Northern Europe Invades the Mediterranean 900-1200
There are two lordships, that of the Saracens and that of the Romans, which stand above all lordship on earth, and shine out like two mighty beacons in the firmament.
IN the world of the Patriarch Nicholas I, writing in about 914, there were two powers which commanded honour and respect. One was the Abbasid Caliphate based on Baghdad, the ruler of the lands of the Near East; the other the Roman Empire, based since the fourth century on its new, Christian capital, Constantinople. Both powers were conscious of a long tradition of rule; the people of the eastern empire always referred to themselves as Rhōmaioi ('Romans') and the rulers of the lands to the east of the Mediterranean were similarly conscious of a Muslim tradition which stretched back to the days of the Prophet. But how far did these grandiose concepts of imperial might correspond with reality in the period after 900? There was no place in the patriarch's world-view for the lands and rulers of the western Mediterranean and not the slightest indication that Byzantine power closer to home might often be challenged. It was a description of the world as it should have been, rather than as it was. By 1200 the new realities were there for all to see. Whilst the old ideal of the