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At the age of twenty-two, Andronicus II became sole ruler of Byzantium. His father, Michael VIII, had been a dashing figure--a good soldier, brilliant diplomat, and the liberator of Constantinople from its fifty-seven-year Latin occupation. By contrast Andronicus seemed colorless and ineffectual. His problems were immense--partly as a result of his father's policies--and his reign proved to be a series of frustrations and disasters.
For forty-six years he fought to preserve the empire against constant encroachments. When he was finally deposed in 1328 by his grandson and co-emperor, Andronicus III, almost all of Asia Minor had been lost to the Turks, Westerners had taken over the defense of the Aegean, and the Catalan army he had invited to help him fight the Turks remained to fight the emperor.
In this penetrating account of Andronicus' foreign policy, Angeliki E. Laiou focuses on Byzantium's relations with the Latin West, the far-reaching domestic implications of the hostility of western Europe, and the critical decision that faced Andronicus: whether to follow his father's lead and allow Byzantium to become a European state or to keep it an Eastern, orthodox power.
The author, who argues that foreign policy cannot be understood without examining the domestic factors that influence, indeed create, it, devotes a large part of her study to domestic developments in Byzantium during Andronicus' reign-the decline of the power of the central government; the spread of semi-independent regional authorities; the state of finances, of the army, of the church.
She concludes that, contrary to common opinion, Andronicus II sincerely desired the union of the Greek and Latin churches, when, in the last years of his reign, he realized that the political situation made such a union necessary. Maintaining also that the conquest of Asia Minor by the Turks was not a foregone conclusion when Andronicus II came to the throne, she discusses at length the errors of policy and the manifold circumstances which combined to precipitate that loss.
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Angeliki E. Laiou is Dumbarton Oaks Professor of Byzantine History at Harvard University and a former Director of Dumbarton Oaks.
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Book Description Harvard University Press, 1972. Hardcover. Condition: New. Seller Inventory # DADAX0674165357