Wolff, R. L.; Hazard, H. W. (ed.) / The later Crusades, 1189-1311
V: The Fourth Crusade, pp. 152-185 PDF (13.5 MB)
Ch.V THE FOURTH CRUSADE 159 The example set by counts Theobald of Champagne and Louis of Blois inspired neighboring and related princes of northern France to similar action. At Bruges on Ash Wednesday (February 23, 1200), count Baldwin of Flanders and Hainault, who was married to a sister of Theobald, took the cross, together with his brother Henry and many high barons of the region; in Picardy, count Hugh of St. Pol; in Perche, count Geoffrey and his brother Stephen, cousins of Louis of Blois. Thus by the summer of 1200 a considerable crusading army had been formed. An initial meeting at Soissons was adjourned for two months to allow time for further enlistments. At a second meeting, held at Compiegne, each of the three counts, Theobald, Louis, and Baldwin, named two of his barons to act as his agents in contracting for ships to carry the host overseas. Some time around the turn of the year the six envoys set out for Venice.<17> The forces raised in northern France in this first stage of recruiting were to form the core of the army that went on the Fourth Crusade. The leaders belonged to the very highest rank of the feudal nobility of France. Theobald and Louis were scions of the two branches of the family of Blois-Champagne, one of the great feudal dynasties of France. They were double first cousins, since their fathers were brothers and their mothers were sisters. They were also nephews both of Philip Augustus and of Richard the Lionhearted, their maternal grandmother, the famous Eleanor of Aquitaine, having been married first to Louis VII of France and later to Henry II of England. Thus the mothers of the young counts were half-sisters of Philip Augustus, as well as of Richard and John. Participation in the crusading movement had been a tradition with the family, ever since an ancestor, Stephen of Blois, had taken part in the First Crusade. Theobald's older brother, Henry, had played a prominent role in the Third Crusade, and had been ruler of Jerusalem until his death in 1197.<18> Count Baldwin IX of Flanders, who had married Theobald's and Henry's sister Mary, was also Baldwin VI of Hainault, a fief of the empire, held of the bishop of Liege. All three of the counts were young men, under thirty years of age. Villehardouin's list of the northern French barons who had so far taken the cross includes, notably, Matthew of Montmorency, Reginald of Montmirail, Simon of Montfort, Reginald of Dampierre, 17 Geoffrey of Villehardouin (Conquete, chap. XIV), who was one of the two agents of the count of Champagne, says that the envoys were given only the general instructions to arrange for ships at some seaport, and decided among themselves to apply to Venice. The Devastatio asserts that the choice of Venice was dictated by the pope, but this statement is unsupported. 18 See above, chapter III, pp. 53, 81-85, and below, chapter XV, pp. 522-529.
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