T. F. (Thomas Frederick) Tout.

The empire and the papacy, 918-1273 online

. (page 29 of 45)
Online LibraryT. F. (Thomas Frederick) ToutThe empire and the papacy, 918-1273 → online text (page 29 of 45)
Font size
QR-code for this ebook


Prankish kingdom, utterly unconnected with the Empire.
Isaac had also to buy off the attacks of the Sultan of Roum
by the payment of tribute. In the midst of all these disasters
his wretched government was abruptly ended by a palace
conspiracy, formed against him by his elder brother Alexius,
while he was absent engaged in the Bulgarian war. Isaac
hurried back to Constantinople, only to be deposed, blinded,
and immured in a monastery (1195).

Alexius in. Angelus (1195-1203), was as wasteful, as profli-
gate, and as incompetent as his brother, pillaging his sub-
Alexius in., jects to reward the conspirators who had helped
1195-1203. fa m to t h e throne. Rebellions broke out in the
provinces, and the Venetians and Pisans fought out their
feuds in the streets of the capital. The efforts to reconquer
Bulgaria proved abortive, and the Turks of Roum again
threatened the heart of the Empire. The utter feebleness of
the Byzantine power tempted the Emperor Henry vi. to
re-enact the part of Robert Guiscard and Roger. His death
postponed, without averting, the danger of Western conquest.
Philip of Swabia was the brother-in-law of the deposed
Isaac, and welcomed his son Alexius, when he escaped in a
Pisan ship from his ill -guarded prison. The Venetians,
though loaded with privileges, clamoured for more. It was
just at the moment when the anarchy of Constantinople had
reached its height that the army of Crusaders, collected
from all Europe by the zeal of Innocent in. and the preaching
of Fulk of Neuilly, appeared at Venice, waiting to take ship
thence in the vessels of the republic for the Holy Land.

The golden age of the Crusades was now over. The
difficulties that limited the success of the Third Crusade



The Fourth Crusade 343

now prevented even the undertaking of a new one on the same
grand lines. The long efforts of Celestine in. to start a new
Crusade had borne little fruit. Fulk of Neuilly The muster-
began his preaching very soon after Innocent m.'s in & of the

6 ' Fourth

accession to the Papacy, and the new Pope warmly crusade,
supported him. But none of the great princes "9 8 - 1203 -
of Europe responded to his call. It was not until 1201 that the
beginnings of a crusading army was gathered together under
leaders more of the status of the heroes of the First Crusade
than of those of the Second or Third. Theobald in., Count
of Champagne, was not deterred by his brother Henry's death
from striving to redeem his brother's lost kingdom. Among
the lords of Champagne that attended him was his marshal,
Geoffrey of Villehardouin, who has left us a famous account
of the expedition. Among Theobald's companions of high
rank were his kinsman Louis, Count of Blois, and his sister
Mary, \vho accompanied her husband, Baldwin ix., Count of
Flanders, Baldwin's brothers Eustace and Henry, and Simon
of Montfort, soon to become famous as the leader of the
Albigensian Crusade. Theobald of Champagne was ap-
pointed general-in-chief, and it was resolved to attack
Egypt, as the real centre of the Ayoubite power. Early in
1 201, ambassadors of the Crusaders, conspicuous among
whom was Villehardouin, appeared at Venice to negotiate
with the Republic as to their means of transport. After
lengthened negotiations a treaty was concluded between them
and Henry Dandolo, the blind and aged, but still ardent,
subtle, and active Doge. It was agreed that the Venetians
should provide the necessary transports, with provisions for a
year, and a convoy of fifty galleys. But in return, the
Prankish Crusaders agreed to pay Venice the vast sum of
85,000 marks of silver, and to divide all conquests and
booty equally between themselves and the Venetians. It was
characteristic of the Italian seafaring republics to drive hard
bargains with the Crusaders, and Dandolo had little concern
for the Holy War, though he had infinite zeal for the interests



344 European History, 918-1273

of Venice. As soon as the Crusaders began to collect by
the lagoons to embark for Egypt, he aspired to use them as
soldiers of the Republic rather than of the Church. The
appearance of the fugitive Alexius in Italy already suggested
the idea of diverting the expedition against Constantinople.

There were still long delays. The death of the Count of
Champagne left vacant the supreme command, and, after several
attempts to fill it up, the Crusaders appointed as their chief
the North Italian Boniface of Montferrat, brother of Conrad
of Montferrat, and a scheming and unscrupulous adventurer.
He was soon approached by King Philip of Swabia, who
urged upon him the claims of the young Alexius, his kinsman.
The Hohenstaufen monarch and the Doge of Venice now
combined to recommend the Crusaders to undertake the
restoration of Isaac Comnenus, as a preliminary to their
attack on the infidels. Even at this early stage it is more
than likely that the Venetians had formed a deliberate design
to divert the Crusade, and had perhaps even an understand-
ing with the Saracens to that effect.

When the spring of 1202 came, the passage from Venice
was still unaccountably delayed. Many of the Crusaders
The capture had spent all their resources during their long
of Zara, 1202. staV) an( j t h e leaders were quite unable to
pay the Venetians the huge sum they had promised.
Dandolo now proposed that they should acquit themselves
of part of their debt by helping Venice to conquer the
maritime town of Zara, an old enemy of the Republic,
and the haunt of pirates that preyed on its trade. Zara
belonged to the King of Hungary, who had also taken
the cross. But the spirit of adventure and love of booty was
stronger among the Franks than zeal for the Holy War.
Despite the protests of Simon of Montfort against the turn-
ing aside of a crusading army to fight a Catholic and
crusading prince, it was agreed to accept Dandolo's sugges-
tion. In October, the Crusaders at last left the Lido. In
November Zara fell, after a short siege, into the hands of



The Fourth Crusade 345

the united Venetian and Frankish host. The Pope vigor-
ously denounced the forsworn soldiers of the Cross. But the
Venetians paid no heed, and the Franks very little, to his
fulminations. The season was now too late to make a start,
and the army took up winter quarters in Dalmatia. Alexius
now appeared in person in the crusading camp.

. ,. . ' The Crusade

and his glittering offers were greedily accepted, turned against
Boniface of Montferrat thought more of his Constanti-

_. nople, 1203.

own advantage than of the sacred cause. The
pious scruples of the Count of Flanders were finally
allayed. In the early summer of 1203, the Crusaders
made sail for the ^Egean. The fatal results of the decay
of the Greek marine now made themselves clearly manifest.
Alexius in. was the first ruler of Constantinople who had
to defend his capital, without having the command of
the sea. With next to no resistance, the Venetians and
Franks passed through the Dardanelles, and encamped at
Scutari. The land-attack on Constantinople was beaten off,
but the Venetians, headed by the blind old Doge, stormed
the sea-wall, and burnt the adjacent ports of the city. The
incapable and cowardly Emperor fled in alarm to Thrace,
whereupon the army took the blind Isaac out of prison, and
restored him to his throne, but invited his son Alexius to
share it with him (July 1203).

The Crusaders had made an easy conquest, but their main
feeling was one of disgust that the premature surrender of
the city had deprived them of a chance of a
richer plunder than their imaginations had ever
conceived before they saw the wonders of the nopie.
New Rome. They settled down for the next J f e j tion
winter in the suburbs of the capital, while Angeius and
Isaac and Alexius iv. left no stone unturned Aiexmsiv.,

July 1203.

to satisfy their clamour for their pay. When
the Emperors were reduced, in their efforts to appease the
Latins, to plunder the churches of their jewels and reliquaries,
and impose odious taxes on their subjects, the mob of



346 European History, 918-1273

Constantinople, taught by the success of recent revolutions
to regard itself as all-powerful, rose in revolt against them,
and murdered all the Latins within reach. Isaac, unnerved
Revolution by captivity, died suddenly, it was said, of
inconstant!- fright. Alexius iv. was strangled. A strong
Alexius v., and daring adventurer, Alexius Ducas, surnamed
Feb. 1204. Murzuphlus from his shaggy eyebrows, was pro-
claimed the Emperor Alexius v. (February 1204). The house
of Angelus thus quitted history even less gloriously than" the
house of Comnenus.

It was but a revolution in the capital, and the provinces
hardly recognised the usurper. But Alexius v. threw a
Second cap- new energy into the defences of Constantinople,
ture and sack an( j fae Crusaders found that they must either

ofConstanti- . . '

nopie, retire discomfited, or capture the city for a second

April 1204. t j me After two months of preparations, they
advanced in April to the final assault. This time they
limited their attack to the sea-wall. The first effort was
a failure, but a few days later a second onslaught admitted
them into a corner of the city. There was still a chance
for the Greeks, if they had had courage to stubbornly
defend the city street by street. But the mercenary soldiers
would not fight, and Alexius v., despairing of further resist-
ance, fled from the capital, though he soon fell into the
hands of the Crusaders, who put him to death. Constanti-
nople now belonged to the Franks, and a hideous three days
of plunder, murder, lust, and sacrilege, at last satisfied them
for the moderation they had been forced to show upon the
occasion of the first conquest. The priceless relics of ancient
art were barbarously destroyed : the very churches were
ruthlessly pillaged, and the city of Constantine was robbed
for ever of that unique splendour that had made it for ages
the wonder of the world.

The cry of indignation, that had already broken out when
the Crusaders turned aside to besiege Zara, was renewed on
their abandoning their campaign against the infidel to



The Latin Empire in the East



347



conquer a Christian city. But the feebleness of the opposi-
tion showed that the crusading spirit was dying, and even
Innocent in., who was bitterly grieved at the Thepar tition
failure of the Crusade, found consolation in the andorganisa-
hoped-for collapse of the Greek schism, and ^atin *
made his peace with the Latin conquerors of Empire,
Constantinople. The victorious Westerns now
proceeded to the division of the spoil. The Venetians and



THE

1.ATIN EMPIRE

CONSTANTINOPLE




Latin State* in Syria V///y/^A Luaal Greek States J< "'

Latin Empire and its dependencies. Itiillllllilllllll

the Franks still stood apart, jealously watching over their re-
spective interests. There was no longer any talk of appoint-
ing a new Greek Emperor. It was agreed to elect from the
crusading host a Latin Emperor and Patriarch, and it was
further determined that the party that furnished the Emperor
should yield to the other the choice of the Patriarch. A
college of six French prelates and six Venetian nobles was
set up to elect the Emperor. There was keen rivalry for the
post. Boniface of Montferrat, as general, seemed to have an



348 European History, 918-1273

obvious claim, but the Venetians were unwilling to support
the candidature of an Italian prince, an ally of the Hohen-
staufen. Refusing the dangerous honour for their own duke,
the Venetians declared for Count Baldwin of Flanders, who
was duly elected Emperor in May. The papal legate
crowned him in St. Sophia's, and he was invested with
the purple buskins and all the other trappings of the
Basileus of the Romans. Thomas Morosini, a Venetian,
was chosen Patriarch. But the election of the heads of the
Church and State was an easier business than the division of
the spoils amidst a whole swarm of greedy claimants.

Like the conquerors of Jerusalem after the First Crusade,
the conquerors of Constantinople set up a feudal state on the
ruins of the Oriental system that they had destroyed. The
Emperor Baldwin was to be overlord of all the Crusading
chieftains, and was moreover to have as his domains the
capital, saving the Venetian quarter, the greater part of Thrace
with Adrianople, and the eastern islands of the ^Egean,
Samothrace, Cos, Lesbos, Samos and Chios. Boniface of
Montferrat was consoled for his disappointment with the title
of King of Thessalonica. He was still strong enough to reject
the offer of a patrimony in Asia which the Latins had still to
conquer, and to profess that he held Thessalonica in his own
right, independently of the Emperor of Romania. He estab-
lished himself in Macedonia and Thessaly. The Venetians
had the lion's share of the plunder. They had henceforth a
large slice of Constantinople with the practical monopoly of
the trade of the Empire. They also were recognised as
lords of most of the islands and coast lands, including
the Ionian islands, Euboea, most of the Cyclades and some
of the Sporades, numerous settlements on the coasts of
the Peloponnesus, and a large domain north of the Corinthian
Gulf, along Acarnania, ^itolia, Epirus and Albania, where,
however, they were not strong enough to penetrate far into
the interior. Crete they purchased from Boniface of Mont-
ferrau Dandolo, who assumed the title of DcspoUs^ now



The Latin Empire in the East 349

styled himself 'lord of a quarter and half-a-quarter ' of the
Empire. The minor Frankish chiefs also received great fiefs.
Louis of Blois became Duke of Nicaea and of Nicomedia :
Villehardouin became Prince of Achaia : Odo of La Roche
Lord of Athens, and there were counts of Thebes, dukes of
Philippopolis, and marquises of Corinth. Each feudatory
had still his fief to conquer as best he could, and the lords, to
whom lands in Asia were assigned, never obtained effective
possession of their territories. The more fortunate European
barons could only enjoy their grants by calling in the help of
vassal chieftains, whose immunities left them little more than
a show of power outside their own domains. No feudal
state was ever strong, but no feudal state was ever so
weak as the Latin Empire in the East. It had to contend
against all the characteristic evils of feudalism, the infinite
multiplication of the sovereign power, the constant feuds of
rival chieftains, the permanent jealousy of every vassal of the
power of his overlord. But it had special difficulties of its
own of a kind impossible to be got over. The magnates of
the expedition had cleverly manipulated the division of the
spoils to their own advantage, and the poorer Crusaders were
bitterly discontented. A comparison of the famous history
of Villehardouin with the less well known account of the
Crusade by the simple Picard knight, Robert of Clari, shows
how bitterly the ' poor knights ' resented the overbearing con-
duct of the 'great men,' whose standpoint is represented by
the Marshal of Champagne. Moreover, Germans fought with
Champenois and Burgundians, North Italians with Flemings,
and all with the Venetians. Even if the Crusaders had
been united, they were a mere handful of adventurers. The
Venetians, who had got for themselves the richest and most
accessible parts of the Empire, thought little of colonisation
and much of trade. Yet even the Venetians drew wealth
from the richly cultivated islands which now became the
appanage, and were soon a chief source of wealth, to the
noblest houses of the island city. The Ionian islands and



3 5O European History, 918-1273

Crete remained Venetian for many centuries; the interior
uplands were hardly Latin for two generations. It speaks
well for the prowess of the Prankish lords that they held
their position so long as this.

There was no attempt at mixing between Latins and Greeks.
The quick sympathy that had made the Normans Italians in
Sicily, English in England, and Irish in Ireland, no longer
remained with the Frankish hosts. Their civilisation was too
stereotyped, their ideas too stiff, their contempt for their con-
quered subjects too profound. It was even less possible for
the Greeks to assimilate themselves with their conquerors.
The old-world civilisation of the Byzantine realm was infinitely
more hide-bound than the feudal system of the Franks. It
was impossible to combine French feudalism with Byzantine
officialism. The Greek despised the rude and uncultivated
1 barbarians ' who now ruled the heritage of Rome. The
Latin scorned the cunning and effeminate Eastern who had
succumbed so readily to his sword. It had been hard enough
for the Comneni to keep together the decaying fortunes of the
Eastern Empire. It was quite impossible for the French and
Flemings to succeed where they had failed.

The barrier of religion would have kept the Latins and
Greeks asunder, even if differences of nationality and civilisation

The Greek had not proved effective causes of separation.

revival. Despite the rejoicings of Innocent in., Orthodox
and Catholic were more divided than ever, when the Filioque
was chanted by azymites in the choir of St. Sophia, and
beardless Latins, who regarded the Pope as the source of all
ecclesiastical power, took into their hands every Church
dignity and possession, and branded their rightful owners as
schismatics. Orthodoxy and the pressure of the Latin
invaders united Greek national feeling as it had never been
united before. In the mountains of Albania and Epirus,
the bolder Greeks fled from the yoke of the conqueror, and
maintained their independence against any force that the
latins could bring to bear against them. A bastard of the



The Latin Empire in the East 351

house of Angelus became Despot of Epirus. Even in Thrace
and in the Peloponnesus there were independent Greek States.
Into Asia the Crusaders hardly penetrated at all. Two brothers
of the house of Comnenus established the independence of dis-
tant Trebizond, and dignified themselves, like Isaac in Cyprus,
with the title of Emperor. Theodore Lascaris, The odorei.
a brave soldier who escaped from the sack of Lascaris,
Constantinople, proclaimed himself Emperor at
Nicaea, and ruled over the western parts of Asia Minor. It
was well for Greeks and Latins alike that the dissension and
decay of the Seljukians of Roum, and the pressure of Tartar
invasion, deprived Islam of its power of aggression. In Europe
the Wallachio-Bulgarian kingdom easily maintained its inde-
pendence and enlarged its boundaries at the expense of the
crusading state. Nothing but the secure possession of the
great military position of Constantinople, and the command
of the sea, which the Venetian galleys still kept open for them,
allowed the Latin Empire to keep up a feeble existence for
nearly sixty years.

From the very beginning the Latin settlers had to contend
against dissension within and invasion from without. Boniface
of Thessalonica married the widow of Isaac
Angelus, Margaret of Hungary (called by the constant!-
Greeks Irene), and posed as an independent "opieand

r Thessalonica,

prince and the protector of the Greek population.
He refused homage to the Emperor, and war broke out
between the Flemings of Constantinople and the Lombards
of Thessalonica. No sooner were his pretensions rudely
shattered than the Emperor was called away to meet the
danger of Bulgarian invasion. Johanitsa, the tsar of the
Bulgarians, turned his arms against the Crusaders, and in-
vaded Thrace. In April 1205, a decisive battle was fought at
Adrianople, when the simulated flight of the wild Bulgar
hordes drew the chivalry of the West to break up Baldwin i.,
their solid ranks. Thereupon the Bulgarians 13 4- I2 5.
rallied, and took advantage of the enemy's disorder to inflict



352 European History, 918-1273

on them a complete defeat. Louis of Blois was among the
slain. Baldwin was taken prisoner and murdered. The
Marshal of Champagne, and Henry of Flanders, Baldwin's
brother, almost alone survived of the Latin chieftains.

Henry of Flanders bad already made some progress in the
conquest of Greek Asia, when the news of the Bulgarian in-

Henry, vasion called him to defend his brother's throne.

1205-1216. jj e was now recognised as Emperor. He was
politic as well as brave, and the Greeks themselves admitted
that he ' treated the Romans as if they were his own people.'
But he could neither conquer Asia, defeat the Bulgarians, nor
even permanently conciliate his Greek subjects; though his
zeal for shielding them from Catholic persecution drew upon
him the thunders of the Vatican. He made a treaty with
Theodore Lascaris, which gave him at least a little corner of
Asia. He was the strongest of the Latin Emperors. But he
profited by the even greater weakness of the kingdom of
Thessalonica. In 1207, Boniface of Montferrat perished, like
Baldwin, at the hands of the Bulgarians. The Despot of Epirus
took advantage of the minority of his infant son, Demetrius,
to extend his conquests. The Frankish lords of the kingdom
called in the Emperor Henry, who found some consolation
for his disappointments in the North, when he gave the law to
the Peloponnesus and the islands in a great Diet held in 1210,
compelled the regent of the young king to do him homage, and
received the submission even of the Venetian lords of the Archi-
pelago, conferring on the great house of Sanudo the Duchy of
the Archipelago or the Cyclades. Even the Despot of Epirus
formally acknowledged his sovereignty. Henry died in 1216,
and with him perished the best hopes of the Latins in Greece.
Peter of Courtenay, Count of Auxerre, a grandson of
Louis vi. of France, and the husband of lolande, sister of

Peter of Baldwin and Henry, was now chosen Emperor.

Courtenay, He was in Europe at the time of his election,

1216-12x9. an( j hastened to Constantinople to take possession
of the Empire. He rashly chose to disembark at Durazzo, and



The Latin Empire in the East 353

follow the ancient Via Egnatia over the hills to Macedonia
and Thrace. When amongst the mountains, his little army
was overwhelmed by the Despot of Epirus, and he himself was
captured, and died in captivity. His wife, who had more
prudently proceeded to Constantinople by sea, now acted as
regent for her young son Robert, the next Emperor.

The reign of Robert of Courtenay marked the rapid decline
of the Eastern Empire. It witnessed the complete destruc-
tion of the Kingdom of Thessalonica. In 1223, Robert,
when King Demetrius was abroad, seeking in "19-1228.
vain Western help, Theodore Angelus took possession of his
capital, and henceforth ruled without a rival from the
Adriatic to the ^Egean ; and, like the lords of Fall of
Nicsea and Trebizond, assumed the pompous Thessalonica,
style of Emperor of the Romans. John I223 '
Vatatzes, the successor of Theodore Lascaris at Nicaea,
renewed the war with the Latins of Constantinople. It
seemed almost a race between the two Theodores, as to
which should first drive out the Latins. The domain of
Robert was reduced to Constantinople and its suburbs. He
went to implore help from the West, and died during his
journey in 1228.

Baldwin n. (1228-1261), the youngest of Peter of Cour-
tenay's sons, a boy of eleven, was now proclaimed Emperor.
John de Brienne, the ex-king of Jerusalem Baldwin n.,
[see chapter xix.], was soon called in to hold the I228 -6i.
regency. He married his daughter to Baldwin, was crowned
joint-Emperor, and saved his ward's throne from the Greeks
and Bulgarians. On John's death in 1 237, new perils beset the
young Baldwin. The Latin state had had a few years of
breathing time through the rivalry of the Angeli of Thes-
salonica and the house of Ducas, to which, after the death
of Theodore Lascaris, had passed the Empire .

r Union of

of Nicaea. John in. Ducas ended the strife Thessalonica
in his own favour by the conquest of Thessalonica and Nlcaea -
in 1241. Henceforth, the Angeli had to be contented with
PERIOD n. z



354 European History, 918-1273

the title of Despot of Epirus, and were confined to the uplands
of the west. A single strong Greek power now threatened
lohn in Constantinople, both from the side of Asia and
Ducas, the side of Europe. Moreover, John in. was a

competent administrator, a good warrior, and an
able financier. Nothing but the mighty walls of Constan-
tinople, which the Greeks had vainly attempted to assault,
and the Venetian command of the sea, now saved the Latin
Empire from immediate extinction. Baldwin n. spent most
of his long reign in the vain quest of Frankish assistance.



Online LibraryT. F. (Thomas Frederick) ToutThe empire and the papacy, 918-1273 → online text (page 29 of 45)