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The Byzantine Empire considered itself the only true inheritor both of the Roman Empire and of the Christian religion This fact made the Empire something somewhere between an ally and an enemy to the West Whether the two were cooperating or fighting though events in Byzantium were of great importance to Outremer especially to Antioch and to the Crusading movement Constantinople was the capital and the greatest city in Christendom in terms of wealth population and political power The Empire it ruled consisted of Asia Minor the Balkans and Greece Over the 12th and 13th centuries it lost most of its lands in all these areas but its fortunes waxed and waned dramatically By 1291 however the Empire was reduced to the city of Constantinople and its hinterland plus a few outposts The Greek Emperor regarded himself as the true inheritor of the Caesars and the true defender of the faith against the Muslims The so-called Holy Roman Emperor was nothing but an upstart--at best he might be considered the western Augustus recalling the tetrarchy of Diocletian Similarly the Patriarch of Constantinople regarded himself as the true head of the Church The Bishop of Rome the pope was the bishop of a great and honorable city on a par with the Patriarch of Jerusalem or Antioch or Alexandria but definitely a step below Constantinople and in any case tainted with unorthodoxy The Greeks themselves I shall use the Westerners term for all those who lived within the Byzantine Empire generally regarded the Latins with contempt they were dirty smelly violent treacherous superstitious superb warriors but untrustworthy allies They were greedy and grasping and were not to be trusted in business matters For their part the Westerners had much the same opinion of the Greeks except they had no respect for the Greek soldier either Byzantine history during our two centuries falls into three periods the rule of the Comneni the Latin Empire of Constantinople and
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