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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 184

Constantinople was even chosen, his fellow-Latins had made it certain that
he would be a feudal monarch with insufficient resources and little power.
The Venetian establishment in former Byzantine territory, however, was greatly
strengthened. No longer dependent upon grants from successive Byzantine emperors,
the Venetians had "constitutionally" excluded their enemies from
competition. Laymen had disposed, in advance, of the most important ecclesiastical
office, and had virtually secularized church property. Taken together with
subsequent Venetian behavior, the treaty of March 1204 indicates that Dandolo
had little interest in the title of emperor, and was ready to let the crusaders
take the post for one of their own candidates, in exchange for the commercial
and ecclesiastical supremacy. 
 This agreement made, the Venetians busied themselves with getting the fleet
ready for action. This time a combined force of crusaders and Venetians operating
from the ships would launch the assault against the sea walls on April 9.
At daybreak the fleet stood out across the harbor on a front a half league
long, with the great freighters interspersed between the galleys and the
horse transports. The freighters were brought as close to the wall as possible
and the flying bridges swung out to reach the tops of the towers, while some
of the troops disembarked and tried to scale the walls from the ground. On
this day the assault failed and after several hours of desperate fighting
the assailants gave up the attempt, reƫmbarked on the vessels, and returned
to the camp across the harbor. On April 12th they renewed the attack. With
a strong wind at its back the fleet crossed the harbor and made for the same
section of the wall. The great freighters were able to grapple their flying
bridges onto the tops of a few of the towers and the troops swarmed over
and drove off the defenders. Others landed, scaled the walls, and broke down
the gates from inside. The horses were led ashore from the transports; the
knights mounted and rode through the gates. The Greeks retreated farther
within the city, and the assailants consolidated their hold on the section
in front of the wall they had taken. During the night some of the Germans
in the division of the marquis, fearing an attack, set fire to the buildings
in front of them, and a new conflagration raged through that part of the
city, to add to the terrors of the populace. 
 That night the crusaders and Venetians slept on their arms, expecting to
have to renew the fighting in the morning. In fact, however, Mourtzouphlus
had fled the city, and the Latins entered, meeting no further resistance.
For three days they indulged in 

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