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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 164

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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