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)
164 A HISTORY OF THE CRUSADES II should be ready to proceed overseas by the next summer, "at the time set by our beloved sons, the counts of Flanders, Champagne, and Blois." <28> He also wrote, about the same time, to the French clergy, endorsing the expedition planned by the envoys and the Venetians. <29> Similar instructions may have been sent to the German clergy, for bishop Conrad of Halberstadt and abbot Martin of Pairis in Alsace were eventually to lead contingents from that country to Venice. The negotiations at Venice had taken several weeks, and the envoys were not able to set out for home until some time in April 1201. Late in May, after their return, count Theobald of Champagne died. He had been the first to take the cross, and seems to have been regarded as the leader of the crusade. In any event, it was now decided to replace him with a formally elected commander-in-chief. So a council was held at Soissons toward the end of June, which was attended by the counts of Flanders, Blois, St. Pol, and Perche, together with a number of high barons. There Geoffrey of Villehardouin proposed the name of marquis Boniface of Montferrat, "a very worthy man and one of the most highly esteemed of men now living." Villehardouin was able to assure the assembly that Boniface would accept the nomination, so it is clear that somebody had already consulted him about it. After considerable discussion, the barons agreed, and decided to send envoys to Boniface to ask him to come to France and accept the command. <30> Vassals of the empire for their principality in northern Italy, the members of the house of Montferrat had distinguished themselves as crusaders. Boniface's father, William the Old, had fought in the Second Crusade, and had been captured fighting at Hattin in 1187. His eldest brother, William Longsword, had married Sibyl, daughter of Amalric of Jerusalem (1176), and was posthumously the father of king Baldwin V. A second brother, Renier, had married, in 1180, Maria, a daughter of the emperor Manuel Comnenus, had become caesar, and was poisoned by Andronicus Comnenus in 1183. A third brother, Conrad, had married, in 1185, Theodora, a sister of the emperor Isaac Angelus, had also become caesar, and helped put down a serious revolt against Isaac in 1185. 28 Roger of Hoveden, Chronica, IV, 365. No English contingent actually took part in that expedition. 29 This is the letter in the Gesta, referred to above in note 10. In it the pope mentioned by name three of the six envoys, evidently the delegation sent to Rome with a copy of the covenant for his confirmation, and suggested that their advice should be sought in organizing the crusade in France. 30 Villehardouin, Conquete, chap. XLI.
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