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Fourth Crusade (1198-1202)

Fourth Crusade (1198-1202)


Doomed from the Start. A new, stronger pope, Innocent III, was elected at the death of Celestine in 1198, and he immediately called for the Fourth Crusade. This effort seemed doomed from the start. Although again a large army assembled, it never seemed to matter what their goals were, for they were destined not even to reach the Holy Land. Trying to arrange passage by sea from the Venetians, they were first compelled by them to attack a Hungarian city, Zara, which despite being Christian, threatened the Adriatic trading monopolies of Venice. Then they proceeded to Constantinople, where in 1202 they were forced to besiege that Byzantine city because it had recently signed a trading pact with the Genoese, rivals to the Venetians. Under the guise of asking for money and supplies to proceed to the Holy Land, the Crusaders became impatient with the city’s inhabitants and took the city by storm. The Latin Kingdom of Constantinople, which they established there, lasted until 1261, when an attack from the exiled Byzantine emperor, Michael VIII Palaeologus, acting in concert with the Genoese, restored its capital city to the rest of the Byzantine Empire.


Donald E. Queller, The Fourth Crusade: The Conquest of Constantinople, 1201-1204 (Philadelphia: University of Pennsylvania Press, 1977).

Jean Richard, The Crusades, C.1071-C.1291, translated by Jean Birrell (Cambridge & New York: Cambridge University Press, 1999).

Jonathan Riley-Smith, The Crusades: A Short History (New Haven: Yale University Press, 1987).

Riley-Smith, ed., The Oxford Illustrated History of the Crusades (Oxford & New York: Oxford University Press, 1995).

Steven Runciman, A History of the Crusades, three volumes (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1951-1954).

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