Hi, friends! First of all, I want to heartfully thank all of you for the kind words, for the support and the regards. Me and my wife have been living some better days since past year. We took this time to travel, to enjoy ourselves and our relatives and friends. Being together with people we love certainly eases the pain of such a loss.

Writing for many years in my life has been a past-time and hobby, but also coping mechanism. Reading, playing videogames and writing are, for me, the best forms of scapism, because they, many times, stimulate creativity and curiosity. For some months, I've been utterly without energy to do it, however. Some past few weeks, breathing fresh new air in this new year, in which I hope thinks get really better in this scenario of pandemic and human loss, I've been trying to write once again, and going back to this TL has been a purposeful activity, one I haven't been doing in a long time.

The pace of the TL has been really much slower than some others in this forum, but, alas, there are many constraints in real life and in the activity of writing itself. That said, I hope the continuation of this work keeps the standards of good writing, drama, surprise, historical accuracy and other qualities that attracted so many of you readers.

I'll post a new chapter right now, the 59th installment of this series. Before we get to chapter 60, however, I intend to make a complete revision of the chapters already published here, in which I intend to, hopefully, correct eventual errors or inconsistencies and even retcon some important points for the storyline to progress.

I hope you enjoy it, and, once again, welcome from me a very devoted message of gratefulness for all the support.
59. The War Between the Crusaders (1161/1162 A.D.)



Illumination depicting a battle between the Latin-Levantines in the War of 1161 with the crowned individual representing Prince Raymond II of Jerusalem and Galilee

The capture of Raymond-Jordan and other Provençal and Bavarian nobles was an embarrassment to Prince Raymond II of Jerusalem, whose authority became, once again, challenged by his inimical rivals of Norman stock and their respective partisans. Among them, the loudest opponent was Tancred of Damascus, last-born son of the previous Prince of Jerusalem, who openly criticized Raymond for permitting the bloodshed and perishment of Christian souls in the fruitless wars in Armenia, to serve the interests of the one he called the “Tyrant of Constantinople”.

At first, Raymond attempted a more conciliatory approach, likely because, this one time, his own son and the future of his lineage were at stake. Seeing that the Emir of Mosul enjoyed himself in demanding a truly massive sum of money in exchange for the imprisoned Franks - or else they would meet the gallows -, the Prince convened the nobles and burghers of the realm and pleaded for contributions to hoard a significant treasure.

Now, Raymond’s humiliation only strengthened his adversaries’ resolve to challenge him in his capacity as the Prince. Instigated by Tancred’s vitriol, other noblemen, especially those of Norman and Lombard extraction, simply refused to comply with Raymond’s demands, affirming that they had fulfilled already their campaigning service, and had no other pecuniary obligations.

Raymond’s reaction, likely incensed by the circumstances, was a grave one. Having never forgotten the very first rebellion conducted by Tancred and Bohemond against his rule upon his accession to the princely throne, he, without sanction of the Archbishop, forwarded to the Court of Grandees an accusation of sedition and conspiracy against Tancred and Bohemond other associated nobles, and proposed their banishment and the revocation of their titles and estates. He then sent his heralds to Damascus and Tyre demanding their immediate submission.

Predictably, the debacle widened the distance between the Raymondine party and the Normans and their respective allies.

Bohemond II, as soon as received the ultimatum, went in person to Hôumises, where he interviewed with Archbishop Suger - who was then presiding over the ceremony of consecration of a new cathedral in the metropolis - and, before him, accused Raymond of conspiracy and usurpation. And, indeed, the Patriarch, aghast by what he saw as an arrogation of his Pontifical authority, voyaged to Jerusalem to meet with the irate Duke of Galilee.

It is likely that, in this period, the alliance between these two branches of the House of Hauteville, the Bohemondines of Tyre and the Richardines of Damascus was well consolidated, and, indeed, they fostered their political allegiance by marriage ties. While Tancred seems to have entertained some ambitions towards the Princely throne, he seemed to realize that his colleague Bohemond was far more popular and was held in much greater esteem among the Normans, the Lombards and the Picards that inhabited the Outremer; thusly, he opted to support Bohemond to the head of the Principality, and, in exchange, he was to receive the lion's share of the provinces of Coele-Syria and Damascanese and be recognized as Duke of Syria, a title that had been created by his father Roger, but which never gained official recognition. In fact, Tancred had more than once petitioned to Raymond for the recognition of the overlordship over the Damascanese, but was always dismissed. Soon thereafter, however, Raymond placed his own partisans in the rule of some of these Damascanese counties, and this left the Normans insulted and deceived.

This time, realizing that his own arbitration could scantly prevent bloodshed, the Latin Patriarch heeded his friend and ally, the Papal nuncio in Jerusalem, to voyage to Rome and to plead for the Holy Father’s own intervention.

Fate decreed, however, that Archbishop Suger was to die shortly thereafter, in the onset of winter in 1160, stricken by a lethal bout of pneumonia. The Patriarch, a man of many virtues, had long since abdicated from the excesses and vices of the carnal world, and was permitted by Divine Providence to remain in Earth until almost his eightieth year of life. Now, with a weaker disposition, he was prostrated by sickness in a particularly cold evening, and, realizing that he was living his last breath, asked his friend, Aimery of Limoges, the Prior of the Holy Sepulcher, to administer the last rites. In the very same night, he was at last summoned to the Kingdom of God.

As per his last will, he was interred in the sacrosanct grounds of the Church of the Holy Sepulcher, and his funeral was attended by the various nobles and dignitaries of the Realm, and even by those from the races of the Greeks, the Armenians and the Syrians, all of whom acknowledged Suger as a champion and protector of the whole Christian community. His piety and wisdom became the subject of various appraisals and folk legends, shortly after his passing; accordingly, many of the Latin-Levantines came to venerate him as a saint long before he was to be canonized by *Pope Felix V, various decades after his passing. Due to his work in fostering pilgrimage to the Holy Land, having granted various benefices and allowances for the construction of hospices and sleeping houses, and financing the activities of the Hospitallarians, he would become renowned as a patron saint of the Christian pilgrims.

Pope Stephen X, soon after receiving the news of Suger’s passing, in his correspondence to the Abbots of Clairvaux and Cluny, dedicated a concise panegyric in homage to the former Metropolitan Archbishop of Jerusalem, praising his devoutness to the cause of Christ in the Holy Land. It is said that Stephen suffered Suger’s deceasement with particular grief, because they had regarded one another as friends. Now, even if the Pope, as a man dedicated to Christ, ought welcome death as a passage to the House of God, he, in the very dusk of his lifetime, became even more dedicated to the cause of the Holy Church after Suger died, and would see more two years in this Earth before he too was to be summoned to the presence of the Creator.

Pope Stephen X, even if ever preoccupied with the complex political and institutional realities of contemporary Europe, especially with the guarantee of the Peace and Truce of God institutions, and had presided over various synods in Italy, in France and in Germany, and even in Iberia, never set off his sights from the Orient, where the Earthly Kingdom laid. Concerned with the reports of infighting among the Frankish nobles, Stephen believed it would be best to place one of their own in the patriarchal throne of Jerusalem, and thus he invested the suffragan Bishop of Nazareth, Bernard of Vèlay, in the archepiscopalian office. This decision, however, would prove to be a faulty one.

Archbishop Bernard, known in History as “the Warlike”, had been born in Palestine - thus becoming the first Latin-Levantine prelate to hold the office -, but he pertained to a Provençal noble family of Velay, being, thus, related by blood to the House of Toulouse. Bernard himself had political affinities with Raymond and with his predecessor, Pons of Caesarea, both of whom had bestowed patronage to the Diocese of Nazareth. Now, if Suger’s impartiality and political acumen had sought him to prevent the disputes between the Frankish lords, Bernard decidedly tied his own ambitions and interests to the cause of Raymond, and thus promoted belligerence against what he regarded as common enemies, the Normans.


In 1161, months after Suger’s passing, Bernard of Velay was invested in the archiepiscopalian office of the Holy Land, in Rome, receiving the crown and the regalia from the Pope himself. Thereafter, he voyaged to Constantinople, where he was received by Basileus Manuel Komnenos, before returning to the Outremer.

It is remarkable that the Rhōmaîon Emperor, in this happenstance, seemingly acknowledged Bernard as the Patriarch of Jerusalem, a political move that brought him at odds with the incumbent Patriarch of Constantinople, Luke Chrysoberges. Indeed, ever since the First Crusade resulted in the establishment of the so-called Latin Patriarchate, as a parallel entity in relation to the already existent Greek Patriarchate, the Komnenoi Emperors since Alexios I had never recognized the Latin Archbishops of Jerusalem as genuine Patriarchs positioned in the ecclesiastical system of the “Pentarchy” - inasmuch the western Popes had long since rejected the pentarchic model, propped as they were in the doctrine of the universal preeminence of the See of Rome. The Emperors had always sanctioned the election of Greek Patriarchs in Jerusalem from among the ranks of the Orthodox Christians, and this became tacitly accepted by the Catholics, including the Popes, ever since the pontificate of Paschal II, and more especially by the Latin-Levantine churchmen themselves, as they seemed to have realized that the Greek clergy had little relevance in the political, ecclesiastical and institutional affairs of the Outremer. As it happened, the Greek Patriarchs had been politically weak and ineffectual, and thus the Latin Archbishops comfortably referred to their own selves as Patriarchs too in official texts and diplomatic correspondence, all while the court in Constantinople seemingly ignored their pretenses, and reserved official recognition to those elected to the office by the synods of Jerusalem.

Now, likely motivated by the desire of upholding the political suzerainty of the Empire over the Crusader State, it seems that Manuel recognized Bernard as the Latin Patriarch in exchange of ceremonial submission to the throne of Constantinople. To a man like Bernard, whose political ambitions spoke loudly than institutional decorum, the symbolic proskynesis to the Constantinopolitan throne, scantly a couple months after he had been consecrated by the Pope in Rome, was a small price to pay in return for recognition and prestige. Bernard believed that Constantinople was geographically and politically far too detached from the Outremer for him to care about actually upholding the consequences of this arrangement, and it seems that it would prove to be beneficial to him indeed, as it resulted in financial patronage from Manuel to Bernard’s favorite dioceses and abbeys in the Orient and in Provence, and in a new stream of revenue to his own personal estates.

The problem was that there was still an incumbent Orthodox Patriarch of Jerusalem, John IX [Gr: Ioannes], who had been elected by the synod of Jerusalem, and thus Manuel was gravely admonished by Patriarch Luke, who feared the loss of influence of his own see over that of Jerusalem. Unwilling to sustain a dispute with the clergy, Manuel retroceded to his predecessors’ policy and gave recognition to the Greek Patriarch, John IX, who was to remain in office until 1166. Only afterwards, we will see, in another chapter of this chronicle, the rekindling of the ecclesiastical controversy, this time between the Emperor and the Papacy, regarding the doctrine of the Pentarchy.


Vilified by later historians, who ascribe to Archbishop Bernard a large share of the guilt for initiating a decades-long conflict between the Franks in the Outremer, and regarded as a worldly and self-serving individual, it is noting that we lack contemporary descriptions of his personality and motivations. Those who wrote about him in his lifetime, such as Pope Stephen, and his acquaintances in Constantinople, the brothers Hugh and Leo of Tuscany [Hugo Etherianus; Leo Tuscus], left no useful accounts, and thus we must resort to posthumous assessments, biased and judgmental as they are. Bernard is often compared, in his deeds and attitudes, to his predecessor Suger, universally praised as a virtuous and tactful statesman, whose conciliatory position apparently delayed an inevitable war.

Indeed, it should testify against Bernard the fact that, not long after his accession to the archepiscopalian throne, in early 1162, the Franks raised arms, with Raymond II, sided by his partisans from among the Bavarians, the Aquitanians and the Lotharingians, marching against the Normans and their Lombard and French allies. The purported casus belli, according to Isoard of Ganges, a Provençal-speaking scholar, was the breach of the feudal contract towards his liege, the Duke of Galilee and Prince of Jerusalem. There are, however, sources - mainly from England and Sicily, which are more biased towards the Norman-Levantines - that describe Raymond as a tyrant who abused his position and arrogated himself a monarch. It is interesting to note, in any case, that in both of these interpretations, the nodal point was related to the dynamic between the feudal lords of the Outremer, and the role played by the paramount temporal authority, who was supposed to be a primus inter pares and an impartial adjudicator of disputes between the nobles, but never a self-serving autocrat. The same should apply to the Archbishop, being the highest spiritual authority of the realm, but, in Bernard's case, he was partial to those he believed that could help him further his own ambitions.

Raymond, in deploying arms, was swift in movement. It is said that he ordered his men-at-arms and horsemen to gather in the slopes of Mount Carmel, dressed as poor pilgrims, monks and traders, and in this disguise they entered Tyre. Only when some bold knights of their ranks had already entered the city, did they show their arms, overpowering the curtain’s garrisons; afterwards, dressing in armor and joining with their horses, they captured the walls. Within the hour, Count Bohemond was informed of the debacle, but by then Raymond’s men had already forced their entrance and were assembled before the citadel. Such a deception, he realized, had been necessary to avoid a protracted engagement, because Tyre was a formidable stronghold - it was a whole island encircled by walls and sea, with sturdy fortifications, with only a single bridge connecting it to the mainland, famously constructed by Alexander the Great, hundreds of years before the birth of Christ.

Bohemond at first refused to accept surrender, furiously arguing that Raymond had trespassed his demesne, which, according to him, equated to a violation of the protection of his household. Nonetheless, forced to barricade himself and his own retainers in the citadel, Bohemond was in a precarious situation. While the citadel had its own secluded harbor, to facilitate escape by the sea in the event of a land-oriented assault, Raymond had furnished three galleys - all of them aged vessels which had been captured from Cypriot pirates and gifted to the Franks by the late John Komnenos - and blockaded the port of Tyre. The outbreak of the war greatly displeased the Amalfitans and the Sicilians, who had their own quarters and interests in Tyre, but, in spite of their protests, they remained neutral and did not bring succor to the Count of Tyre.

Worse even for Bohemond, the place of assemblage of the soldiers vassal to the Count of Tyre and Sidon was in Cana of Galilee [m. Qana], a small rural settlement a few kilometres to the east, which was rapidly occupied by Raymond’s lieutenant, Viscount William III of Acre. Once again taking advantage of the element of surprise, they ambushed and imprisoned in Cana a group of Norman knights which had hurriedly arrived from the garrison of the Hautcastieu [OTL historical Beaufort Castle]. From there, the Provençals assaulted Sidon - supported by their ally, Count William I of Beirut, the grandson of William IX of Aquitaine -, whose castellan was Bohemond’s fourteen-year old son, also named Bohemond, nicknamed “the Dog-Lover”. Young Bohemond opposed the Provençals and Aquitanians, but Sidon was far less challenging as a siege target than Tyre, and the combined resources of the Duke of Galilee, of his vassals and of the Count of Beirut was enough to force the Norman men-at-arms there positioned to capitulate.

In the span of a couple weeks, Raymond occupied the principal settlements of the County of Tyre and Sidon, and it was a mostly bloodless campaign, only marred by the occurrence of a pitched battle between his army and a levy of Maronite peasants from the rugged Lebanese mountainside, that eagerly joined the side of the Normans in acknowledgment of Bohemond’s special patronage to their communities in detriment of those of the Syrians and Greeks. In spite of this episode, the Maronites did not make any concerted effort to assist Tyre, and neither did Raymond dare threaten their communities, fully aware of their tenacity in battle, and thus the Norman magnate became hopeless.

Bohemond was completely encircled, even within his own city, and had to accept surrender after successive days of starvation, even knowing that his allies had rebelled against Raymond - his cousin Malger, the Viceduke of Transjordania, and Tancred of Damascus, all of whom were, after all, Hauteville dynasts. Neither Malger nor Tancred, however, threatened Raymond’s position in southern Phoenicia, and their sole contribution to the war effort was a series of raids against Raymond’s estates in Galilee and Samaria. To their surprise and dismay, Archbishop Bernard immediately demonstrated his favoritism towards Raymond by issuing an excommunication against both of them for raising arms against Christians, and summoned the other great nobles of the realm to deter them.

Unwilling to oppose the Archbishop, the Normans of Tripoli and Balbec remained neutral, as did other minor nobles, such as the Picard Ebles of Daara and Simon of Montfort, the Constable of Hôumises. Those who had already professed allegiance to Raymond joined him at last, such as Eustache of Tiberias and Henry of Tortosa, and directed their resources against Damascus.


In spite of being allies and relatives, Tancred and Malger campaigned autonomously and never joined forces. Malger was, after all, Tancred’s bastard brother, one who had been legitimized in Roger’s late life and been granted an important position in the Outremerine feudal society, and for this, Tancred, who had expected to receive the fief of Transjordania as part of the inheritance of Damascus, never forgave their father nor his baseborn sibling.

Malger was an experienced and accomplished commander, but he lacked the necessary resources and manpower to win this war. Using the castle of Iverbint [mod. Irbid] as a base, he mustered a force of horsemen and men-at-arms from among loyal Normans, Lombards and Burgundians, among those that composed the garrison of the marcher strongholds of Transjordania, as well as levies of Syrians and Arabs that formed the agricultural backbone of the region. At first, he moved to relieve Tyre, but, with the knowledge that Raymond’s forces were occupying the city, he opted to move into Galilee and Samaria, and assailed the forts of the region. Lacking the means to prosecute sieges, he gave up after being impeded from entering Nablus, and went directly to Jerusalem, but, upon arriving there, he was deterred by the Archbishop Bernard himself, who, dressed in armor and helm, cursed Malger and threatened him with battle. Afterwards, Malger’s army went to the sea, and wrought havoc in the villages submitted to the rule of Caesarea, stealing supplies, cattle and expelling the peasants from the land.

His strategy is fairly difficult to comprehend, in light of his movements; perhaps he intended to create a diversion to attract Raymond, or to force him to divide his forces, and relieve Bohemond. In any case, he was unsuccessful, and failed to prevent Bohemond’s defeat and capitulation.

On the other hand, regarding Damascus, it seems that Tancred, likely dismayed by the submission of Tyre, lacked spirit to wage war, but was later on persuaded by his warlike spouse, the Anglo-Norman dame Mabel of England [Norm. Mabel FitzRobert], to arm his knights and sergeants, and oppose the enemy. This explains why he did not raise his banners, but closed Damascus off to Raymond and withstood the siege, perhaps expecting to be relieved by Malger or other collaborators.

When he realized that Malger was waging war on his own terms, Tancred, desperate at the sight of Raymond, Eustace and Henry’s combined armies, demanded trial by combat, but this was too refused, and Raymond in various instances attempted to overcome the defenses and storm the walls, but Damascus had been transformed in a veritable stronghold by Tancred’s father Roger. In spite of his numerical superiority, Raymond failed to take Damascus by force, and thus resolved to set camp and encircle the city until its denizens succumbed to starvation.


Now, it was in late 1162 that the ambassadors of Constantinople came to Raymond and alerted him about Emperor Manuel Komnenos’ imminent coming to the Holy Land, a change of events that greatly surprised him.

And, indeed, in the month of October, before the coming of winter, the Rhōmaiōn monarch arrived in Jerusalem, having come overland from the route of pilgrimage of Antioch, and assisted by an impressive cortege of military and civilian officials and dignitaries. While Manuel proclaimed to have come to the Holy City to witness the sacrossanct places, to meet the realm of Christ, and to practice penitence before the sight of God, he immediately intervened in the war and demanded that both parties laid down their arms. In this case, perhaps Raymond was as shocked as Tancred by Manuel’s interference, because he admonished the Franks for their violence and intemperance, one that offended Christian principles and norms.

In an effort to quell the insurgence, Manuel convened an ad hoc tribunal, presided by himself, and attended by various dignitaries from both the realms of the Latins and the Greeks.

While the sources do not explain details of the proceeding, we can assume that the event - the first one of its kind since the foundation of the Crusader State - produced no little discomfort to the Frankish lords, who had become used to see the Greek Emperors as distant, albeit relevant, authority figures.

Manuel’s predecessor John had visited Jerusalem decades before, but this one Imperial visitation made a much different impression on the Franks. Manuel did not spare resources to elevate his image, presenting himself as a quasi-divine potentate, and the true earthly sovereign over the Holy Land.

Sat in a prefabricated gilded throne, decorated with peacock feathers and precious gems, clad in gold, purple silk and jewelled accessories, the Latin grandees were compelled to pay homage and to kneel to their supposed temporal sovereign, and neither Raymond nor Tancred were exempted from the act of proskynesis. If Manuel was a pilgrim, he was certainly the less humble one to visit the realm of Christ and the apostles, because, even while performing the traditional acts of penitence, in the Temple of Solomon, in the Church of the Apostles, and in the River Jordan, which were supposed to evoke an image of humility, the Rhōmaiōn Basileus never shed his own personal authority and gravitas, and positioned himself as the highest and most dignified lay authority in the processions and ceremonies that composed the pilgrimage itinerary.

Now, when Tancred, Count of Damascus, saw himself unexpectedly a defendant in this judicial court installed by the Emperor, he, believing in the righteousness of the customs of the Franks of Normandy, pleaded once again for a trial by combat. This time, his request was conceded, because, even if the law of the Rhōmaiōi did not recognize it, the law of the Franks did, and the Emperor respected their ways.

Tancred argued that his honor had been tarnished by Raymond’s accusations levied against him, and resolved to a duel. His chosen champion was a certain Reginald, called “the Foul-Handed” a knight-errant that had come from Normandy to Jerusalem, in the retinue of Lady Mabel, to expiate his sins of having murdered a priest, while Raymond elected to his cause the young knight Blacas, Castellan of Bersheba. The duel resulted, this time, in Tancred’s victory, and thus the court acquiesced with his claim and acknowledged his honor, absolving him from his offenses.

Malger maintained the hostilities until December until he was defeated in battle by Raymond’s knights.

While Malger was deposed, Bohemond abdicated in favor of his son, now crowned Bohemond III of Tyre and Sidon. Both of them departed, then, to Italy, in exile.

Afterwards, as we will see in other passages, the Emperor of the Rhōmaiōi summoned the Franks and other allies to gather to wage a new war against the realm of Egypt, the one supposed to bring the Shi’ite Caliphate to heel.

In the next chapter: the Rhōmaiōn and the Franks prepare for an invasion of Fatimid Egypt.
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Good to hear that you are doing better after what you had to experience.
I love the next chapter and am looking forward to more, however long it may take
Damn Bernard and Raymond left Manuel with a great hand -- this is the first time the Crusaders have really seemed like vassals to the Emperor. Wonder who is going to end up with the Transjordan -- certainly not Tancred. The Norman party seems to be politically weak at the worst time -- Damascus may be secure but the Provencal-Roman alliance is ascendant and invading the best source of new land the Crusaders are ever going to get. Wonder if wider Europe will involve itself as the war becomes apparent.

Great to see you and this excellent TL back!
Well on the bright side I can't see this internal conflict being any worse than the Fourth Crusade of OTL. Anyways glad this TL is back and I'm glad you're getting better. I continue to hope for the best for you, your wife, and your loved ones! I do have some questions to ask if that is ok:
  1. How will the Angevin Empire fare this time?
  2. What will happen to Sicily?
  3. Does Bulgaria gain independence?
  4. Anything different going on in Iberia in terms of the Reconquista?
  5. Will Barbarossa's war against the Italian city states be different?
  6. Will Frederick Barbarossa, Richard the Lionheart, and Philip II of France get involved in the Holy Land as in OTL?
  7. How will the Kurds fare in this TL?
  8. Will the Crusaders/Rhomanians get into contact with the Assyrians? And what happens when they do?
  9. Will the Christian Caucasian states (or factions) get involved with the crusades? Like will they work with Rhomania/Outremer to throw out the Muslims? In fact will anything different happen in the Caucasus?
  10. Will the schism between the Catholic/Orthodox churches be successfully healed?
  11. Is the Livonian Crusade any different?
  12. Will the Swiss Confederation form?
  13. Will there be a second war between the HRE and the Papacy like OTL?
  14. What will happen to the Normans in this TL?
  15. Without the disastrous Fourth Crusade will Rhomania expand into the Balkans more successfully?
  16. Does the HRE not get so decentralized as it did in OTL thanks to the more successful crusades?
  17. Anything in the Kievan Rus that happens different than OTL? Will they also participate in a crusade in the Caucasus/Middle East?
I'm really glad to see you and this wonderful timeline are back Rdffigueira.

This crusader civil war while deeply unfortunate, was probably inevitable given the growing discord between the Normans and the Occitans. Hopefully this feud isn't too destructive and settles many of their internal disputes, but I'm not very optimistic given the bad history between them. On the plus side though, the Provencals seem to be solidifying their grip on the region, so maybe this conflict will help them long term by consolidating the country under them.
As the others have said, I'm also really glad to see you're doing better, and that you're back!

This timeline is one of my favourites, and surely one of the most enjoyable to read not only on the before-1900 section, but on the entire site, and I'm sure several others will agree.

PS. So far I've absolutely adored the descriptions of the Basileus' entrances into the Holy City. Manuel's entrance was very good, but John's was just amazing.
Will Barbarossa's war against the Italian city states be different?
Will Frederick Barbarossa, Richard the Lionheart, and Philip II of France get involved in the Holy Land as in OTL?
That's butterflied already.

As it goes, the Welf dynasty is keeping the imperial throne after Lothair II with Henry the Lion ascending I believe.
And the ATL Philip II has already gone to the Levant during this TL's Second Crusade; that's the OTL elder brother of Louis VII. If I remember, the OTL Louis VII has ITTL entered the ranks of the Church, so he isn't going to have any son.
As for Richard, if he is still born, he is probably not going to be the same. From memory, William Adelin has lived to become King of England, butterflying the unification with Angevin domains, and Aquitaine's ducal dynasty has continued as well. So, no Lionheart as we know him.

Without the disastrous Fourth Crusade will Rhomania expand into the Balkans more successfully?
They were already doing good under Manuel IOTL, bringing Hungary into their sphere of influence if I remember correctly. Unless the Angeloi dynasty still rise on the throne and screw things up as they did IOTL, it's probable the Byzantines will keep strengthening as their Anatolian border is much more secure.
Nothing like a Crusade and the Roman Emperor visiting Jerusalem to stop the Latins from duking it out against each other. What's the game plan for Egypt? Are the Byzantines intending to re-incorporate it to the Empire? Turn it into a client state under a Latin ruler?
Oh boy. Manuel isn’t playing around. Based off of one of the earlier chapters it still doesn’t seem like he’ll be an amazing emperor but I hope I’m wrong. Because damn he put the Franks in their place and definitely acted like a liege lord here.

Real glad to see the normans not win out here. Although at least bohemond’s line still retains Tyre.