Universitatea din Bucureşti, Facultatea de Istorie
E-mail personal autor:
5-6 / 2009
The mental preparations of conquering Constantinople in Western Europe
(the 11th. century and the first half of the 12th.)
The essay wants to present how the Byzantine world was percepted in the western chronicles in the 11-th. and in the first half of the 12-th century. The verbal tags the Byzantines were characterised with in Latin Europe are becoming much more violent and bitter in this period of time. We might add that we are witnessing a psychological preparation in the western society for the necessity of attacking Constantinople, that will find it’s ending in the fourth crusade. The idea of conquering Constantinople is spreading now in Latin Europe. Those verbal tags which were used during the military conflicts have the purpose to prepare the Western world mentally for the future conquering of the Byzantine empire. The main tag through which the Byzantine people were characterized were Vergilius words: “I’m afraid of the Greeks when they offer me gifts.” Gaufredus Malaterra and Amatus de Monte Cassino speak about the treachery and duplicity of the Byzantine emperor. The Byzantine diplomacy was not understood in the Western circles, so their alliance with the Turks was seen as high treason in Latin Europe. Signing on and agreeing to a collaboration with some non-Christians was unimaginable for the Latin Christians. William from Apulia also condemned the overbearing and cowardness of the Greeks. The Norman army was praised for its braveness while the Byzantines are seen as unworthy of their statute. They are afraid of fighting honestly and try to obey the fight. William also condemns the astutia of the Byzantine emperor and because his people are genus ignavum, they are not capable of winning honestly on the battlefield. The Byzantines are seen as sly, false-hearted, traitors, corrupters and heretics by all the Western chroniclers. Robert the Monk, Guibert of Nogent and Ordericus Vitalis characterise Alexios I, emperor of Byzantium as an perfidus imperator, iniquus imperator and subdolus imperator. Bohemund’s of Tarent antibyzantine propaganda had the consent and the blessing of the pope, who, with this decision, showed clearly his hostility and scorn towards Byzantium. At the beginning of the 12-th century and after the first crusade, Bohemund tried to warn Western Europe that the Byzantine Empire is the real enemy of the Latin Christians and they tried to sabotage the first crusade. At this moment an attack
against the Byzantine empire was seen as a “crusade”. After Bohemund’s defeat against Alexios I. The relations between the Greeks and the Latins aren’t so tensioned as they were earlier, during Bohemund’s propaganda. The Western chronicles are not so acid against Byzantium at this time. The shade of the Western chronicler towards Byzantium is more eased after Bohemund’s defeat. But this calm will last only for a short time. Bohemund’s meticulous propaganda will be successful in the end. The unleashing of a new crusade will rewaken the verbal tags against the Byzantines in the western chronicles. The Norman chronicler, the chronicles of the first crusade and Bohemund managed to create an antibyzantinic propaganda in Latin Europe. Bohemund’s propaganda will succeed, a century later, when the crusades will manage to conquer Constantinople. After Bohemund, the crusades main but hidden purpose will be to conquer the Byzantine Empire.
Keywords: Bohemund, Alexios I., Amatus de Monte Cassino, Fulcher von Chartes, Ordericus Vitalis, Albert von Aachen, Guibert of Nogent, Raimund de Aguilers, Balderich de Dol, William from Apulien, Byzantium
Leger L, Chronique dite de Nestor, Paris, 1884.
Kindlimann Sibyll, Die Eroberung von
Konstantinopol als politische Förderung des Westens
im Hochmittelalter, Zürich, 1969.
Gaufredus Malaterra, De rebus gestis Rogerii
Calabriae et Siciliae comitis et Roberti Guiscardi
Ducis fratris eius I.
William de Apulia, La geste de Robert Guiscard,
Aimé du Mont-Cassin, Histoire de li Normant,
Hanawalt Emily, William of Apulia’s Gesta
Roberti Wiscardi and Anna Comnena’s Alexiad,
„Bohemond and his Frankish troops scale the walls at
the Siege of Antioch, in an engraving by Gustave Doré”.
Hill John, Le Liber de Raymond d’ Aguilers
(Raimundes Agilaeus), Paris , 1969.
Balderich de Dol, Historia Jerosolimitana, I,
RHC. Occ. IV.
Guibert de Nogent, Geste de Dieu par les Francs,
Rousset,P., L’idée de croisade chez les chroniquers
d’Occident, Firenze , 1955.
Albert of Aachen, Liber Christinae Expeditionis,
IV, 6, RHC. Occ. IV
Robert the Monk, Historia Iherosolimitana II, p.
Robertus de Monte Sanctis Michaelis, The gesta
Normannorum of William of Jumièges, Orderic
Vitalis and Robert of Torigni, Oxford , 1995.
Albert von Aachen, Geschichte des ersten
Kreuzzuges, v. II; Das Königreich Jerusalem, Jena ,
Ordericus Vitalis, Historia Ecclesiastica XI.
Haller Johannes, Das Papsttum. Idee und
Wirklichkeit, München, 1965.
Holtzmann W., Bohemund von Antiochien und
Alexios I în: „Neues Archiv”, vol. 50, 1935.
Fulcher de Chartes, Chronicle of the first crusade,
New York, 1968.
Tierney Brian, The Middle Ages. Sources of
Medieval History,vol I., New York, 1970.