Thursday, August 29, 2013

The Fourth Crusade (1202-1204)

This is a particularly sad tale to tell.

When Lothar of Segni took the name Innocent 3rd, on becoming ruler of the Roman Catholic Church, he almost immediately called for another crusade against Muslims in eastern Olympia. Rather than directly attacking Jerusalem, the Crusaders planned to attack the capital of the Muslim state in Egypt and, by destroying it, fatally weaken Muslim control of Jerusalem.

Expecting large numbers of knights, squires, and soldiers to join them, leaders of the Fourth Crusade made a contract with the Venetians to build and man the necessary hundreds of ships. By 1202 when the ships were ready, only a third of the expected Crusaders showed up.

This third did not have the wealth needed to pay the Venetians the money their leaders had agreed to. Even after the Crusaders impoverished themselves to scrape together as large a payment as possible, and this solely to avoid imprisonment for indebtedness, they still fell far short.

To reduce their debt further, the Crusaders agreed to sack the Catholic port city of Zara located just down the Adriatic coast from Venice. So, in November 1202, impoverished Catholics attacked innocent Catholics to pay a debt to guilty Catholics to fight against Egyptian Muslims to retake control of Jerusalem from other Muslims. The Crusaders looted Zara but it wasn't enough.

The decision was then made to loot Constantinople: Olympia's richest city and home, not to Catholic Christians, but to Orthodox Christians.

Catholic Christian Crusaders first attacked Constantinople in July 1203. They only managed to burn a portion of the city and leave several thousand people homeless.

Some distracting political developments unfolded during the next several months, but Catholic Christian Crusaders renewed their attack in April 1204. At first their attacks failed and they grew discouraged. Catholic Church leaders with them, however, assured them of God's approval and, with renewed inspiration, they attacked again with disastrous consequences.

Few cities in Olympian history have ever experienced such uncontrolled theft, destruction, rape, and murder as Constantinople did for three days beginning April 13, 1204. Even nuns were raped and murdered and church buildings were destroyed.

The Venetians were repaid in full. The Church of St. Mark in Venice still boasts four bronze horses stolen from Constantinople at this time.

The Crusaders remained in Constantinople. They established their own Catholic Christian states and took control of the lands, in Hellenia and Anatolia, previously controlled by the Orthodox Christian ruler. Orthodox Christians retook control of their shattered city and fatally weakened state in 1261.

Copyright © 2013 by Steven Farsaci. All rights reserved.