The Byzantine empire’s fortunes were always ebbing and flowing – at times seeming as if they could turn back the tides of Bulgars and Turks. But after a massive defeat at the Battle of Manzikert, the eastern christian empire’s future looked very bleak. So, even in spite of their suspicions of the west and the papacy, the emperor issued a plea for help. This action sparked two centuries of crusade in the east. Unfortunately for the Byzantine empire, these crusades would leave it fatally weakened – largely at the hands of the crusaders, more than the Saracens.