mid-evil warriors meet the bureaucrats

Daniel A. Foss (U17043@UICVM.BITNET)
Tue, 8 Nov 1994 22:13:33 CST

was more than just an occupation. It was what they existed for. In 1097, just
such a bellicose, turbulent crowd made contact, on the First Crusade, with the
bureaucratic military establishment and bureaucratic civilian state apparatus
of the Byzantine Empire, headed at that time by the astute statesman, Alexius
Comnenus (1081-1119). The Western Yurpeens had no idea what an "astute
statesman" was; they certainly did not like the looks of what they saw. While
the Latins were determined to hack their way overland to Jerusalem, as Pope
Urban II had decreed in 1096, the Byzantines were more concerned with recovery
of those parts of Asia Minor lost to the Turks since the disastrous Battle of
Manzikert in 1071. When the joint forces, beseiging the city of Nicaea, had
convinced the Turkish garrison that its position was hopeless, Alexius
negotiated a surrender, releasing the Turks from captivity in return. According
to an eyewitness account of the First Crusade, the initial reaction of the
Latins was Paranoia:

The emperor, who was a fool as well as a knave, told them to go away unhurt
and without fear; he had them brought to him under safe-conduct, and kept
them carefully so that he could have them ready to injure the Franks and
obstruct their crusade.

By about 170 years later, the memory of this campaign had become the origin-
myth of Latin anti-Greek racism, reciprocated in Greek anti-Latin racism; the
mutual atrocities ensuing therefrom I shall spare the reader. (Hint: The West
did worst.) According to the historian William of Tyre, the campaign of 1097
was something like this:

Thus, more and more, day by day, the trickery of the Greeks and the
treachery of the emperor was revealed. There was now no one of the chiefs
to whom it was not plain, in fact clearer than the sun at midday, that
Alexius was pursuing our people with intense hatred and that he detested
the whole Latin race.

Just after the genocidal Fourth Crusade, 1204, Gunther of Pairis, Cistercian
monk, wrote:

Greece, the dreg of dregs, a race impious towards its own kings, whom they
customarily strangle or blind! Constantinople, an evil city, filled with
deceit and unworthy of the sun's light! A race energetic only in trickery,
a race unaccustomed to be ruled, and ordered according to the law! A
sacrilegious citizenry, a race unworthy of its own being!

Well, civilians who never saw a warrior before, that's what a warrior-
dominated society and culture makes of civilians when it's never seen them
before, either, *and* has got the military-technical edge besides.

To be sure, it's those career-noncombitants, the mid-Evil surfs, who are
doing all the work back home and paying for all this permanent leisure-time

[Citations from: Malcolm Barber, The Two Cities: Medieval Europe 1050-1320,
Routledge, 1992[1993], pp. 492, 493, 494.]

Daniel A. Foss