The Greek speaking Roman empire at the end of the twelfth century was very much smaller than it had once been. It is no part of my purpose to trace the history of its decline, further than to show what were the immediate causes which led to its weakness in 1203, when the Fourth Crusade effected what is generally known as the Latin Conquest of Constantinople. In the year 1200 the territory over which the Roman emperor in the East ruled, no longer included any part of Italy or Sicily. Cyprus had been taken possession of by our Richard the Lion-hearted in 1190, and never again came under the sway of the emperors. The Saracens had captured some of the fairest Asiatic provinces which had owned allegiance to Constantinople. The successes of the Crusaders had for a time established a kingdom of Jerusalem, and had won a considerable number of important places from the enemy, but as the century closed nearly all of them had been lost. The principality of Antioch, together with Bey rout and two or three other strongholds of less importance, were still held by the Christians. But the progress made under Saladin had threatened to drive every Western knight out of Syria, and the victories of the Third Crusade had proved fruitless. Saladin, however, was now dead, and members of his family were quarrelling about the division of his territory. In Asia Minor the Seljukian Turks had firmly established themselves in the interior, with unbroken communication into Central Asia. But in 1200 a quarrel similar to that which was weakening the Saracens was dividing also the Turks. The ten sons of the famous Sultan Kilidji Arslan of Iconium had apportioned his empire among them, and were themselves quarrelling about the division. The Armenians and the Georgians, or Iberians, had again struggled into national life. Under Leo the Second the former had established themselves in Little Armenia around Marash, where they were destined to hold their own for centuries, and to play a part which recalls the struggle for independence of the Montenegrins down to our own time. The shores of Asia Minor on all its three sides, with the exception of a few isolated points, still acknowledged the rule of the New Rome. In the Balkan peninsula, at the close of the twelfth century, the empire, though still supreme, had many troublesome neighbors. The Normans had indeed been expelled from Durazzo and from Salonica. But on the northwest of the peninsula, Dalmatia and Croatia had fallen under the rule of Venice, with the exception of two or three cities on the coast held by Hungary. Branitzova and Belgrade had been captured by Bela, King of Hungary, though Emeric, his successor, had not been able to extend his dominions farther south. Yolk, King of the Servians, held his own on the eastern frontier of Hungary, and was attempting to conquer territory from the Huns rather than from the empire. The Wallachs and the Bulgarians were unsettled, but were attempting, on the north of the Balkans, to shake off the imperial yoke. South of the Danube, as far westward as Belgrade, and thence westward still to the boundary of Dalmatia, the whole of the peninsula, with the exception of a territory pretty closely corresponding to the newly established Bulgaria, remained loyal to the capital.
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