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

VI: The Latin Empire of Constantinople, 1204-1261,   pp. 186-233 PDF (13.5 MB)

Page 199

vigorous demands for compensation. As early as March 1206, emperor and barons
agreed to give the churches, instead of their lost possessions, one fifteenth
of all property outside the walls of Constantinople. A commission was to
divide all real estate into fifteenths, and award one-fifteenth to the churches.
Moreover, the Latin laity was to pay tithes as they did in the west, though
the Greeks had not yet been compelled to follow this alien custom. Though
ostensibly satisfactory, the agreement did not include the Venetians. Moreover,
Morosini sequestered all the fifteenths after they had been awarded, because
he insisted that he was entitled to one half of the total sum, although the
papal legate had fixed his share at only one quarter. A later legate obtained
a new settlement (1214-1215) providing that one twelfth should be awarded
to the churches. But this too led to quarrels and remained a dead letter.
Not until 1219 was a new agreement reached. This provided for the cession
of one eleventh of all property to the churches, decreed that cathedral churches
were to have their lost property restored, and required cash payments from
such villages as paid money rents and could not be divided into elevenths.
At the same time, the new agreement provided for two priests in every village
of twenty-five hearths, and proportionate numbers for larger settlements.
The Greeks were allowed to pay one thirtieth instead of the full tenth for
tithes. In 1223 the Venetians adhered to the agreement. The elevenths were
distributed, and the property question was settled. <10> 
 When one considers the fortunes of the crusader state whose secular and
ecclesiastical institutions we have been describing, one concludes that its
eventual collapse was probably inevitable; founded on alien soil, amid hostile
Greeks who soon had leaders around whom they might rally, dependent on a
flow of money and men from the west which might be cut off at any time, the
Latin empire could have survived, if at all, only through statesmanship so
farsighted and astute that one would be unrealistic in demanding it of flesh-and-blood
crusaders and Venetians. Thus, for example, it would probably have been sound
policy for the Latin conquerors to exploit the deep social cleavages among
the Greeks, which had helped bring the Byzantine Empire to its ruin. Yet
the concept of supporting the peasantry against their former masters, and
thus winning favor in the countryside, was so utterly alien to the 
 10 R. L. Wolff, "Politics in the Latin Patriarchate of Constantinople,"
Dumbarton Oaks Papers, VIII (1954), 227-303. 

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