The Late Byzantine Empire and the West 1396-1403

Alan Haynes describes how, menaced by the Turks, the Emperor Manuel sought western help on his visits to Italy, France and England.

By the end of the fourteenth century it seemed unthinkable, but almost inevitable, that the once great Byzantine Empire should be overwhelmed by the implacable pressure of the Sultan Bayezid and the Ottoman armies. By European standards, Constantinople was still a huge city, but the geographical, economic and military assaults of the Turks, sustained over years, and the decline in the Empire’s fighting population after the loss of Anatolia, gave notice that the city and its environs might soon fall to the Moslem conqueror. The aid offered in the past by the Empire’s Christian allies in the west had been too insubstantial and too self-seeking to prevent the rot of the imperial fabric.

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