Wolff, R. L.; Hazard, H. W. (ed.) / Volume II: The later Crusades, 1189-1311
VI: The Latin Empire of Constantinople, 1204-1261, pp. 186-233 PDF (13.5 MB)
Ch. VI THE LATIN EMPIRE OF CONSTANTINOPLE 189 Montferrat expected to be elected. He occupied the imperial palace of the Boukoleon, reserved by treaty for the successful candidate, and consented to leave it only under pressure of public opinion aroused by the doge. Moreover, Boniface had perhaps already married, and was certainly engaged to marry, Margaret ("Maria"), widow of emperor Isaac II Angelus and sister of king Emeric of Hungary, an alliance surely designed to lend legitimacy to his imperial claims. Even the Greeks of Constantinople, reduced as they now were to those women, children, old men, and members of the lower classes who had not been able to flee the invaders, expected that Boniface would be their new ruler, and when they met a Latin on the street would try to curry favor with him by holding up two fingers in the shape of a cross, saying mournfully "Aiios phasileos marchio", the sacred emperor the marquis. <1> But Boniface found himself unable to name all six of the crusader electors to the twelve-man commission, and in the end the crusaders picked six churchmen, only three of whom favored Boniface. This sealed his fate, since the six electors chosen by the Venetians, all laymen, unanimously opposed him; the doge did not propose to allow the selection of an old ally of the Genoese. To a man the six Venetians therefore favored count Baldwin of Flanders and Hainault, <2> who also had the support of three of the crusader electors. Boniface's supporters gave up, and joined the others in announcing the unanimous election of Baldwin, at midnight on May 9, 1204. Though bitterly disappointed, Boniface did homage to Baldwin, who was crowned on May 16 at a solemn ceremony in Hagia Sophia by the assembled bishops of the crusading armies acting together, in the absence of a Latin patriarch. The Latins, who had witnessed the coronation of Alexius IV Angelus less than a year earlier, copied Byzantine ceremonial; Baldwin wore the sacred purple boots, and jeweled eagles on his mantle. He and his 1 Gunther of Pairis, Historia constantinopolitana (ed. P. Riant, Geneva, 1875), p. 53. For the sack, which lasted for the three days following the capture, see above, chapter V, pp. 184-185. 2 Later Venetian tradition as preserved in the still unpublished chronicle of Nicholas Trevisano records a different version of the election: that on the first ballot all six Venetian electors voted for the doge, and all six crusaders for Baldwin; and that then the Venetian Octavian Querini changed his vote, saying that, if the doge should be elected emperor, all the knights from beyond the Alps would desert the empire, and it would be empty and so crushed. Though very interesting, this account of events cannot be accepted unconfirmed, in the face of the general agreement among other sources that the doge never wanted the office of emperor for himself or any other Venetian. But in the reasoning attributed to Octavian Querini by Nicholas Trevisano we may perhaps catch an echo of the doge's own thinking. For the text see F. Thiriet, "Les Chroniques vénétiennes de la Marciana et leur importance pour l'histoire de la Romanie gréco-vénétienne," Mélanges d'archiologie et d'histoire, École française de Rome, LXVI (1954), 265.
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