INTRODUCTORY--EXTENT OF EMPIRE IN TWELFTH CENTURY-- ITS CONDITION AND FORM OF GOVERNMENT.
THE Greek-speaking Roman empire at the end of the twelfth century was very much smaller than it had once been. It is no part of my purpose to trace the history of its decline, further than to show what were the immediate causes which led to its weakness in 1203, when the Fourth Crusade effected what is generally known as the Latin Conquest of Constantinople. In the year 1200 the territory over which the Roman emperor in the East ruled no longer included any part of Italy or Sicily. Cyprus had been taken possession of by our Richard the Lion-hearted in 1190, and never again came under the sway of the emperors. The Saracens had captured some of the fairest Asiatic provinces which had owned allegiance to Constantinople. The successes of the Crusaders had for a time established a kingdom of Jerusalem, and had won a considerable number of important places from the enemy, but as the century closed nearly all of them had been lost. The principality of Antioch, together with Beyrout and two or three other strongholds of less importance, were still held by the Christians. But the progress made under Saladin had threatened to drive every western knight out of Syria, and the victories of the Third Crusade
Extent of Empire.