The Byzantine Empire referred to as the Eastern Roman Empire or Byzantium, was the continuation of the Roman Empire in its eastern provinces during Late Antiquity and the Middle Ages, when its capital city was Constantinople. It survived the fragmentation and fall of the Western Roman Empire in the 5th century AD and continued to exist for an additional thousand years until it fell to the Ottoman Turks in 1453. During most of its existence, the empire was the most powerful economic and military force in Europe. Both the terms "Byzantine Empire" and "Eastern Roman Empire" are historiographical terms created after the end of the realm. Several signal events from the 4th to 6th centuries mark the period of transition during which the Roman Empire's Greek East and Latin West diverged. Constantine I reorganised the empire, made Constantinople the new capital, legalised Christianity. Under Theodosius I, Christianity became the Empire's official state religion and other religious practices were proscribed.
Under the reign of Heraclius, the Empire's military and administration were restructured and adopted Greek for official use in place of Latin. Thus, although the Roman state continued and its traditions were maintained, modern historians distinguish Byzantium from ancient Rome insofar as it was centred on Constantinople, oriented towards Greek rather than Latin culture, characterised by Eastern Orthodox Christianity; the borders of the empire evolved over its existence, as it went through several cycles of decline and recovery. During the reign of Justinian I, the empire reached its greatest extent after reconquering much of the Roman western Mediterranean coast, including North Africa and Rome itself, which it held for two more centuries; the Byzantine–Sasanian War of 602–628 exhausted the empire's resources and contributed to major territorial losses during the Early Muslim conquests of the 7th century, when it lost its richest provinces and Syria, to the Arab caliphate. During the Macedonian dynasty, the empire expanded again and experienced the two-century long Macedonian Renaissance, which came to an end with the loss of much of Asia Minor to the Seljuk Turks after the Battle of Manzikert in 1071.
This battle opened the way for the Turks to settle in Anatolia. The empire recovered during the Komnenian restoration, by the 12th century Constantinople was the largest and wealthiest European city. However, it was delivered a mortal blow during the Fourth Crusade, when Constantinople was sacked in 1204 and the territories that the empire governed were divided into competing Byzantine Greek and Latin realms. Despite the eventual recovery of Constantinople in 1261, the Byzantine Empire remained only one of several small rival states in the area for the final two centuries of its existence, its remaining territories were progressively annexed by the Ottomans over the 15th century. The Fall of Constantinople to the Ottoman Empire in 1453 ended the Byzantine Empire; the last of the imperial Byzantine successor states, the Empire of Trebizond, would be conquered by the Ottomans eight years in the 1461 Siege of Trebizond. The first use of the term "Byzantine" to label the years of the Roman Empire was in 1557, when the German historian Hieronymus Wolf published his work Corpus Historiæ Byzantinæ, a collection of historical sources.
The term comes from "Byzantium", the name of the city of Constantinople before it became Constantine's capital. This older name of the city would be used from this point onward except in historical or poetic contexts; the publication in 1648 of the Byzantine du Louvre, in 1680 of Du Cange's Historia Byzantina further popularised the use of "Byzantine" among French authors, such as Montesquieu. However, it was not until the mid-19th century that the term came into general use in the Western world; the Byzantine Empire was known to its inhabitants as the "Roman Empire", the "Empire of the Romans", "Romania", the "Roman Republic", as "Rhōmais". The inhabitants called themselves Romaioi and as late as the 19th century Greeks referred to Modern Greek as Romaiika "Romaic." After 1204 when the Byzantine Empire was confined to its purely Greek provinces the term'Hellenes' was used instead. While the Byzantine Empire had a multi-ethnic character during most of its history and preserved Romano-Hellenistic traditions, it became identified by its western and northern contemporaries with its predominant Greek element.
The occasional use of the term "Empire of the Greeks" in the West to refer to the Eastern Roman Empire and of the Byzantine Emperor as Imperator Graecorum were used to separate it from the prestige of the Roman Empire within the new kingdoms of the West. No such distinction existed in the Islamic and Slavic worlds, where the Empire was more straightforwardly seen as the continuation of the Roman Empire. In the Islamic world, the Roman Empire was known as Rûm; the name millet-i Rûm, or "Roman nation," was used by the Ottomans through the 20th century to refer to the former subjects of the Byzantine Empire
Thrace is a geographical and historical region in Southeast Europe, now split between Bulgaria and Turkey, bounded by the Balkan Mountains to the north, the Aegean Sea to the south and the Black Sea to the east. It comprises northeastern Greece and the European part of Turkey; the word Thrace was established by the Greeks for referring to the Thracian tribes, from ancient Greek Thrake, descending from Thrāix. It referred to the Thracians, an ancient Indo-European people inhabiting Southeast Europe; the name Europe first referred to Thrace proper, prior to the term vastly extending to refer to its modern concept. The region could have been named after the principal river there, Hebros from the Indo-European arg "white river", According to an alternative theory, Hebros means "goat" in Thracian. In Turkey, it is referred to as Rumeli, Land of the Romans, owing to this region being the last part of the Eastern Roman Empire, conquered by the Ottoman Empire. In terms of ancient Greek mythology the name appears to derive from the heroine and sorceress Thrace, the daughter of Oceanus and Parthenope, sister of Europa.
The historical boundaries of Thrace have varied. The ancient Greeks employed the term "Thrace" to refer to all of the territory which lay north of Thessaly inhabited by the Thracians, a region which "had no definite boundaries" and to which other regions were added. In one ancient Greek source, the Earth is divided into "Asia, Libya and Thracia"; as the Greeks gained knowledge of world geography, "Thrace" came to designate the area bordered by the Danube on the north, by the Euxine Sea on the east, by northern Macedonia in the south and by Illyria to the west. This coincided with the Thracian Odrysian kingdom, whose borders varied over time. After the Macedonian conquest, this region's former border with Macedonia was shifted from the Struma River to the Mesta River; this usage lasted until the Roman conquest. Henceforth, Thrace referred only to the tract of land covering the same extent of space as the modern geographical region. In its early period, the Roman province of Thrace was of this extent, but after the administrative reforms of the late 3rd century, Thracia's much reduced territory became the six small provinces which constituted the Diocese of Thrace.
The medieval Byzantine theme of Thrace contained only. The largest cities of Thrace are: Plovdiv, Stara Zagora, Haskovo, Komotini, Xanthi, Istanbul, Çorlu, Kırklareli and Tekirdağ. Most of the Bulgarian and Greek population are Orthodox Christians, while most of the Turkish inhabitants of Thrace are Sunni Muslims. Ancient Greek mythology provides the Thracians with a mythical ancestor Thrax, the son of the war-god Ares, said to reside in Thrace; the Thracians appear in Homer's Iliad as Trojan allies, led by Peiros. In the Iliad, another Thracian king, makes an appearance. Cisseus, father-in-law to the Trojan elder Antenor, is given as a Thracian king. Homeric Thrace was vaguely defined, stretched from the River Axios in the west to the Hellespont and Black Sea in the east; the Catalogue of Ships mentions three separate contingents from Thrace: Thracians led by Acamas and Peiros, from Aenus. Ancient Thrace was home to numerous other tribes, such as the Edones, Bisaltae and Bistones in addition to the tribe that Homer calls the “Thracians”.
Greek mythology is replete with Thracian kings, including Diomedes, Lycurgus, Tegyrius, Polymnestor and Oeagrus. Thrace is mentioned in Ovid's Metamorphoses, in the episode of Philomela and Tereus: Tereus, the King of Thrace, lusts after his sister-in-law, Philomela, he kidnaps her, holds her captive, rapes her, cuts out her tongue. Philomela manages to get free, however, she and her sister, plot to get revenge, by killing her son Itys and serving him to his father for dinner. At the end of the myth, all three turn into birds – Procne into a swallow, Philomela into a nightingale, Tereus into a hoopoe; the indigenous population of Thrace was a people called the Thracians, divided into numerous tribal groups. The region was controlled by the Persian Empire at its greatest extent, Thracian soldiers were known to be used in the Persian armies. On, Thracian troops were known to accompany neighboring ruler Alexander the Great when he crossed the Hellespont which abuts Thrace, during the invasion of the Persian Empire itself.
The Thracians did not describe themselves by name. Divided into separate tribes, the Thracians did not form any lasting political organizations until the founding of the Odrysian state in the 4th century BC. Like Illyrians, the locally ruled Thracian tribes of the mountainous regions maintained a warrior tradition, while the tribes based in the plains were purportedly more peaceable. Discovered funeral mounds in Bulgaria suggest that Thracian kings did rule regions of Thrace with distinct Thracian national identity. During this period, a subculture of celibate ascetics called the Ctistae lived in Thrace, where they served as philosophers and prophets. Sections of Thrace in the south star
Despotate of Epirus
The Despotate of Epirus was one of the Greek successor states of the Byzantine Empire established in the aftermath of the Fourth Crusade in 1204 by a branch of the Angelos dynasty. It claimed to be the legitimate successor of the Byzantine Empire, along with the Empire of Nicaea and the Empire of Trebizond, its rulers proclaiming themselves as Emperors in 1225/1227–1242; the term "Despotate of Epirus" is, like "Byzantine Empire" itself, a modern historiographic convention and not a name in use at the time. The Despotate was centred on the region of Epirus, encompassing Albania and the western portion of Greek Macedonia and included Thessaly and western Greece as far south as Nafpaktos. Through a policy of aggressive expansion under Theodore Komnenos Doukas the Despotate of Epirus briefly came to incorporate central Macedonia, with the establishment of the Empire of Thessalonica in 1224, Thrace as far east as Didymoteicho and Adrianopolis, was on the verge of recapturing Constantinople and restoring the Byzantine Empire before the Battle of Klokotnitsa in 1230 where he was defeated by the Bulgarian Empire.
After that, the Epirote state contracted to its core in Epirus and Thessaly, was forced into vassalage to other regional powers. It managed to retain its autonomy until conquered by the restored Palaiologan Byzantine Empire in ca. 1337. In the 1410s, the Count palatine of Cephalonia and Zakynthos Carlo I Tocco managed to reunite the core of the Epirote state, but his successors lost it to the advancing Ottoman Empire, with the last stronghold, falling to the Ottomans in 1479. In traditional and modern historiography, the Epirote state is termed the "Despotate of Epirus" and its rulers are summarily attributed the title of "Despot" from its inception, but this use is not accurate. First of all, the title of "Despot" was not borne by all Epirote rulers: the state's founder, Michael I Komnenos Doukas, never used it, is only anachronistically referred to as "Despot of Epirus" in 14th-century Western European sources, his successor Theodore Komnenos Doukas did not use it either, crowned himself emperor at Thessalonica c. 1225.
The first ruler of Epirus to receive the title of Despot was Michael II, from his uncle Manuel of Thessalonica in the 1230s, again, as a sign of submission and vassalage, from the Nicaean emperor John III Vatatzes. Earlier historians assumed that Michael I was indeed named "Despot" by the deposed emperor Alexios III Angelos after ransoming him from Latin captivity in c. 1206/7 or c. 1210. Furthermore after Michael II, speaking of the Epirote rulers as "Despots of Epirus" is technically incorrect; the title of Despot did not imply any specific territorial jurisdiction, nor was it hereditary. It was borne by the princes sent to govern semi-autonomous appanages and came to be associated with these territories; the territorial term "despotate" itself was not used in contemporary sources for Epirus until the 14th century, e.g. in the Chronicle of the Morea, in the history of John Kantakouzenos, the hagiography of St. Niphon, or the Chronicle of the Tocco, where the inhabitants of the Despotate are referred to as the Despotatoi.
The term "Despotate of Epirus" is thus sometimes replaced by " State of Epirus" in more recent historiography. The Epirote realm itself did not have an official name. Contemporaries in Western Europe, used the term Rhōmania, which referred to the whole Byzantine Empire, to refer to Epirus, as seen in the Latin title of Despotus Romanie claimed by Philip I of Taranto and his son Philip of Apulia, Nicholas Orsini, Carlo I Tocco. In the Byzantine world, the term Dysis, meaning "West", which referred to Dalmatia and Sicily, or the entire European part of the Empire came into use in the 13th century when juxtaposing Epirus to its eastern rival, the Empire of Nicaea, called Anatolē, "East". Moreover, the term "Hellenes" was used instead of the earlier "Romans" by the 13th century court of the Despotate to describe its population; the Epirote state was founded in 1205 by Michael Komnenos Doukas, a cousin of the Byzantine emperors Isaac II Angelos and Alexios III Angelos. At first, Michael allied with Boniface of Montferrat, but having lost the Morea to the Franks at the battle of the Olive Grove of Koundouros, he went to Epirus, where he considered himself the Byzantine governor of the old province of Nicopolis and revolted against Boniface.
Epirus soon became the new home of many refugees from Constantinople and the Peloponnese, Michael was described as a second Noah, rescuing men from the Latin flood. John X Kamateros, the Patriarch of Constantinople, did not consider him a legitimate successor and instead joined Theodore I Laskaris in Nicaea. Henry of Flanders demanded that Michael submit to the Latin Empire, which he did, at least nominally, by allowing his daughter to marry Henry's brother Eustace in 1209. Michael did not honour this alliance, assuming that mountainous Epirus would be impenetrable by any Latins with whom he made and broke alliances. Meanwhile, Boniface's relatives from Montferrat made claims to Epirus as w
Despot (court title)
Despot or despotes was a senior Byzantine court title, bestowed on the sons or sons-in-law of reigning emperors, denoted the heir-apparent of the Byzantine emperor. From Byzantium it spread throughout the late medieval Balkans and was granted in the states under Byzantine cultural influence, such as the Latin Empire, the Second Bulgarian Empire, the Serbian Empire and its successor states, the Empire of Trebizond. With the political fragmentation of the period, the term gave rise to several principalities termed "despotates" which were ruled either as independent states or as appanages by princes bearing the title of despot. In modern usage, the word has taken a different meaning: "despotism" is a form of government in which a single entity rules with absolute power; the semantic shift undergone by the term is mirrored by "tyrant", an ancient Greek word that bore no negative connotation, the Latin "dictator", a constitutionally sanctioned office of the Roman Republic. In colloquial Modern Greek, the word is used to refer to a bishop.
In English, the feminine form of the title is despotess or despotissa, which denoted the spouse of a despot, but the transliterated traditional female equivalent of despotes, despoina, is commonly used. The original Greek term δεσπότης meant "lord" and was synonymous with κύριος; as the Greek equivalent to the Latin dominus, despotēs was used as a form of address indicating respect. As such it was applied to any person of rank, but in a more specific sense to God and the patriarchs, the Roman and Byzantine Emperors used in formal settings, for example on coins or formal documents. Although it was used for high-ranking nobles from the early 12th century, the title of despot began being used as a specific court title by Manuel I Komnenos, who conferred it in 1163 to the future King Béla III of Hungary, the Emperor's son-in-law and, until the birth of Alexios II in 1169, heir-presumptive. According to the contemporary Byzantine historian John Kinnamos, the title of despot was analogous to Bela's Hungarian title of urum, or heir-apparent.
From this time and until the end of the Byzantine Empire, the title of despot became the highest Byzantine dignity, which placed its holders "immediately after the emperor". The Byzantine emperors from the Komnenoi to the Palaiologoi, as well as the Latin Emperors who claimed their succession and imitated their styles, continued to use the term despotes in its more generic sense of "lord" in their personal seals and in imperial coinage. In a similar manner, the holders of the two junior titles of sebastokrator and Caesar could be addressed as despota; the despot paneutychestatos. During the last centuries of Byzantium's existence, the title was awarded to the younger sons of emperors as well as to the emperor's sons-in-law; the title entailed extensive honours and privileges, including the control of large estates – the domains of Michael VIII's brother John Palaiologos for instance included the islands of Lesbos and Rhodes – to finance their extensive households. Like the junior titles of sebastokrator and Caesar however, the title of despot was a courtly dignity, was not tied to any military or administrative functions or powers.
Women bore the titles of their husbands. Thus the spouse of a despot, the despotissa, had the right to bear the same insignia as he. Among the women of the court, the despotissai took the first place after the empress; the use of the title spread to the other countries of the Balkans. The Latin Empire used it to honour the Doge of Venice Enrico Dandolo and the local ruler of the Rhodope region, Alexius Slav. After ca. 1219 it was borne by the Venetian podestàs in Constantinople, as the Venetian support became crucial to the Empire's survival. In 1279/80, it was introduced in Bulgaria to placate the powerful magnate George Terter in 1279/80. During the Serbian Empire it was awarded among the various Serbian magnates, with Jovan Oliver being the first holder, it was held by lesser principalities as well, including the self-proclaimed Albanian despots of Arta. In the 15th century, the Venetian governors of Corfu were styled as despots; as the title of despot was conferred by the emperor and implied a degree of submission by the awardee, the Palaiologan emperors tried long to persuade the Emperors of Trebizond, who claimed the Byzantine imperial title, to accept the title of despot instead.
Only John II of Trebizond and his son Alexios II, accepted the title, they continued to use the usual imperial title of "basileus" domestically. With the death of the last Byzantine Emperor Constantine XI on May 29, 1453, the creation of a despot became irregular; the title was granted by Pope Paul II to Andreas Palaiologos, heir to the Byzantine throne in 1465, by the king of Hungary to the heirs of the Serbian Despotate. From the mid-14th century on, various territories were given to imperial princes with the rank of despot to
Thessaloniki familiarly known as Thessalonica, Salonica or Salonika, is the second-largest city in Greece, with over 1 million inhabitants in its metropolitan area, the capital of Greek Macedonia, the administrative region of Central Macedonia and the Decentralized Administration of Macedonia and Thrace. Its nickname is η Συμπρωτεύουσα "the co-capital", a reference to its historical status as the Συμβασιλεύουσα or "co-reigning" city of the Eastern Roman Empire, alongside Constantinople. Thessaloniki is located at the northwest corner of the Aegean Sea, it is bounded on the west by the delta of the Axios/Vardar. The municipality of Thessaloniki, the historical center, had a population of 325,182 in 2011, while the Thessaloniki Urban Area had a population of 824,676 and the Thessaloniki Metropolitan Area had 1,030,338 inhabitants in 2011, it is Greece's second major economic, industrial and political centre. The city is renowned for its festivals and vibrant cultural life in general, is considered to be Greece's cultural capital.
Events such as the Thessaloniki International Fair and the Thessaloniki International Film Festival are held annually, while the city hosts the largest bi-annual meeting of the Greek diaspora. Thessaloniki was the 2014 European Youth Capital; the city of Thessaloniki was founded in 315 BC by Cassander of Macedon. An important metropolis by the Roman period, Thessaloniki was the second largest and wealthiest city of the Byzantine Empire, it was conquered by the Ottomans in 1430, passed from the Ottoman Empire to Greece on 8 November 1912. It is home to numerous notable Byzantine monuments, including the Paleochristian and Byzantine monuments of Thessaloniki, a UNESCO World Heritage Site, as well as several Roman and Sephardic Jewish structures; the city's main university, Aristotle University, is the largest in Greece and the Balkans. Thessaloniki is a popular tourist destination in Greece. In 2013, National Geographic Magazine included Thessaloniki in its top tourist destinations worldwide, while in 2014 Financial Times FDI magazine declared Thessaloniki as the best mid-sized European city of the future for human capital and lifestyle.
Among street photographers, the center of Thessaloniki is considered the most popular destination for street photography in Greece. The original name of the city was Θεσσαλονίκη Thessaloníkē, it was named after princess Thessalonike of Macedon, the half sister of Alexander the Great, whose name means "Thessalian victory", from Θεσσαλός'Thessalos', Νίκη'victory', honoring the Macedonian victory at the Battle of Crocus Field. Minor variants are found, including Θετταλονίκη Thettaloníkē, Θεσσαλονίκεια Thessaloníkeia, Θεσσαλονείκη Thessaloneíkē, Θεσσαλονικέων Thessalonikéōn; the name Σαλονίκη Saloníki is first attested in Greek in the Chronicle of the Morea, is common in folk songs, but it must have originated earlier, as al-Idrisi called it Salunik in the 12th century. It is the basis for the city's name in other languages: Солѹнь in Old Church Slavonic, סלוניקה in Ladino, Selânik سلانیك in Ottoman Turkish and Selanik in modern Turkish, Salonicco in Italian, Solun or Солун in the local and neighboring South Slavic languages, Салоники in Russian, Sãrunã in Aromanian, Salonica or Salonika in English.
Thessaloniki was revived as the city's official name in 1912, when it joined the Kingdom of Greece during the Balkan Wars. In local speech, the city's name is pronounced with a dark and deep L characteristic of Modern Macedonian accent; the name is abbreviated as Θεσ/νίκη. The city was founded around 315 BC by the King Cassander of Macedon, on or near the site of the ancient town of Therma and 26 other local villages, he named it after his wife Thessalonike, a half-sister of Alexander the Great and princess of Macedonia as daughter of Philip II. Under the kingdom of Macedonia the city retained its own autonomy and parliament and evolved to become the most important city in Macedonia. After the fall of the Kingdom of Macedonia in 168 BC, in 148 BC Thessalonica was made the capital of the Roman province of Macedonia. Thessalonica became a free city of the Roman Republic under Mark Antony in 41 BC, it grew to be an important trade-hub located on the Via Egnatia, the road connecting Dyrrhachium with Byzantium, which facilitated trade between Thessaloniki and great centers of commerce such as Rome and Byzantium.
Thessaloniki lay at the southern end of the main north-south route through the Balkans along the valleys of the Morava and Axios river valleys, thereby linking the Balkans with the rest of Greece. The city became the capital of one of the four Roman districts of Macedonia, it became the capital of all the Greek provinces of the Roman Empire because of the city's importance in the Balkan peninsula. At the time of the Roman Empire, about 50 A. D. Thessaloniki was one of the early centers of Christianity. Paul wrote two letters to the new church at Thessaloniki, preserved in the Biblical canon as First and Second Thessalonians; some scholars hold that the First Epistle to the Thessalonians is the first written book of the New Testament. In 306 AD, Thessaloniki acquired a patron saint, St. Demetrius, a Christian whom Galerius is said to have put to death. Most scholars
The Fourth Crusade was a Latin Christian armed expedition called by Pope Innocent III. The stated intent of the expedition was to recapture the Muslim-controlled city of Jerusalem, by first conquering the powerful Egyptian Ayyubid Sultanate, the strongest Muslim state of the time. However, a sequence of economic and political events culminated in the Crusader army sacking the city of Constantinople, the capital of the Greek Christian-controlled Byzantine Empire. In late 1202, financial issues led to the Crusader army sacking Zara, brought under Venetian control. In January 1203, en-route to Jerusalem, the Crusader leadership entered into an agreement with the Byzantine prince Alexios Angelos to divert the Crusade to Constantinople and restore his deposed father as Emperor; the intent of the Crusaders was to continue to Jerusalem with promised Byzantine financial and military aid. On 23 June 1203, the bulk of the Crusaders reached Constantinople, while smaller contingents continued to Acre. After the siege of Zara the pope excommunicated the crusader army.
In August, following clashes outside Constantinople, Alexios was crowned co-Emperor. However, in January 1204, he was deposed by a popular uprising; the Crusaders were no longer able to receive their promised payments from Alexios. Following the murder of Alexios on 8 February, the Crusaders decided on the outright conquest of the city. In April 1204, they plundered the city's enormous wealth. Only a handful of the Crusaders continued to the Holy Land thereafter; the conquest of Constantinople was followed by the fragmentation of the Empire into three rump states centred in Nicaea and Epirus. The Crusaders founded several Crusader states in former Byzantine territory hinged upon the Latin Empire of Constantinople; the presence of the Latin Crusader states immediately led to war with the Byzantine successor states and the Bulgarian Empire. The Nicaean Empire recovered Constantinople and restored the Byzantine Empire in 1261; the Crusade is considered to be one of the most prominent acts that solidified the schism between the Greek and Latin Christian churches, dealt an irrevocable blow to the weakened Byzantine Empire, paving the way for Muslim conquests in Anatolia and Balkan Europe in the coming centuries.
Ayyubid Sultan Saladin had conquered most of the Frankish, Latin Kingdom of Jerusalem, including the ancient city itself, in 1187. The Kingdom had been established 88 years before, after the capture and sack of Jerusalem in the First Crusade, a Byzantine holding prior to the Muslim conquests of the 7th century; the city was sacred to Christians and Jews, returning it to Christian hands had been a primary purpose of the First Crusade. Saladin led a Muslim dynasty, his incorporation of Jerusalem into his domains shocked and dismayed the Catholic countries of Western Europe. Legend has it that Pope Urban III died of the shock, but the timing of his death makes that impossible; the crusader states had been reduced to three cities along the sea coast: Tyre and Antioch. The Third Crusade reclaimed an extensive amount of territory for the Kingdom of Jerusalem, including the key towns of Acre and Jaffa, but had failed to retake Jerusalem; the crusade had been marked by a significant escalation in long standing tensions between the feudal states of western Europe and the Byzantine Empire, centred in Constantinople.
The experiences of the first two crusades had thrown into stark relief the vast cultural differences between the two Christian civilisations. The Latins viewed the Byzantine preference for diplomacy and trade over war as duplicitous and degenerate, their policy of tolerance and assimilation towards Muslims as a corrupt betrayal of the faith. For their part, the educated and wealthy Byzantines maintained a strong sense of cultural and social superiority over the Latins. Constantinople had been in existence for 874 years at the time of the Fourth Crusade and was the largest and most sophisticated city in Christendom. Alone amongst major medieval urban centres, it had retained the civic structures, public baths, forums and aqueducts of classical Rome in working form. At its height, the city held an estimated population of about half a million people behind thirteen miles of triple walls, its planned location made Constantinople not only the capital of the surviving eastern part of the Roman Empire but a commercial centre that dominated trade routes from the Mediterranean to the Black Sea, China and Persia.
As a result, it was both a rival and a tempting target for the aggressive new states of the west, notably the Republic of Venice. One of the leaders of the Third Crusade, Holy Roman Emperor Frederick I Barbarossa plotted with the Serbs, Byzantine traitors, the Muslim Seljuks against the Eastern Empire and at one point sought Papal support for a crusade against the Orthodox Byzantines. Crusaders seized the breakaway Byzantine province of Cyprus. Barbarossa died on crusade, his army disintegrated, leaving the English and French, who had come by sea, to fight Saladin. In 1195 Henry VI, son and heir of Barbarossa, sought to efface this humiliation by declaring a new crusade, in the summer of 1197 a large number of German knights and nobles, headed by two archbishops, nine bishops, five dukes, sailed for Palestine. There they captured Sidon and Beirut, but at the news of Henry's death in Messina along the way, many of the nobles and clerics returned to Europe. Deserted by much of their leade
Pontus is a historical Greek designation for a region on the southern coast of the Black Sea, located in modern-day eastern Black Sea Region of Turkey. The name was applied to the coastal region and its mountainous hinterland in antiquity by the Greeks who colonized the area and derived from the Greek name of the Black Sea: Πόντος Εὔξεινος Pontos Euxeinos, or Pontos. Having no specific name, the region east of the river Halys was spoken of as the country Ἐν Πόντῳ En Pontōi, "on the Pontos", hence it acquired the name of Pontus, first found in Xenophon's Anabasis; the extent of the region varied through the ages but extended from the borders of Colchis until well into Paphlagonia in the west, with varying amounts of hinterland. Several states and provinces bearing the name of Pontus or variants thereof were established in the region in the Hellenistic and Byzantine periods, culminating in the late Byzantine Empire of Trebizond. Pontus is sometimes considered as the home of the Amazons, with the name Amazon used not only for a city but for all of Pontus in Greek mythology.
Pontus became important as a bastion of Byzantine Greek and Greek Orthodox civilization and attracted Greeks from all backgrounds from all over Anatolia and the southern Balkans, from the Classical and Hellenistic periods into the Byzantine and Ottoman. These Greeks of Pontus are referred to as Pontic Greeks. Pontus remained outside the reach of the Bronze Age empires; the region went further uncontrolled by Hatti's eastern neighbours, Hurrian states like Azzi and Hayasa. In those days, the best any outsider could hope from this region was temporary alliance with a local strongman; the Hittites called the unorganised groups on their northeastern frontier the Kaška. As of 2004 little had been found of them archaeologically. In the wake of the Hittite empire's collapse, the Assyrian court noted that the "Kašku" had overrun its territory in conjunction with a hitherto unknown group whom they labeled the Muški. Iron Age visitors to the region Greek, noted that the hinterlands remained disunited, they recorded the names of tribes: Moskhians, Mares, Mossynoikians, Tibareni and Chaldians.
The Armenian language went unnoted by the Hittites, the Assyrians, all the post-Hittite nations. The Greeks, who spoke a related Indo-European tongue, followed them along the coast; the Greeks are the earliest long-term inhabitants of the region from. During the late 8th century BCE, Pontus further became a base for the Cimmerians. Since there was so little literacy in northeastern Anatolia until the Persian and Hellenistic era, one can only speculate as to the other languages spoken here. Given that Kartvelian languages remain spoken to the east of Pontus, some are suspected to have been spoken in eastern Pontus during the Iron Age: the Tzans are associated with today's Laz; the first travels of Greek merchants and adventurers to the Pontus region occurred from around 1000 BC, whereas their settlements would become steady and solidified cities only by the 8th and 7th centuries BC as archaeological findings document. This fits in well with a foundation date of 731 BC as reported by Eusebius of Caesarea for Sinope the most ancient of the Greek Colonies in what was to be called Pontus.
The epical narratives related to the travels of Jason and the Argonauts to Colchis, the tales of Heracles' navigating the Black Sea and Odysseus' wanderings into the land of the Cimmerians, as well as the myth of Zeus constraining Prometheus to the Caucasus mountains as a punishment for his outwitting the Gods, can all be seen as reflections of early contacts between early Greek colonists and the local Caucasian, peoples. The earliest known written description of Pontus, however, is that of Scylax of Korianda, who in the 7th century BC described Greek settlements in the area. By the 6th century BC, Pontus had become a part of the Achaemenid Empire, which meant that the local Greek colonies were paying tribute to the Persians; when the Athenian commander Xenophon passed through Pontus around a century in 401-400 BC, in fact, he found no Persians in Pontus. The peoples of this part of northern Asia Minor were incorporated into the third and nineteenth satrapies of the Persian empire. Iranian influence ran deep, illustrated most famously by the temple of the Persian deities Anaitis and Anadatos at Zela, founded by victorious Persian generals in the 6th century BCE.
The Kingdom of Pontus extended to the east of the Halys River. The Persian dynasty, to found this kingdom had during the 4th century BC ruled the Greek city of Cius in Mysia, with its first known member being Ariobarzanes I of Cius and the last ruler based in the city being Mithridates II of Cius. Mithridates II's son called Mithridates, would proclaim himself Mithridates I Ktistes of Pontus; as the Encyclopaedia Iranica states, the most famous member of the family, Mithradates VI Eupator, although undoubtedly presenting himself to the Greek world as a civilized philhellene and new Alexander paraded his Iranian background: he maintained a harem and eunuchs in true Oriental fashion.