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Authors: Jonathan Phillips

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The Fourth Crusade and the Sack of Constantinople

BOOK: The Fourth Crusade and the Sack of Constantinople
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Table of Contents
Praise for
The Fourth Crusade and the Sack of Constantinople
“In this authoritative and vivid account [Phillips] uses monastic chroniclers, letters, and even the songs of troubadours to reconstruct the brutal sacking of the Byzantine capital and its underlying causes.... A first rate narrative of this significant episode in medieval history.”

Publishers Weekly
“Timely ... [A] Well crafted tale of ‘brutality and determination, depravity and avarice, political intrigue and religious zeal’—and worse.”

Kirkus Reviews
“Compelling ... The achievement of Jonathan Phillips is to show ... with a novelist’s eye, how the flowers of Western chivalry were drawn into infidelity to their ideal. They were seduced, little by little and the femme fatale was the maritime power of Venice.... [Phillips] is admirably reluctant to reduce the astonishing culture clashes of the Middle Ages to the undigested ideologies of the present day.”

The Daily Telegraph
“Rich testimony ... [A] good read ... The first, very considerable merit of
[The Fourth Crusade]
is that Phillips, while fully aware of modern perspectives, presents the story to us from the point of view, principally, of the Crusaders themselves ... vivid and memorable.”

Times Literary
“Enthralling ... [an] admirable example of narrative history written with the general reader in mind. Nobody can read [this] without acquiring a better understanding of the Middle Ages and the medieval mind.”
—Allan Massie,
Literary Review
Jonathan Phillips is a Reader in Medieval History at Royal Holloway, University of London. He is the author of
Defenders of the Holy Land: Relations Between the Latin East and the West, 1119—1187
(1996) and
The Crusades, 1095—1197
(2002). Phillips’s articles have appeared in
BBC History, History Today,
and the
He is a frequent guest on Radio 4 and BBC World Service as well as England’s Channel 4, the BBC, The History Channel, and PBS. Phillips lives in Windsor, England.
For Tom
and for my parents
Published by the Penguin Group
Penguin Group (USA) Inc., 375 Hudson Street, New York, New York 10014, U.S.A.
Penguin Group (Canada), 90 Eglinton Avenue East, Suite 700, Toronto,
Ontario, Canada M4P 2Y3 (a division of Pearson Penguin Canada Inc.)
Penguin Books Ltd, 80 Strand, London WC2R ORL, England
Penguin Ireland, 25 St Stephen’s Green, Dublin 2, Ireland (a division of Penguin Books Ltd)
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Penguin Books (South Africa) (Pty) Ltd, 24 Sturdee Avenue,
Rosebank, Johannesburg 2196, South Africa
Penguin Books Ltd, Registered Offices: 80 Strand, London WC2R ORL, England
Copyright © Jonathan Phillips, 2004
All rights reserved
Maps drawn by Reginald Piggot
Includes bibliographical references and index.
eISBN : 978-1-101-12626-4
1. Crusades—Fourth, 1202—1204.
2. Istanbul (Turkey)—History—Siege, 1203—1204. I. Title.
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N THE COURSE of writing this book I have been fortunate to receive the assistance of a great number of people. During my research I benefited from the generous hospitality and knowledge of Dr Christoph Maier in Basel and Professor Isin Demirkent and Dr Ebru Altan in Istanbul, and the organisational help of Fusun Ersak and Claire Lillywhite-Pinch. Discussions with Matthew Bennett, Dr Linda Ross, Dr Merav Mack, Natasha Hodgson, Dr Marcus Bull, Neil Blackburn, Dr Penny Cole and Professor Jonathan Riley-Smith proved important in formulating my ideas and tracking down various elusive references. Dr Thomas Asbridge has offered sound and cheerful advice from the start of this project. Dr Jonathan Harris, Edwin Fuller and Dr Christoph Maier read all, or part, of the manuscript and their observations and corrections have been invaluable. Any mistakes that remain are, of course, my own. I am grateful to Dr Emmett Sullivan for his skill in producing some of the photographs used here. Sally Tornow, Caroline Campbell, Suzanne Tarlin and David Watkinson, along with Austen and Janice Rose, Dr Ian and Diane Jenkins, Andy and Jackie Griffiths, and Lisa and John Barry, have all provided much encouragement and an important counterbalance to academic life. I am very pleased to acknowledge the perceptive guidance and constant support of my agent, Catherine Clarke, the efforts of her US counterpart, Emma Parry, and the good faith of Wendy Wolf at Viking Penguin. Will Sulkin, my editor at Jonathan Cape, has been enormously helpful, patient and constructive during the writing of this book; the work of Jörg Hensgen, Chloe Johnson-Hill, Ros Porter, Hilary Redmon and Mandy Greenfield was also invaluable. My greatest debt is to Niki for her wholehearted love and commitment to our special life together. I am very happy to dedicate this book to my dear parents and to my wonderful son, Tom.
A Note on Nomenclature
HE MAJORITY OF the crusading army that set out from Venice in October 1202 originated from areas within France. It included men from Blois, Champagne, Amiens, Saint-Pol, the Île-de-France and Burgundy. However, several other regions of Europe sent substantial contingents as well. For example, the count of Flanders, who was subject to the overlordship of the king of France, commanded a large force. Similarly, the leader of the crusade, Marquis Boniface of Montferrat, headed men from his northern Italian homelands. Other notable groups came from the German Empire, including the men under Bishop Martin of Pairis and Bishop Conrad of Halberstadt. Given the polyglot nature of this army it is impractical to set out this list every time these crusaders are mentioned. For reasons of style and brevity, therefore, I have used the word ‘French’ as a blanket term to cover all of the crusaders listed above. If a specific contingent is under discussion, this will be made clear. Large numbers of Venetians also took the cross, but because they formed a distinct group, they are (where appropriate) distinguished from the ‘French’ crusaders noted above. Simple references to ‘crusaders’ or ‘westerners’ can be taken to refer to the army as a whole, both French and Venetian forces alike. The term ‘Franks’ refers to those who settled in the Holy Land after the First Crusade (1095—9), and their descendants.
The Crusades—Medieval and Modern
INCE THIS BOOK was completed—in the autumn of 2003—events such as the Madrid bombing and the US-led invasion of Iraq have inspired parallels between the medieval crusades and contemporary times. Reviewers and analysts have sought to explain present-day tensions against a context of earlier conflicts between Islam and the West. A recent spate of documentaries and films testifies to a widespread fascination in the history of the crusades and its perceived relevance today.
There is a rich seam of material to support such comparisons, yet one must be cautious in seeking an exact match. The most crucial difference lies in the place of holy war in the modern cultures of Islam and the West. In the West, holy war—one fought at God’s command—has, since the separation of church and state in the eighteenth century, been replaced by the idea of ‘just war.’ Religion remains important, but it fits alongside sovereignty and the protection of boundaries. Just war shares some aspects with its spiritual counterpart (legitimate authority, a justifying cause, the restoration of order), but does not require a divine mandate. In the medieval West, it was the pope who called upon the Christian faithful from all ranks of society to reclaim and then defend Jerusalem from the forces of Islam. Some episodes attracted criticism, particularly when a crusade turned against a controversial target, and the behaviour of individual crusaders was also condemned, but the basic principle was not. In the post-Enlightenment world, warfare in the name of religion became seen as old-fashioned and barbaric.
For the West to label contemporary conflicts as crusades is to obscure the secular mandate of a just war and to ignore the fact that, in the Middle Ages, most westerners supported the crusades, while today there is tremendous opposition to military action. To foster the use of such terms is also to open up the bitter legacy of the medieval period. A statement from al-Qai‘da noted ‘the original crusade brought Richard [the Lionheart] from England. Today the crusading countries rushed as soon as Bush raised the cross.’
In an Islamic society, however, religion remains integral to the political order—Muhammad was a religious and political leader. A defensive
is a binding duty on all Muslims and if there are insufficient numbers to defend a region, some jurists argue that it is the responsibility of others to help them (i.e. the fighters flooding in to Iraq). In October 2001 Osama bin Laden stated ‘our goal is for our nation [Islam] to unite in the face of the Christian crusade.’
Notwithstanding this difference, parallels between the medieval and the modern abound. Islamists, as well as Arab nationalists such as Saddam Hussein, have employed the legacy of Saladin who, by capturing Jerusalem from the Christians in 1187, symbolised successful resistance to western oppressors. Saddam had a mural painted depicting himself alongside Saladin, leading their men to victory against their western enemies.
BOOK: The Fourth Crusade and the Sack of Constantinople
2.14Mb size Format: txt, pdf, ePub

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