Constantinople on the Eve of the Crusaders’ Attack 11 April 1204


Map Code: Ax02400

The infamous fourth Crusade (1202–04) was another attempt to take Jerusalem, but ended up with the sacking of Constantinople, the greatest Christian city in the world. In January 1203 the Crusaders, who had been waylaid in the Adriatic, entered an agreement with the Byzantine Prince Alexios Angelos to divert to Constantinople and reinstate his deposed father on the throne, in return for a payment of 200,000 marks. On 17 July, Alexios IV was crowned co-Emperor with his father. The people of Constantinople bitterly resented the terms of his agreement with the Crusaders and anti-western feelings erupted into rioting and street fighting. In January 1204 the co-emperors were deposed and murdered and the Crusaders, who were owed money, decided to take Constantinople for themselves. On 12 April they forced their way through the city’s gates and an orgy of terrible violence was unleashed, leading to the massacre of 400,000 of the city’s inhabitants. After three days of looting and pillaging, the city was in the Crusaders’ hands; they had dealt a crippling blow to the Byzantine Empire.

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