Wolff, R. L.; Hazard, H. W. (ed.) / The later Crusades, 1189-1311
V: The Fourth Crusade, pp. 152-185 PDF (13.5 MB)
172 A HISTORY OF THE CRUSADES II olim could not refer to anything as recent as August 1202, but must refer to a considerably longer period, as far back as 1201. <48> The 4nnals of Cologne also include a passage, which may well date the young Alexius's arrival in the summer of 1201. <49> Finally, Robert of Clan tells us that in mid-December 1202 at Zara, Boniface of Montferrat, in a speech to the crusaders, told them that "last year at Christmas," that is, Christmas 1201, he had seen the young Alexius at the court of Philip of Swabia. <50> When all these passages are taken together, they strongly suggest that Villehardouin was wrong about the date of the arrival of the young Alexius in the west, and that he had in fact been there since sometime in 1201, or long enough to have launched a plot with Boniface and Philip, and perhaps with the Venetians and the pope. But this is a long way from proving that such a plot was actually launched. Nor need we believe that Villehardouin deliberately lied about the time the young Alexius arrived. He may simply have erred. Moreover, he may be right, and the other evidence misleading. The problem of the diversion is still with us. Though scholars have not heeded a plea made half a century ago to give up trying to solve an insoluble problem, <51> the plea itself makes excellent sense. We are unlikely to be able to go beyond the statement that the diversion which occurred suited the interests of the young 48 Innocent III, Epp., an. v, no. 122 (PL, CCXIV, col. 1124); argument from the word "olim" originated and pressed very hard by Grégoire, loc. cit., 165 f. 49 MGH, SS., XVII, 810, dealing with the consecration of archbishop Siegfried of Mainz in July 1201, and continuing: "Per idem tempus Alexius.. venit in Alemanniam ad Phylippum regem sororium suum..." Gerland, "Der vierte Kreuzzug und seine Probleme," p. 510, note a, points out that there is some ambiguity as to which archbishop is meant, Mainz or Magdeburg; and that the date 1201 or 1202 hinges on this question. Faral and Cerone reject the passage; Usseglio (I Marchesi di Monferrato, II, 186 f.) refutes their arguments; Grégoire follows Usseglio. It seems likely that the passage really can be used to support the date 1201 for Alexius's journey. 50 Ed. Lauer, p. 16; tr. McNeal, pp. 45-46. 51 Luchaire, Innocent III: La question d'orient (Paris, 1907), p. 97: "...on ne saura jamais, et la science a vraiment mieux a faire qu'a discuter indéfiniment un problème insoluble." The references given above show that scholars did not take his word or his advice. In addition, see H. Vriens, "De Kwestie van den vierden Kruistocht," Tijdschrift voor Geschiednis, XXXV (1922), 50-82, and the new and most interesting review of the subject by A. Frolow, "La Deviation de la 4e croisade vers Constantinople," Revue de l'histoire des religions, CXLV (1954), 168-187; CXLVI (1954), 67-89, 194-219, who emphasizes the role played by the relics of Constantinople in the motivation of the crusaders. Nor have scholars ceased to take downright positions on the vexed question. See, for example, R. S. Lopez, Cambridge Economic History, II (Cambridge, 1952), 311: "...the Pope, the Venetians, and a number of feudal lords planned the Fourth Crusade as an expedition against the Byzantine Empire", and note I: "The legend of a last-minute 'diversion' of the Crusade from the Holy Land to the Byzantine Empire is no longer tenable in the light of decisive Greek and Latin evidence." With such flat statements we must disagree: to us the evidence for a plot seems compelling but not decisive, while we find no evidence that the pope participated in it, though this does not rule out the possibility that he did: no evidence is what one would expect to find if the pope had plotted with the others.
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