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
Egypt in the Middle Ages
Following the Islamic conquest in 639 AD, Lower Egypt was ruled at first by governors acting in the name of the Rashidun Caliphs and the Ummayad Caliphs in Damascus, but in 747 the Ummayads were overthrown. Throughout the Islamic rule, Askar was housed the ruling administration; the conquest led to two separate provinces all under one ruler: Upper and Lower Egypt. These two distinct regions would be governed by the military and followed the demands handed down by the governor of Egypt and imposed by the heads of their communities. Egypt was ruled by various dynasties from the start of Islamic control in 639 AD and the end of it in the early 16th century; the Umayyad period lasted from 658 until 750. Next came the Abbasid period which focused on centralizing power. In 868 the Tulunids, ruled by Ahmad ibn Tulun, expanded Egypt's territory into the Levant, he would rule until his death in 884. After years of turmoil under Ahmad ibn Tulun's successor, many citizens defected back to the Abbasids and in 904 they would reclaim power from the Tulunids.
In 969 Egypt came under the control of the Fatimids. This dynasty would begin to fade after the death of their last caliph in 1171. In 1174, Egypt came under the rule of Ayyubids; the Ayyubids ruled from Damascus, not the Fatimid city of Cairo. This dynasty fought against the Crusader States during the Fifth Crusade. Ayyubid caliph Najm al-Din recaptured Jerusalem in 1240, he introduced Mamluk forces into his army. This decision would be one; the Ayyubids were overthrown by their bodyguards, known as the Mamluks in 1252. The Mamluks ruled under the suzerainty of Abbasid Caliphs until 1517, when Egypt became part of the Ottoman Empire as Eyālet-i Mıṣr province. In 639 an army of some 4,000 men were sent against Egypt by the second caliph, under the command of Amr ibn al-As; this army was joined by another 5,000 men in 640 and defeated a Byzantine army at the battle of Heliopolis. Amr next proceeded in the direction of Alexandria, surrendered to him by a treaty signed on November 8, 641. Alexandria was regained for the Byzantine Empire in 645 but was retaken by Amr in 646.
In 654 an invasion fleet sent by Constans II was repulsed. From that time no serious effort was made by the Byzantines to regain possession of the country. Following the first surrender of Alexandria, Amr chose a new site to settle his men, near the location of the Byzantine fortress of Babylon; the new settlement received the name of Fustat, after Amr's tent, pitched there when the Arabs besieged the fortress. Fustat became the focal point of Islamic Egypt, with the exception of the brief relocation to Helwan during a plague in 689, the period of 750–763, when the seat of the governor moved to Askar, the capital and residence of the administration. After the conquest, the country was divided in two provinces, Upper Egypt and Lower Egypt with the Nile Delta. In 643/4, Caliph Uthman appointed a single governor with jurisdiction over all of Egypt, resident at Fustat; the governor would in turn nominate deputies for Lower Egypt. Alexandria remained a distinct district, reflecting both its role as the country's shield against Byzantine attacks, as the major naval base.
It was considered a frontier fortress under a military governor and was garrisoned, with a quarter of the province's garrison serving there in semi-annual rotation. Next to the wāli, there was the commander of the police, responsible for internal security and for commanding the jund; the main pillar of the early Muslim rule and control in the country was the military force, or jund, staffed by the Arab settlers. These were the men who had followed Amr and participated in the conquest; the followers of Amr were drawn from Yamani tribes, rather than the northern Arab tribes, who were scarcely represented in the province. They numbered 15,500, but their numbers grew through emigration in the subsequent decades. By the time of Caliph Mu'awiya I, the number of men registered in the army list and entitled an annual pay reached 40,000. Jealous of their privileges and status, which entitled them to a share of the local revenue, the members of the jund virtually closed off the register to new entries.
It was only after the losses of the Second Fitna that the registers were updated, governors would add soldiers en masse to the lists as a means to garner political support. In return for a tribute of money and food for the troops of occupation, the Christian inhabitants of Egypt were excused from military service and left free in the observance of their religion and the administration of their affairs. Conversions of Copts to Islam were rare, the old system of taxation was maintained for the greater part of the first Islamic century; the old division of the country into districts was maintained, to the inhabitants of these districts demands were directly addressed by the governor of Egypt, while the head of the community—ordinarily a Copt but in some cases a Muslim Egyptian—was responsible for compliance with the demand. During the First Fitna, Caliph Ali appointed Muhammad ibn Abi Bakr as governor of Egypt, but Amr led an invasion in summer 658 that defeated Ibn Abi Bakr and secured the country for the Umayyads.
Amr served as governor until his death in 664. From 667/8 until 682, the province was governed by another fervent pro-Umayyad partisan, Maslama ibn Mukhallad al-Ansari. During the Second Fitna, Ibn
The Ionian Islands are a group of islands in Greece. They are traditionally called the Heptanese, i.e. "the Seven Islands", but the group includes many smaller islands as well as the seven principal ones. As a distinct historic region they date to the centuries-long Venetian rule, which preserved them from becoming part of the Ottoman Empire, created a distinct cultural identity with many Italian influences; the Ionian Islands became part of the modern Greek state in 1864. Administratively today they belong to the Ionian Islands Region except for Kythera, which belongs to the Attica Region; the seven islands are. The seventh island, Kythira, is off the southern tip of the Peloponnese, the southern part of the Greek mainland. Kythira is not part of the region of the Ionian Islands. In Ancient Greek the adjective Ionios was used as an epithet for the sea between Epirus and Italy in which the Ionian Islands are found because Io swam across it. Latin transliteration, as well as Modern Greek pronunciation, may suggest that the Ionian Sea and Islands are somehow related to Ionia, an Anatolian region.
In Modern Greek omicron and omega represent the same sound, but the two words are still distinguished by stress: the western "Ionia" is accented on the antepenult, the eastern on the penult. In English, the adjective relating to Ionia is Ionic, not Ionian; the islands themselves are known by a rather confusing variety of names. During the centuries of rule by Venice, they acquired Venetian names, by which some of them are still known in English. Kerkyra was known as Corfù, Ithaki as Val di Compare, Kythera as Cerigo, Lefkada as Santa Maura and Zakynthos as Zante. A variety of spellings are used for the Greek names of the islands in historical writing. Kefallonia is spelled as Cephallenia or Cephalonia, Ithaki as Ithaca, Kerkyra as Corcyra, Kythera as Cythera, Lefkada as Leucas or Leucada and Zakynthos as Zacynthus or Zante. Older or variant Greek forms are sometimes used: Kefallinia for Kefallonia and Paxos or Paxoi for Paxi; the islands were settled by Greeks at an early date as early as 1200 BC, by the 9th century BC.
The early Eretrian settlement at Kerkyra was displaced by colonists from Corinth in 734 BC. The islands were a backwater during Ancient Greek times and played little part in Greek politics; the one exception was the conflict between Kerkyra and its mother-City Corinth in 434 BC, which brought intervention from Athens and triggered the Peloponnesian War. Ithaca was the name of the island home of Odysseus in the epic Ancient Greek poem the Odyssey by Homer. Attempts have been made to identify Ithaki with ancient Ithaca, but the geography of the real island cannot be made to fit Homer's description. Archeological investigations have revealed interesting findings in both Ithaca. By the 4th century BC, most of the islands were absorbed into the empire of Macedon; some remained under the control of the Macedonian Kingdom until 146 BC, when the Greek peninsula was annexed by Rome. After 400 years of peaceful Roman rule, the islands passed to the Eastern Byzantine Empire. Under Byzantine rule, from the mid-8th century, they formed the theme of Cephallenia.
The islands were a frequent target of Saracen raids and from the late 11th century, saw a number of Norman and Italian attacks. Most of the islands fell to William II of Sicily in 1185. Corfu and Lefkas remained under Byzantine control. Kefallonia and Zakynthos became the County palatine of Cephalonia and Zakynthos until 1357, when this entity was merged with Lefkada and Ithaki to become the Duchy of Leucadia under French and Italian dukes. Corfu and Kythera were taken by the Venetians in 1204, after the dissolution of the Byzantine Empire by the Fourth Crusade; these became important overseas colonies of the Republic and were used as way-stations for their maritime trade with the Levant. From 1204, the Republic of Venice controlled Corfu and all the Ionian islands fell under Venetian rule. In the 15th century, the Ottomans conquered most of Greece, but their attempts to conquer the islands were unsuccessful. Zakynthos passed permanently to Venice in 1482, Kefallonia and Ithaki in 1483, Lefkada in 1502.
Kythera had been in Venetian hands since 1238. The islands thus became the only part of the Greek-speaking world to escape Ottoman rule, which gave them both a unity and an importance in Greek history they would otherwise not have had. Corfu was the only Greek island never conquered by the Turks. Under Venetian rule, many of the upper classes spoke Italian and converted to Roman Catholicism, but the majority remained Greek ethnically and religiously. In the 18th century, a Greek national independence movement began to emerge, the free status of the Ion
Eleanor of Aquitaine
Eleanor of Aquitaine was queen consort of France and England and duchess of Aquitaine in her own right. As a member of the Ramnulfids rulers in southwestern France, she was one of the wealthiest and most powerful women in western Europe during the High Middle Ages, she was patron of literary figures such as Wace, Benoît de Sainte-Maure, Bernart de Ventadorn. She was a leader of the Second Crusade; as duchess of Aquitaine, Eleanor was the most eligible bride in Europe. Three months after becoming duchess upon the death of her father, William X, she married King Louis VII of France, son of her guardian, King Louis VI; as queen of France, she participated in the unsuccessful Second Crusade. Soon afterwards, Eleanor sought an annulment of her marriage, but her request was rejected by Pope Eugene III. However, after the birth of her second daughter Alix, Louis agreed to an annulment, as 15 years of marriage had not produced a son; the marriage was annulled on 21 March 1152 on the grounds of consanguinity within the fourth degree.
Their daughters were declared legitimate, custody was awarded to Louis, Eleanor's lands were restored to her. As soon as the annulment was granted, Eleanor became engaged to the duke of Normandy, who became King Henry II of England in 1154. Henry was 11 years younger; the couple married on Whitsun, 18 May 1152, eight weeks after the annulment of Eleanor's first marriage, in Poitiers Cathedral. Over the next 13 years, she bore eight children: five sons; however and Eleanor became estranged. Henry imprisoned her in 1173 for supporting their son Henry's revolt against him, she was not released until 6 July 1189, when Henry died and their second son, Richard the Lionheart, ascended the throne. As queen dowager, Eleanor acted as regent. Eleanor lived well into the reign of John. Eleanor's year of birth is not known precisely: a late 13th-century genealogy of her family listing her as 13 years old in the spring of 1137 provides the best evidence that Eleanor was born as late as 1124. On the other hand, some chronicles mention a fidelity oath of some lords of Aquitaine on the occasion of Eleanor's fourteenth birthday in 1136.
This, her known age of 82 at her death make 1122 more the year of birth. Her parents certainly married in 1121, her birthplace may have been Poitiers, Bordeaux, or Nieul-sur-l'Autise, where her mother and brother died when Eleanor was 6 or 8. Eleanor was the oldest of three children of William X, Duke of Aquitaine, whose glittering ducal court was renowned in early 12th-century Europe, his wife, Aenor de Châtellerault, the daughter of Aimery I, Viscount of Châtellerault, Dangereuse de l'Isle Bouchard, William IX's longtime mistress as well as Eleanor's maternal grandmother, her parents' marriage had been arranged by Dangereuse with her paternal grandfather William IX. Eleanor is said to have been named for her mother Aenor and called Aliénor from the Latin alia Aenor, which means the other Aenor, it became Eléanor in the langues d'oïl of northern Eleanor in English. There was, another prominent Eleanor before her—Eleanor of Normandy, an aunt of William the Conqueror, who lived a century earlier than Eleanor of Aquitaine.
In Paris as the queen of France she was called Helienordis, her honorific name as written in the Latin epistles. By all accounts, Eleanor's father ensured. Eleanor came to learn arithmetic, the constellations, history, she learned domestic skills such as household management and the needle arts of embroidery, sewing and weaving. Eleanor developed skills in conversation, games such as backgammon and chess, playing the harp, singing. Although her native tongue was Poitevin, she was taught to read and speak Latin, was well versed in music and literature, schooled in riding and hunting. Eleanor was extroverted, lively and strong-willed, her four-year-old brother William Aigret and their mother died at the castle of Talmont on Aquitaine's Atlantic coast in the spring of 1130. Eleanor became the heir presumptive to her father's domains; the Duchy of Aquitaine was the richest province of France. Poitou, where Eleanor spent most of her childhood, Aquitaine together were one-third the size of modern France.
Eleanor had only one other legitimate sibling, a younger sister named Aelith called Petronilla. Her half-brother Joscelin was acknowledged by William X as a son, but not as his heir; the notion that she had another half-brother, has been discredited. During the first four years of Henry II's reign, her siblings joined Eleanor's royal household. In 1137 Duke William X took his daughters with him. Upon reaching Bordeaux, he left them in the charge of the archbishop of Bordeaux, one of his few loyal vassals; the duke set out for the Shrine of Saint James of Compostela in the company of other pilgrims. However, he died on Good Friday of that year. Eleanor, aged 12 to 15 became the duchess of Aquitaine, thus the most eligible heiress in Europe; as these were the days when kidnapping an heiress was seen as a viable option for obtaining a title, William dictated a will on the day he died that bequeathed his domains to Eleanor and appointed King Louis VI of France as her guardian. William requested of the king that he take care of both the lands and the duchess, an
Lombardy is one of the twenty administrative regions of Italy, in the northwest of the country, with an area of 23,844 square kilometres. About 10 million people, forming one-sixth of Italy's population, live in Lombardy and about a fifth of Italy's GDP is produced in the region, making it the most populous and richest region in the country and one of the richest regions in Europe. Milan, Lombardy's capital, is the largest metropolitan area in Italy; the word Lombardy comes from Lombard, which in turn is derived from Late Latin Longobardus, derived from the Proto-Germanic elements *langaz + *bardaz. Some sources derive the second element instead from Proto-Germanic *bardǭ, *barduz, related to German Barte. During the early Middle Ages "Lombardy" referred to the Kingdom of the Lombards, a kingdom ruled by the Germanic Lombards who had controlled most of Italy since their invasion of Byzantine Italy in 568; as such "Lombardy" and "Italy" were interchangeable. The Kingdom was divided between Longobardia Major in the north and Langobardia Minor in the south, which were until the 8th century separated by the Byzantine Exarchate of Ravenna and the Papacy.
During the late Middle Ages, after the fall of the northern part of the Kingdom to Charlemagne, the term shifted to mean Northern Italy.. The term was used until around 965 in the form Λογγοβαρδία as the name for the territory covering modern Apulia which the Byzantines had recovered from the Lombard rump Duchy of Benevento. With a surface of 23,861 km2, Lombardy is the fourth-largest region of Italy, it is bordered by Switzerland and by the Italian regions of Trentino-Alto Adige/Südtirol and Veneto, Emilia-Romagna, Piedmont. Three distinct natural zones can be easily distinguished in Lombardy: mountains and plains—the latter being divided in Alta and Bassa; the orography of Lombardy is characterised by the presence of three distinct belts: a northern mountainous belt constituted by the Alpine relief, a central piedmont area of pebbly soils of alluvial origin, the Lombard section of the Padan plain in the southernmost part of the region. The most important mountainous area is an Alpine zone including the Lepontine and Rhaetian Alps, the Bergamo Alps, the Ortler Alps and the Adamello massif.
The plains of Lombardy, formed by alluvial deposits, can be divided into the Alta—an upper, permeable ground zone in the north and a lower zone—and the Bassa—dotted by the so-called line of fontanili, spring waters rising from impermeable ground. Inconsistent with the three distinctions above made is the small subregion of Oltrepò Pavese, formed by the Apennine foothills beyond the Po River; the mighty Po river marks the southern border of the region for a length of about 210 km. In its progress it receives the waters of the Ticino River, which rises in the Bedretto valley and joins the Po near Pavia; the other streams which contribute to the great river are, the Olona, the Lambro, the Adda, the Oglio and the Mincio. The numerous lakes of Lombardy, all of glacial origin, lie in the northern highlands. From west to east these are Lake Maggiore, Lake Lugano, Lake Como, Lake Iseo, Lake Idro Lake Garda, the largest in Italy. South of the Alps lie the hills characterised by a succession of low heights of morainic origin, formed during the last Ice Age and small fertile plateaux, with typical heaths and conifer woods.
A minor mountainous area, the Oltrepò Pavese, lies south of the Po, in the Apennines range. In the plains, intensively cultivated for centuries, little of the original environment remains; the most commons trees are elm, sycamore, poplar and hornbeam. In the area of the foothills lakes, grow olive trees and larches, as well as varieties of subtropical flora such as magnolias, acacias. Numerous species of endemic flora in the Prealpine area include some kinds of saxifrage, the Lombard garlic, groundsels bellflowers and the cottony bellflowers; the highlands are characterised by the typical vegetation of the whole range of the Italian Alps. At a lower levels oak woods or broadleafed trees grow. Shrubs such as rhododendron, dwarf pine and juniper are native to the summital zone. Lombardy counts many protected areas: the most important are the Stelvio National Park, with alpine wildlife: red deer, roe deer, chamois, foxes and golden eagles. L
Manuel I Komnenos
Manuel I Komnenos was a Byzantine Emperor of the 12th century who reigned over a crucial turning point in the history of Byzantium and the Mediterranean. His reign saw the last flowering of the Komnenian restoration, during which the Byzantine Empire had seen a resurgence of its military and economic power, had enjoyed a cultural revival. Eager to restore his empire to its past glories as the superpower of the Mediterranean world, Manuel pursued an energetic and ambitious foreign policy. In the process he made alliances with the resurgent West, he invaded the Norman Kingdom of Sicily, although unsuccessfully, being the last Eastern Roman Emperor to attempt reconquests in the western Mediterranean. The passage of the dangerous Second Crusade was adroitly managed through his empire. Manuel established a Byzantine protectorate over the Crusader states of Outremer. Facing Muslim advances in the Holy Land, he made common cause with the Kingdom of Jerusalem and participated in a combined invasion of Fatimid Egypt.
Manuel reshaped the political maps of the Balkans and the eastern Mediterranean, placing the kingdoms of Hungary and Outremer under Byzantine hegemony and campaigning aggressively against his neighbours both in the west and in the east. However, towards the end of his reign Manuel's achievements in the east were compromised by a serious defeat at Myriokephalon, which in large part resulted from his arrogance in attacking a well-defended Seljuk position. Although the Byzantines recovered and Manuel concluded an advantageous peace with Sultan Kilij Arslan II, Myriokephalon proved to be the final, unsuccessful effort by the empire to recover the interior of Anatolia from the Turks. Called ho Megas by the Greeks, Manuel is known to have inspired intense loyalty in those who served him, he appears as the hero of a history written by his secretary, John Kinnamos, in which every virtue is attributed to him. Manuel, influenced by his contact with western Crusaders, enjoyed the reputation of "the most blessed emperor of Constantinople" in parts of the Latin world as well.
Modern historians, have been less enthusiastic about him. Some of them assert that the great power he wielded was not his own personal achievement, but that of the dynasty he represented. Manuel Komnenos was the fourth son of John II Komnenos and Piroska of Hungary, so it seemed unlikely that he would succeed his father, his maternal grandfather was St. Ladislaus. Having distinguished himself in his father's war against the Seljuk Turks, in 1143 Manuel was chosen as his successor by John, in preference to his elder surviving brother Isaac. After John died on 8 April 1143, his son, was acclaimed emperor by the armies, yet his succession was by no means assured: At his father's deathbed in the wilds of Cilicia far from Constantinople, he recognised that it was vital he should return to the capital as soon as possible. He still had to take care of his father's funeral, tradition demanded he organise the foundation of a monastery on the spot where his father died. Swiftly, he dispatched the megas domestikos John Axouch ahead of him, with orders to arrest his most dangerous potential rival, his brother Isaac, living in the Great Palace with instant access to the imperial treasure and regalia.
Axouch arrived in the capital before news of the emperor's death had reached it. He secured the loyalty of the city, when Manuel entered the capital in August 1143, he was crowned by the new Patriarch, Michael Kourkouas. A few days with nothing more to fear as his position as emperor was now secure, Manuel ordered the release of Isaac, he ordered 2 golden pieces to be given to every householder in Constantinople and 200 pounds of gold to be given to the Byzantine Church. The empire that Manuel inherited from his father had undergone great changes since the foundation of Constantinople by Constantine I eight centuries before. In the time of his predecessor Justinian I, parts of the former Western Roman Empire had been recovered including Italy and part of Spain. However, the empire had diminished following this, the most obvious change had occurred in the 7th century: the soldiers of Islam had taken Egypt and much of Syria away from the empire irrevocably, they had swept on westwards into what in the time of Constantine had been the western provinces of the Roman Empire, in North Africa and Spain.
In the centuries since, the emperors had ruled over a realm that consisted of Asia Minor in the east, the Balkans in the west. In the late 11th century the Byzantine Empire entered a period of marked military and political decline, arrested and reversed by the leadership of Manuel's grandfather and father, yet the empire that Manuel inherited was a polity facing formidable challenges. At the end of the 11th century, the Normans of Sicily had removed Italy from the control of the Byzantine Emperor; the Seljuk Turks had done the same with central Anatolia. And in the Levant, a new force had appeared – the Crusader states – which presented the Byzantine Empire with new challenges. Now, more than at any time during the preceding centuries, the task facing the emperor was daunting indeed; the first test of Manuel's reign came in 1144, when he was faced with a demand by Raymond, Prince of Antioch for the cession of Cilician territories. However that year the crusader County of Edessa was engulfed by the tide of a resurgent Isl
Corfu or Kerkyra is a Greek island in the Ionian Sea. It is the second largest of the Ionian Islands, including its small satellite islands, forms the northwesternmost part of Greece; the island is part of the Corfu regional unit, is administered as a single municipality, which includes the smaller islands of Ereikoussa and Othonoi. The municipality has an area of 610,9 km2, the island proper 592,8 km2; the principal city of the island and seat of the municipality is named Corfu. Corfu is home to the Ionian University; the island is bound up with the history of Greece from the beginnings of Greek mythology. Its history is full of conquests. Ancient Korkyra took part in the Battle of Sybota, a catalyst for the Peloponnesian War, according to Thucydides, the largest naval battle between Greek city states until that time. Thucydides reports that Korkyra was one of the three great naval powers of fifth century BC Greece, along with Athens and Corinth. Medieval castles punctuating strategic locations across the island are a legacy of struggles in the Middle Ages against invasions by pirates and the Ottomans.
Two of these castles enclose its capital, the only city in Greece to be surrounded in such a way. As a result, Corfu's capital has been declared a Kastropolis by the Greek government. From medieval times and into the 17th century, the island, having repulsed the Ottomans during several sieges, was recognised as a bulwark of the European States against the Ottoman Empire and became one of the most fortified places in Europe; the fortifications of the island were used by the Venetians to defend against Ottoman intrusion into the Adriatic. Corfu fell under British rule following the Napoleonic Wars. Corfu was ceded by the British Empire along with the remaining islands of the United States of the Ionian Islands, unification with modern Greece was concluded in 1864 under the Treaty of London. In 2007, the city's old quarter was added to the UNESCO World Heritage List, following a recommendation by ICOMOS. Corfu is a popular tourist destination; the island was the location of the 1994 European Union summit.
The Greek name, Kerkyra or Korkyra, is related to two powerful water deities: Poseidon, god of the sea, Asopos, an important Greek mainland river. According to myth, Poseidon fell in love with the beautiful nymph Korkyra, daughter of Asopos and river nymph Metope, abducted her. Poseidon brought Korkyra to the hitherto unnamed island and, in marital bliss, offered her name to the place: Korkyra, which evolved to Kerkyra, they had a child they called Phaiax, after whom the inhabitants of the island were named Phaiakes, in Latin Phaeaciani. Corfu's nickname is the island of the Phaeacians; the name Corfù, an Italian version of the Byzantine Κορυφώ, meaning "city of the peaks", derives from the Byzantine Greek Κορυφαί, denoting the two peaks of Palaio Frourio. The northeastern edge of Corfu lies off the coast of Sarandë, separated by straits varying in width from 3 to 23 km; the southeast side of the island lies off the coast of Greece. Its shape resembles a sickle, to which it was compared by the ancients: the concave side, with the city and harbour of Corfu in the centre, lies toward the Albanian coast.
With the island's area estimated at 592.9 square kilometres, it runs 64 km long, with greatest breadth at around 32 km. Two high and well-defined ranges divide the island into three districts, of which the northern is mountainous, the central undulating, the southern low-lying; the more important of the two ranges, that of Pantokrator stretches east and west from Cape Falacro to Cape Psaromita, attains its greatest elevation in the summit of the same name. The second range culminates in the mountain of Santi Jeca, or Santa Decca, as it is called by misinterpretation of the Greek designation Άγιοι Δέκα, or the Ten Saints; the whole island, composed as it is of various limestone formations, presents great diversity of surface, views from more elevated spots are magnificent. Beaches are found in Agios Gordis, the Korission lagoon, Agios Georgios, Kassiopi, Sidari and many others. Corfu is located near the Kefalonia geological fault formation. Corfu's coastline spans 217 kilometres including capes.
The full extent of capes and promontories take in Agia Aikaterini, Drastis to the north and Asprokavos to the southeast, Megachoro to the south. Two islands are to be found at a middle point of Gouvia and Corfu Bay, which extends across much of the eastern shore of the island. Camping areas can be found in Palaiokastritsa, with four in the northern part, Roda and Messonghi; the Diapontia Islands are located in the northwest of Corfu, about 40 km away from Italian coasts. The main islands are Othonoi and Mathraki. Lazaretto Island known as Aghios Dimitrios, is located two nautical miles northeast of Corfu. During Venetian rule in the early 16th century, a monastery was built on the islet and a leprosarium established in the century, after which the island was