Fourth Crusade 1198 - 1207

Conquest of Constantinople
Conquest of Constantinople. wikimedia commons/public domain

Launched in 1202, the Fourth Crusade was in part instigated by Venetian leaders who saw it as a means to increase their power and influence. Crusaders who arrived in Venice expecting to be taken to Egypt were instead diverted towards their allies in Constantinople. The great city was mercilessly sacked in 1204 (during Easter week), leading to greater enmity between Eastern and Western Christians.

Fourth Crusade 1198 - 1207

1198 - 1216: The power of the medieval papacy reaches its apex with the reign of Pope Innocent III (1161 - 1216) who managed to excommunicate both Holy Roman emperor Otto IV (1182 - 1218) and King John of England (c. 1167 - 1216) in 1209.

1198 - 1204: The Fourth Crusade is called to recapture Jerusalem. but it is diverted to Constantinople instead. The capital of the Byzantine Empire would be captured, sacked, and held by Latin rulers until 1261.

March 05, 1198: The Teutonic Knights are re-formed as a military order in a ceremony at Acre in Palestine.

August 1198: Pope Innocent III proclaims the launch of the Fourth Crusade.

December 1198: A special tax on churches is created for the purpose of funding the Fourth Crusade.

1199: A political Crusade is launched against Markward of Anweiler.

1199   Berthold, Bishop of Buxtehude (Uexküll), dies in battle and his successor Albert arrives with a new Crusading army.

February 19, 1199: Pope Innocent III issues a bull which assigns the uniform of a white tunic with a black cross to the Teutonic Knights. This uniform is worn during the Crusades.

April 06, 1199: Richard I Lionheart, king of England, dies from the effects of an arrow wound received during the siege of Chalus in France. Richard had been one of the leaders of the Third Crusade.

c. 1200: Muslim conquests in India started a decline of Buddhism in northern India, eventually resulting in its effective elimination in the nation of its origin.

1200: French nobles gather at the court of Theobald III of Champagne for a tournament. Here Fulk of Neuilly promotes the Fourth Crusade and they agree to "take the cross," electing Theobald their leader

1200: Saladin's brother, Al-Adil, takes control of the Ayyubid Empire.

1201: Death of Count Theobald III of Champagne, son of Henry I of Champagne and original leader of the Fourth Crusade. Boniface of Montferrat (brother of Conrad of Montferrat, an important figure in the Third Crusade) would be elected leader in Theobald's place.

1201: Alexius, son of deposed Byzantine emperor Isaac II Angelus, escapes from prison and travels to Europe to seek help in recovering his throne.

1201: Even while negotiating with Europeans on a price for transporting Crusader to Egypt, Venetians negotiate a secret treaty with the sultan of Egypt, guaranteeing that nation against invasion.

1202: Albert, the third Bishop of Buxtehude (Uexküll), establishes the knightly crusading order known as the Sword brothers (also sometimes referred to as the Livonian Order, Livonian Brothers of the Sword (latin: Fratres militiae Christi), the Christ Knights, or The Militia of Christ of Livonia). Mostly, non-landed members of the lower nobility, the Sword brothers are separated into classes of knights, priests, and servants.

November 1202: Christians on the Fourth Crusade arrive at Venice in the hopes of being transported by ship to Venice, but they don't have the 85,000 marks required for payment so the Venetians, under doge Enrico Dandolo, barricades them on the island of Lido until he figures out what to do with them. Eventually, he decides that they can make up the difference by capturing some cities for Venice.

November 24, 1202: After just five days of fighting, Crusaders capture the Hungarian port of Zara, a Christian city on the coast of Dalmatia. The Venetians had once controlled Zara but lost it to the Hungarians and offered passage to Egypt to the Crusaders in exchange for Zara. The importance of this port had been growing and the Venetians feared the rivalry from the Hungarians. Pope Innocent III is infuriated by this and excommunicates the entire Crusade as well as the city of Venice, not that anyone seems to notice or care.

1203: Crusaders abandon the city of Zara and move on Constantinople. Alexius Angelus, son of deposed Byzantine Emperor Isaac II, offers the Crusaders 200,000 marks and the reunification of the Byzantine Church with Rome if they capture Constantinople for him.

April 06, 1203: Crusaders launch an attack on the Christian city of Constantinople.

June 23, 1203: A fleet carrying Crusaders on the Fourth Crusade enters Bosphorus.

July 17, 1203: Constantinople, capital of the Byzantine Empire, falls to Crusading forces from Western Europe. Deposed emperor Isaac II is freed and resumes rule alongside his son, Alexius IV, while Alexius III flees to Mosynopolis in Thrace. Unfortunately, there is no money to pay the Crusaders and the Byzantine nobility are infuriated at what happened. Thomas Morosini of Venice is installed as patriarch of Constantinople, increasing the rivalry between Eastern and Western churches.

1204: Albert, the third Bishop of Buxtehude (Uexküll), gets official approval from Pope Innocent III for his Crusade in the Baltic region.

February 1204: The Byzantine nobility re-imprison Isaac II, strangle Alexius IV, and install Alexius Ducas Murtzuphlos, brother-in-law of Alexius III, on the throne as Alexius V Ducas.

April 11, 1204: After months of not being paid and infuriated at the execution of their ally, Alexius III, soldiers of the Fourth Crusade once again attack Constantinople. Pope Innocent III had again ordered them not to attack fellow Christians, but the papal letter was suppressed by clergy on the scene.

April 12, 1204: The armies of the Fourth Crusade capture Constantinople again and establish the Latin Empire of Byzantium, but not before they sack the city and rape its inhabitants for three straight days - during Easter week. Alexius V Ducas is forced to flee to Thrace. Although Pope Innocent III protests at the behavior of the Crusaders, he does not hesitate to accept a formal reunion of the Greek and Latin churches.

May 16, 1204: Baldwin of Flanders becomes the first Latin Emperor of Constantinople and the Byzantine Empire and French is made the official language. Boniface of Montferrat, the leader of the Fourth Crusade, goes on to capture the city of Thessalonica (second-largest Byzantine city) and founds the Kingdom of Thessalonica.

April 01, 1205: Death of Amalric II, king of both Jerusalem and Cyprus. His son, Hugh I, assumes control of Cyprus while John of Ibelin becomes regent for Amalric's daughter Maria for the kingdom of Jerusalem (even though Jerusalem is still in Muslim hands).

August 20, 1205: Henry of Flanders is crowned Emperor of the Latin Empire, formerly the Byzantine Empire, after the death of Baldwin I.

1206: Mongol leader Temujin is proclaimed "Genghis Khan," which means "emperor within the Seas."

1206: Theodore I Lascaris assumes the title Emperor of Nicaea. After the fall of Constantinople to the Crusaders, Byzantine Greeks spread throughout what is left of their empire. Theodore, the son-in-law of the Byzantine Emperor Alexius III, sets himself up in Nicaea and leads a series of defensive campaigns against the Latin invaders. In 1259 Michael VIII Palaeologus would capture the throne and later capture Constantinople from the Latins in 1261.

May 1207: Raymond VI of Toulouse (descendant of Raymond IV or Toulouse, a leader of the First Crusade) refuses to assist in the suppression of the Cathars in southern France and is excommunicated by Pope Innocent III.

September 04, 1207: Boniface of Montferrat, leader of the Fourth Crusade and founder the Kingdom of Thessalonica, is ambushed and killed by Kaloyan, Tsar of Bulgaria.