The Fourth Crusade 1204:
Complete texts and noted from Dana C. Munro, "The Fourth
Crusade ", Translations and Reprints from the Original
Sources of European History, Vol 3:1, (Philadelphia: University
of Pennsylvania, [n.d.] 189?), 1-18
I. PREPARATIONS FOR THE CRUSADE
- 1. The Compact with the Venetians
- 2. The Compact of the Venetians with the Sultan of Babylon
- 3. The Crusaders unable to pay the Venetians
II. THE DIVERSION TO ZARA
- 1. The New Agreement with the Venetians
- 2. The Capture of Zara
III. DIVERSION TO CONSTANTINOPLE
- 1. The Summons to Alexis
- 2. The Proposition Made by King Philip
- 3. The Discussion after the Arrival of Alexis.
IV. DIFFICULTIES WITH ALEXIS
- 1. The First Payment
- 2. The Public Defiance
- 3. The Doge's Threat.
V. THE SACK OF CONSTANTINOPLE
- l. The Sermons before the final Attack on Constantinople
- 2. The Compact of Division
- 3. Account of the Sack
- 4. Abbot Martin's Theft of Relies
- 5. List of Relics Stolen by Abbot Martin
I. THE PREPARATIONS FOR THE
Taught by the experience of the earlier crusaders, the barons
resolved to go by sea. Venice was the city that seemed most able
to furnish sufficient vessels. Accordingly, Villehardouin and
five other ambassadors were sent to make a bargain with the Venetians.
The official compact is given in full in Muratori:- Rerum Italicaruni
Scriptores, vol. xii, 323, and in Bouquet: Rerum Gallicarum
et Francicarum Scriptores, VOl. xviii, 436. The most
important difference between that and Villehardouin's version
is that, according to the compact, the expedition was to start
on St. Peter and St. Paul's day.
For the events preliminary to the crusade, as well as for all
the matters connected with it, consult Pears' excellent book, The Fall of Cciistantinople.
The second extract relates to one of the most hotly debated subjects
connected with the crusade. Did Venice treacherously make a treaty
with the sultan of Egypt? If she did, her conduct and the diversion
of the crusade are more easily explained. Pears, pp. 263 ff, believes such a treaty was made, and quotes references to
support his view. But Wailly, in a very able discussion, pp- 431
ff, brings out the difficulty in reconciling the dates, and endeavors
to show that this L'Estoire de Eracles is entirely untrustworthy.
Consult also Heyd: Levantehandel, 1, 292 ff. and 4440 ff - [note (1997): Almost all modern scholars dismiss the
notion of any compact between Venice and Egypt].
The third extract is self-explanatory. Villehardouin and Robert
de Clari are the most important authorities for the fourth crusade.
The first was one of the leaders and gave an official, "inspired"
account. The second was one of the poorer knights and is especially
useful as he told what the bulk of the army knew and thought,
and enables us to check the statements of Villehardouin.
1. The compact with the Venetians.
Villehardouin: Conquête de Constantinople,
ch. iv, v, vi, Nos. 18, 24, 30 Old French.
18. " Sire, we have come to you in behalf of the noble barons
of France who have taken the cross in order to avenge the shame
of Jesus Christ and to reconquer Jerusalem, if God will permit.
And because they know no people who are as able to assist them
as you and your people, they pray you, for God's sake, to pity
the land of Outi-e-miter and the shame of Jesus Christ,
and to endeavor to furnish them transports and ships of war."
19. " Under what conditions?" asked the doge.
" Under any conditions that you may propose or advise, if
they are able to fulfill them," replied the messengers.
" Certainly," replied the doge, [to his associates]
" it is a great undertaking that they have asked of us and
they seem to be considering an important matter;" [to the
messengers] " we will give you an answer in a week, and do
not wonder if the time seems long, for such a great undertaking
deserves much thought."
20. At the time fixed by the doge, they returned to the
palace. I can not tell you all that was said, but the conclusion
of the conference was as follows:
" My lords," said the doge, " we will tell you
what we have decided, if we can get the Grand Council and the
people of the country to agree to it; and you shall decide whether
you can fulfill your part.
21. " We will furnish huissiers [vessels having a door - huis - in the stern, which could take in horses] for
carrying 4,500 horses and 9,000 esquires, and vessels for 4,500
knights and 20,000 foot-soldiers. The agreement shall be
to furnish food for nine months for all these horses and men.
That is the least that we will do, on condition that we are paid
four marks per horse and two marks per man.
22. "And we will observe all these conditions which
we explain to you, for one year, beginning the day we leave the
harbor of Venice to fight in the service of God and of Christianity,
wherever we may go. The sum of these payments indicated above
amounts to 85,000 marks.
23. "And we will do still more: we will add fifty armed galleys,
for the love of God; on the condition that as long as our alliance
shall last, of every conquest of land or money that we make, by
sea or land, we shall have one-half and you the other. Now deliberate
whether you can fulfill these conditions."
24. The messengers went away, saying that they would talk it over
and reply the next day. They consulted and discussed that night
and then resolved to agree to it. The next day they went to the
doge and said: " Sire, we are ready to make this agreement."
The doge said that he would speak to his people and tell them
30 It was explained in council that they would go to Babylon,
[i.e. Cairo] be-cause at Babylon they could do more injury to
the Turks than anywhere else. And in public it was announced that
they would go across the sea. It was then Lent [March, 1201],
and on St. John's day the following year, the 1202nd year after
the Incarnation of Jesus Christ, the barons and pilgrims were
to be at Venice and the vessels were to be ready on their arrival.
2. Compact of the Venetians with the Sultan of
L'Estoire de Eracles Empereur, xxviii, 2, in Recueil des historiens des Croisades, hist. OCC., 11, 251-252.
[A. D. 1199?] After this he [the sultan of Babylon] summoned messengers
and servants and sent them to Venice, loaded with great wealth
and great riches. He sent them to the doge and gave beautiful
presents to the Venetians, and commanded the latter, if they could
do so, not to go to the land of Egypt; he would give them great
treasures and many privileges in the port of Alexandria. The messengers
went to Venice, did as they were commanded, and returned as quickly
3. The crusaders unable to pay the Venetians.
Robert de Clari: La Prise de Constantinople, xi and
xii, in Hopf: Chroniques Gréco-Romanes, pp. 7-9.
While the pilgrims were staying on the island
of St. Nicholas the doge of Venice and the Venetians went to speak
to them and demanded the pay for the navy which had been prepared.
And the doge said to them that they had acted wrongly in commanding
through their messengers that vessels should be prepared for 4,000
knights and their equipment, and for 1000,000 foot- soldiers.
Of these 4,000 knights, there were not more than 1,000 present,
for the others had gone to other ports. And of these 100,000 foot-soldiers
there were not more than 50,000 or 60,000. "Nevertheless,"
said the doge, " we want you to pay us the sum which you
promised." When the crusaders heard this, they debated and
arranged that each knight should pay four marks and four marks
for each horse, and each esquire two marks; and those who paid
less, should pay one mark. When they collected this money, they
paid it to the Venetians. But 50,000 marks still remained due.
When the doge and the Venetians saw that the pilgrims bad not
paid more, they were all so incensed that the doge said to the
pilgrims: "My lords, you have imposed upon us shamefully.
For, as soon as your messengers had made the agreement with me
and my people, I issued orders throughout my whole land that no
merchant should undertake a voyage, but all were to aid in preparing
this fleet. They have been waiting ever since and have gained
nothing for the last year and a half; and, accordingly, they have
lost much. Therefore my men and I want you to pay us the money
which you owe us. if you do not pay us, you shall not leave this
island before we get our money; and no one shall bring you anything
to eat or drink." The doge, however, was a very excellent
man and did not prevent the people from bringing enough food and
XII. When the count and the crusaders heard what the doge
said they were much troubled and grieved. They made another collection
and borrowed all the money they could from those who were thought
to have any. They paid it all to the Venetians, but after this
payment 36,000 marks still remained due. They said to the Venetians
that they had been imposed upon; that the army was greatly impoverished
by this last collection; that they could not pay any more money
at all, for they had hardly enough to support the army.
When the doge perceived that they could not pay all the money
and that they were in sore straits, he said to his people: "
Sirs, if we let these people go back to their own country, we
shall always be considered base and tricky. Let us go to them
and say that, if they are willing to pay us the 36,000 marks which
they owe us out of their part of the first conquests which we
make, we will carry them across the sea." The Venetians were
well pleased with the doge's proposition. Accordingly, they went
to the camp of the pilgrims. When they came thither, the doge
said to the crusaders: " Sires, we have agreeed, I and my
people, that if you are willing to guarantee faithfully to pay
us the 36,000 marks, which you owe us, out of your share of the
first conquests, we will carry you across the sea."
When the crusaders heard what the doge proposed they were very
glad and fell at his feet for joy. They bound themselves very
willingly to do faithfully what the doge had proposed. They were
so joyous that night that there was no one so poor that he did
not make a great illumination, and each one carried great torches
made of candles on the end of his lance, both outside of the camp
and inside, so that the whole army seemed intoxicated.
II. THE DIVERSION TO ZARA
According to Robert de Clari there were two separate propositions
made by the doge; the one, given above, which was received so
joyfully, and a second, given below, which was kept secret. Villehardouin
would have us understand that there was but one proposition, namely,
to capture Zara. In fact, the official account given by Villehardouin
differs in many respects from the non-official versions of Robert,
Gunther and others. Gunther, ch. vi, describes how unwilling many
were to go to Zara. The Pope, Who had learned something of the
plan, protested vigorously against an attack on a Christian city.
We see clearly from Villehardouin's own account, given in the
second extract, that there were many in the army opposed to the
1 . The new agreement with the Venetians
Robert de Clari, xiii, in Hopf: Chroniques, p. 9. Old
Afterwards the doge came to the army and said: " Sirs, it
is now winter, we cannot cross the sea, nor does this depend upon
me. For I would have had you cross already, if it had not depended
upon you. But let us do the best we can. There is a city near
here, named Zara. The people of this city have done us much evil,
and I and my men want to punish them, if we can. If you will take
my advice, we will go there this winter and stay until Easter.
Then we will make ready our navy and go to Outremer at Lady-day.
The city of Zara is very rich and well supplied with all kinds
of provisions." The barons and the nobles among the crusaders
agreed to what the doge proposed. But no one in the army knew
this plan, except the leaders.
2. The capture of Zara.
Villehardouin, ch. xvii-xviii, Nos. 8o-84, 86. Old French.
80. The day after the feast of St. Martin, [Nov 12, 1202] some
people from Zara came to speak to the doge of Venice, who was
in his tent. They said to him that they would surrender the city
and all their property to his mercy, if their lives were spared.
The doge said that he would not accept these or any other conditions
without the advice of the counts and barons, and that he would
go and discuss the matter with them.
81. While he went to talk to the counts and barons, that party,
of which I have already spoken, who wanted to break up the army,
said to the messengers: " Why do you want to surrender your
city? The pilgrims will not attack you and you have nothing to
fear from them. If you 6n defend yourselves against the Venetians,
you need have no anxiety." And they sent one of them, Robert
de Boves, who went to the walls of the city and announced the
same thing. So the messengers returned to the city and the plan
of surrender was given up.
82. The doge of Venice, when he came to the counts and barons,
said to them : " Sirs, the people yonder want to surrender
the city to My mercy, on condition that their lives be spared.
But I will not make this agreement or any other without your advice."
The barons replied: " Sire, we advise you to make this agreement
and we pray you to do so." He said he would, and they all
went back together to the doge's tent to make this agreement.
They found that the messengers had gone away, following the advice
of those who wanted to break up the army.
83. Then the abbot of Vaux of the order of Citeaux rose and said
to them : " Sirs, I forbid you, in the name of the Pope at
Rome, to attack this city ; for the inhabitants are Christians
and you are pilgrims." When the doge heard this he was much
irritated and troubled. He said to the counts and barons: "
Sirs, this city was practically in my power, and your people have
taken it from me; you had promised that you would aid me in conquering
it; now I require you to do so."
84. Then the counts and barons and those who belonged to their
party held a conference and said. " Those who have prevented
this agreement have committed a very great outrage, and it was
not right for them to try to break up the army. Now we shall be
disgraced, if we do not aid in capturing the city. They went to
the doge and said to him : " Sire, we will aid you in capturing
the city, in spite of those who wish to prevent it."
86. Accordingly the city was surrendered to the mercy of the doge
of Venice, on condition that the lives of the inhabitants should
be spared. Then the doge went to the counts and barons and said
to them : " Sirs, we have conquered this city, by the grace
of God and through your aid. It is now wintei and we can not leave
here until Easter. For we should find no provisions elsewhere;
and this city is very rich and very well supplied with everything
needful. Let us divide it accordingly into two parts; we will
take one-half of it and you the other half."
III. THE DIVERSION TO CONSTANTINOPLE
Pears, in his preface and on pp. 267 ff, discusses the causes
of the diversion and gives the most important references. But
as he has formed his own conclusions and argues for his own belief,
consult also Tessier, La Diversion stir Zara et Constantinople. Paris: 1884. Streit- Venedig und die Wendung des vierten
Kreuzzuges gegen Constanitinopel. Anklam, 1877, Winkelniann: Philip Von Schwaben und Otto IV. Von Braunschweig, Vol. I, Leipzig, 1873- (Jahrbüicher der deutschen Geschichle.)
[(1997) Now see: Donald Queller: The Fourth Crusade, and
bibliography in Jonathan Riley-Smith, The Crusades.]
1. The summons to Alexis.
Robert de Clari, xvi-xvii, in Hopf: Chroniques, pp.
11-12. Old French.
XVI. In the meantime the crusaders and the Venetians remained
at Zara during the winter. They considered how great the expense
had been and said to one another that they could not go to Babylon
or Alexandria or Syria; for they had neither provisions nor money
for the journey. They had already used up everything they had,
either during the sojourn that they had made or in the great price
that they had paid for the vessels. They said that they could
not go and, even if they should go, they would accomplish nothing;
they had neither provisions nor money sufficient to support them.
XVII. The doge of Venice saw clearly that the pilgrims
were ill at 't ease. He addressed them, saying: " Sirs, Greece
is a very rich land , and bountifully supplied with everything.
If we can find a sufficient excuse for going there and taking
food and other things, so as to recuperate ourselves, it would
seem to me advisable, and then we could easily go across the sea."
Then the marquis [Boniface of Montserat, the leader of the crusades]
h rose and said: " Sir, I was in Germany at the emperor's
[Philip of Swabia] court last Christmas. There I saw a young man
who was the emperor's brother in law. [Alexis IV, brother of Queen
Irene] This young man was the son of the emperor Kyrsac [i.e.
Kyr (Lord) Isaac II Angelos] of Constantinople from whom his brother
had taken the empire of Constantinople by treason. Whoever could
get this young man," said the marquis, " could certainly
go to the land of Constantinople and take provisions and other
things; for this young man is the rightful heir."
2. The proposition made by King Philip.
Villehardouin, ch. xix-xx, Nos, 91-.99. Old French.
91. ... " My lords, king Philip sends us to you and sends
also the son of the emperor of Constantinople, who is his
92. "My lords, says the king, I shall send you my wife's
brother; I place him in the hands of God (may He preserve him
from death!), and in your bands. Since you are fighting for God,
for the right and for justice, you ought, if it lies in your power,
to restore to their inheritance those who have been wrongfully
dispossessed. He [Alexis] will make with you the best agreement
which has ever been made by a1Ay one, and he will give you the
most powerful aid in conquering the land of Outremer.
93- " In the first place, if God permits you to restore him
to his inheritance, he will put all the empire of Romania under
the obedience of Rome, from which it has been separated for a
long time. In the second place, he knows that you have spent your
property and that you are poor; he will give you 200,000 2oo,ooo
marks of silver and provisions for all the members of the army,
humble and noble. He will himself go with you to the land of Babylon
or will send thither with you (if you think it better) 10,000
men at his expense. This service he will perform for you during
one year. And so long as he lives, he will maintain at his own
expense 500 knights in the land of Outremer, to guard the
94 ." My lords, we have full power," said the messengers,
" to make this agreement, if you wish to do so. And be sure
that such a fine offer was never made to any One, and he who refuses
this can have no great desire to conquer." The leaders said
that they would discuss the matter, and an assembly was appointed
for the next day. When, the host had assembled this offer was
presented to them.
95. There it was hotly discussed, "pro and con." The
abbot of Vaux of the order of Citeaux and the party that wanted
to break up the army said that they would not agree to it -, it
was fighting against Christians; they had not set out for this
purpose, but they wanted to go to Syria.
96. The other party replied: "Good sirs, in Syria you can
do nothing, you can see that clearly from those who have left
us and gone to other ports. You know that it is through the land
of Babylon or through Greece that the land of Outremer - will
be reconquered, if it is ever recovered. If we refuse this offer,
we shall always be ashamed."
97. The army was in discord just as you have heard. And do not
wonder that the laymen could not agree; for the white monks of
the order of Citeaux in the army were also in discord. The abbot
of Loos, who was a very holy and excellent man, and the other
abbots who agreed with him, preached to the people and cried out
to them to have mercy, saying that, for God's sake, they ought
to keep the army together and to make this agreement; " for
it is the best means of recovering the land of Outremer." And the abbot of Vaux in his, turn, and those who agreed with
him, preached very frequently and said that that was all wrong;
that they ought to go to the land of Syria and do what they could.
98. Then the marquis Boniface of Montferrat, Baldwin, count of
Flanders and Hainault, count Louis and count Hugh of St. Pol and
those who belonged to their party went and said that they would
make this agreement; for they would be ashamed to refuse it. So,
they went to the doge's lodging and the messengers were summoned..
They concluded the agreement, just as you have heard it above,
by their oaths and by sealed compacts.
99. And in regard to this matter, the book tells you that there
were only twelve of the French who made their oaths; and they
could not get any more. Of these, the first was the marquis of
Montferiat, count. Baldwin of Flanders, count Louis of Blois and
Chartres, the count of, St. Pol, and eight others who agreed with
them. So the compact was. made, the securities given, and the
time fixed when the heir of Constantinople should come; it was
to be a fortnight after Easter.
3. The discussion after the arrival of A1exis
Robert de Clari, xxxiii, in Hopf: Chroniques, p. 24.
Then all the barons of the army and the Venetians were summoned.
When they had all assembled, the doge of Venice rose and said
t them: " My lords, we have now a sufficient excuse for going
t Constantinople, if you think it wise, for we have the lawful
heir." Now some who did not want to go to Constantinople,
spoke thus: " Bah! what are we going to do at Constantinople?
We have our pilgrimage to make and intend to go to Babylon or
Alexandria. Our ships are rented for only one year and the year
is already half over."
The others said in reply: " What are we going to do at Babylon
or Alexandria, since we have neither provisions nor money enough
to go? It is better to go where we have a sufficient excuse for
obtaining money and provisions by conquest, than to go where we
shall die of hunger. Then we can do it, and he offers to go with
us and to pay for our ships and our navy another year at his own
expense." An the marquis of Montferrat did all in his power
to urge our going to Constantinople, because he wished to take
vengeance for a wrong which the emperor of Constantinople had
IV. THE DIFFICULTIES WITH ALEXIS
It had been very easy for Alexis in exile to make great promises.
When his father was replaced on the throne and he himself was
crowned co-emperor, they found it absolutely impossible to fulfill
the conditions which Alexis had offered, and to which Isaac had
been obliged to agree.
1. The first payment.
Robert de Clari, Ivi, in Hopf: Chroniques, pp. 46-47-
Afterwards all the barons assembled one day at the palace of the
emperor [Alexis - the crusaders rarely speak of Isaac as emperor]
and demanded of him their pay. He replied that he would pay them,
but he wished first to be crowned. Accordingly they made preparations
and set a day for the coronation. On that day he was crowned emperor
with due ceremony, with the consent of his father, who willingly
granted it. After he had been crowned the barons demanded their
pay. He said he would very willingly pay what he could and at
that time he paid 100,000 marks. Of this sum the Venetians -received
one-half; for they were to receive one-half of the conquests.
Of the 50,000 which remained, 36,000, which the Franks still owed
for the vessels, were paid to the Venetians. And all those who
had advanced money to pay for the passage were paid out of the
14,000 marks which the pilgrims had left.
2. The public defiance
Villehardouin, ch. xlvi, Nos. 212-215- Old French.
212. They dismounted from their horses at the gate, entered the
palace and found the emperor Alexis and the emperor Isaac, his
father, seated upon two thrones, side by side. Near them was seated
the empress, who was the father's wife, the son's step-mother,
and the sister of the king of Hungary; a beautiful and good lady.
A great 'lumber of nobles were with them; and it certainly seemed
the court of a rich prince.
213. According to the agreement with the other messengers,[Villehardouin
was one of the messengers] Conon of Bethune, who was very rich
and very eloquent, spoke: " Sire, we have been sent to you
by the barons of the army and by the doge of Venice. Know that
they reproach you because of the great service which they have
done you, which everybody knows and which is apparent to you.
You have sworn to them, you and your father, to keep the agreement
that you have made with them; and they have your written compact.
You have not kept your agreement with them as you ought.
214. " They have summoned you many times, and we summon yon
in their name, before all your barons, to keep the agreement which
you have made with them. If you do so, all will be well; if you
do not keep it, know that in the future they will consider you
neither as lord nor as friend ; but they will try to get their
rights in any way they can. They announce to you that they would
injure neither you, nor any one else, before the defiance; for
they have never acted treasonably, and in their country it is
not the custom to do so. You have heard what we have said to you
and you can do as you please."
215- The Greeks marveled much at this defiance and great insult.
They said that no one had ever been so bold before as to defy
the emperor of Constantinople in his own halls. The emperor Alexis
looked savagely at the messengers, and so did all the Greeks,
though they had on many occasions in the past looked very friendly.
3. The Doge's threat
Robert de Clari, lix, in Hopf: Chroniques, pp. 48-49.
At these words the barons left the palace and returned to their
camp. After returning they deliberated upon the course to follow.
Meanwhile they sent two knights to the emperor and demanded again
that he should pay them. He replied to the messengers that he
would pay nothing, he had already paid too much, and that he was
not afraid of any one. He also commanded them to go away and leave
his land; they were to understand that if they did not depart,
he would injure them. Then the messengers went back and told the
barons the emperor's reply. When the barons heard this, they deliberated
as to what they should do. The doge said that he wanted to speak
to the emperor.
He sent a messenger to demand that the emperor should come to
the harbor to speak to him. The emperor went on horseback. The
doge prepared four armed galleys; he went in one and took the
other three for protection. When he was near the shore he saw
the emperor who had come on horseback. He addressed the latter
"Alexis, what do you think you are going to do? Remember
we have raised you from a very humble estate. We have made you
lord and you not keep your agreement with us and crowned you emperor.
Wiill you not keep you agreement with us and will you not do more?"
" No," replied the emperor, " I will not do anything
more." " No?" said the doge, " wretched boy,
we have raised you from the mire,' and we will throw you into
the mire again and be sure that I will do you all the injury that
I can, from this time on."
V. THE SACK OF CONSTANTINOPLE
In spite Of the previous dissensions the crusaders were practically
compelled to act as a unit in the final attack on Constantinople.
Some of those who had been most opposed to the diversion of the
expedition had left the army. The argument employed by the bishops
in the first extract seems to have removed doubts still lingering
in the minds of many.
The compact of division was made before the capture of the city.
Villehardouin's account is followed because it is accurate and
brief. The text is given in Migne: Patrologia Latina, Vol.
215: 517-519, and is reprinted in Tessier: Diversion Sur Zara
et Constantinotle. For further particulars see Pears, 337,
The account of the sack, given by Nicetas, is not exaggerated,
as is proved by the letters of Innocent III. (especially Bk. viii,
EP- 133), and the statement of many other contemporaies; see Riant: Exuviae sacrae Constantinopolitanae, passim. We regret
that we have not space for other extracts from Nicetas, such as
his account of how he saved his future bride when she was being
carried off by a crusader; his description of the statues that
were destroyed (Pears, p 355, translates his account of Helen),
and many other picturesque passages. Gibbon, Ch. LX, can still
be read with profit. Wilken: Geschichte der Kreuzzüge, Vol. V, gives a long account of the destruction of the works
of art in the "Beylagen." References might be
indefinitely multiplied, but Riant: Exuviae contains the
The last two extracts are added because they show so fully the
feelings of the age and give some indication of the immense quantity
of relics brought from Constantinople.
1. The sermons before the final attack on Constantinople.
Robert de Clari, ch. lxxiii-xxiii, in Hopf: Chroniques,
pp. 57-58. Old French.
LXXII. When the pilgrims saw this,[TR has"a course
expression in the original"] they were very angry and
grieved much; they went back from the other side of the harbor
to their lodgings. When the barons had returned and had gotten
ashore, they assembled and were much amazed, and said that it
was on account of their sins that they did not succeed in anything
and could not capture the city. Meanwhile the bishops and the
clergy in the army debated and decided that the war was a righteous
one, and t they certainly ought to attack the Greeks. For formerly
the inhabitants of the city had been obedient to the law of Rome
and now the were disobedient, since they said that the law of
Rome was of n account, and called all who believed in it "
dogs." And the bishop said that for this reason one ought
certainly to attack them, an that it was not a sin, but an act
of great charity.
LXXIII. Then it was announced to all the host that all
the Venetian and every one else should go and hear the sermons
on Sunday morning; [Apr 11, 1204] and they did so. Then the bishops
preached to the army, the bishop of Soissons, the bishop of Troyes,
the bishop of Havestaist [Halberstadt] master Jean Faicette
[De Noyon, chancellor of Baldwin of Flanders], and the abbot of
Loos, and they showed to the pilgrims that the war was a righteous
one; for the Greeks were traitors and murderers, and also disloyal,
since they had murdered their rightful lord, and were worse than
Jews. Moreover, the bishops said that, by the authority of God
and in the name of the pope, they would absolve all who attacked
the Greeks. Then the bishops commanded the pilgrims to confess
their sins and receive the communion devoutly; and said that they
ought not to hesitate to attack the Greeks, for the latter were
enemies of God. They also commanded that all the evil women should
be sought out and sent away from the army to a distant place.
This was done; the evil women were all put on a vessel and were
sent very far away from the army.
2. The combact of division
Villehardouin, ch. li, Nos.. 234-235- Old French.
234 Then the members of the host debated and consulted
upon the best course to pursue. The discussion was long and stormy,
but the following was the result of the deliberation : If God
granted that they should capture the city, all the booty that
was taken should be brought together and divided fairly, as was
fitting. And, if they captured the city, six men should be chosen
from the Franks and six from the Venetians; these were to take
oath upon relics that they would elect as emperor him whom they
should judge to be the most useful for the good of the land. And
he whom they chose as emperor should have one-quarter of all the
conquests both in the city and he should have the palace of the
Lion's mouth outside; and in addition and of Blachern. The other
three-quarters should be divided into two parts, one-half for
the Venetians and one-half for the crusaders. Then twelve from
the wisest of the army of the pilgrims and twelve of the Venetians
should be chosen to divide the fiefs and the offices among the
men and to define the feudal service which each one owed to the
235. This compact was guaranteed and sworn to both by the Franks
and the Venetians, with the condition that any one who wished
could go away within one year from the end of March. Those who
remained in the country must perform the feudal service to the
emperor, as it might be arranged. Then the compact was made and
sworn to and all who should not keep it were excommunicated by
3. Account of the sack.
Nicetas Choniates: Alexii Ducae Imperium, ch. iii-iv,
in Recueil des historiens des Croisades, hist. grec., 1,
How shall I begin to tell of the deeds wrought by these
nefarious men! Alas, the images, which ought to have been adored,
were trodden under foot! Alas, the relics of the holy martyrs
were thrown into unclean places! Then was seen what one shudders
to hear, namely, the divine body and blood of Christ was spilled
upon the ground or thrown about. They snatched the precious reliquaries,
thrust into their bosoms the ornaments which these contained,
and used the broken remnants for pans and drinking cups,-precursors
of Anti-christ, authors and heralds of his nefarious deeds which
we momentarily expect. Manifestly, indeed, by that race then,
just as formerly, Christ was robbed and insulted and His garments
were divided by lot; only one thing was lacking, that His side,
pierced by a spear, should pour rivers of divine blood on the
Nor can the violation of the Great Church [Hagia Sophia] be listened
to with equanimity. For the sacred altar, formed of all kinds
of precious materials and admired by the whole world, was broken
into bits and distributed among the soldiers, as was all the other
sacred wealth of so, great and infinite splendor.
When the sacred vases and utensils of unsurpassable art and grace
and rare material, and the fine silver, wrought with go , which
encircled the screen of the tribunal and the ambo, of admirable
workmanship and the door and many other ornaments, were to be
borne away booty, mules and saddled horses were led to the very
sanctuary of t temple. Some of these which were unable to keep
their footing the splendid and slippery pavement, were stabbed
when they fell, that the sacred pavement was polluted with blood
4. Nay more, a certain harlot, a sharer in their guilt, a minister
the furies, a servant of the demons, a worker of incantations
and poisonings, insulting Christ, sat in the patriarch's seat,
singing an obscene song and dancing frequently. Nor, indeed, were
these crimes committed and others left undone, on the ground that
these were of lesser guilt, the others of greater. But with one
consent all the most heinous sins and crimes were committed by
all with equal zeal. Could those, who showed so great madness
against God Himself have spared the honorable matrons and maidens
or the virgins consecrated to God?
Nothing was more difficult and laborious than to soften by prayers,
to render benevolent, these wrathful barbarians, vomiting forth
bile at every unpleasing word, so that nothing failed to inflame
their fury. Whoever attempted it was derided as insane and a man
of intemperate language. Often they drew their daggers against
any one who opposed them at all or hindered their demands.
No one was without a share in the grief. In the alleys, in the
streets, in the temples, complaints, weeping, lamentations, grief,
t groaning of men, the shrieks of women, wounds, rape, captivity,
t separation of those most closely united. Nobles wandered about
ignominiously, those of venerable age in tears, the rich in poverty.
Thus it was in the streets, on the corners, in the temple, in
the dens, for no place remained unassailed or defended the suppliants.
All places everywhere were filled full of all kinds of crime.
. Oh, immortal God, how great the afflictions of the men, how
great the distress!
4. Abbot Martin's theft of relies.
Gunther: Historia Constantinopolitana, ch. xix, in Riant:
Exuviae, Vol. 104 ff. Latin.
While the victors were rapidly plundering the conquered city,
which was theirs by right of conquest, the abbot Martin began
to cogitate about his own share of the booty, and lest he alone
should remain. empty-handed, while all the others became rich,
he resolved to seize upon plunder with his own sacred bands. But,
since he thought it not meet to handle any booty of worldly things
with those sacred hands, he began to plan how he might secure
some portion of the relics of the saints, of which he knew there
was a great quantity in the city.
Accordingly, having a presentiment of some great result, he took
with him one of his two chaplains and went to a church [The Pantokrator]
which was held in great reverence because in it the mother [Irene,
d. 1124] of the most famous emperor Manuel [Manuel I Komnenos]
had a noble grave, which seemed of importance to the Greeks, but
ours held for naught. There a very great amount of money brought
in from all the surrounding country was stored, and also precious
relics which the vain hope of security had caused them to bring
in from the neighboring churches and monasteries. Those whom the
Greeks had driven out, had told us of this before the capture
of the city. When many pilgrims broke into this church and some
were eagerly engaged in stealing gold and silver, others precious
stones, Martin, thinking it unbecoming to commit sacrilege except
in a holy cause, sought a more retired spot where the very sanctity
of the place seemed to promise that what he desired might be found.
There he found an aged man of agreeable countenance, having a
long and hoary beard, a priest, but very unlike our priests in
his dress. Thinking him a layman, the abbot, though inwardly calm,
threatened him with a very ferocious voice, saying -. " Come,
perfidious old man, show me the most powerful relics you have,
or you shall die immediately." The latter, terrified by the
sound rather than the words, since be heard but did not understand
what was said, and knowing that Martin could not speak Greek,
began in the Romana lingua, [i.e. Greek] of which he knew
a little, to entreat Martin and by soft words to turn away the
latter's wrath, which in truth did not exist. In reply, the abbot
succeeded in getting out a few words of the same language, sufficient
to make the old man understand what he wanted. The latter, observing
Martin's face and dress, and thinking it more tolerable that a
religious man should handle the sacred relics with fear and reverence,
than that worldly men should, perchance, pollute them with. their
worldly hands, opened a chest bound with iron and showed the desired
treasure, which was more grateful and pleasing to Martin than
all the royal wealth of Greece. The abbot hastily and eagerly
thrust in both hands and working quickly, filled with the fruits
of the sacrilege both his own and his chaplain's bosom. He wisely
concealed what seemed the most valuable and departed without opposition.
Moreover what and how worthy of veneration those relics which
the holy robber appropriated were, is told more fully at the end
of this work h When he was hastening to his vessel, so stuffed
full, if I may use the expression, those who knew and loved him,
saw him from their ships as they were themselves hastening to
the booty, and inquired joyfully whether he had stolen anything,
or with what he was loaded down as he walked. With a joyful countenance,
as always, at, with pleasant words he said: " We have done
well." To which they replied: " Thanks be to God."
5. List of relies stolen by Abbot Martin.
Gunther, ch. xxiv, in Riant: Exuviae, Vol. 1, p. 120 ff.
Therefore " Blessed be the Lord God, who only doeth wondrous
things," who in His unspeakable kindness and mercy has looked
upon and made glorious His church at Paris through certain gifts
of His grace, which he deigned to transmit to us through the venerable
man, already so frequently mentioned, abbot Martin. In the presence
of these the church exults and by their protection any soul faithful
to God is aided and assisted. In order that the readers' trust
in these may be strengthened, we have determined to give a partial
First, of the highest importance and worthy of all veneration:
A trace of the blood of our Lord Jesus Christ, which was shed
for redemption of all mankind.
Second, a piece of the cross of our Lord on which the Son of the
Father, the new Adam, sacrificed for us, paid the debt of the
Third, a not inconsiderable piece of St. John, the forerunner
of a Lord.
Fourth, the arm of St. James, the Apostle, whose memory is venerated
by the whole church.
[list not complete: the printed version used for scanning ended
on p. 18]
Dana C. Munro, "The Fourth Crusade ", Translations
and Reprints from the Original Sources of European History,
Vol 3:1, (Philadelphia: University of Pennsylvania, [n.d.] 189?),
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© Paul Halsall December1997