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 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 obligations. 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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