University of Wisconsin Digital Collections
Link to University of Wisconsin Digital Collections
Link to University of Wisconsin Digital Collections
The History Collection

Page View

Wolff, R. L.; Hazard, H. W. (ed.) / The later Crusades, 1189-1311

V: The Fourth Crusade,   pp. 152-185 PDF (13.5 MB)

Page 153

 When Innocent III ascended the papal throne in January 1198, the German
crusade planned by Henry VI was still in progress. Within a few months, however,
it ended in ignominious 
 The most important single narrative source for the Fourth Crusade is the
famous account by one of its leaders, Geoffrey of Villehardouin, La Conquete
de Constantinople (ed. and tr. N. de Wailly, Paris, 1874; ed. and tr. E.
Faral, Classiques de l'histoire de France au moyenage, 2 vols., Paris, 193
8-1939). Splendidly complementing this semi-official narrative is the other
vernacular work by a French participant, Robert of Clari (Clery-sur-Somme),
La Conquete de Constantinople (ed. P. Lauer, Les Classiques francais du moyen-âge,
Paris, 1924; English translation by E. H. McNeal, Records of Civilization,
XXIII, New York, 1936). Shorter accounts in Latin, supplying occasional details,
are: the anonymous Devastatio Constantinopolitana, ed. C. Hopf, Chroniques
greco-romanes inédites ou peu connues (Berlin, 1873), pp. 86-92; and
MGH, SS., XVI; Gunther of Pairis, Historia Constantinopolitana, ed. P. Riant
(Geneva, 1875); also printed in the same editor's Exuviae sacrae Constantinopolitanae
(Geneva, 1877), pp. 57-126; the Anonymous of Soissons, the Anonymous of Halberstadt
(MGH, SS., XXIII), and the Anonymous canon of Langres (all in Riant, Exuviae,
pp. 3-9, 10-21, and 22-34 respectively), written largely to authenticate
relics brought back or sent back to the west by clerics in the crusading
armies after the sack of Constantinople. Hopf (Chroniques, pp. 93-98) furnishes
a Latin translation of the section of the Russian Novgorod chronicle dealing
with the capture of Constantinople, the original of which apparently was
written by an eyewitness, probably a Russian. 
 Western chronicles containing accounts of the Fourth Crusade include the
Annales Colonienses maximi (MGH, SS., XVII); Aubrey of Trois-Fontaines, Chronica
(MGH, SS., XXIII); Robert of Auxerre, Chronicon (MGH, SS., XXVI); Roger of
"Hoveden", Chronica (ed. W. Stubbs, 4 vols., Rolls Series, LI);
Rigord, Gesta Philippi Secundi (MGH, SS., XXVI; and ed. H. F. Delaborde,
Société de l'histoire de France, I, Paris, 1885). The Chronique
d'Ernoul (ed. L. de Mas Latrie, Société de l'histoire de France,
Paris, 1871), an Old French text written in Syria, reflects the attitudes
and interests of the baronage, but it is not accurate for the Fourth Crusade.
The correspondence of Innocent III is, of course, a fundamentally important
source (registered in A. Potthast, Regesta pontficum Romanorum, 2 vols.,
Berlin, 1873; texts of letters in PL, CCXIV-CCXVII); also valuable is the
Gesta Innocentii III papae (PL, CCXIV), a biography drawn from the letters
and containing brief narrative passages. The Venetian documents that survive
are printed in G. L. F. Tafel and G. M. Thomas, Urkunden zur álteren
Handels- und Staatsgeschichte der Republik Venedig (Fontes rerum Austriacarum,
3 vols., Vienna, 1856-1857). 
 For the Greek point of view, the contemporary eyewitness account of Nicetas
Choniates, Historia (CSHB, Bonn, 1835) is the chief source. 
 Most modern scholarship on the Fourth Crusade has been preoccupied with
the "diversion" problem, which will be discussed below with appropriate
references. For accounts of the expedition by secondary authorities one may
turn to A. Luchaire, Innocent III: La Question d'orient (Paris, 1907), now
somewhat out of date, and to the discussions in the standard works of Vasiliev,
Kretschmayr, and Norden. See also L. Bréhier, L'Eglise et l'orient
au moyen-age: 
Les Croisades (Paris, 1928), pp. 152 ff.; idem, Le Monde byzantin, I: Vie
et mort de Byzance (Paris, 1947), pp. 365 ff.; Charles Diehl, "The Fourth
Crusade and the Latin Empire," Cambridge Medieval History, IV (1927),
415 ff.; R. Grousset, Histoire des croisades et du 

Go up to Top of Page