The Fourth Crusade and the Sack of Constantinople [NOOK Book]

Overview


In April 1204, the armies of Western Christendom wrote another bloodstained chapter in the history of holy war. Two years earlier, aflame with religious zeal, the Fourth Crusade set out to free Jerusalem from the grip of Islam. Urged on by a canny, venerable Doge of Venice and a pretender to the Byzantine throne, the crusaders now turned their weapons against Constantinople, the heart of Christian Byzantium and the most lavish, sophisticated metropolis in the known world.The crusaders spared no one in their ...
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The Fourth Crusade and the Sack of Constantinople

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Overview


In April 1204, the armies of Western Christendom wrote another bloodstained chapter in the history of holy war. Two years earlier, aflame with religious zeal, the Fourth Crusade set out to free Jerusalem from the grip of Islam. Urged on by a canny, venerable Doge of Venice and a pretender to the Byzantine throne, the crusaders now turned their weapons against Constantinople, the heart of Christian Byzantium and the most lavish, sophisticated metropolis in the known world.The crusaders spared no one in their savagery: they murdered old and young, they raped women and girls—even nuns—in their frenzy. They also desecrated churches and plundered treasuries, and much of the city was put to the torch. In celebration of the victory, a prostitute from the crusader army climbed onto the altar of Hagia Sophia and gyrated to obscene songs; barbarism cloaked in the mantle of religious warfare had swept aside one of the great civilizations of history.

Some contemporaries were delighted: God had approved this punishment of the effeminate, treacherous Greeks; others, including the once zealous Pope Innocent III, expressed shock and disgust at this perversion of the crusading ideal. History has judged this as the crusade that went wrong and even today the violence and brutality of the western knights provokes deep hostility in the Greek Orthodox Church toward the Catholic Church.

In this remarkable new assessment of the Fourth Crusade, Jonathan Phillips doesn't just follow the fortunes of the leading players. Using firsthand accounts from knights' and commoners' letters to enrich his analysis, he explores the conflicting motives that drove the expedition to commit the most infamous massacre of the crusading movement.
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Editorial Reviews

Publishers Weekly
While the first three Crusades were launched in an effort to reclaim Jerusalem from Muslims, the Fourth Crusade, begun in 1202, pitted Christians against Christians: Roman Catholics against Orthodox. In this authoritative and vivid account, historian and BBC commentator Phillips (Defenders of the Holy Land) uses monastic chronicles, letters and even the songs of court troubadours to reconstruct the brutal sacking of the Byzantine capital and its underlying causes. Although the enmity between East and West went back 150 years before the Crusade, the crusaders might never have sailed to Constantinople if Emperor Alexius III hadn't requested Pope Innocent to send troops to help him secure Eastern Christendom. When the French and Venetian soldiers arrived, however, they found themselves unwelcome and forced to camp outside Constantinople. As religious and political tensions evolved, the crusaders-already prepared to sacrifice themselves for their faith-grew restless and attacked the city, killing thousands, destroying churches and Constantinople itself. As Phillips points out, the destruction was so embedded in the collective memory of Christianity that in 2001 Pope John Paul II apologized to Greek Orthodox Christians. Phillips's book provides a first-rate narrative of this significant episode in medieval history. Illus. not seen by PW. Agent, Catherine Clarke. (On sale Oct. 25) Forecast: A PBS special on the Fourth Crusade, written by Phillips, could boost sales beyond the usual history buffs. Copyright 2004 Reed Business Information.
Kirkus Reviews
Well-crafted tale of "brutality and determination, depravity and avarice, political intrigue and religious zeal"-and even worse. Eight hundred years ago, the armies of the Fourth Crusade, mingling knights, squires, and foot soldiers from all over Europe, made a vow to retake Jerusalem from the infidel Muslims. For manifold reasons they did not succeed, but on the way to the Holy Land they turned toward Constantinople, the capital of Eastern Christianity, and looted and burned it instead. The episode has long been explained as a tragic mistake, and, in 2001, Pope John Paul II issued a formal apology to the Greek Orthodox Church expressing sorrow that Latin Christians had "turned against their brothers in the faith." The truth, writes British historian Phillips (Univ. of London), is more complex, for the Fourth Crusade blended faith and commerce: ". . . if the Fourth Crusade did succeed in retaking the Holy Land," he notes, "then there would have been quite genuine possibilities to secure lands and wealth." The Greeks of Constantinople controlled territories and monopolies in the eastern Mediterranean that Venice was avid to secure, and Venice was the Halliburton of its day: Venetian entrepreneurs saw to it that the Venetian merchant fleet would transport the Crusade to the Holy Land, the effect being much like "a major international airline ceasing flights for a year to prepare its planes for one particular client, and then to serve that client exclusively for a further period afterwards." Quid pro quo: but, it being the Middle Ages, the intrigues were ever much more complex, involving massacres, espionage, diplomatic missions between pope and Greek emperor, the murder of said emperor byhis own troops, and, eventually, the sack of Constantinople as "the crusaders spread into the city like a deadly virus running through the veins of a weak old man."Events too little remembered today, and well worth hearing about: Phillips does a good job of rendering this complex, even timely story intelligibly. Agent: Emma Parry/Fletcher & Parry
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9781101127728
  • Publisher: Penguin Group (USA)
  • Publication date: 3/29/2005
  • Sold by: Penguin Group
  • Format: eBook
  • Pages: 400
  • Sales rank: 357,840
  • File size: 2 MB

Meet the Author

Jonathan Phillips, a senior lecturer in medieval history at Royal Holloway, University of London, is the author of a number of books on the crusades, including Defenders of the Holy Land and The Crusades: 1095–1197. Phillips’s articles have appeared in BBC History, History Today, and the Independent. Phillips 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.


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Table of Contents

Acknowledgements
List of Illustrations
A Note on Nomenclature
Prologue: The Coronation of Emperor Baldwin
Introduction
Maps
1 The Origins and Preaching of the Fourth Crusade, 1187-99 1
2 Abbot Martin's Crusade Sermon, Basel Cathedral, May 1200 26
3 The Tournament at Ecry, November 1199 39
4 The Treaty of Venice, April 1201 56
5 Final Preparations and Leaving Home, May 1201-June 1202 78
6 The Crusade at Venice and the Siege of Zara, summer and autumn 1202 102
7 The Offer from Prince Alexius, December 1202-May 1203 127
8 The Crusade Arrives at Constantinople, June 1203 142
9 The First Siege of Constantinople, July 1203 162
10 Triumph and Tensions at Constantinople, July-August 1203 185
11 The Great Fire of August 1203 206
12 The Murder of Alexius IV and the Descent into War, early 1204 221
13 The Conquest of Constantinople, April 1204 235
14 The Sack of Constantinople, April 1204 258
15 The End of the Fourth Crusade and the Early Years of the Latin Empire, 1204-5 281
16 The Fate of the Latin Empire, 1206-61 304
17 Afterword 310
Chronology 321
Notes 323
Bibliography 349
Index 362
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Customer Reviews

Average Rating 4.5
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Sort by: Showing all of 5 Customer Reviews
  • Anonymous

    Posted August 19, 2008

    A Crusade against Christians?

    One year ago I was enrolled in a medieval European class at the university I attend, and found out that I would have to write a big research paper on a medieval event. My professor gave the class a list of topics we could choose, but none of them interested me. I was walking through Barnes and Noble, trying to find a topic that would interest me, when I saw Phillips' book about the fourth crusade. I picked it up, read the back of the book and bought it. My professor agreed that the fourth crusade was an event worth researching, so I went to work studying the subject, and devouring Phillips' book. The book was great! I really enjoyed the narrative and thought it was easy to follow and exciting enough to keep my attention. I love history but often find myself putting a history book down and picking up a historical fiction instead, but Phillips' book was engaging the whole way. I wasn't familiar with the fourth crusade until reading this book - now I think it is the most interesting of the crusades since it didn't ever reach the Holy Land. Enough said. Great book!

    2 out of 2 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted November 15, 2006

    Very readable

    I thought the author conveyed the true atmosphere of what the 4th crusade was all about. I am a student of history, and very often I find some books vry dry, not this on though. Highly recommended

    2 out of 2 people found this review helpful.

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    Posted September 17, 2010

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    Posted January 10, 2009

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