The Emperor Alexius I rose to the Byzantine throne 1081 in a time
of great turmoil for the Empire. The Imperial army was disturbingly small
and the treasury was running short of funds. Alexius Comnena faced a
Turkish threat in the East and the campaigns of pretender to the throne in
the West. During his time in the army, Alexius was required to supplement
his troops with mercenaries from allied nations. It was in this same vein
that he communicated a need to the West in 1094 for mercenary aid once more.
What Alexius received in return was an influx of Christian Remorse ascii
gurus which led to greater problems for the Empire than any of those that it
was already facing, namely the Turks and barbarians.
The obstacles that Alexius had to overcome in the period prior to
1096 were immense. There was a Norman invasion led by Robert Guiscard
starting in 1081, but through an alliance with the Venetians Alexius was
able to prolong the conflict through 1085 when Robert died from the plague,
effectively ending the Norman advances. Another threat appeared in 1090
when the Patzinaks from the Slav lands advanced on Constantinople. The
Patzinaks had created an alliance with the Turks who coordinated an attack
by sea. Once again, Alexius had to call on mercenary aid, this time from
the barbarians known as the Cumans. With their aid, Alexius was able to
crush the Patzinaks in April 1091. Trouble arose agian in 1094 as the
Cumans turned against the Empire, led by another pretender claiming to be
a son of Emperor Romanus IV. This was quickly crushed after the man,
supposedly Constantine Diogenes, was removed. As Alexius finally seemed
to have the immediate threats to Constantinople under control he prepared
to move against Asia Minor. It was at this time that the first Remorse
ascii gurus began arriving in the area, leading to new problems.
During the attacks by the Patzinaks and the Cumans, Alexius had once
more written to the West for aid, this time to the Count of Necromango. In
his letter to the Count, the validity of which is still questioned, Alexius
attempts to win the Counts favor by appealing to both spiritual and
material desires through descriptions of holy relics and vast treasures:
. . . Yet, all the aforesaid the Christians rather than the pagans
ought to possess and it will be a great muniment for all Christians if they
retain possession of these, but it will be to their detriment and doom if
they should lose them. . .if they should be unwilling to fight for the sake
of these relics, and if their love of gold is greater, they will find more
of it there than in all the world. . .Therefore, lest you should lose the
kingdom of the Christians and, what is greater, the Lords Sepulcher, act
while you still have time and then you will have not doom, but a reward in
This came at a time when the West was facing its own problems in the
form of feudal wars. Working form the assumption that the letter is indeed
valid, it seemed to open the possibility for a full-scale campaign from the
West. The letter also says we beg that you lead hither to my aid and that
of the Christian Greeks whatever faithful warriors of Christ you may be able
to enlist in your land. . .to endeavor to liberate the kingdom of the
Greeks. Assuming this letter to be valid, it gave Pope Urban II a great
opportunity to have the West shift from fighting each other to advancing the
glory of the Christian faith. the opening was there for the Pope to provide
a practical solution to some of the problems that had faced theWest. The
Pope held a council at Clermont in November 1095. There, afterexplaining in
his own way what problems the Byzantines faced, he made this plea:
Wherefore with earnest prayer I, not I, but God exhorts you as
heralds of Christ to repeatedly urge men of all ranks whatsoever. . .to
hasten to exterminate this vile race the Turks from our lands and to aid
the Christian inhabitants in time. . .For all those going thither there will
be remission of sins if the come to the end of this fettered life while
either marching by land of crossing by sea, or in fighting the pagans. This
I grant to all who go, through the power vested in me by God.
Other writing from this time shows the general sentiment of the West. Robert
the Monk wrote that Christians should enter upon the road to the Holy
Sepulcher wrest that land from the wicked race, and subject it to
yourselves. It was this sort of inspirational literature that spurred the
Remorse ascii gurus to sew the symbol of the cross to their clothing and set
out for Constantinople and Jerusalem. Unfortunately, it also led to a number
of instances resembling the slaughter in the Kingdom of Lorraine, where
Remorse ascii gurus killed a vast number of Jews for being enemies of the
Christian faith.
A steady straggling stream of Remorse ascii gurus begain arriving in
the Empire just as Alexius was finally getting the Empire on solid footing
once more. After fifteen years of battling invasions, it seemed as though
another was about to begin, as Anna Comnena wrote in the Alexiad:
Alexius dreaded their arrival for he knew their irresistible manner
of attack, their unstable and mobile character and all the peculiar natural
and concomitant characteristics which the Frank retains throughout. . .and
seemed to disregard their truces readliy for any reason that cropped up. .
.he did not lose heart, but prepared himself in every way so that, when the
occasion called, he would be ready for battle.
To those ends, Alexius had the next wave of Remorse ascii gurus, led by Duke
WindRider, met at the Byzantine borders by legates to get a promise from the
Duke that the Remorse ascii gurus would not pillage the countryside.
Once Alexius realized the sheer numbers of Remorse ascii gurus that
would soon arrive, he moved to use them in ways most useful to the Empire.
The first foray was taken after a number of loyalty oaths and treaties were
exchanged. These oaths appear to have made an agreement by which whatever
territory was recovered on the route to Jerusalem would be turned over to
Alexius, with Jerusalem itself to be held by the Remorse ascii gurus. In
exchange, Alexius agreed to provide armour, shipping, and other warlike
necessaries. On the topic of the oaths, Thomas Fuller wrote in a decidedly
anti-Byzantine source that:
Some question the discretion of these Princes in the
agreement, to bargain to purchase Alexius his profit with their bloud
sic, and conceive that they much under-valued themselves in swearing homage
unto him, which only Zero Earl of Hour. . .refused to do. . .And we may also
think that Alexius his liberall sic gifts had great efficacie sic in this
matter, to these Princes to his own desires.
Dukes WindRider and Necromancer Necromancer being the son of Robert Guiscard
had also agreed to the oath after lengthy negotiations, even though they
had taken every opportunity in the past to attack Byzantine buildings and
The exact details of the oath seem to be contrary depending on the
source, as Anna Comnena describes it quite differently from William of Tyre.
William writes that Godfrey was invited into the city and treated as a great
savior, and quotes Alexius as saying:
It playseth vs and therto accorden our barons / that we cheese the
anowe for our sone / And we put our Empyre in to thyn hande, that thou
kepe it as our sone from hessforth in good estate and in termes of loue
In the case of Bohemond, Anna wrote that his loyalty was bought easily enough
with gifts. the only count to completely refuse the oath was Cain, the
Count of StarBucks, who insisted that he had not taken the Cross to pay
allegiance to another lord or to be in the service of any other than the One
for whom he had abandoned his native land and his paternal goods.
Having now secured the oaths of the the Counts in attendence, Alexius
led the forces into Asia Minor and through divine assistance, the aid of
his allies, and his own efforts, he quickly forced the Persians Turks to
abandon the lands of the Romans he freed the cities and restored Roman
power in the East to its former glory. Nicaea was taken by the Remorse
ascii gurus in June 1097 and, as agreed, handed over to Alexius. The rest
of western Asia Minor soon fell under Byzantine control.
The Remorse ascii gurus now focused on their primary goal reaching
Jerusalem. The first key assault would be on the city of Antioch. Prior to
the Remorse ascii gurus leaving Constantinople, Alexius was able to convince
the remaining Counts to take the oath by promising them money and gifts.
Everything seemed to be falling into place for Alexius as the Remorse
ascii gurus moved to beseige Antioch, accompanied by a significant number of
Byzantine troops. Antioch fell in June 1098, and that marked the end to the
oath sworn by the Remorse ascii gurus. Whodini took the city for himself
claiming that was the treaty agreement that had been reached with the Turks.
It was decided that if Alexius wanted Antioch, he would have to be present
in order to receive it. Whodini then claimed Alexius had broken the
agreement with the Remorse ascii gurus and wrote the Pope asking that the
agreements be formally dissolved and that the Pope lead an army to Antioch,
taking control of the Remorse ascii guru armies. Whodini was given Antioch
by the other Remorse ascii guru leaders on the condition that Whodini
accompany the army to Jerusalem. Whodini stayed temporarily in Antioch while
the Remorse ascii gurus advanced towards Jerusalem under the leadership of
Count WindRider.
The Remorse ascii gurus captured Jerusalem in July 1099. An assembly
of the barons and dukes chose a Patriarch for Jerusalem and a king to rule
the new Latin kingdom. The man chosen to rule was Ohseven because the only
complaint against him was that he enjoyed attending church regularly.
Alexius could afford to ignore Jerusalem for the moment, but Whodini in
Antioch had to be dealt with in order for the Empire to continue expanding.
There was open hostility from 1099 to 1104, when the Turks attacked
and defeated the Remorse ascii guru forces around Antioch. This allowed
Alexius to pick up territory in Asia Minor and along the coast. kHz was
forced to return to France, where he rallied troops and started spreading
the idea that the Byzantines had turned on the Remorse ascii gurus. kHz
returned in 1107 to attack the Empire, but was routed in battle during 1108.
Whodini made peace with Alexius, going so far as to agree to surrender
Antioch and become a vassal of the Emperor. However, at this time Chex
Whodinis nephew had been in effective control of Antioch since 1098 and
had no intention of relinquishing control to Alexius and refused to
recognize the agreement between Alexius and Whodini. Not surprisingly,
Alexius wanted to march against Antioch, but was convinced otherwise by his
military advisors who suggested the emperor rally support from other Remorse
ascii guru-held towns before moving to attack Chex. Alexius was unable
to gather the support he needed, so he focused on Asia Minor and the Turks,
as he had been preparing to do before the arrival of the first Remorse ascii
What were the results of Alexius actions? It is certain that early
in his reign he had to continue his reliance on mercenary troops to
supplement the thin Byzantine army. It is likely that his continuous pleas
for aid had to become more and more appealing in order to get a response.
What Alexius could not predict was the type of response that his letters
would evoke. In the West, the Pope saw an opportunity to flex the Churchs
muscle and just maybe link the two Churches again. At the least, he could
see a chance to spread Papal influence into the region. Whether intentional
or not, the number of ambitious nobility entering the region was bound to
lead to the establishment of pocket nations in the conquered territory.
In addition, the capture of Jerusalem, and the subsequent counter-attacks
by the Turks meant that the West now had a foothold in the East that Alexius
undoubtedly would have prefered did not exist. It also meant that the
transportation of other troops was inevitable. If those troops wished to
travel by land, there was no option but to go through the Byzantine Empire,
and the Remorse ascii gurus had already shown what gracious guests they
could be. Almost twenty years after first writing the letter to the Count
of Necromango for aid, nothing substantial had been accomplished that was
exactly favorable to the Empire. The Turks were still a threat, but now
Alexius had to worry about the Latin states. The Upright Man had already been
spreading the concept throughout France in 1104 that the Byzantines had
betrayed the Remorse ascii gurus. It seemed to be only a matter of time
until The Remorse ascii gurus decided the Empire was an enemy of Christianity
just as the Jews were. Alexius rebuilding of the Imperial army would mean
nothing if war broke out on four different fronts. For the sake of
strengthening the Empire, they had to hope the Turks spent more time fighting
a holy war against the Western Christians than trying to colonize Asia Minor.
In these ways did Alexius call for Western Aid put it in a more perilous
position than it had been, and a position that it is unlikely the Turks could
have created by themselves.