate the work of his father in securing the eastern frontier. He sent a force under the brothers Andronicus and John Contostephanus against the recalcitrant Crusader prince Raymond of Antioch, which consisted of both an army and a navy, the latter commanded by Demetrius Branas. Raymond's army was routed, and the naval force inflicted no small damage on the coastal regions of the principality. In the meantime the Crusader city of Edessa fell to the Turkish atabeg Zengi. Raymond therefore travelled to Constantinople as a suppliant to Manuel.  It was subsequently decided, in the light of Manuel's imperial status, that the terms under which he would marry Bertha of Sulzbach should be improved. Manuel asked for 500 knights, and Conrad happily granted them, being prepared to supply 2000 or 3000 if need be all for the sake of this alliance. Bertha took the Greek name Irene.

The Seljuk sultanate of Rum under Masud had become the ascendant Turkish power in Anatolia. Manuel himself supervised the rebuilding of the fortress of Melangeia on the Sangarius river in Bithynia (1145 or 1146).  In the most daring campaign of these early years, after building the new fort of Pithecas in Bithynia, Manuel advanced as far into Turkish territory as Konya (Iconium), the Seljuk capital. He had been wounded in the foot by an arrow at a mighty battle at Philomelium (which had been Masud's headquarters), and the city had been rased; once at Konya, he allowed his troops to despoil the graves outside the city walls, before taking the road home. Cinnamus relates that the gratutitous heroics which Manuel displayed on this campaign were calculated to impress Manuel's new bride. Manuel and his army were harried by Turks on the journey home. Manuel erected the fort of Pylae before leaving Anatolia.

The Second Crusade and the Treaty of Thessalonica 1147-1148

When Manuel was on the Rhyndacus river with the intention of mounting another campaign against Konya, envoys arrived announcing the intention of the German king Conrad III to march through Byzantine territory to ride to the rescue of the Holy Land (since he had taken the cross in response to the fall of Edessa and the preaching of Bernard of Clairvaux). He required markets and his army to be ferried across the Bosphorus. Manuel made a hasty truce with his Turkish enemies and demanded that the crusading armies (for a second army, of French under Louis VII was approaching) swear an oath of fealty to him, much in the manner that the partcipants of the First Crusade had sworn allegiance to Alexius I. He then set about strengthening the defences of Constantinople, for the Byzantines were very suspicious of the crusaders' motives (particularly those of the Germans, due to their imperial pretensions), as a reading of Cinnamus and later panegyric will reveal. The Second Crusade was therefore as great a shock as the First, for it showed that the latter was not merely a mercenary expedition gone wrong, but a movement in which western sovereigns were eager to participate, to try and assert their overlordship over the Crusader States.

The Germans' march was not without incident, there being confrontation between the Greeks and Conrad's nephew Frederick (the future Frederick I Barbarossa) and the swelling of the river Melas by a torrential downpour which caused a flood which swept some of the Germans and many of their belongings away. Finally, the German army reached Philopatium, from which the impregnability of Constantinople was observed. Reluctant to camp in the suburbs, Conrad begrudgingly had his army ferried across the Bosphorus. Choniates and Cinnamus claim that the Byzantines gave up count of those whom they ferried[[4]], but a panegyric of Eustathius of Thessalonica mentions that the "number of the ten thousands is the highest number of the decade"[[5]], which is suggestive of a figure of 9000 or 10 000. The French army arrived around the feast day of St Denis. King Louis was treated to a lowly throne next to that of the emperor, and shown the relics of the Passion in Constantinople, until he too was sent on his way. Manuel's attempt to win him as an ally against Roger II failed.

The passage of the armies was regarded with relief on the part of the Byzantines, and Nicetas Choniates mentions ways by which the locals in Anatolia swindled or contrived death for the crusaders passing through their territory[[6]]. The German forces encountered a Turkish force under the command of the chieftain Mamplanes near Dorylaeum on the Bathys river and were decimated (26 October 1147). The French joined the Germans at Nicaea. Both armies progressed to Philadelphia, when Conrad, unwell, decided to return to Constantinople. Once the remainder of the army had reached Attaleia on the southern Anatolian coast, the barons took ship to the Holy Land and left the rank-and-file soldiers to struggle the best they could through hostile Turkish territory.

Conrad in the meantime convalesced in Constantinople throughout the winter of 1147-1148, being treated to a variety of amusements. Manuel then furnished him with a ship to take him to the Holy Land. On his return, Conrad and Manuel concluded a treaty, for the common enemy was the Normans of Sicily under Roger II Guiscard. They were to undertake as campaign the following year, and southern Italy was to be Bertha-Irene's dowry. The Sicilians had taken advantage of Manuel's preoccupation with the crusaders to raid Greece, the Aegean and Ionian seas.

We see the Second Crusade remembered as late as 1174 in an oration by Eustathius of Thessalonica[[7]]. The emperor is praised for confining the westerners to their homeland. There is therefore an evolution over the reign of Manuel in the Byzantine attitude to foreign relations, from unabashed espousal of the idea of  renovatio, reconquest, as the legacy of Manuel's father John II, to a gradual acceptance of the status quo of a central imperial bloc surrounded by nations under lesser kings. This did not however prevent Manuel exploiting any opportunities that came his way to pursue an imperialistic agenda, and it was now apparent that the most serious threat was that of the Normans under Roger II.

The war with Sicily: the first phase 1147-1149

Count Roger of Sicily had sought a Byzantine bride for his son. He was rebuffed by the emperor. Cinnamus says that this is the reason why, in 1147, the Normans took the disaffected island of Corfu[[8]] (strategically important since it commanded the approach to the Adriatic), then sailed into the Aegean and raided Euboea, Thebes and Corinth, carting away weavers of silk. In reality it is more likely that Roger, as heir to the pretensions of Robert Guiscard (see Alexius I), sought to carve out a more extensive kingdom for himself. The emperor prepared a fleet of over 500 galleys to counter him (so Cinnamus; Choniates says a total force of nearly 1000 ships), but was distracted by a Cuman raid across the Danube in 1148, although this was soon repulsed.

The fleet, under the command of the megas doux (i.e. the high admiral) Stephen Constostephanus, Manuel's brother-in-law, arrived at Corfu. Contostephanus was killed by one of the stones with which the fleet was bombarded. John Axuch assumed command, and supervised the building of a ladder to storm the walls, which collapsed under the weight of the many men who swarmed up it. To make matters worse a brawl broke out with the Venetians, who had accompanied the Byzantines as allies. The Venetians irreverently performed a mock-coronation of an Ethiopian, which Choniates tells us infuriated Manuel. However, the Venetians and Manuel came to terms, Manuel renewing the treaty and trading privileges after the fashion of his father and grandfather (October 1147), and, since they were becoming short of provisions, the Sicilians inside the main fortress of Cercyra agreed to withdraw. So ended the first phase of the conflict between the Sicilians and Byzantines, even if there had been some antagonism between the Byzantines and their Venetian allies (who may have been wary of extending Byzantine power over both sides of the Adriatic). Since Conrad III was allied to Manuel, Roger realised that it was in his interests to come to an understanding with the Hungarian king Géza II and the Serbs.

Manuel's beneficence towards the Church

Manuel had needed the support of the Church against his brother Isaac's claim, as we have seen. We should therefore see the following measures in this light. Firstly, in 1144 priests were exempted from extraordinary taxes. In 1148 Manuel confirmed the titles of properties held by all bishops, including the patriarch himself. In 1153 privileges were granted to the Church of St Sophia. Even where its titles were defective, they were confirmed, and imperial agents were forbidden to set foot on any of the patriarchal estates. In 1158 these privileges were extended to the monasteries of Constantinople's environs. Manuel therefore was a great benefactor to the Church, although he actually only founded one new religious institution, a monastery at Kataskepe, which was endowed not with lands, but rather directly by the imperial treasury.

Early problems in the Church 1146-1147

Both Cinnamus and Choniates mention the intrigues surrounding the monk Niphon and the patriarch who succeeded Michael II Oxeites, Cosmas Atticus[[9]]. Niphon was condemned by the synod of bishops under Michael II for unorthodox teachings, and sent to prison. It transpires (as we read in Choniates) that this man was a favourite of Manuel's brother Isaac, and Niphon's enemies accused him of encouraging Isaac to make an attempt on the throne. Cosmas however, another associate of Isaac, supported Niphon even in the face of popular condemnation. Manuel took a personal interest in the proceedings of the synod, which reaffirmed Niphon's condemnation and deposed Cosmas. Choniates tells how, in retaliation, Cosmas cursed the empress Bertha-Irene's womb, saying that it would never bear a male child.  Cosmas' successor Nicholas IV Muzalon was an abbot from a Cypriot monastery. However, the synod regarded his consecration as uncanonical and he was forced to resign.

The Balkan frontier 1149-1154

Manuel was kept from his main objective, the subjugation of the Normans of Sicily, due to distraction from troublesome neighbours on the Balkan frontier. Relations had been good with the Serbs and Hungarians since 1129, so their rebellions came as a shock. The Serbs of Rascia, being so induced by Roger Guiscard, invaded Byzantine territory in 1149, although their grand zupan Uros was forced to flee to mountain fastnesses when Manuel and his army advanced against him.  In 1150 the Serbs became restive again, and this time they had the support of contingents from their Hungarian neighbours (ruled by Géza II). A kinsman of the emperor, John Cantacuzenus, distinguished himself in battle against the Serbs, and Manuel duelled against a Serb champion, Bagin. Victorious, he then invaded Sirmium, also known as Frangochorion (Fruska Gora), that strip of territory between the Danube and Sava rivers, and prevailed over the Hungarians, whose king sought peace before Manuel could cross the Danube. The people of Constantinople awarded the emperor a triumph for this triple victory against the Normans of Corfu, the Hungarians and the Serbs of 1149-50.

We see a further eruption of hostilities between Manuel and Géza in 1153, combined with a campaign against the Serbs under Uros, and, as we shall see, one in 1154, provoked, we are told, by the emperor's cousin Andronicus. Manuel would continue to war against the Hungarians until 1167, for the Hungarians were the main rival contender for control in the Balkans. Also, the (relatively) easy victories this foe afforded Manuel would have supplied him with the political capital that his attempts to subdue the Normans denied (see below). Further, in these earlier years Manuel may have preferred to campaign closer to the capital, given the possibilities for conspiracy or worse that the Comnenian system fomented.

The Russian connection 1151-1165

In 1151 Géza of Hungary had been engaged in supporting his ally the prince of Kiev, Izjaslav, against his rivals (and Byzantine allies) the princes of Suzdal' and Galicia, one of the reasons Manuel had success in his 1151 campaign. With Izjaslav's death in 1154 Kiev returned to the Byzantine sphere, accepting the customary nomination of the metropolitan bishop of Russia by the patriarch of Constantinople. However, within a few years the new prince of Galicia, Yaroslav, had reversed his father's policy of friendship with Byzantium and allied instead with Stephen III of Hungary. In 1164 prince Rostislav of Kiev refused to accept the Byzantine candidate for the metropolitan episcopal throne. Manuel entrusted the task of winning back the alienated Russian princes to the diplomacy of one of his relatives (also named Manuel), which achieved the desired end.

The plots of Andronicus Comnenus 1152-1159

While war was being waged against both the Sicilians and the Hungarians, Manuel dispatched his cousin Andronicus (son of the elder sebastokrator Isaac) to Cilicia as doux along with the Caesar John Roger (1152), the latter of whom the emperor proposed to marry to the widowed Constance of Antioch. Both Andronicus and Caesar John failed in their efforts. Despite this, Manuel appointed Andronicus to command the province of Branitshevo and Nish (1153), where he commenced to plot against his imperial cousin, entering into a secret compact with Géza of Hungary. While the emperor was on a hunting trip, Andronicus deemed that he had his opportunity to make his move with his Cilician supporters. However, the plot was discovered and Andronicus imprisoned. The Hungarians, however, took the opportunity to lay siege to Branitshevo. They withdrew to Belgrade upon news of the approaching Byzantine army. There was an indecisive bloody battle between the Byzantine force, under a certain Basil, and the Hungarians. Manuel decided to winter at Stara Zagora (1154-55), and then marched as far as the Danube frontier. He accepted Géza's terms for peace.  While Manuel was on campaign in the east, Andronicus escaped imprisonment, through a secret tunnel under his cell. He was however recaptured at Nicaea, and bound more securely.

The war with Sicily 1152-1158

Despite Manuel's preoccupation with Hungary and the Serbs, the war with Sicily seems to have been prosecuted unabated. We have reports in the orations of Michael the Rhetor and the poems of the so-called Manganeius Prodromus of victories against the Normans corresponding to nothing related in Choniates or Cinnamus. The death of Roger Guiscard, a strong ruler, gave the Byzantines some respite, resulting as it did in dissent against central rule among dissatisfied Norman nobility.  The emperor sent Michael Palaeologus and John Ducas with an army and gold to effect the reconquest of Apulia (1155). These two generals sought to involve the German emperor Frederick Barbarossa in the venture, since he was south of the Alps, but he declined due to the fact that his army wished to return home. The Byzantine generals were assisted by Alexander of Gravina, a disaffected Norman nobleman who had sought refuge at Constantinople, and a local, Robert of Bassonville. There was a spectacular string of successes when numerous strongholds yielded either to force or the lure of gold. The turning point was the Battle for Brindisi, where the naval battle was decided in the Sicilians' favour. Indeed, John Ducas was captured. Although Manuel sent at first Alexius Comnenus (son of his aunt Anna Comnena) and then Alexius Axuch (1158) to Ancona to levy further support, in the end he decided to treat with Roger's successor William I (1158). This ended any aspirations Manuel may have had of reconquering Apulia. In future, Byzantine gold would be employed to win support of local notables or whole cities, such as the Byzantine bridgehead of Ancona.

Frederick Barbarossa and the "two-emperor problem"

Frederick Barbarossa, who was to become a constant menace to Manuel's designs, had succeeded his uncle Conrad III in 1152, but unlike him proved in the end unprepared to make any territorial concessions in Italy. The origins of this "cold war" between the two empires cannot be dated with any certainty, but there may have been a tendency to date it too early. One school of thought would not date the outbreak of this rivalry to any earlier than 1159-60, the death of Manuel's German wife, Bertha-Irene. About this time there was a scare at Constantinople that Frederick Barbarossa would march on Byzantium, perhaps reflecting a desire on Frederick's part to crusade (which he eventually did, in the reign of Isaac II Angelus). As related below, the new Pope, Alexander III, by, as it would seem, offering to grant Manuel the imperial crown, used it as a bargaining chip to play off the emperors of west and east against one another. Manuel may have supported Alexander during the papal schism of 1160-1177 because he was the preferred candidate of Hungary and the Crusader states, both of which he hoped would recognise him as their feudal overlord. By this means he could claim sovereign rights over the crusading movement, and thereby turn it to his advantage. The playing off of Manuel against Frederick continued right up until 1177, the Peace of Venice, whereby Frederick agreed to recognise Pope Alexander, the autonomy of Sicily and of the northern Italian communes. But this result was not a foregone conclusion in the 1160s and early 1170s, and Manuel used Byzantine gold to win supporters in Italy and thereby keep Frederick occupied.

Manuel and the Crusader principalities 1158-1159

Manuel marched out to Tarsus in 1158 and prevailed over the Rupenid prince Thoros, who had reconquered the greater part of Cilicia, although Thoros sought refuge in the mountains. Satisfied with what he had achieved there, he advanced on Syrian Antioch. The prince of Antioch, Reynald, had raided Cyprus, and he needed an ally against the atabeg of Aleppo, Nur ed-Din, so he now made a ritual submission to Manuel, unshod, head bared and a halter around his neck. In the meantime Baldwin III (of the kingdom of Jerusalem), who had an eye on the principality of Antioch, arrived there as well, wishing to conduct negotiations with the emperor. He was treated to a lowly throne. In the meantime Thoros too made his submission to the emperor.  Manuel made a triumphal entry into Antioch Easter, 12 April 1159. He had pride of place in the procession, while Reynald was on foot next to his horse, and Baldwin followed a long way behind without his insignia, though also granted a horse. This ceremonial obeisance of the Crusader princes made, Manuel disbanded his army for the return journey, whereupon his men were set upon by Turks, and a large part of his army lost.

It is to be seen that Manuel treated Reynald and Baldwin as his liegemen, preferring their principalities to be client states than to absorb them by conquest as his grandfather and father had tried to do. More than either of them, Manuel had accepted the reality of Latin principalities in the Levant. The advantage of having Manuel as suzerain was demonstrated to the crusader princes in 1164, when Manuel paid the ransom money for Bohemond III of Antioch (who had been captured by Nur ed-Din). Manuel presented himself as protector of the Holy Places, defraying the expenses of decorating the church of the Holy Sepulchre in Jerusalem and the church of the Nativity in Bethlehem.

Manuel and Kilidj II Arslan 1159-1161

The chronology of the campaigns against the Seljuk Turks from 1159 to 1161 is confused. There seems to have been at least one winter campaign in Anatolia under the command of Manuel himself, if not, as Cinnamus would have us believe, two[[10]]. As a result, since the sultan Kilidj II Arslan needed allies against rival Turkish emirs, such as his brother Shahan-Shah and brother-in-law Yaghi Basan, the sultan himself travelled to Constantinople in 1161, to be treated to a lowly throne and entertained by spectacles. A treaty, whereby Manuel and Kilidj Arslan agreed to have the same friends and enemies, was concluded on the occasion. Kilidj Arslan spent some 80 days in Constantinople. However, warring between the Byzantines and Turks, in particular those Turcomans who had scant regard for the sultan, continued unabated until the end of Manuel's reign.

The Styppeiotes affair 1159

Under the Comneni bureaucrats very much took second place to the upper tier of the aristocracy, which consisted of the Comnenian extended family ("the Comnenian system"), and there was scope for bitter in-fighting among these civil servants. In the 1150s one Theodore Styppeiotes was promoted to epi tou kanikleiou, or keeper of the imperial inkstand, the chief imperial secretary, thus provoking the jealousy of John Camaterus, logothete of the drome. Nicetas Choniates' account has Theodore's downfall the result of the plotting of Camaterus, who forged a letter purportedly addressed to the king of Sicily in 1165, which he hid among the former's letters[[11]]. Styppeiotes was accordingly condemned to be blinded. Cinnamus' account is different[[12]]. He accuses Styppeiotes of having prophesied the imminent death of the emperor, upon which the Byzantine senate should elect an archon as in a democracy. Such an idea was treasonable in an absolute monarchy such as Byzantium. Cinnamus was by 1165 a member of the imperial entourage, so his account cannot be summarily dismissed. There is probably an element of truth in both versions. Manuel would have been sensitive to any accusation of collaboration with the king of Sicily, since the campaign which he funded during the years 1155-1158 cost him so much.

Marriage to Maria of Antioch 1161

Bertha-Irene died in late 1159/early 1160. Manuel sought to strengthen his ties with the Crusader principalities by selecting an eastern Latin princess for his wife. The exceedingly beautiful Maria of Antioch, daughter of Raymond of Antioch, was chosen, and the nuptials celebrated at Christmas, 1161.

Hungarian intrigues and Serbia 1161-1167

King Géza II's brothers Stephen (IV) and László (II) had defected to the Byzantine court before his death (31 May 1162). Géza's son Stephen III succeeded his father, but Manuel, appearing on the Danube frontier in the vicinity of Branitshevo and Belgrade in a show of force, wished to place the future Stephen IV on the throne. He succeeded in persuading the Hungarians to accept László as a compromise candidate. When he died the following year, hostilities resumed, Stephen IV being killed by treachery. In the meantime Stephen III's younger brother Béla went to Constantinople and wed the porphyrogenite princess Maria, Manuel's daughter, with Sirmium (that territory between the Sava and Danube rivers) and Dalmatia as his apanage. In this way Manuel, still without a son, hoped to unite the Byzantine and Hungarian realms upon his death.

In the meantime Manuel put down a revolt by the Serbian zupan Primislav. When he again rebelled, Manuel established his brother Belus in the office, and then when the latter laid it aside, the third brother, Desa. Desa, as a result of his suspected plotting with Frederick I Barbarossa of Germany against Manuel, was imprisoned in the Great Palace at Constantinople (1162).  Soon afterwards (1163 and 1164) Stephen III of Hungary thought better of the arrangements over Sirmium and advanced against the Byzantines who were occupying it. Manuel crossed the Danube on the second occasion and secured Béla's inheritance.  Having to deal not long afterwards with his cousin Andronicus' second escape from prison, Manuel was confronted by another Hungarian violation of the Danube frontier. He dispatched to these parts Michael Gabras and Michael Branas, who dealt with the incursion (1166). This was about the time Manuel entered into alliance with some of the Russian princes, Primislav, Rostislav of Kiev and Yaroslav of Galicia (1165), in order to counter the perennially troublesome Hungarians. Manuel even formed an alliance with Frederick Barbarossa at this time against Hungary.

The emperor himself was engaged in the siege of Zeugminon, to which Stephen III had laid claim (the modern Semlin, opposite Belgrade - 1165). John Cinnamus is an eyewitness of this siege. He says that Manuel himself had to be forcibly prevented from being the first to mount a siege tower! The fortress eventually capitulated under bombardment from siege engines and a sapping of the walls. Manuel left his uncle Constantine Angelus to rebuild the fort. Two other events of these years worthy of mention are another rebellion of Desa of Serbia, and the conquest of Dalmatia by John Ducas (both also 1165). Manuel celebrated a triumph for his victory over Zeugminon and Dalmatia.  The contemporary escapades of Manuel's cousin Andronicus subsequent to his governorship of Cilicia (1166) are best related in the article on him (Andronicus I).

Doctrinal controversies 1156-1166

The reign of Manuel was marked by at least four controversies in the Church, the first two of which we shall consider briefly here. In 1156-1157 (the patriarchate of Constantine Chliarenus) there was doctrinal controversy over the implications of St John Chrysostom's liturgy for the Eucharist, "Thou art He who offers and is offered and receives". The deacon Basil, who held the teaching chair of the Gospels, interpreted this as meaning that Christ was both at once donor and recipient of the sacrifice. To Basil's enemies this was dividing the natures of Christ too radically in the manner of the Nestorian heresy. In the end a compromise formula was adopted, that the Word made flesh offered a double sacrifice to the Holy Trinity, despite the patriarch of Antioch-elect Soterichus Panteugenus insisting that the sacrifice was made to the Father alone.

In 1159 there was a schism in the church of Rome. The majority of the cardinals accepted Roland Bandinelli of Siena, who adopted the name Alexander III. However, Frederick Barbarossa backed the candidacy of Octavian of Monticelli, who assumed the name Victor IV. Alexander had considerable political skills, and, if modern scholars are correct in this, in 1161 held out the promise of the imperial crown (i.e. that of the west, though in theory there was only one emperor) to Manuel, who engaged enthusiastically in dialogue with the new pope with a view to healing the schism between western and eastern churches and thereby establishing Church union.

It is in the light of these proceedings that we should see the second of the controversies of Manuel's reign: the interpretation of Christ's saying "My Father is greater than I". Demetrius of Lampe, who had been witness to controversy over this scripture in the west, thought that the formula arrived at, that Christ was equal to the Father with regard to his Divinity yet inferior with regard to his Manhood, was nonsensical. Manuel on the other hand, perhaps with an eye on the project for Church union, found that the formula made sense, and prevailed over a majority in a synod convened to decide the issue (1166), where he had the support of the patriarch Luke Chrysoberges. As a result of his Caesaropapist stance Manuel became known as epistemonarches, "Chief scientific expert", of the Church.

In the meantime Manuel's son-in-law Alexius Axuch had engaged in dialogue with the brother of the Armenian catholicus, Nerses "the Gracious". Nerses succeeded to the patriarchal throne and pursued dialogue with one Theorian, a Byzantine philosopher on the question of possible union between the Greek and Armenian church. Theorian may have misrepresented Nerses' position when he claimed to have converted him to Chalcedonian Christianity. Whatever the truth, Nerses died before union could be effected (1173), and though Nerses' successor Gregory IV was just as keen to be in communion with the Greeks. Manuel died before he could be informed of the decisions of an Armenian synod convened to discuss the issue in 1179.  The great compiler and commentator on canon law, Theodore Balsamon, approved of Manuel's stance as epistemonarches. As an absolute monarch, the emperor was not subject to either canon or civil law, and if the patriarch was in the wrong, he was answerable to his sovereign.

The conclusion of the war with Hungary 1166-1167

An army of Hungarians under a certain Denis advanced on Sirmium (1166). It turned an army of Byzantines under Michael Branas and Michael Gabras to flight. Accordingly Manuel sent two armies against the Hungarians, one to the Danube under Béla-Alexius, his son-in-law, and one under Leo Batatzes to invade Hungary from the Black Sea. The latter captured much booty. A further invasion was led by John Ducas, following the success of which a cross commemorating the victory was erected on Hungarian soil.

Since Denis was once again advancing on Sirmium, Manuel sent an army under the command of Andronicus Contostephanus to deal with the invasion. Ignoring the emperor's injunction not to fight on St Procopius' day (8 July, 1167), Andronicus and his army, thanks to the effectiveness of the mace against Hungarian armour, had a resounding victory, the most spectacular of the reign, so total that the Hungarians were not to be a problem again in the reign of Manuel. One of the terms of peace was that the Byzantine emperor should hold the right of dispensation of the Hungarian crown, as he was to do in 1172. A triumph was held to celebrate the victory, and Manuel yielded his place in a silver chariot, drawn by four snow-white horses, to the icon of the Mother of God.

The fall of Alexius Axuch 1167

The protostrator Alexius Axuch was accused of conspiring against the emperor (1167), falsely, according to Choniates[[13]], while Cinnamus says that Alexius admitted his guilt[[14]]. When Alexius was governor of Cilicia (1165), Cinnamus reports, he communicated with the sultan Kilidj II Arslan (we must remember that Alexius was part Turk), seeking his support for his bid for the throne. The walls of Alexius' home were decorated with achievements of the sultan rather than those of the emperor, and Alexius planned to attack the emperor with Cuman retainers. When the plot was discovered, Manuel was lenient, and Alexius was tonsured as a monk and sent to Mount Papicium.

Legislative activity

Manuel was responsible for four achievements of note in this period (ca. 1168). Firstly, he had the walls of Constantinople repaired. Secondly, he had the aqueducts supplying the city cleansed and a new reservoir excavated at nearby Petra to improve the city's water supply.  The remaining measures were legal in their nature. He had already issued a chrysobull to the monasteries of Constantinople protecting their property (1158). As a later measure, he forbade poor men to sell themselves into slavery. Finally, he permitted courts to operate on certain feast days.

The campaign against Egypt 1169

Manuel's alliance with Amalric I of Jerusalem (who had succeeded Baldwin III) involved him in a débacle in Egypt. This episode is related by Cinnamus only briefly, Choniates at greater length, and by William of Tyre. It was Amalric's ambition to secure Egypt, the sultan of which was the young Saladin. This in itself was a prudent measure, because the Crusader States were presently caught in the pincer movement of the counter-crusade being directed by Nur ed-Din. Amalric persuaded Manuel to participate in a joint venture in which the Byzantines would supply the navy, which was commanded by the megas doux Andronicus Contostephanus. The Byzantines proceeded as far as Damietta on the Nile Delta, but were running short of supplies when Amalric finally arrived on the scene. Amalric was persuaded by a bribe to lift the siege. The failure of the Egyptian venture led to mutual incriminations on the part of the Byzantines and the Crusaders. The whole fiasco ended by a sinking of many Byzantine ships in a winter storm on their voyage home.

Stephen Nemanja 1168-1172

Desa was succeeded as grand zupan by his nephew Stephen Nemanja. When he rebelled, he was pursued by Manuel and his army and forced to hide in caves before he finally surrendered (in 1168 according to Choniates[[15]]). A second rebellion, put down in 1172, saw him taken captive and paraded in the streets of Constantinople, where he endured the humiliation of being shown murals of his defeat by the emperor (Eustathius, 1176 Epiphany oration[[16]]).

Dynastic considerations 1169-1172

Manuel's wife Maria of Antioch gave birth to a baby boy 14 September 1169 in the porphyry marble birthchamber, the cause of great festivities. The infant was crowned emperor in 1171. With the death of Stephen III of Hungary in 1172, Stephen's brother Béla was sent out from Constantinople to assume the throne (though without Sirmium and Dalmatia being surrendered to the Hungarian crown). A husband for Maria Porphyrogenita was therefore required. At first it was proposed that she marry William II of Sicily, who was outraged when she failed to show up at Taranto on the appointed day, the emperor having had second thoughts.

Manuel and the Italian communes 1170-1171

We have seen how Manuel had renewed the Venetians' trading privileges in a chrysobull of 1148. By 1170 Manuel had also concluded alliances with Pisa and Genoa, in which the tax on trading transactions was reduced from 10 to 4 percent (as opposed to the total exemption for the Venetians).  The insolent behaviour of the Venetians, who were becoming rich at the expense of others due to their trading privileges, led Manuel to have all the Venetians who were in the empire arrested on a single day (12 March 1171) and their goods impounded. The Venetians took reprisals at Euripos in Euboea and in the Aegean (Chios and Lesbos). They were pursued by the megas doux Andronicus Constostephanus with 150 ships, but evaded capture. The doge Vitale Michiel was assassinated on the return of the Venetian fleet to home base.

Distinguished visitors to Constantinople 1171-1172

These years saw the visit of King Amalric I of Jerusalem to Constantinople, with the conclusion of a treaty, whereby Amalric recognised Manuel as his suzerain (1171), and, the following year, the visit of Henry the Lion, Welf duke of Saxony and Bavaria, on his way to crusade in the Holy Land. Henry seems to have known of the marriage alliance negotiations between Constantinople and Palermo (the capital of Sicily) being carried out at the time, and may have suggested an alliance with Germany instead. Manuel took the bait, the Sicilian marriage project fell through, but Frederick reneged on his side of the bargain negotiated for him by Henry.

Eastern developments 1172-1174

Thoros of Armenian Cilicia was succeeded as prince by his brother Mleh, who had the backing of the powerful Nur ed-Din of Aleppo. In 1173, Kilidj Arslan joined the alliance, as well as the Danishmendid ruler. Manuel marched out to Philadelphia to deal with this threat, and was able to avert harm to the empire through diplomacy. KIlidj Arslan, however, waxed ascendant, and soon after annexed the rival Danishmendid principality (1174).

Ancona 1173

In the campaigns of 1156-1158 the Italian city of Ancona had served as the base from which operations had proceeded, and a large sum of gold was deposited there in later times. In 1171 Frederick Barbarossa sent his chancellor Christian, archsbishop of Mainz, into Italy to counter Manuel's policy of winning over Italian cities to his cause through the lure of Byzantine gold. Therefore, from March to October, 1173, Ancona found itself besieged by a combined German and Italian army led by Christian. Ancona resisted long enough for help to arrive in the form of armies under William of Marchisella from Ferrara and Aldruda Frangipane, countess of Bertinoro. The episode is celebrated in a short history written by Boncompagno da Signa.

Fortifications in Anatolia

Manuel pursued a policy of fortification of the east, for which he was lauded by Nicetas Choniates and Eustathius of Thessalonica, among others (e.g. Euthymius Malaces). Choniates mentions in particular the fortification of the region of Chliara-Pergamum-Adramyttium, which became a theme named Neocastra. This strategic placing of strongholds allowed land to be cultivated by Manuel's local subjects, who had walls to which they could resort in case of attack from Turcomans. Manuel also ratified a treaty whereby the Turcoman nomads could pay for pasturage in Byzantine territory (Eustathius of Thessalonica, 1176 Epiphany oration[[17]]).  The culmination of this programme of fortification was the re-erection of Dorylaeum and Siblia in Phrygia (1175), effected under the supervision of Manuel himself. In order to erect the former, Manuel needed to beat off Turcoman nomads encamped in the area. The Turks resorted to a scorched-earth policy in order to try and forestall the work, which was nevertheless completed, and the new forts were garrisoned by both locals and Latin mercenaries.

Myriocephalum 1176

Manuel now wished to impress the West with an enterprise against the Seljuk sultanate of Rum with its capital at Iconium/Konya. Some have argued,[[18]] since Manuel preached the enterprise and his willingness to lay down his life for God, that it was intended as no less than a crusade. Not far from Iconium, the army led by Manuel, with its large baggage-train, was caught in the pass of Tzibritze, close to the ruined fort of Myriocephalum, whereupon it was beset by Turks who engaged in a wholesale massacre of the Byzantines and their mercenaries (17 September 1176). Choniates records in his history the heroic actions of the emperor himself in the battle. The victorious sultan Kilidj Arslan's terms were lenient: Manuel was to withdraw, and demolish Dorylaeum and Siblia. Manuel obeyed in the case of the latter, but had second thoughts in the case of the former. The fleet of 150 sail which Manuel had sent against Egypt in a second prong of his "crusade" appeared off Acre (1177) but did not see action.  There is one tradition that Myriocephalum was a disaster of the magnitude of Manzikert (1071). However, despite the psychological blow the battle seems to have dealt the emperor (so William of Tyre), there were victories against the Turks subsequent to it. It was the eastern arena which would occupy Manuel for the remainder of his reign.

Turkish campaigns 1177-1180

In retaliation for the violation by Manuel of his treaty with him, Kilidj Arslan sent a force to ravage the Meander valley as far as the Aegean sea. John Vatatzes was dispatched by the emperor to intercept this horde on its return journey, and many Turks met their death on the banks of the great river. In 1178 (my date: see bibliography) Manuel advanced against the Turks encamped at Panasium and Lacerium, but they were frightened away by Manuel's scout. Andronicus Angelus encountered the Turks at Charax (later 1178?) only to turn tail and flee, his army following suit, abandoning the livestock they had captured.  However in the year 1179 Manuel rode, with a relay of horses, to the rescue of the beleaguered city of Claudiopolis in Bithynia and frightened the Turks away. Finally, in 1180, there was another victory against the Turks, although Manuel did not supervise in person. Our source for this is the funeral oration by Gregory Antiochus. It can be seen that fortunes against the Turks in these last years were mixed, and that the east, as at the outset of the reign, had now become the main theatre of war.

New alliances in the west 1179-1180

Manuel was isolated in the late 1170s due to alliances between Frederick Barbarossa and Kilidj Arslan, and especially as a result of the 1177 Peace of Venice. Manuel nevertheless formed two new marriage alliances. His son, Alexius Porphyrogenitus, was to marry Louis VII's daughter Agnes of France (a minor), and his daughter from his first marriage, Maria Porphyrogenita, married Renier, the son of William V the Old of Montferrat (in the north-western corner of modern Italy). Both marriages took place as a double bill on March 2 1180. They gave Manuel dynastic connections with potentates on the western flank of his most serious adversary, Frederick Barbarossa.

The final months 1180

Manuel took ill in the month of March 1180. During this period of terminal illness the last major religious controversies took place. We are told that Manuel directed that the anathema pronounced against the god of Muhammad be removed from the abjuration against the Islamic faith declared by converts to Christianity. Manuel was opposed by the last patriarch of his reign, Theodosius Boradiotes (1179-1183), as well as, notably, by Eustathius of Thessalonica. Both parties were satisfied in the end upon a reading of the emperor's proposed amendments to the abjuration. This controversy would seem to be a different one from the one alluded to in Eustathius' funeral oration for Manuel, since Manuel is praised by Eustathius for his stance in it, which seems to have revolved around a book written by a convert from Islam that magnified the Father at the expense of the Son (and therefore had Arian overtones).  It became apparent that the emperor was dying, and, on the advice of Theodosius, he renounced astrology. As his end approached, he assumed the monastic habit and the name Matthew, demanding that his wife Maria become a nun. Manuel's son Alexius was but eleven, and the minority would prove to be disastrous for Byzantium. Manuel died thirty-seven years and nine months from the beginning of his reign.

General strategies in Manuel's foreign policy

The funeral oration for Manuel by Eustathius of Thessalonica is an interesting document in that it discusses some of the general policies pursued over Manuel's reign. It endorses his policy of dividing his enemies, the Petchenegs, the Sicilian Normans and the Turks, among themselves by using Byzantine gold, a policy of "divide and rule". We have seen how this was applied especially in Italy. Another general policy was to create friendly buffer states on the frontiers of the empire, most notably Hungary (and Serbia) and the Crusader States. Manuel would deliberately underpin the most powerful potentate in each region (the king of Hungary, the king of Jerusalem, the sultan of Konya) and thereby emphasise his own absolute sovereignty. In the funeral oration this granting of autonomy is justified as the reward for good service, as in the parable of the talents. We also see in the panegyric of the 1170s the downplaying of the idea of world rule which was so prevalent in the reign of John. Although Manuel claimed sovereign rights over many of his neighbours, his territorial claims were limited: coastal southern Italy, Dalmatia and Sirmium, coastal Egypt. The Byzantines seem to have come to terms with the reality of nation states and it is in Manuel's reign that they begin to refer to themselves not only as "Romans", but as "Hellenes", in order to demarcate themselves from the barbarians surrounding them.

Manuel's taxation, government and army

Nicetas Choniates roundly criticises Manuel in his history for increasing taxes and lavishing money on his family and retainers, particularly his Latin favourites. We have also seen how money was spent in Manuel's ambitious foreign policy. Mention is made of two towers, one at Damalis, and one next to the monastery of the Mangana, between which a chain could be stretched to block the Bosphorus. Then there was the work done at both the Great Palace and the Palace of the Blachernae, galleries, a pavilion alla Turca and numerous mosaics. He also founded a monastery at Kataskepe at the mouth of the Black Sea, which was endowed from the imperial treasury.

Choniates further criticizes the continuation and spread of the granting of pronoiai, parcels of land, the income from each of which supported a soldier. Many of these were granted to foreigners, for example, Turks captured in the Meander campaigns were settled around Thessalonica. The pronoia would pay not only for a soldier's upkeep, but his expensive equipment, for in Manuel's reign the bow and arrow and circular shield had been replaced by a heavier western-style panoply of armour, large triangular shield and lance. Choniates laments how fashionable a practice it had become in Manuel's reign to forsake the land or one's trade and become enlisted in the army.

Manuel and the "Comnenian system"

Throughout Manuel's reign, as under his father John, the top tier of the aristocracy was formed by the emperor's family, the Comneni, and the families into which they married. The extended family was, however, by now becoming unwieldy, and beginning to lose its cohesion, as the example of Manuel's cousin Andronicus shows. Under Manuel it was degree of kinship to the emperor which determined one's rank, as synodal listings show. So it was that very quickly after Manuel's death the upper tier of the aristocracy splintered into separate groups, each with its own identity and interests.


The various aristocratic courts, that of the emperor and other key members of the extended family, most notably the sebastokrator Isaac Comnenus the elder and the sebastokratorissa Irene, widow of Manuel's brother Andronicus, attracted literati who would seek to serve under them. Such figures would not only turn their hands to literature, encomia in prose or poetry, expositions on mythology, commentaries on Homer or the philosophers, historical chronicles and even, in this period, romances - the twelfth century is a high point of literary production at Constantinople, so much so that some have even talked of a "Comnenian renaissance" - but they would seek to perform more menial, such as administrative, duties to support themselves. Such men would often come from noble families whose prestige had been eclipsed by the Comnenian upper tier of the aristocracy. Serving under a lord was one way of advancing oneself, entering the Church was another.

The patriarchal church and education

The deacons of the church of St Sophia were a powerful group, the chartophylax being second only to the patriarch. These deacons would either go on to become bishops in the provinces, or possibly first hold one of the professorial chairs associated with the patriarchal church. First there were the "teachers", didaskaloi of the Gospels, Epistles and Psalter. Then there was the maistor ton rhetoron, "master of the rhetors", responsible for delivering speeches in praise of the emperor on January 6 each year and of the patriarch on the Saturday prior to Palm Sunday, as well as for other state occasions. And there was the hypatos ton philosophon, "consul of the philosophers", an office which had lapsed but was revived under Manuel.

Character and Legacy

Was Byzantium of the middle to late twelfth century living on borrowed time? Until recently this was the verdict of many scholars. Yet John II and Manuel had, if there is any kernel of truth in their encomia, at least temporarily reversed the overrunning of Anatolia by the Turks, and Manuel had won Dalmatia and Sirmium from Hungary. But Byzantine collapse was rapid, which is the reason why scholars have searched in the reigns of John and Manuel for the beginnings of the disintegration that occurred under the last Comneni and the Angeli. The history and comments of Nicetas Choniates have been adduced as vindicating this view. The victory of the military aristocracy that the establishment of the Comnenian dynasty represents has been seen as both the reason for the temporary reversal of Byzantine fortunes - government by three very capable autocrats - and of ultimate failure, because of the splintering into factions that oligarchy, such as was present in the Comnenian system, foments. A Marxist interpretation is that the feudalisation of the Byzantine empire, the depletion of the free peasantry, that began to take place in the middle period was the reason for its ultimate failure. But to the Byzantines at the time Byzantium seemed to be holding its own; the "nations" around were being kept at bay, and even though the panegyric of renovatio is less evident than in the reign of John II, the emperor remains despotes, "master" of the oikoumene, "world". Indeed, Manuel would be remembered in France, Genoa and the Crusader States as the most powerful sovereign in the world.

We have mentioned the funeral oration for Manuel by Eustathius of Thessalonica[[19]]. This contains a series of vignettes of the personal aspects of Manuel. There are commonplaces: the emperor is able to endure hunger, thirst, heat and cold, lack of sleep and so on, and sweats copiously in his endeavours on the empire's part. Although these ideas have been recycled from earlier reigns, notably that of John II, the contemporary historians agree that Manuel was an indefatigable and daring warrior. However, there are more specifically individual touches in the Eustathian oration. Manuel had a manly suntan and was tall in stature. The emperor was capable of clever talk, but could also talk to others on a man-to-man basis. Eustathius makes much of the emperor's book-learning (Cinnamus claims to have discussed Aristotle with the emperor[[20]]). The restoration of churches was a major concern for Manuel. He also had some expertise in medicine (he had tended Conrad III of Germany and Baldwin III of Jerusalem personally). Manuel showed temperance in eating and drinking, with a certain liking for beer as well as wine, the latter being mixed sour after the manner of ascetics. Likewise, he would not slumber long. He would generally chose walking over riding. The oration closes on the widow and orphan Manuel has left behind. The situation resulting for the Byzantine empire at this stage, with the vacuum created by Manuel would result in no less than implosion, as the articles on Alexius II Porphyrogenitus and his successors will show.


Primary sources

-Nicetas Choniates, Historia, ed. J.-L. Van Dieten, Corpus Fontium Historiae Byzantinae 11, 2 vols., Berlin and New York, 1975; trans. as O City of Byzantium, Annals of Niketas Choniates, by H.J. Magoulias, Detroit, 1984.

-John Cinnamus, Epitome, ed. A. Meineke, Corpus Scriptorum Historiae Byzantinae, Bonn, 1836, trans. as Deeds of John and Manuel Comnenus, by C.M. Brand, New York, 1976.

-Theodore Prodromus, Theodoros Prodromos, historische Gedichte, ed. W. Hörandner, Wiener Byzantinische Studien 11, Vienna, 1974.

-Eustathius of Thessalonica, Eustathii Thessalonicensis opera minora, ed. P. Wirth, Corpus Fontium Historiae Byzantinae 32, Berlin and New York, 2000.

-id. Eustathii Metropolitanae Thessalonicensis Opuscula, ed. T.L.F. Tafel, Frankfurt am Main, 1832, repr. Amsterdam, 1964.

-Euthymius Malaces, Eujqumivou tou' Malavkh mhtropolivtou Nevwn Patrw/n (ÔUpavth") ta; swzovmena, ed. K.G. Bones, 2 vols, Athens 1937 and 1949.

-id. in Noctes Petropolitanae (orations nos. 4-6), ed. A. Papadopoulos-Kerameus, St Petersburg, 1913; repr. Leipzig, 1976.

- Michael Italicus, Michel Italikos, lettres et discours, ed. P. Gautier, Archives de l'orient chrétien 14, Paris, 1972.

-Michael the Rhetor, in Fontes Rerum Byzantinarum, ed. W. Regel, vol. 2, St. Petersburg 1917; repr. Leipzig, 1982, pp. 131-182.

-Nicephorus Basilaces, Nicephori Basilacae orationes et epistolae, ed. A. Garzya, Leipzig, 1984.

-William of Tyre, A history of deeds done beyond the sea, ed. and trans. by E.A. Babcock and A.C. Krey, New York, 1976.

At the time of writing the panegyrical oeuvre of "Manganeios Prodromos" is still being prepared, with a text and commentary, by Profs. M. and E. Jeffreys.

There are lesser rhetors whose works are cited in Magdalino, Empire below.

Secondary sources

-M. Angold, The Byzantine Empire, 1025-1204: a political history, 2nd ed., London and New York, 1997.

-P. Magdalino, The Empire of Manuel I Komnenos, 1143-1180, Cambridge, 1993.

-F. Chalandon, Les Comnène: Jean II Comnène (1118-1143) et Manuel I Comnène (1143-1180), 2 vols., Paris, 1912.

-id. Histoire de la domination Normande en Italie et en Sicile, Paris, 1907.

-V.G. Berry, "The Second Crusade" in A History of the Crusades, vol. 1, ed. K.M. Setton and M.W. Baldwin, Philadelphia, 1958, pp. 463-513.

-C. Cahen, Pre-Ottoman Turkey, London, 1968.

-P. Classen, "Die Komnenen ubd die Kaiserkrone des Westens", Journal of Medieval History 3, 1977, pp. 207-20.

-id. "La politica di Manuele Comneno tra Federico Barbarossa e la città italiane", in Popolo e stato in Italia nell'età di Federico Barbarossa. Relazioni e communicazioni al 330 congresso storico subalpino, Turin, 1970, pp. 265-79.

-S. der Nesessian, "The kingdom of Cilician Armenia", in A History of the Crusades, vol. 2, ed. K.M. Setton, R. Wolff and H.W. Hasard, Philadelphia, 1962, pp. 630-660.

-G. Day, Genoa's response to Byzantium, 1155-1204: Commercial expansion and factionalism in a medieval city, Urbana and Chicago, 1988.

-P. Lamma, Comneni e Staufer. Ricerche sui Rapporti fra Bisanzio e l'Occidente nel Secolo XII, 2 vols., Rome, 1955-57.

-R.-J. Lile, Handel und Politik zwischen dem byzantinischen Reich und den italienischen Kommunen und Venedig, Pisa und Genua in der Epoche der Komnenen und der Angeloi (1081-1204), Amsterdam, 1984.

- id. Byzantium and the Crusader States, 1096-1204, tr. J.C. Morris and J.E. Ridings, Oxford, 1993.

-F. Makk, The Árpáds and the Comneni: Political relations between Hungary and Byzantium in the 12th century, tr. G. Novák, Budapest, 1989.

-C. Mango, "The conciliar edict of 1166", in Dumbarton Oaks Papers 17, 1963, pp. 317-30.

-D.M. Nicol, Byzantium and Venice, Cambridge, 1988.

-J.S.C. Riley-Smith, The Crusades: a short history, London, 1987.

-S. Runciman, A History of the Crusades, vol. 2, Cambridge, 1952.

-P. Stephenson, Byzantium's Balkan Frontier: a political study of the northern Balkans, 900-1204, Cambridge, 2000.

-S. Vryonis, The decline of medieval Hellenism in Asia Minor and the process of Islamization from the Eleventh Century through the Fifteenth Century, Berkeley, Los Angeles and London, 1971.

[[1]]The most ambitious project undertaken by Manuel was an attempt to achieve recognition as emperor of the West as well as Byzantium; Chalandon (see bibliography) describes this as an "ambitious design", and the more general history of R. Browning, The Byzantine Empire (London 1980), p. 126, speaks of this attempt by Manuel to restore Byzantine universalism through diplomatic means as an "absurdity". G. Ostrogorsky, History of the Byzantine State (Oxford 1968) is less critical, and credits Manuel with considerable gifts as a ruler (p. 380), but talks of Manuel's designs on Italy as a "Byzantine dream" (p. 386).

[[2]]See for example, Magdalino's monograph on Manuel (in the bibliography), as well as Angold and Stephenson.

[[3]]Cinnamus, ed. Meineke (Bonn edition), p. 27; Choniates, ed. Van Dieten, pp. 45-46.

[[4]]Choniates, ed. Van Dieten, pp. 65-66; Cinnamus, ed. Meineke, p. 69.

[[5]]Eustathius of Thessalonica, ed. Wirth, p. 272.

[[6]]Choniates, ed. Van Dieten, p. 66.

[[7]]Eustathius, ed. Wirth, pp. 272-274.

[[8]]Cinnamus, ed. Meineke, pp. 91-92.

[[9]]Cinnamus, ed. Meineke, pp. 63-66; Choniates, ed. Van Dieten, pp. 79-81.

[[10]]Cinnamus, ed. Meineke, pp. 190-198.

[[11]]Choniates, ed. Van Dieten, pp. 110-113.

[[12]]Cinnamus, ed. Meineke, pp. 184-185.

[[13]]Choniates, ed. Van Dieten, pp. 143-146.

[[14]]Cinnamus, ed. Meineke, pp. 265-269.

[[15]]Choniates, ed. Van Dieten, pp. 158-159.

[[16]]Eustathius, ed. Wirth, p. 217.

[[17]]Eustathius, ed. Wirth, p. 205.

[[18]]See R.-J. Liliw, "The Crusader States, " P. Magdalino, "Empire," and M. Angold, "The Byzantine Empire."

[[19]]Eustathius, ed. Tafel, pp. 196-214.

[[20]]Cinnamus, ed. Meineke, pp. 290-291.

Copyright (C) 2003, Andrew Stone. This file may be copied on the condition that the entire contents, including the header and this copyright notice, remain intact.

Comments to: Andrew Stone

Updated: 21 November 2004

For more detailed geographical information, please use the DIR/ORB Antique and Medieval Atlas below. Click on the appropriate part of the map below to access large area maps.

Clickable ImageS-EN-O/N-WS-O/S-WN-E

Return to the Imperial Index