Soon after the death of Manuel Komnenos in 1180, the Byzantine court degenerated into a farcical display of court intrigue, murder and palace coups. The esteem enjoyed by the empire under the early Komnenoi dissipated quickly as Manuel’s querulous successors allowed foreign armies to rampage through the provinces and the state to slide into bankruptcy. The Byzantine Empire finally collapsed. In 1204, Constantinople was seized and plundered by a Crusader army seeking to recoup outstanding debts; the provinces were broken up into a series of minor principalities.
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