Sack of Constantinople, 1204

Isaakios II Angelos (1185-1195) belonged in the family of Angeloi, which descended from Philadelphia of Minor Asia. Isaakios was crowned emperor in 1185 but he proved incompetent, lavish and corrupted. He imposed taxes in the popular classes, favored the aristocracy and was indifferent for the proper organization of his empire. He spent most of his time hunting. Nevertheless, his brave general Alexius Vranas defeated the Normands who devastated Macedonia, on 7th November 1185.

In 1187, during his administration the Third Crusade took place, against Arabs, headed by Saladin, who had conquered Jerusalem on 3rd October 1187. Saladin proved generous and did not harm the christian populations. The Crusade was headed by Frederic Barvarossa of Germany, Philip II of France and Richard Lionheart of England. Richard invaded Cyprus in 1191 and later the crusaders occupied Palestine and massacred the whole population. In March, 1195 Isaac II Angelos conducted an expedition against the Bulgars, in Thrace. But he was arrested and blinded by his brother Alexius III Angelos, who became emperor of the Greek Empire, in April 1195. Isaac and his son Alexius were thrown in jail.

Pope Innocent III, (1198-1216) despite manifold problems in the West, was the first pope since Urban II to be both anxious and able to consider the Crusade a major papal concern. In 1198 he broached the subject of a new expedition through legates and encyclical letters. In 1199 a tax was levied on all clerical incomes--later to become a precedent for systematic papal income taxes--and Fulk of Neuilly, a popular orator, was commissioned to preach. At a tournament held by Thibaut III of Champagne, several prominent French nobles took the cross, and others joined later. Among them was Geoffrey of Villehardouin, who was to write one of the principal accounts of the Crusade. Contact was made with the aging and blind but ambitious Doge Enrico Dandolo of Venice to provide transport. The republic of Venice had acquired considerable trading privileges within the Byzantine Empire, and the growing number of Venetian merchants had long incurred the hostility of the Greeks. The Crusade was supposed to be directed against Egypt. An agreement was made providing for payments to the Venetians for transportation of 30000 men and 4500 horses and an equal division of conquests. It must have been difficult to keep track of all the documents recording government assets and payments without the convenience of asset management software used today.

Alexius, son of Isaac, managed to escape during a campaign against the insurgent Emmanuel Camitzes, and sailed to Ancona. From there he rode to Germany, to his sister Irene who was wife of King Philip of Germany. Promising funds, supplies, and troops to conquer Egypt, the maintenance of 500 Western knights in the Holy Land, and submission of the Byzantine church to Rome, Alexius convinced Philip, Crusade leader Boniface of Montferrat, and their Venetian allies to divert the Fourth Crusade to Constantinople in order to reinstate Alexius and his father as coemperors. The crusader army that arrived at Venice in the summer of 1202 was somewhat smaller than had been anticipated, since some of the crusaders were travelling directly from France. Even so, there were not sufficient funds to pay the Venetians. Accordingly, the crusaders accepted the suggestion that in lieu of payment they assist the Venetians in the capture of the Hungarian city of Zara. This was done despite the opposition of many crusaders both to the diversion of the enterprise and to the attack on a Christian city. Innocent was informed of the plan, but his veto was disregarded. Here is how Geoffrey de Villehardouin (1160-1213) describes the departure from Venice in his Memoirs or Chronicle of The Fourth Crusade and The Conquest of Constantinople:

"Then were the ships and transports apportioned by the barons. Ah, God what fine war-horses were put therein. And when the ships were fulfilled with arms and provisions, and knights and sergeants, the shields were ranged round the bulwarks and castles of the ships, and the banners displayed, many and fair. And be it known to you that the vessels carried more than three hundred petraries and mangonels, and all such engines as are needed for the taking of cities, in great plenty. Never did finer fleet sail from any port. And this was in the octave of the Feast of St. Remigius (October) in the year of the Incarnation of Jesus Christ twelve hundred and two. Thus did they sail from the port of Venice, as you have been told. On the Eve of St. Martin (10th November) they came before Zara in Sclavonia, and beheld the city enclosed by high walls and high towers; and vainly would you have sought for a fairer city, or one of greater strength, or richer. And when the pilgrims saw it, they marvelled greatly, and said one to another, " How could such a city be taken by force, save by the help of God himself? " The first ships that came before the city cast anchor, and waited for the others; and in the morning the day was very fine and very clear, and all the galleys came up with the transports, and the other ships which were behind; and they took the port by force, and broke the chain that defended it and was very strong and well-wrought; and they landed in such sort that the port was between them and the town. Then might you have seen many a knight and many a sergeant swarming out of the ships, and taking from the transports many a good war-horse, and many a rich tent and many a pavilion. Thus did the host encamp. And Zara was besieged on St. Martin's Day (11th November 1202)."

Zara surrendered to the mercy of the Doge, on condition only that all lives should be spared. The Venetians took the part of the city towards the port, where were the ships, and the Franks took the other part. A month later came envoys from Germany, sent by King Philip and the heir of Constantinople, Alexius who was brother of Philip's wife, Irene. According to the Chronicle of The Fourth Crusade:

the knights and the Doge of Venice assembled in a palace where the Doge was lodged. And the envoys addressed them and said: " Lords, King Philip sends us to you, as does also the brother of the king's wife, the son of the emperor of Constantinople. "Lords," says the king, " I will send you the brother of my wife; and I commit him into the hands of God-may He keep him from death! - and into your hands. And because you have fared forth for God, and for right, and for justice, therefore you are bound, in so far as you are able, to restore to their own inheritance those who have been unrighteously despoiled. And my wife's brother will make with you the best terms ever offered to any people, and give you the most puissant help for the recovery of the land overseass. And first, if God grant that you restore him to his inheritance, he will place the whole empire of Romania (Eastern Empire) in obedience to Rome, from which it has long been separated. Further, he knows that you have spent of your substance, and that you are poor, and he will give you 200,000 marks of silver, and food for all those of the host, both small and great. And he, of his own person, will go with you into the land of Babylon, or, if you hold that that will be better, send thither 10,000 men, at his own charges. And this service he will perform for one year. And all the days of his life he will maintain, at his own charges, five hundred knights in the land overseass to guard that land. Lords, we have full power," said the envoys, " to conclude this agreement, if you are willing to conclude it on your parts. And be it known to you, that so favourable an agreement has never before been offered to any one; and that he that would refuse it can have but small desire of glory and conquest." The barons and the Doge said they would talk this over; and a parliament was called for the morrow. When all were assembled, the matter was laid before them.

The knights had dispute about the outcome of the campaign. One party did not like to attack to a christian city and wanted to sail immediately to Syria, and the other party insisted to sail to Constantinople to gain all those who had promised the thoughtless young prince. Innocent was aware of a plan to divert the Crusade to Constantinople in order to give the throne to Alexius. Accordingly, Innocent ordered Boniface of Montferrat to publish immediately his original letter excommunicating the Venetians, which he had refused to do, and forbade any attack on Constantinople. But the papal letter arrived after the fleets had left Zara.

On 7th April 1203, the crusaders destroyed the city and sailed to Dyrachion, port of the Greek Empire. The city surrendered and swore submission to the heir of throne. The fleet departed and came to the island of Corfu. The inhabitants did not recognize Alexius as legal heir and kept the gates of the city closed. The crusaders pillaged the area around the city which was well fortified and burnt most of the villages and fields of the island. They departed from the port of Corfu on 24 May 1203 and reached the island Andros, in Aegean Sea. The knights again pillaged the island and destroyed most of the villages. Later the huge fleet entered the passage of Ellispontus or Dardanelles, and reached to a city called Abydos. The Latins stayed there a week, stole corn from the land, and sailed to the monastery of St Stephen, on 23rd June 1203. Geoffrey de Villehardouin describes the scene in his Chronicle.

There had those on board the ships and galleys and transports full sight of Constantinople; and they took port and anchored their vessels. Now you may know that those who had never before seen Constantinople looked upon it very earnestly, for they never thought there could be in all the world so rich a city; and they marked the high walls and strong towers that enclosed it round about, and the rich palaces, and mighty churches of which there were so many that no one would have believed it who had not seen it with his eyes-and the height and the length of that city which above all others was sovereign. And be it known to you, that no man there was of such hardihood but his flesh trembled: and it was no wonder, for never was so great an enterprise undertaken by any people since the creation of the world.
Crusaders siege Polis, 1204

On 24 June 1203, the crusaders landed at Chalcedon. Chalcedon is a place in the asiatic side of Bosporus. There was a palace of the Emperor Alexius. The counts and barons landed and lodged themselves in the palace. Emperor Alexius saw this provocation and sent 500 men to face the Latins. But the fight lasted a while and the Greeks retreated leaving their horses and tents. Alexius III Angelos proved incompetent and less worthy than his predecessor. The corruption of his court was enormous and the moral of the army low. When the leader of the army is coward then the army is ineffective. His admiral Michael Strufnos was so wicked that he sold the gear of his fleet and increased so his personal fortune. The Greek fleet was in miserable condition. The situation of the empire couldn't be worst. The two emperors, Isaac and Alexius III Angelos, managed in some years to destroy the work of the Comnenus' denasty. Two personalities who brightened the dark years of Angelos' dynasty were the brothers Michael and Nicetas Choniates. Nicetas' history is the main source of the events which took place during the 4th crusade.

July 2 1203, the Emperor Alexius sent an envoy, under Nicholas Roux with letters to the counts and to the barons. The envoy was received in a palace of Scutari (Chrysoupolis), where the crusaders were holding a council. Nicholas Roux, a Franc who lived for years in the Greek capital, read the letters: "Lords, the Emperor Alexius would have you know that he is well aware that you are the best people uncrowned, and come from the best land on earth. And he marvels much why, and for what purpose, you have come into his land and kingdom. For you are Christians, and he is a Christian, and well he knows that you are on your way to deliver the Holy Land overseass and the Holy Cross, and the Sepulchre. If you are poor and in want, he will right willmgly give you of his food and substance, provided you depart out of his land. Neither would he otherwise wish to do you any hurt, though he has full power therein, seeing that if you were twenty times as numerous as you are, you would not be able to get away without utter discomfiture if so be that he wished to harm you." The Latins answered that he should deliver the power to his nephew, Isaac's son who was the legal successor of the throne.

On 3rd July, the Doge of Venice and the Marquis of Montferrat entered into one galley, took with them Alexius, the son of the Emperor Isaac and sailed close to the walls of Constantinople to show the young prince to the Greeks. There was no sympathy for the prince and the Latins returned back and decided to attack to Constantinople. First they attacked to the port. Their leaders were: Baldwin of Flanders, his brother Henry, Matthew of Wallincourt, Baldwin of Beauvoir, Peter of Amiens, Count Louis of Blois and Chartres, Matthew of Montmorency, Robert of Ronsoi, Otho of la Roche, Richard of Dampierre, and Marquis of Montferrat. They easily seized the port, because the Greeks under their ruler Alexius, again retreated; The united European forces (Germans, Italians, Belgians and French) who fought bravely, managed to capture the tower of Galatas; where they broke the chain that closed the Golden Horn (Chresus Keras), and came closer to the sea walls of Constantinople. Theodoros Lascaris, who later would become the emperor of the empire of Nicaea, tried without success to drive back the enemy.

So was the tower of Galata and and the port of Constantinople taken. The French advanced to the land walls, while the Venetians reached by sea to the palace of Blachernae. The two allied armies stayed close one to another. The Greeks under Theodoros Lascaris ceased not to attack them, but without achieving a final blow to the besiegers. During a fight, Constantine Lascaris, brother of Theodoros was taken prisoner. A knight whose name was William of Gi was killed. On I7th July I203, everything was ready for the assault. The Marquis Boniface of Montferrat guarded the camp towards the fields, with the division of the Burgundians and the division of the men of Champagne. Count Baldwin of Flanders and his brother Henry, Count Louis of Blois and Chartres and Count Hugh of St. Paul went to the assault. The Italians under the semi blind Doge attacked to the sea walls and after fierce fighting they captured twenty-five towers. They set fire, that spread so quickly destroying houses and churches of a large part of the Polis.

Again the coward Emperor Alexius III came out of the Adrianople Gate with huge forces, but despite the urging of Theodoros Lascaris, he dared not to attack. That night the Emperor Alexius of Constantinople took of his treasure as much as he could carry, and abandoned his city, his people and his family. Emperor Isaac and his wife Margarita of Hungary were liberated, while Alexius' wife, Eufrosine was arrested. Isaakios sent envoys to the Latins to announce the news of his return to the throne. They demanded of the emperor to ratify the treaty made by his son; and on 1st August 1203 Alexius IV was crowned co-emperor. Here is how Geoffrey de Villehardouin describes the entry of the Francs in the city:

Now you must know that many of those in the host went to see Konstantinoupolis, and the rich palaces and great churches, of which there were many, and all the great wealth of the city-for never was there city that possessed so much. Of relics it does not behove me to speak, for at that day there were as many there as in all the rest of the world. Thus did the Greeks and French live in good fellowship in all things, both as regards trafficking and other matters. By common consent of Franks and Greeks it was settled that the new emperor should be crowned on the feast of our Lord St. Peter (1st August 1203). So was it settled, and so it was done. He was crowned full worthily and with honour according to the use for Greek emperors at that time. Afterwards he began to pay the moneys due to the host; and such moneys were divided among the host, and each repaid what had been advanced in Venice for his passage.

Alexios IV confiscated the lands of Eufrosine, emptied the public treasury, imposed taxes and gathered 100000 marcs to give to the Latins. This was only one half of the promised sum. This attitude increased more the hatred of Greeks for Latins. A hatred that would last for centuries, during the middle ages. Among the Crusaders was dispute about the course of the campaign. Should they continue to the Holy Lands or should they stay to take all the money promised by young Alexios? The Venetians insisted to take all the sum that Alexius had promised, and so the young emperor left his capital, escorted by Frankish knights, for the provinces in a desperate attempt to find the promised money. While the Emperor Alexius was away, a conflict arose between the Greeks and the Latins. The Latins again set fire to the city, a fire which destroyed a large part of the capital near the church of St. Sophia.

It lasted two days and two nights, nor could it be put out by the hand of man. And the front of the fire, as it went flaming, was well over half a league broad. What was the damage then done, what the possessions and riches swallowed up, could no man tell-nor what the number of men and women and children who perished-for many were burned. All the Latins, to whatever land they might belong, who were lodged in Constantinople, dared no longer to remain therein; but they took their wives and their children, and such of their possessions as they could save from the fire, and entered into boats and vessels, and passed over the port and came to the camp of the pilgrims. Nor were they few in number, for there were of them some fifteen thousand, small and great; and afterwards it proved to be of advantage to the pilgrims that these should have crossed over to them.

The Emperor Alexius remained for a long time in Thrace and returned to Constantinople in 11 November 1204. Nevertheless he did not manage to gather enough money to satisfy the greed of the Francs. The crusaders had an embassy sent to the emperor, to his palace of Blachernae, lead by Conon de Bethune and Geoffry of Villehardouin.

They dismounted at the gate and entered the palace, and found the Emperor Alexius and the Emperor Isaac seated on two thrones, side by side. And near them was seated the empress, who was the wife of the father, and stepmother of the son, and sister to the King of Hungary-a lady both fair and good. And there were with them a great company of people of note and rank, so that well did the court seem the court of a rich and mighty prince. By desire of the other envoys Conon of Bethune, who was very wise and eloquent of speech, acted as spokesman: "Sire, we have come to thee on the part of the barons of the host and of the Doge of Venice. They would put thee in mind of the great service they have done to thee-a service known to the people and manifest to all men. Thou hast swom, thou and thy father, to fulfil the promised covenants, and they have your charters in hand. But you have not fulfilled those covenants well, as you should have done. Many times have they called upon you to do so, and now again we call upon you, in the presence of all your barons, to fulfil the covenants that are between you and them. Should you do so, it shall be well. If not, be it known to you that from this day forth they will not hold you as lord or friend, but will endeavour to obtain their due by all the means in their Power. And of this they now give you warning, seeing that they would not injure you, nor any one, without first defiance given; for never have they acted treacherously, nor in their land is it customary to do so. You have heard what we have said. It is for you to take counsel thereon according to your pleasure." Much were the Greeks amazed and greatly outraged by this open defiance; and they said that never had any one been so hardy as to dare defy the Emperor of Constantinople in his own hall. Very evil were the looks now cast on the envoys by the Emperor Alexius and by all the Greeks, who aforetime were wont to regard them very favourably. Great was the tumult there within, and the envoys turned about and came to the gate and mounted their horses. When they got outside the gate, there was not one of them but felt glad at heart; nor is that to be marvelled at, for they had escaped from very great peril, and it held to very little that they were not all killed or taken. So they returned to the camp, and told the barons how they had fared.

Alexius V Ducas Murtzuphlus So there was war between the Greeks and the Francs, on November 1203. The Greeks under the command of Alexius Ducas Murtzuphlus tried to burn the European fleet, using fireships, but without success. The Venetians were masters in the seamanship and seized the fireships, using hooks. Only one merchant ship from Pisa was burnt. In these difficult events the young emperor proved incompetent like his uncle. Three men had the courage to face the barbarians: Alexius Ducas Murtzuphlus, Constantine Lascaris and his brother Theodorus Lascaris. The Greek people were furious with the inefficiency of the young emperor and a revolution broke in 25th January 1204. Alexius IV was thrown in jail and on 5 February 1204, Alexius V Ducas Murtzuphlus was crowned emperor of the Eastern Empire. Alexius IV was strangled in his jail on 8 February 1204 and Isaac died in prison a few days later. So ended the worst dynasty that ruled the Empire and disorganized the state to such extent that after 2 months this state was to meet its destiny and fall to the crusaders. A fall that would prepare the ground for the Turks to come and destroy definitely the Greek medieval state.

The Franks rode to the north and attacked to a city of Euxenus Pontus, named Philea. They pillaged and destroyed the rich city and when they returned back, the emperor assaulted them. But again the crusaders defeated the Greek imperial army and not only the emperor Alexius V was almost taken captive, but the holy icon of the Virgin Mary that was made by Apostle Lucas was stolen by the Latins. This icon was very important for the Orthodoxy and the Greeks grieved for the loss of it.

Well had these prepared all their engines, and mounted their petraries, and mangonels on the ships and on the transports, and got ready all such engines of war as are needful for the taking of a city, and raised ladders from the yards and masts of the vessels, so high that they were a marvel to behold. And when the Greeks saw this, they began, on their side, to strengthen the defences of the city which was enclosed with high walls and high towers. Nor was any tower so high that they did not raise thereon two or three stages of wood to heighten it still more. Never was city so well fortified. Thus did the Greeks and the Franks bestir themselves on the one side and the other during the greater part of Lent. Then those of the host spoke together, and took counsel what they should do. Much was advanced this way and that, but in the end, they devised that if God granted them entry into the city by force, all the booty taken was to be brought together, and fittingly distributed; and further, if the city fell into their power, six men should be taken from among the Franks, and six from among the Venetians, and these twelve should swear, on holy relics, to elect as emperor the man who, as they deemed, would rule with most profit to the land. And whosoever was thus elected emperor, would have one quarter of whatever was captured, whether within the city or without, and moreover would possess the palace of Bucoleon and that of Blachernae; and the remaining three parts would be divided into two, and one of the halves awarded to the Venetians and the other to those of the host. And there should be taken twelve of the wisest and most experienced men among the host of the pilgrims, and twelve among the Venetians, and those twenty-four would divide fiefs and honours, and appoint the service to be done therefor to the emperor. This covenant was made sure and sworn to on the one side and the other by the Franks and the Venetians; with provision that at the end of March, a year thence, any who so desired might depart hence and go their way, but that those who remained in the land would be held to the service of the emperor in such mariner as might be ordained. Thus was the covenant devised and made sure; and such as should not observe it were excommunicated by the clergy.

So the Latins decided to divide the Eastern Empire. The men who had swore before the Holy Cross to go and liberate Jerusalem from musulmans, had prefered to act like common thieves and attack to a christian city with only one purpose. The sack. Alexius V Ducas meets Doge Dandolo

The europeans attacked to the sea walls on 8th April 1204. The ships drew near to the city, and a fierce battle began in more than a hundred places. The crusaders were repulsed in that assault, and those who had landed from the galleys were driven back. After the defeat, the Doge of Venice and the other barons were assembled in a church on the other side of the straits and discussed. The Venetians insisted that they should repeat the attacks to the same place, but this time the ships should be bound together in order to reach the high towers. The preparations lasted some days and the final assault was repeated on 13th April 1204. The Greeks defended the towers with success, but suddenly the wind changed and blew from the north. Two ships that were bound together, the Pilgrim and the Paradise, approached so near to a tower, that the ladder of the first vessel joined on to the tower. Immediately a Venetian, and two French knights, whose name was Andrew of Durboise and John Choisy, entered into the tower. This was the beginning of the end. The tower was taken and many other crusaders raised their ladders and conquered many other towers. In vain the emperor Alexius Mourzuphlus tried to encourage his soldiers to counterattack. They fled and Alexius ran to the castle of Bucoleon. He took with him Eufrosine and her daughter Eudokia and left the Byzantine capital through the Golden Gate. The Latins set again fire to the city.

And the city began to take fire, and to burn very direfully; and it burned all that night and all the next day, till vesper-time. And this was the third fire there had been in Constantinople since the Franks arrived in the land; and more houses had been burned in the city than there are houses in any three of the greatest cities in the kingdom of France.
When Alexius V left the City, Constantine Lascaris one of the city's leading defenders, was proclaimed emperor in the Cathedral of St. Sophia. He tried with his brother Theodoros Lascaris to drive the Varagkoi (Vikings mercenaries) against the invaders, but again the attempt had no result and the two brothers fled the city. In Nicaea, Theodoros Lascaris would later create a new Byzantine state, the Empire of Nicaea. One of his successors Michael VIII Paleologus in 1261, would liberate the Greek capital. Crusaders plunder Aghia Sophia "

The richest city of the world was at the mercy of the Europeans. The barbarians did horrible things that are beyond imagination. They tortured and massacred a large part of the population, destroyed churches, palaces, monasteries and even sculptures made by Phedias and Praxiteles, stole thousands of priceless icons, relics and other things, raped young girls and boys. Not to mention the countless manuscripts of ancient greek philology which were burnt by the ignorant and illiterate Francs. So much was the hatred of the Europeans for the Greek Empire! Nicetas Choniates or Acominatus describes in his chronicle the detestable actions of the barbarians. Nicetas experienced the looting of Constantinople and with trhe help of a Venetian merchant, he managed to escape with his family, to Nicaea, capital of a new Greek state, where he wrote the 21-volume " History of the Times," a record of the rise and fall of the 12th- and 13th-century Byzantine dynasties, beginning with the Greek emperor John Comnenus (1118-1143) and concluding with the intrusion of the first Latin Eastern emperor, Baldwin I of Flanders (1204-05). Geoffrey de Villehardouin gives his point of view:

The Marquis Boniface of Montferrat rode all along the shore to the palace of Bucoleon, and when he arrived there it surrendered, on condition that the lives of all therein should be spared. At Bucoleon were found the larger number of the great ladies who had fled to the castle, for there were found the sister [Agnes, sister of Philip Augustus, married successively to Alexius II., to Andronicus, and to Theodore Branas] of the King of France, who had been empress, and the sister [Margaret, sister of Emeric, King of Hungary, married to the Emperor Isaac, and afterwards to the Marquis of Montferrat] of the King of Hungary, who had also been empress, and other ladies very many. Of the treasure that was found in that palace I cannot well speak, for there was so much that it was beyond end or counting. At the same time that this palace was surrendered to the Marquis Boniface of Montferrat, did the palace of Blachernae surrender to Henry, the brother of Count Baldwin of Flanders, on condition that no hurt should be done to the bodies of those who were therein. There too was found much treasure, not less than in the palace of Bucoleon. Each garrisoned with his own people the castle that had been surrendered to him, and set a guard over the treasure. And the other people, spread abroad throughout the city, also gained much booty. The booty gained was so great that none could tell you the end of it: gold and silver, and vessels and precious stones, and samite, and cloth of silk, and robes vair and grey, and ermine, and every choicest thing found upon the earth. And well does Geoffry of Villehardouin the Marshal of Champagne, bear witness, that never, since the world was created, had so much booty been won in any city. Every one took quarters where he pleased and of lodgings there was no stint. So the host of the pilgrims and of the Venetians found quarters, and greatly did they rejoice and give thanks because of the victory God had vouchsafed to them-for those who before had been poor were now in wealth and luxury.
Stolen horses are now in Venice

For four days the great City was subjected by the rank and file to pillage and massacre. When order had been restored, the crusaders and the Venetians proceeded to implement their agreement; Baldwin of Flanders was crowned emperor in the church of St. Sophia and the Venetian Thomas Morosini was chosen patriarch. But the lands parcelled out among the leaders did not include all the former Byzantine possessions. The imperial government continued in Nicaea, and an offshoot Empire of Trebizond, at the eastern end of the Black Sea, lasted until 1461. There was also established a Byzantine Despotate of Epirus, and the Bulgarians under Skylogiannis or Ioannitzes remained hostile. The rift between the Eastern and Western churches widened, and Greek popular resistance to any schemes of reunion with the empire intensified. The Byzantine Empire, for centuries a bulwark against invasion from the East, was damaged beyond repair. The Greeks never forgave the Europeans for the destruction of their state. A destruction that would bring the final end of the Greek Empire with the invasion of the Turks. An invasion that had as result the slavery of the Greeks for 5 centuries and the irrevocable loss of ancient Greek lands. Crusaders enter the City

Marquis Boniface of Montferrat married the empress who had been the wife of the Emperor Isaac, and was sister to the King of Hungary. He asked from Baldwin the city of Thesalonica, the capital of the province of Macedonia, which was granted to him. Alexius Mourzuphlus who had taken with him the empress, wife of the Emperor Alexius III, and his daughter Eudokia, reached Messinopolis, a city of Thrace. There, the former emperor received him and told him that he should be as welcome as if he were his own son, and that he would give him his daughter to wife, and make of him his son. But when he found the chance he blinded him. Later Alexius V Mourzuphlus was arrested by the Latins who murderered him by casting him from the top of a column in Constantinople. This was the end for the man who tried without success to fight the Frankish invaders. Alexius III Angelos was also arrested by the crusaders. On 1205, Baldwin and later Boniface were killed by the king of Bulgars, Ioannitzes. The Empire of Nicaea which faced three enemies: the Latins, the Bylgarians, and the Seljuq sultanate, proved worthy of the Byzantine traditions of fighting on many fronts at once and of skillful diplomacy. Theodore Lascaris and his son-in-law John III Vatatzes built up at Nicaea a microcosm of the Byzantine Empire and church in exile. The Latins were thus never able to gain a permanent foothold in Anatolia.

Constantine Paparhigopoulos - History of Helenic Nation
Encyclopaedia Britannica

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