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.) / Volume II: The later Crusades, 1189-1311

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

Page 160

Guy of Coucy, James of Avesnes, and Peter of Bracieux.<19> The most
interesting name is that of the historian himself, Geoffrey of Villehardouin,
marshal of Champagne. A man of mature years, he had held high office at the
court of Champagne, and from his first responsible task as Theobald's representative
in Venice, he was to play an important role in the expedition and in the
establishment of the Latin empire.<20> His comrade-in-arms Conon of
Béthune, one of Baldwin's barons and his representative on this first
mission, was well known as a courtly poet, and had ahead of him a long and
distinguished career in the east.<21> 
 This crusading host resembled the ordinary feudal levy in its composition
and organization. The divisions or army corps were the regional contingents,
each commanded by the prince of the territory, as the counts of Champagne,
Blois, and Flanders. Within each division, the companies were captained by
the barons who were the vassals of the count, and the companies were composed
of knights and sergeants serving under the banners of their own baron. Thus
the bonds which held the host together were essentially feudal in character.
Taking the cross was in theory a voluntary act on the part of the individual
crusader, but in fact the relationship of vassal to lord had played a decisive
part in the enlistment, and it was the determining factor in the exercise
of command. 
 As to numbers, it may be roughly estimated that between eight and ten thousand
fighting men had been enrolled by the end of the year 1200. Geoffrey of Villehardouin's
list contains the names of some ninety barons, and while he expressly states
that he did not name them all, it may be supposed that his list is fairly
complete. Robert of Clan later describes the company in which he served under
the banner of his lord Peter of Amiens as containing ten knights and sixty
sergeants. This first enlistment, therefore, probably consisted of about
a hundred barons' companies of some eighty to a hundred men each. The force
comprised in the main three categories of troops: armored knights, light-armed
squires (sergeants on horseback), and foot-soldiers (sergeants on foot),
in the usual proportions of one to two to four. 
 In seeking transportation overseas at an Italian port, the envoys 
 19 See the map showing the fiefs and places of origin of these crusaders
in E. Faral's edition at the back of vol. I. This James of Avesnes is the
son of the James who died at Arsuf (see above, chapter II, p. 75). 
 20 See the introduction to Faral's edition, I, pp. v-xii, and J. Longnon,
Recherches sur la vie de Geoffroi de Villehardouin (Paris, I939). 
 21 See A. Wallensköld, Les Chansons de Conon de Béthune (Helsinki,
1891; new edition, Paris, 1921, with introductory material much abridged).
Two of the poems (IV, v) are concerned with the Third Crusade. 

Go up to Top of Page