Blast From Byzantium : The Alexiad on Crusader-Byzantine Relations During the First Crusade
Degree GrantorUniversity of Canterbury
Degree NameBachelor of Arts (Hons)
In order to rest and regroup the pilgrim masses of the First Crusade collected in the city of Constantinople, modern day Istanbul. Thousands answered the call for help from the Byzantine Emperor, Alexios I Komnenos, far more than he anticipated. These crusaders were culturally different from the Byzantines, in need of provisions, fanatical followers of the Latin Church and well armed. This tense situation was made more troubled as Bohemond of Taranto, who had waged a war against Alexios a decade prior, arrived leading a major contingent of the expedition. The complexity of the relationship between these uneasy-‐allies has been the topic of much debate amongst historians. This historiographical discourse has been intensified by the dearth of written sources from Byzantine eyewitnesses, the only significant source being The Alexiad, by Anna Komnene. Until recently the majority of historians studying the period treated The Alexiad as an unreliable account. Considered by many to be littered with chronological errors and tainted by the musings of an exceptionally opinionated author. Viewpoints like these are rooted in a culture of distrust surrounding The Alexiad and perhaps a conscious movement by commentators to distance themselves from the pro-‐Hellenic writings of Steven Runciman. This dissertation is an effort to establish the cultural and political context within which Anna Komnene was writing and how her perspectives were entirely representative of contemporary Byzantine thought. As such, The Alexiad can be seen to be a highly valuable resource in studying the Crusade.