The Fourth Crusade 1202-04: The betrayal of Byzantium by David Nicolle

By David Nicolle

The Fourth campaign was once the 1st and most famed of the 'diverted' crusades, that's, ones diverted from their initially meant aim. It was once additionally the 1st to be directed opposed to a fellow Christian, even though Orthodox, kingdom. firstly preached (from 1198 onwards) as a crusade opposed to Ayyubid Egypt, which was once adequately visible because the so much powerful risk to the Latin or 'Crusader' nation of Jerusalem, its first Christian goal used to be town of Zadar in what's now Croatia. The better a part of the crusading military then attacked the Byzantine capital of Constantinople, back as a part of their duties to Venice. the outcome used to be a siege and the 1st trap of that fab urban in 1203. This identify will spotlight all of the intrigue, deception, and betrayal of this tumultuous Crusade.

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Extra resources for The Fourth Crusade 1202-04: The betrayal of Byzantium (Campaign, Volume 237)

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Since the Byzantines saw their emperor as the supreme overlord of the Christian world and ruler of a Roman Empire that had been blessed by God, his duty was ‘to guard and secure by his ability the powers that he already possesses’. Anything was permissible to achieve this end, and consequently Byzantine behaviour often appeared devious and even duplicitous to outsiders. This was made worse by the weakened Empire’s need for allies, including, where necessary, Muslim rulers such as Saladin. In fact the Byzantine Empire’s greatest strength was now diplomatic rather than military.

The Crusaders would also attack the fortifications along the Golden Horn, which, although considerably weaker than those facing the land, were fronted by open water. Throughout much of Byzantine history the population of the imperial capital disliked having large numbers of troops within their city. As a result Constantinople was normally lightly defended, given its huge size. Furthermore, the cost of maintaining a substantial garrison was high, whereas threats remained rare. What’s more, the presence of large numbers of armed men was seen as a potential threat to the Emperor’s throne.

Declining numbers of paroikoi ‘peasants’ to work the land also reduced its value as a means of raising revenue for the state or for pronoia holders. On a more positive note, the Byzantine army was still renowned for strict discipline amongst officers and men, regular and relatively generous pay and LEFT The citadel of Trikala in Thessaly is an example of the simple Byzantine fortifications that dotted medieval Greece at the time of the Fourth Crusade. (Author’s photograph) RIGHT Fragments of 12th- and early 13th-century Byzantine sgraffito-ware ceramics, including serious (G) and satirical (D) subjects: A and B are from Corinth (Archaeological Museum, Corinth); C is from Iznik (Archaeological Museum, Iznik); D is from Verroia (National Archaeological Museum, Athens); E is from the Agora, Athens (Agora Museum, Athens); F is from an unknown location (Louvre Museum, Paris); G is from the Cherson region of Crimea (Hermitage Museum, St Petersburg); H is from Corinth (Archaeological Museum, Corinth).

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