The Conflict with the Second Bulgarian Empire During the Establishment of the Latin Empire of Constantinople (1204-1207)Süleyman Onur Geyik
Organized by Pope Innocent III, the Fourth Crusade (1202-1204) deviated from its purpose as a result of various motives and ended with the capture of Constantinople (Istanbul) on April 13, 1204. This situation constituted one of the most interesting events of the Medieval period, and afterward the Latins sacked the capital of the ancient Byzantine Empire and established the Latin Empire of Constantinople, which would last for 57 years. Subsequently, the Second Bulgarian Empire under the leadership of Tsar Kaloyan became a cruel enemy of the Latins, who had taken action in both the East and West sides of the empire. The political and military relations between the Latin Empire of Constantinople and the Second Bulgarian Empire between 1204-1207 directly and indirectly resulted in significant developments in the political structure of the region. This study provides a concise discussion of the Fourth Crusade while referencing the establishment of the Latin Empire of Constantinople. The study additionally mentions how Westerners partitioned the former Byzantine lands and then examines the Latin Empire of Constantinople’s political and military relations with the Second Bulgarian Empire as well as outcomes of these relations in the light of contemporary sources in terms of rival enemies in the region, interactions, and changing ideologies. In parallel with the examined sources, the diverse military and political policies are seen to have stood out in the Latins’ struggle with the Bulgarians. As a result of the new approaches developed by Emperor Henry of Flanders, the Latins gradually increased their power and eventually began to prevail over the Bulgarians.
İstanbul Latin İmparatorluğu’nun Kuruluş Sürecinde II. Bulgar Krallığı ile Mücadelesi (1204-1207)Süleyman Onur Geyik
Dördüncü Haçlı Seferi (1202-1204) muhtelif sebeplerden dolayı amacından saparak 13 Nisan 1204’te İstanbul’un zaptıyla neticelenmiştir. Ortaçağ’ın en ilginç hâdiselerinden birini teşkil eden bahsi geçen vakanın ardından kadim Bizans İmparatorluğu’nun başkenti Latinler tarafından istilâ edilmiş ve 57 yıl sürecek olan İstanbul Latin İmparatorluğu tesis edilmiştir. Müteâkiben imparatorluğun doğusunda ve batısında harekete geçen Latinlerin, batıdaki en büyük düşmanı ise Kaloyan liderliğinde II. Bulgar Krallığı olmuştur. Yeni kurulan İstanbul Latin İmparatorluğu ile II. Bulgar Krallığı arasında 1204- 1207 yıllarında vuku bulan siyasî ve askerî münasebetler doğrudan ve dolaylı olmak sûretiyle bölgede mühim siyasî gelişmelere yol açmıştır. Bu çalışmada İstanbul’da Latin hâkimiyetinin başlamasına sebep olan Dördüncü Haçlı Seferi muhtasar bir şekilde ele alındıktan sonra Bizans başkentinde Latin İmparatorluğu’nun tesisi ve imparatorluk topraklarının Batılılar tarafından paylaşılmasına değinilmiştir. Ardından İstanbul Latin İmparatorluğu’nun, II. Bulgar Krallığı’yla olan siyasî ve askerî ilişkileri, bu münasebetlerin bölgedeki rakip güçler açısından meydana getirdiği tesirler, etkileşimler ve değişen ideolojiler kaynakların verdiği bilgiler ışığında ele alınmıştır. İncelenen kaynaklar doğrultusunda Latinlerin, Bulgarlarla olan mücadelelerinde farklı askerî ve siyasî politikalar göze çarpmaktadır. Bilhassa İmparator I. Henri’nin geliştirdiği yeni yaklaşımlar sonucunda Latinler tedricî bir şekilde gücünü artırmış ve nihayetinde Bulgarlar karşısında üstün gelmeye başlamıştır.
With the capture of Constantinople by the armies of the Fourth Crusade in 1204, a Latin Empire was established based in Constantinople. Afterward, the Latins signed a treaty in order to seize the lands owned by the former Byzantine Empire. Thus, a period of intense military and political struggle began with rivals in both Anatolia and the Balkans. The greatest competitor in the Balkans was the Second Bulgarian Empire, while the Byzantine Empire of Nicaea drew attention in Anatolia. In this context, the Latin Empire of Constantinople’s struggle between 1204-1207 with the Second Bulgarian Empire constitutes the subject of the article.
The main reason for the disagreements between the Latins and the Bulgarians is that the Bulgarians also laid claim to the lands belonging to the former Byzantine Empire. However, the Latins’ conceited point of view toward the Bulgarians in particular led to an increase in mutual enmity. The Byzantine locals in the region, especially in the area of Thrace, requested support from the Bulgarian Tsar Kaloyan against the Latins, which gave the Bulgarians the opportunity they had sought, and they started war with the Latins on this point.
The first phase of the struggle was the Battle of Adrianople in April 1205. When the Latins besieged the city in order to suppress the rebellion in Adrianople, Tsar Kaloyan responded to his Byzantine allies’ call for aid. After Kaloyan’s first campaign in Thrace, the Latins and Bulgarians engaged in a tight struggle, with the winner of this battle being the Second Bulgarian Empire. As for the Latins, they’d been severely defeated, Emperor Baudouin I had been captured, and many vital nobles had been killed. The Latins retreated under the reorganizational efforts of Geoffrey of Villehardouin, a leading figure in the Latin army. Afterwards, the Latins were left without a leader due to Baudouin I’s capture and appointed Henry of Flanders, the brother of the ex-emperor, first as regent and then as emperor in August 1206.
During the reign of Henry of Flanders, the Latins’ struggle with the Bulgarians continued under a different understanding. The first target of Tsar Kaloyan, who’d since embarked on his second campaign to Thrace with his army consisting of Bulgarians, Cumans, and Vlachs at the beginning of 1206, was the Latın advanced garrison in Rousion (Keşan in modern Turkey). The Latins, had to retreat as a result of the fierce attacks of the Bulgarian joint armies and suffered heavy losses. Tsar Kaloyan’s next target was Adrianople and Didymoteicho, two important cities of Thrace. By this point, the local Byzantines in the region had grown afraid of Tsar Kaloyan’s cruelty and sought an alliance with the Latins. Meanwhile, Henry of Flanders saw this offer as an opportunity to disrupt the alliance between the Byzantines and Bulgarians and to reorganize the balance in the region. Thus, the Latins and Byzantines became allies against the Bulgarians. Meanwhile the Bulgarian Tsar Kaloyan lifted his sieges on Adrianople and Didymoteicho and withdrew once he became aware of the friendly relations that had been established between the two sides.
After this critical phase in Latin-Bulgarian relations, the Latins began gaining the upper hand against the Bulgarians under the leadership of Henry of Flanders. As a matter of fact, the Latins who’d infiltrated the Bulgarian borders and attacked were able to obtain a massive booty, whereas the Bulgarians could only attempt an offensive once the Latins intensified their struggle in Anatolia.
The Latin rule had increased roughly between 1205-1207 with regard to Latin-Bulgarian political relations and entered a new phase with the unexpected death of the Bulgarian Tsar Kaloyan in October 1207.