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Three Millennia of Greek Literature

Vasilief, A History of the Byzantine Empire

The fall of Byzantium

The external policy of Michael VIII


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Byzantium and the Kingdom of the Two Sicilies, Charles of Anjou, and the Sicilian Vespers. The attitude of Michael VIII towards the Kingdom of the Two Sicilies is the keystone to his external policy. In connection with this attitude were developing and shaping his relations with the Italian republics, Genoa and Venice, as well as with the papal curia. His relations with the Turks in the East also depended upon his western policy.

At the close of the twelfth century, the king of Germany, Henry VI Hohenstaufen, Frederick Barbarossa's son, owing to his marriage with the Norman princess Constance, heiress to the Norman state in southern Italy and Sicily, gained control of the Kingdom of the Two Sicilies and inherited the stubborn enmity of the Normans for Byzantium and their aggressive plans. The union of the Kingdom of the Two Sicilies with Germany lasted till 1250, when, at the death of Frederick II Hohenstaufen, his natural son Manfred became king of Sicily. The legitimate son of Frederick, Conrad, began to rule in Germany and reigned for a short time. Under the rule of Manfred, who took care not only of the material but also of the spiritual interests of his kingdom, Sicily enjoyed a period of peace. His court was the most brilliant of that time; foreign rulers esteemed him highly; and the last Latin Emperor Baldwin II, who had fled from Constantinople, appealed to him for help in regaining his lost throne.

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