Fourth Crusade

   The Crusade (q.v.) that destroyed Byzantium (q.v.) in 1204. The Partitio Romaniae (q.v.) divided up the territory of the empire as spoils among Venice (q.v.) and the other major participants of this Crusade. The Byzantine reconquest of Constantinople (q.v.) in 1261 by forces from the Empire of Nicaea (q.v.) reconstituted Byzantium, but the empire never recovered its former strength. The negative results of the 1204 conquest are, in any case, clearer than the question of how the Fourth Crusade was diverted to Constantinople in the first place. At the very least, a combination of self-interest and unfortunate coincidences played a role. That there was a conspiracy from the outset is alleged by Niketas Choniates (q.v.), who blames Venetian Dodge Enrico Dandalo (qq.v.). Other chief participants, including Philip of Swabia and Boniface of Montferrat (qq.v.), found advantage in the diversion. Modern historical opinions vary, but all are forced to rely chiefly on Geoffrey Villehardouin (q.v.), whose account—a clever apologetic—forms the principal historical source for the Fourth Crusade.

Historical Dictionary of Byzantium . .

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