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)
Ch.V THE FOURTH CRUSADE 175 not end dissension. Many of the lesser people, suffering from hunger and other discomforts while the more important barons monopolized the army's resources, deserted during the winter, fleeing in merchant ships, some of which were lost at sea, or by land through Croatian territory, where the inhabitants massacred them. One group of nobles also departed, swearing that they would return after delivering messages in Syria; but they did not come back. A Flemish contingent, which had been proceeding by sea, arrived safely in Marseilles; although Baldwin commanded its leaders to make rendezvous with the main body off the coast of Greece, they went instead direct to Palestine. Simon of Montfort, Enguerrand of Boves, and other important barons also departed, having made arrangements with king Emeric of Hungary to permit them to pass through his Croatian territories, and thus regain Italy by marching along the shores of the Adriatic. These defections, Villehardouin reports bitterly, hurt the crusader forces seriously. Those crusaders who had taken part in the attack on Zara, in defiance of the pope's specific commands, had automatically incurred excommunication. The leaders now first secured provisional absolution from the bishops in the host, and then sent a delegation to Rome to explain to Innocent how they had been unwillingly forced into the sin of disobedience, and to ask forgiveness. Eager not to jeopardize the success of the whole crusade, of which he still expected great things, the pope received the delegates kindly. He sent them back with a reproving letter, but not nearly so vigorous in its denunciation of the taking of Zara as one might have expected. After the guilty crusaders should have restored what they had taken illegally, and on condition that they commit no more such offenses, the pope agreed to absolve them. <53> The Venetians, however, could not be let off so easily. They had rebuffed Peter Capuano at Venice, had openly flouted Innocent's warning not to attack Zara, and had shown no signs of repentance. Though the envoys of the crusaders tried to dissuade the pope from excommunicating them, he would not accede. Indeed the papal emissary who brought the letter of absolution for the crusaders bore also a letter of excommunication for the doge and the Venetians. Boniface and his fellow barons, however, took it upon themselves to withhold this letter. They wrote the pope explaining that they had done so to prevent the dissolution of the crusade, and saying that they would deliver it if the pope should still insist. <54> 53 Innocent III, Epp., an. no. 162 (FL, CCXIV, cols. 1179 ff.), February 1203. 54 Innocent III, Epp., an. VI, nos. 99, 100 (FL, CCXV, cols. 103 ff.).
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