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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)

Page 195

Venetian barons. This hybrid group, a curious fusion of Italian municipal
and French feudal institutions, formed what may be called the council of
the Latin Empire. One may compare it to the high court of Jerusalem, where
of course the Venetian component was absent. Moreover, the Jerusalemite high
court itself heard cases; in Latin Constantinople the Venetians and non-Venetians
jointly appointed judges to do so, in accordance with Venetian rather than
with feudal practice. 
 Thenceforth, every time a new Latin emperor was crowned, he was required
to swear to uphold all the conditions of the three basic treaties: the pact
of March 1204, the partition treaty of October 1204, and this new agreement
of October 1205. Henry himself, who had already sworn once, as moderator,
to observe the Venetians' privileges, had to swear again, before his coronation
on August 20, 1206, to abide by all the provisions of these three documents.
He swore on the high altar of Hagia Sophia, in the presence of Zeno, the
papal legate, and the Latin patriarch. To the Venetians, these three documents
formed the constitution of the new state, and they lost no opportunity to
remind their partners, the Latin emperors, of the exact nature of their mutual
 At the level of everyday affairs, a further agreement regulated financial
claims, which might arise between Venetians and Franks in Constantinople.
<7> Its most interesting clause provided that a member of either nation
might make good his claim against a member of the other by producing a witness
who belonged to the debtor's nationality who would swear that his fellow-national
did in fact owe the money. Thus a Venetian witness against a Venetian, a
Frank witness against a Frank: these supplied prima facie proof that a claim
was justified. Business between Venetians and Franks was brisk, and the national
solidarity of each group was vigorous. 
 The treaty of March 1204, by its provision that the party which should fail
to elect the emperor would appoint a cathedral chapter to Hagia Sophia, which
would then elect a Latin patriarch, had provided, though most uncanonically,
for the ecclesiastical future of the new Latin empire. Indeed, some little
time after the choice of Baldwin I the Venetians exercised their right and
named a Venetian cathedral chapter, which then chose Thomas Morosini, only
a subdeacon but a member of a noble Venetian family, to be Latin patriarch.
For some months pope Innocent III remained unaware of the illegal action.
When he learned of it, early in 1205, 
 7 Text in ibid., II, 49 ff. 

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