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Hazard, H. W. (ed.) / The fourteenth and fifteenth centuries

II: Byzantium and the Crusades, 1261-1354,   pp. [unnumbered]-68 PDF (16.6 MB)

Page 29

the Third, all passed through Constantinople. And indeed, in 1204, western
leaders of the Fourth Crusade, instead of going to Jerusalem, had diverted
their forces and attacked and captured Constantinople itself. Thereafter,
all the way to 1453, Byzantium, willing or not, would remain in one way or
another inexorably bound to all western crusading movements. 
In 1261, after more than a half century of Latin occupation, Constantinople
was reconquered for the Greeks by Michael VIII Palaeologus.2 After this date
the original purpose of the early cru sades was somewhat altered. For though
the primary goal of subse quent expeditions still remained Jerusalem, the
term "crusade" be gan also to be applied to western projects to reconquer
Constantino ple and restore the Latin empire. Such a perversion of the original
crusading ideal was justified even for the more religious-minded westerners
on the grounds that the city of Constantine had now fallen into the hands
of "Greek schismatics," in effect semi-infidels. By this criterion a crusade
against Christian Constantinople became either a worthy goal in itself or—as
crusader-propagandists of the fourteenth century came to emphasize—a
preliminary step to uniting eastern and western Christendom so that, with
the greatest possible force, the "holy war" could be carried to the Moslems
in Jerusalem. 
After 1261 western leaders of the crusading movement, with some notable exceptions,
were not unduly troubled by the need for finding an ideology for their expeditions.
To the politician of the west, be he prince or pope, the crusade all too
often became merely a political or military effort of which the primary goal
was the ag grandizement of the leader himself or of the institution he repre
sented. The old religious zeal of the west, the contagious piety so important
in launching the First Crusade, had now conspicuously diminished. The crusades
had become secularized. 
Among the Byzantines what might perhaps be considered proto crusades, expeditions
to recapture Syria and Palestine, had been conducted as early as the seventh
century by their emperor Heraclius and in the tenth century by Nicephorus
Phocas and John Tsimisces. Nevertheless, despite these "holy" wars, the ideology
of a crusade in the western sense of the word, as an expedition preached
by the church to recover the Holy Sepulcher, with remission of sins prom
ised to the expedition's participants, was totally alien, indeed almost incomprehensible,
to the Byzantines.3 It does not have to be noted 
 2. See volume II of this work, pp. 228—232. 
 3. See V. Laurent, "L'Idée de guerre sainte," pp. 7 1—98; Lemerle,
"Byzance et la croisade," pp. 595 ff.; and A. Vasiliev, History of the Byzantine
Empire (Madison, Wis., 1958), especially pp. 389—400. P. Alphandéry
and A. Dupont, La Chrétienté et l'idée de 

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