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==Andronicus and the reform of the Empire==
Andronicus was an able general and had proven himself to be a competent administrator. He was aware that the great Byzantine magnates had grown too powerful and were acting like independent lords especially in Asia Minor. They were subverting the power of the state and exploiting the peasantry. Furthermore, they were not paying tax, seizing public land and creating a feudal system. Then the bureaucracy had become very corrupt and often extorted money and goods from the common people. Andronicus did improve the government and ended many abuses, despite his cruelty. His reign according to the great British historian Gibbon, ‘exhibited a singular contrast of vice and virtue. When he listened to his passions, he was the scourge; when he consulted his reason, the father, of his people’ <ref> Gibbon, Edward, Decline, and Fall of the Roman Empire (London, Penguin, 1968), chapter 48</ref>. It does seem that Andronicus wanted to reform the state and end the growing feudalism in Asia Minor and extend central control over the localities. However, his death ended any hopes of change and the Byzantine nobility, increasingly became feudal lords and this weakened the Byzantine state.
[[File: Andronicus Two.jpeg|200px|thumb|left|King William II of Sicily]
==The invasion of William I==
The Normans had arrived in Southern Italy as mercenaries and they eventually created a powerful kingdom in southern Italy. They had ambitions to conquer the Byzantine Empire and the great city of Constantinople<ref> Gibbon, chapter 48</ref>. The great Norman leader Robert Guiscard had invaded and ravaged the Balkans in the 1080s. Andronicus I reign of terror, plunged the Empire into chaos and William II saw his opportunity. The bloody Emperor’s son-in-law was in control of large areas of the Balkans. He was as cruel as Andronicus and terrorized many cities and when the Normans invaded from southern Italy the local communities welcomed them as liberators. The Normans easily took the Western Balkans and most of Greece and after they sacked Thessalonica, they marched on Constantinople. Andronicus defense of the city was totally inadequate and this led to the revolt that ended with his death. It fell to his successor Isaac Angelos to retrieve the situation <ref>Gibbon, chapter 48</ref>. The Byzantines were fortunate as the mainly mercenary army of William disintegrated in a series of counter-attacks. Andronicus’ policies had almost led to the destruction of the Empire, which his grandfather, Alexios I, has saved in the aftermath of the disaster at Manzikert <ref> Norwich, p 119</ref>.