The history of French-speaking settlers and settlements in the area previously known as the Byzantine Empire begins in 1204, with the Fourth Crusade and the capture of Constantinople by French and Venetian crusading forces. The original goal of these conquerers was to recapture territiories that had been lost to the Muslims in the Holy Land, but a diversion of the crusade led to the eventual division of eastern Christian lands among the invading western Christian forces, documented in a treaty called the Partitio Romaniae. The most famous French-language sources for this enterprise are the Chronique de la prise de Constantinople par les Francs, written by Geoffrey Villehardouin while he was still living in the East, and the Conquete de Constantinople, written in France by Robert de Clari. A third French-language history, Les Estoires de Venise by Martin da Canal, also features a lengthy description of the capture of Constantinople during the fourth crusade, although it was written in Venice, not Outremer.
In the initial years after the Crusade, western forces, and the French in particular, claimed dominion over a vast expanse of territory. Over time, French influence over many of these areas waned, but in others the French culture French language flourished. French language texts were produced in many areas, but the bulk of the evidence comes from the island of the Morea and its dependancies.
Click here for an introduction to the Morea and the texts produced there.
Michael Angold, “The Latin Empire of Constantinople, 1204-1261: Marriage Stategies,” in Identities and Allegiances in the Eastern Mediterranean after 1204, ed. Judith Herrin and Guillaume du Saint Guillain (Farnham, 2011), 47-68.
Charles du Fresne du Cange, Histoire de l’empire de Constantinople sous les empereurs français, ed. Jean Alexandre Buchon, Collection des chroniques nationales Françaises 1-2 (Paris, 1826)
Erica Jo Gilles, “Nova Francia?”: Kinship and identity among the Frankish aristocracy in conquered Byzantium, 1204-1282 (Phd Dissertation, Princeton University, 2010)
Jean Longon, L’empire Latin du Constantinople et la principauté de Morée (Paris, 1949)
_______________, Les compagnons de Villehardouin: recherches sur les croisés de la IVe croisade (Geneva, 1978)
Guy Perry, John of Brienne: King of Jerusalem, Emperor of Constantinople, c. 1175-1237 (Cambridge, 2013)
Teresa Shawcross, The Chronicle of the Morea: Historiography in Crusader Greece (Oxford, 2009)
___________“Conquest Legitimised: The Making of a Byzantine Emperor in Crusader Constantinople (1204-1261),” in Between Byzantines and Turks: Understanding the Late Medieval Eastern Mediterranean World, ed J. Harris, C. Holmes and E. Russell, (Oxford, 2012), 181-219.
__________, “Greeks and Franks after the Fourth Crusade: Identity in the Chronicle of Morea,” in Languages of Love and Hate: Conflict, Communication, and Identity in the Medieval Mediterranean, ed. S. Lambert and H. Nicholson, (Turnhout, 2012), 141-57.
Filip van Tricht, The Latin Renovatio of Byzantium: the Empire of Constantinople (1204-1228) The Medieval Mediterranean 90 (Leiden, 2011)
__________, “Robert of Courtenay (1221-7): An Idiot on the Throne of the Constantinople?” Speculum 88:4 (2013), 996-1034.
Robert Lee Wolff, “Baldwin of Flanders and Hainaut. First Latin Emperor of Constantinople: His Life, Death, and Resurrection, 1172-1225,” Speculum 27 (1952), 281-332.
___________, “The Latin Empire of Constantinople, 1204-1261,” in A History of the Crusades, ed. Kenneth M. Setton 2 (Philadelphia, 1962), 187-233