Knights of the Fourth Crusade Capture Constantinople (Chronology of European History)
Article abstract: The knights of the Fourth Crusade capture Constantinople, ushering in the triumph of militant Latin Catholicism and establishing Western political and economic power over the Byzantine Empire.
Summary of Event
The fall of Constantinople in 1204 was the culmination of a long historical process of Byzantine decline and the ascendancy of Western political, military, economic, and religious power in the eastern Mediterranean. Beginning with the First Crusade in 1096, Byzantium feared that the knights were as often interested in taking Byzantine territory as they were in conquering the Holy Land. Crusading armies, particularly when they passed through the Balkans, often pillaged Byzantine provinces. From the Byzantine perspective, the Norman conquest of southern Italy made them a constant military threat to the Balkans, especially at Dyrrakhion on the Adriatic coast.
In the twelfth century the Italian cities of Venice, Genoa, and Pisa obtained commercial privileges in Byzantium and established districts within Constantinople. Yet their economic power and presence within the capital were bitterly resented, and in 1182 the Latins in Constantinople were brutally massacred. Three years later, the Normans seized both Dyrrakhion and the important city of Thessalonica, which was ravaged in revenge for the Latin massacre of 1182. In the Third Crusade, the German emperor Frederick Barbarossa raided the...
(The entire section is 1502 words.)
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