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

V: The Fourth Crusade,   pp. 152-185 PDF (11.7 MB)

Page 173

Alexius and Isaac, Philip of Swabia and Boniface of Montferrat, 
and the Venetians, and that they may therefore have planned it. 
 Before the fleet sailed on October 1, 1202, Innocent III had learned of
the plan to attack Zara. He had sent Peter Capuano to Venice, to accompany
the crusaders to the east as papal legate. But the doge and his council,
says the author of the Gesta, afraid that he would interfere with their wicked
plan to attack Zara, told him bluntly that they would not accept him as a
legate; he could come along as a preacher if he wished; if not, he could
go back to Rome. Insulted, he returned and told Innocent about the proposed
attack on a Christian city. The pope wrote instantly, sending the letter
by the hand of abbot Peter of Locedio, forbidding the crusaders to attack
any Christian city, and mentioning Zara specifically by name as a place in
the hands of the king of Hungary, who had himself taken the cross. Peter
Capuano also told the pope about the proposals to attack Constantinople on
behalf of the young Alexius. Innocent's letter of November 16, 1202, to Alexius
III Angelus, already referred to, assures the emperor that Philip of Swabia
and the young Alexius had indeed sought to loose the crusading force against
Constantinople, that the crusaders had then sent Peter Capuano to the pope
to ask his advice, that - despite Alexius III's propensity for fine words
and no action - the pope would not permit the attack, although, he said ominously,
there were many of his cardinals who thought he ought to allow it because
of the disobedience of the Greek church. 
 But the papal commands, however firmly intended, were disobeyed. During
the first week of October 1202, the great fleet (from 200 to 230 ships, including
sixty galleys, and the rest transports, some with special hatches for horses)
<52> sailed out into the Adriatic. For more than a month it coasted
along the Istrian and Dalmatian shores, putting in at various ports in an
awesome demonstration of Venetian might. On November 10 it appeared off Zara.
Quite probably because of papal warning of excommunication, Boniface had
prudently stayed behind, and did not participate in the operations. It was
after the landing at Zara that the disaffection that had been brewing in
the host came into the open. Some of the barons belonging to the party that
had opposed the attack on Zara from the beginning sent word to the defenders
not to capitulate, 
 62 On this fleet, in addition to the sources already named, see the letter
of Hugh, count of St. Pol, written from Constantinople to the "duke
of Louvain" (Henry, duke of Brabant and count of Louvain), in Tafel
and Thomas, Urkunden, I, 304. 

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