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Three Millennia of Greek Literature

Vasilief, A History of the Byzantine Empire

Byzantium and the Crusades

External relations under John II 


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Increasing contacts with the western states. The son and successor of Alexius, John II, was of the emperor-soldier type and spent the major part of his reign among the troops in military enterprises. His external policy chiefly continued that of his father, who had already pointed out all the important problems, European as well as Asiatic, in which the Empire of that time was particularly interested. John set as his goal progress along the political paths entered upon by his father. The father had hindered his enemies from invading Byzantium; the son determined to take away from his neighbors the lost Greek provinces and dreamt of restoring the Byzantine Empire to its former brilliancy.

Though he clearly understood the European situation, John was little interested in European affairs. He had from time to time to wage war in Europe, but there his wars were of a strictly defensive character. Only towards the end of his reign, owing to the threatening rise of the Normans, which expressed itself in the union of south Italy with Sicily and the formation of the Kingdom of Sicily, did European affairs become very important to Byzantium. John's main interest in his external policy was concentrated in Asia Minor. With regard to John's relations to the West, there were a steadily increasing number of western European states with which Byzantium had to come into contact.

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