The Ancient Library

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when the latter lost his life through an accident in Gilicia ; and, fears were entertained that Isaac, who was then in Constantinople, would seize the supreme power. But no sooner had John expired than the faithful minister, Axuch, hastened to the capital, seized Isaac, confined him in a prison, and suc^-ceeded in causing Manuel to be recognised in Con­stantinople, where he met with a brilliant reception, on his arrival from Cilicia, a short time afterwards. Manuel was scarcely seated on his throne, when he was involved in an uninterrupted series of wars with the nations of the East as well as the West, in which, though not always successful, he distin­guished himself so much by his undaunted courage and heroic deeds as to deserve the name of the greatest hero of a time when there was no lack of extraordinary achievements in the field. The dis­covery that his brother Isaac seemed not to enter­tain ambitious designs, and the re-establishment of a good understanding between the two brothers, allowed Manuel to devote himself entirely to the conduct of his wars and to those endless in­trigues and negotiations in which he found him­self involved. As "early as 1144 his general, Demetrius Branas, forced Raymond, the Latin prince of Antioch, who had shaken off his allegi­ance towards the emperor, to submit to Greek valour, and to renew, in Constantinople, the bonds of his vassalship. In the following year Manuel set out against the Turks, who had invaded Isauria, defeated them in several pitched battles, and cast such a terror among the Turkish soldiers, that they would no longer keep the field ; whereupon peace was concluded to the advantage of the victor. About this time Manuel found reason to distrust his brother Isaac, who was deprived of his title of Sebastocrator ; but as there was no direct evidence of treason against him, he was allowed to live on condition of retiring into a convent, where he spent the rest of his life. In the same year, 1147, Manuel received information from king Louis VII. of France, that the Western princes, headed by the king and the emperor Conrad III. of Germany, had resolved upon a new crusade, and desired his alliance. Manuel promised it, but gave secret in­formation of the approaching storm to the Turks. Nevertheless he allowed Conrad to pass through his dominions with a vast army, and subsequently the French king also.

While the Crusaders were fighting with the Turks, Manuel was involved in a war with Roger, the Norman king of Sicily, who possessed likewise a large portion of Southern Italy, and who, think­ing that the new crusade would prevent the Greek emperor from maintaining great forces in Europe, prepared for an invasion of Greece. This war, which broke out in 1148, is by far the most re­markable in the history of Manuel, who, however, did not engage in it alone, but found an ally in the republic of Venice. Marching at the head of his veterans towards Macedonia, he was informed, while at Philippopolis, that the Patzenegnes had crossed the Danube, probably excited by king Roger. Without hesitating a moment, ManueL wheeled to the right, fell upon the barbarians, drove them back into the Dacian wildernesses ; and after receiving hostages for their future good behaviour, returned with rapid marches towards Macedonia, embarked at Thessalonica, and landed his host in Corfu before the end of the year. There he was joined by a Venetian army. The fortress

. .manuel;

of Corfu yielded to him after an obstinate and pro­tracted siege, signalised by the death of his brother-in-law, Stephanus Contostephanus, Magnus Dux, who was succeeded in the command by the faithful Axuch. The surrender of that important fortress was delayed by a bloody quarrel which broke out between the Greeks and the Venetians. In this siege Manuel was foremost among those who stormed the town ; and his fleet having one day made several fruitless attempts to drive the Sici­lians from some outworks near the sea, he put him­self on the poop of a galley, and cheered his men on while showers of arrows and other missiles came down upon the spot where he stood. His boldness excited the admiration of the Sicilians, who ceased for a moment to make him the aim of their wea­pons. They would, however, soon have despatched him but for the voice of their commander, who cried out that it would be dishonourable to kill an hero like Manuel. The emperor intended to attack Roger within his own dominions, but the crafty Norman enticed the Servians and Hungarians to make a diversion on the Danube. The former were vanquished in two campaigns, when they begged for peace ; and the Hungarian war lasted till 1152, when their king, Geisa, after having been beaten in many pitched battles, promised to desist from molesting the empire. The peace, however, was of short duration. In the same year, 1152, Manuel experienced a repulse in a war with the Turks in Cilicia ; but in Italy his armies met with glorious success. The Greeks having landed in Italy, took Brundusium, Ban, and other places of importance ; the fleet of the Sicilians was defeated in several decisive engagements ; and it seemed that John Ducas, the gallant commander-in-chief of the Greeks, would find no more obstacles in re-uniting Southern Italy with the Byzantine empire. The sanguine hopes of Manuel were blighted by Wil­liam, the successor of king Roger, who fell upon Alexis Comnenus, the successor of John Ducas ; and after a severe struggle, routed the Greeks. At the same time the Greek fleet was defeated off Negro-pont; and Maius, the Sicilian admiral, sailed with­out loss of time for Constantinople, where he landed a considerable force. The inhabitants were thrown into the utmost consternation; but their fears soon ceased, since Maius was not strong enough to attempt any thing of importance, and consequently sailed home, satisfied with some booty and captives. These checks produced a great effect upon the mind of Manuel, who, having received a very noble letter from king William, with offers of an honourable peace, accepted the proposition, and thus this memorable war terminated in 1155. The conquests on both sides were given back, as well as all the captives, except those Greeks taken by the Sicilians who were silk-weavers, and who were to remain in Italy, where they laid the foun­dation of the flourishing state of Italian silk manu­factures. The following years were signalised by hostilities with Raymond, prince of Antioch, who was soon brought to obedience; and Az-ed-din, the Turkish Sultan, who met with no better suc­cess, and went to Constantinople to sue for peace.

The tranquillity of Asia was no sooner settled,: than a new and terrible war broke out in the north King Geisa of Hungary fancied that the forces of the empire were exhausted by protracted warfare* and accordingly crossed the Danube. Manuel intended to lead his armies in person, but he

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