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Fourth Crusade

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Carolina Brewer
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« on: November 18, 2007, 03:45:09 am »

After the failure of theThird Crusade (1189–1192), there was little interest in Europe for another crusade against the Muslims. Jerusalem was now controlled by the Ayyubid dynasty, which ruled all of Syria and Egypt, except for the few cities along the coast still controlled by the crusader Kingdom of Jerusalem, now centered on Acre. The Third Crusade had also established a kingdom on Cyprus.

Pope Innocent III succeeded to the papacy in 1198, and the preaching of a new crusade became the goal of his pontificate. His call was largely ignored by the European monarchs: the Germans were struggling against Papal power, and England and France were still engaged in warfare against each other. However, due to the preaching of Fulk of Neuilly, a crusading army was finally organized at a tournament held at Écry by Count Thibaut of Champagne in 1199. Thibaut was elected leader, but he died in 1200 and was replaced by an Italian count, Boniface of Montferrat. Boniface and the other leaders sent envoys to Venice, Genoa, and other city-states to negotiate a contract for transport to Egypt, the object of their crusade; one of the envoys was the future historian Geoffrey of Villehardouin. Genoa was uninterested, but in March 1201 negotiations were opened with Venice, which agreed to transport 33,500 crusaders, a very ambitious number. This agreement required a full year of preparation on the part of the Venetians to build numerous ships and train the sailors who would man them, all the while curtailing the city's commercial activities. The crusading army was expected to comprise 4,500 knights (as well as 4,500 horses), 9,000 squires, and 20,000 foot-soldiers.

The majority of the crusading army that set out from Venice in October 1202 originated from areas within France. It included men from Blois, Champagne, Amiens, Saint-Pol, the Ile-de-France and Burgundy. Several other regions of Europe sent substantial contingents as well, such as Flanders and Montferrat. Other notable groups came from the Holy Roman Empire, including the men under Bishop Martin of Pairis and Bishop Conrad of Halberstadt, together in alliance with the Venetian soldiers and sailors led by the doge Enrico Dandolo. The crusade was to make directly for the centre of the Muslim world, Cairo, ready to sail on June 24, 1202. This agreement was ratified by Pope Innocent, with a solemn ban on attacks on Christian states.
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