Memoirs or Chronicle of the Fourth Crusade and the Conquest of Constantinople

Geoffrey de Villehardouin , 1150-1213

Part 1

trans. Frank T. Marzials,
(London: J.M. Dent, 1908)



Be it known to you that eleven hundred and ninety-seven years after
the Incarnation of our Lord Jesus Christ, in the time of Innocent Pope
of Rome, and Philip King of France, and Richard King of England, there
was in France a holy man named Fulk of Neuilly - which Neuilly is
between Lagni-sur-Marne and Paris - and he was a priest and held the
cure of the village. And this said Fulk began to speak of God
throughout the Isle-de-France, and the other countries round about;
and you must know that by him the Lord wrought many miracles.

Be it known to you further, that the fame of this holy man so spread,
that it reached the Pope of Rome, Innocent*; and the Pope sent to
France, and ordered the right worthy man to preach the cross (the
Crusade) by his authority. And afterwards the Pope sent a cardinal of
his, Master Peter of Capua, who himself had taken the cross, to
proclaim the Indulgence of which I now tell you, viz., that all who
should take the cross and serve in the host for one year, would be de-

[note: Innocent III, elected Pope on the 8th January 1198, at the
early age of thirty seven, Innocent III was one of the leading spirits
of his time-in every sense a strong man and great Pope. From the
beginning of his pontificate he turned his thoughts and policy to the
recovery of Jerusalem. ]


livered from all the sins they had committed, and acknowledged in
confession. And because this indulgence was so great, the hearts of
men were much moved, and many took the cross for the greatness of the


The other year after that right worthy man Fulk had so spoken of God,
there was held a tourney in Champagne, at a castle called Ecri, and by
God's grace it so happened that Thibaut, Count of Champagne and Brie,
took the cross, and the Count Louis of Blois and Chartres likewise;
and this was at the beginning of Advent (28th November 1199). Now you
must know that this Count Thibaut was but a young man, and not more
than twenty-two years of age, and the Count Louis not more than
twenty-seven. These two counts were nephews and cousins-german to the
King of France, and, on the other part, nephews to the King of

With these two counts there took the cross two very high and puissant
barons of France, Simon of Montfort*, and Renaud of Montmirail. Great
was the fame thereof throughout the land when these two high and
puissant men took the cross.

[note: Simon de Monfort - the same one who later crushed the
Albigensians and the father of the "English" Simon de Montfort who
defeated the royal army at Lewes and was killed at Evesham in 1265].

In the land of Count Thibaut of Champagne took the cross Garnier,
Bishop of Troyes, Count Walter of Brienne, Geoffry of Joinville*, who
was seneschal of the land, Robert his brother, Walter of Vignory,
Walter of Montbιliard, Eustace of Conflans, Guy of Plessis his
brother, Henry of Arzilliιres, Oger of Saint-Chιron, Villain of
Neuilly, Geoffry of Villhardouin, Marshal of Champagne, Geoffry his
nephew, William of Nully, Walter of Fuligny, Everard of Montigny,
Manasses of l'Isle, Macaire of Sainte-Menehould, Miles the Brabant,
Guy of Chappes, Clerembaud his nephew, Renaud of Dampierre, John
Foisnous, and many other right worthy men whom this book does not here
mention by name.

[note: Geoffry de Joinville - the father of the chronicler Joinville.]

With Count Louis took the cross Gervais of Chβtel Hervιe his son John
of Virsin, Oliver of Rochefort, Henry of Mont-


reuil, Payen of Orlιans, Peter of Bracietix, Hugh his brother, William
of Sains, John of Frialze, Walter of Gaudonville, Hugh of Cormeray,
Geoffry his brother, Hervιe of Beauvoir, Robert of Frouville, Peter
his brother, Orri of l'Isle, Robert of Quartier, and many more whom
this book does not here mention by name.

In the Isle-de-France took the cross Nevelon, Bishop of Soissons,
Matthew of Montmorency, Guy the Castellan of Coucy, his nephew, Robert
of Ronsoi, Ferri of Yerres, John his brother, Walter of Saint-Denis,
Henry his brother, William of Aunoi, Robert Mauvoisin, Dreux of
Crcssonsacq, Bernard of Moreuil, Enguerrand of Boves, Robert his
brother, and many more right worthy men with regard to whose names
this book is here silent.

At the beginning of the following Lent, on the day when folk are
marked with ashes (23rd February 1200), the cross was taken at Bruges
by Count Baldwin of Flanders and Hainault, and by the Countess Mary
his wife, who was sister to the Count Thibaut of Champagne. Afterwards
took the cross, Henry his brother, Thierri his nephew, who was the son
of Count Philip of Flanders, William the advocate of Bιthune, Conon
his brother, John of Nκ1e Castellan of Bruges, Renier of Trit,
Reginald his son, Matthew of Wallincourt, James of Avesnes, Baldwin of
Beauvoir, Hugh of Beaumetz, Gιrard of Mancicourt, Odo of Ham, William
of Gommegnies, Dreux of Beaurain, Roger of Marck, Eustace of Saubruic,
Francis of Colemi, Walter of Bousies, Reginald of Mons, Walter of
Tombes, Bernard of Somergen, and many more right worthy men in great
number, with regard to whom this book does not speak further.

Afterwards took the cross, Count Hugh of St. Paul. With him took the
cross, Peter of Amiens his nephew, Eustace of Canteleu, Nicholas of
Mailly, Anscau of Cayeaux, Guy of Houdain, Walter of Nκ1e, Peter his
brother, and many other men who are unknown to us.

Directly afterwards took the cross Geoffry of Perche, Stephen his
brother, Rotrou of Montfort, Ives of La Jaille, Aimery of Villeroi,
Geoffry of Beaumont, and many others whose names I do not know.



Afterwards the barons held a parliament at Soissons, to settle when
they should start, and whither they should wend. But they could come
to no agreement, because it did not seem to them that enough people
had taken the cross. So during all that year (1200) no two months
passed without assemblings in parliament at Compiθgne. There met all
the counts and barons who had taken the cross. Many were the opinions
given and considered; but in the end it was agreed that envoys should
be sent, the best that could be found, with full powers, as if they
were the lords in person, to settle such matters as needed settlement.

Of these envoys, Thibaut, Count of Champagne and Brie, sent two;
Baldwin, Count of Flanders and Hainault, two; and Louis, Count of
Blois and Chartres, two. The envoys of the Count Thibaut were Geoffry
of Villehardouin, Marshal of Champagne, and Miles the Brabant; the
envoys of Count Baldwin were Conon of Bιthune' and Alard Maquereau,
and the envoys of Count Louis were John of Friaise, and Walter of

To these six envoys the business in hand was fully committed, all the
barons delivering to them valid charters, with seals attached, to the
effect that they would undertake to maintain and carry out whatever
conventions and agreements the envoys might enter into, in all sea
ports, and whithersoever else the envoys might fare.

Thus were the six envoys despatched, as you have been told; and they
took counsel among themselves, and this was their conclusion: that in
Venice they might expect to find a greater number of vessels than in
any other port. So they journeyed day by day, till they came thither
in the first week of Lent (February 1201).


The Doge of Venice, whose name was Henry Dandolo* and

[note: That Henry Dandolo was a very old man is certain, but there is
doubt as to his precise age, as also as to the cause of his blindness.
According to one account he had been blinded, or all but blinded, by
the Greeks, and in a treacherous manner, when sent, at an earlier
date, on an embassy to Constaritinople-whence his bitter hostility to
the Greek Empire. I agree, however, with Sir Rennell Rodd that, if
this had been so, Villehardouin would scarcely have refrained from
mentioning such an act of perfidy on the part of the wicked Greeks.
(See p. 41 of Vol 1of Sir Rennell Rodd's
Princes of Achaia.) It is hardly to be imagined that he would keep the
matter dark because, if he mentioned it, people would think Dandolo
acted throughout from motives of personal vengeance. This would be to
regard Villehardouin a- a very astute controversial historian indeed.]


who was very wise and very valiant, did them great honour, both he and
the other folk, and entertained them right willingly, marvelling,
however, when the envoys had delivered their letters, what might be
the matter of import that had brought them to that country. For the
letters were letters of credence only, and declared no more than that
the bearers were to be accredited as if they were the counts in
person, and that the said counts would make good whatever the six
envoys should undertake.

So the Doge replied: " Signors, I have seen your letters; well do we
know that of men uncrowned your lords are the greatest, and they
advise us to put faith in what you tell us, and that they will
maintain whatsoever you undertake. Now, therefore, speak, and let us
know what is your pleasure."

And the envoys answered: " Sire, we would that you should assemble
your council; and before your council we will declare the wishes of
our lords; and let this be tomorrow, if it so pleases you." And the
Doge replied asking for respite till the fourth day, when he would
assemble his council, so that the envoys might state their

The envoys waited then till the fourth day, as had been appointed
them, and entered the palace, which was passing rich and beautiful;
and found the Doge and his council in a chamber. There they delivered
their message after this manner: " Sire, we come to thee on the part
of the high barons of France, who have taken the sign of the cross to
avenge the shame done to Jesus Christ, and to reconquer Jerusalem, if
so be that God -will suffer it. And because they know that no people
have such great power to help them as you and your people, therefore
we pray you by God that you take pity on the land overseas and the
shame of Christ, and use diligence that our lords 'have ships for
transport and battle."

" And after what manner should we use diligence?


said the Doge. " After all manners that you may advise and propose,"
rejoined the envoys, " in so far as what you propose may be within our
means." " Certes," said the Doge, " it is a great thing that your
lords require of us, and well it seems that they have in view a high
enterprise. We will give you our answer eight days from to-day. And
marvel not if the term be long, for it is meet that so great a matter
be fully pondered."


When the term appointed by the Doge was ended, the envoys returned to
the palace. Many were the words then spoken which I cannot now
rehearse. But this was the conclusion of that parliament: " Signors,"
said the Doge, " we will tell you the conclusions at which we have
arrived, if so be that we can induce our great council and the commons
of the land to allow of them; and you, on your part, must consult and
see if you can accept them and carry them through.

" We will build transports* to carry four thousand five hundred
horses, and nine thousand squires, and ships for four thousand five
hundred knights, and twenty thousand sergeants of foot. And we will
agree also to purvey food for these horses and people during nine
months. This is what we undertake to do at the least, on condition
that you pay us for each horse four marks, and for each man two marks.

[note: The old French term is
vuissiers, and denotes a kind of vessel, flat-bottomed, with large
ports, specially constructed for the transport of horses. T. Smith
translates "palanders," but I don't know that " palander" conveys any
very clear idea to the English reader.]

"And the covenants we are now explaining to you, we undertake to keep,
wheresoever we may be, for a year, reckoning from the day on which we
sail from the port of Venice in the service of God and of Christendom.
Now the sum total of the expenses above named amounts to 85,000 marks.

"And this will we do moreover. For the love of God, we will add to the
fleet fifty armed galleys on condition that, so long as we act in
company, of all conquests in land or money, whether at sea or on dry
ground, we shall have the half, and you the other half. Now consult
together to see if you, on your parts, can accept and fulfil these


The envoys then departed, and said that they would consult together
and give their answer on the morrow. They consulted, and talked
together that night, and agreed to accept the terms offered. So the
next day they appeared before the Doge, and said: " Sire, we are ready
to ratify this covenant." The Doge thereon said he would speak of the
matter to his people, and, as he found them affected, so would he let
the envoys know the issue.

On the morning of the third day, the Doge, who was very wise and
valiant, assembled his great council, and the council was of forty men
of the wisest that were in the land. And the Doge, by his wisdom and
wit, that were very clear and very good, brought them to agreement and
approval. Thus he wrought with them; and then with a hundred others,
then two hundred, then a thousand, so that at last all consented and
approved. Then he assembled well ten thousand of the people in the
church of St. Mark, the most beautiful church that there is, and bade
them hear a mass of the Holy Ghost, and pray to God for counsel on the
request and messages that had been addressed to them. And the people
did so right willingly.


When mass had been said, the Doge desired the envoys to humbly ask the
people to assent to the proposed covenant. The envoys came into the
church. Curiously were they looked upon by many who had not before had
sight of them.

Geoffry of Villehardouin, the Marshal of Champagne, by will and
consent of the other envoys, acted as spokesman and said unto them: "
Lords, the barons of France, most high and puissant, have sent us to
you; and they cry to you for mercy, that you take pity on Jerusalem,
which is in bondage to the Turks, and that, for God's sake, you help
to avenge the shame of Christ Jesus. And for this end they have
elected to come to you, because they know full well that there is none
other people having so great power on the seas, as you and your
people. And they commanded us to fall at your feet, and not to rise
till you consent to take pity on the Holy Land which is beyond the


Then the six envoys knelt at the feet of the people, weeping many
tears. And the Doge and all the others burst into tears of pity and
compassion, and cried with one voice, and lifted up their hands,
saying: " We consent, we consent I " Then was there so great a noise
and tumult that it seemed as if the earth itself were falling to

And when this great tumult and passion of pity - greater did never any
man see-were appeased, the good Doge of Venice, who was very wise and
valiant, went up into the reading-desk, and spoke to the people, and
said to them: "Signors, behold the honour that God has done you; for
the best people in the world have set aside all other people, and
chosen you to join them in so high an enterprise as the deliverance of
our Lord!

All the good and beautiful words that the Doge then spoke, I cannot
repeat to you. But the end of the matter was, that the covenants were
to be made on the following day; and made they were, and devised
accordingly. When they were concluded, it was notified to the council
that we should go to Babylon (Cairo), because the Turks could better
be destroyed in Babylon than in any other land; but to the folk at
large it was only told that we were bound to go overseass. We were
then in Lent (March 1201), and by St. john's Day, in the following
year-which would be twelve hundred and two years after the Incarnation
of Jesus Christ-the barons and pilgrims were to be in Venice, and the
ships ready against their coming.

When the treaties were duly indited and sealed, they were brought to
the Doge in the grand palace, where had been assembled the great and
the little council. And when the Doge delivered the treaties to the
envoys, he knelt greatly weeping, and swore on holy relics faithfully
to observe the conditions thereof, and so did all his council, which
numbered fifty-six persons. And the envoys, on their side, swore to
observe the treaties, and in all good faith to maintain their oaths
and the oaths of their lords; and be it known to you that for great
pity many a tear was there shed. And forthwith were messengers sent to
Rome, to the Pope Innocent, that he might confirm this covenant-the
which he did right willingly.

Then did the envoys borrow five thousand marks of silver, and gave
them to the Doge so that the building of the ships


might be begun. And taking leave to return to their own land, they
journeyed day by day till they came to Placentia in Lombardy. There
they parted. Geoffry, the Marshal of Champagne and Alard Maquereau
went straight to France, and the others went to Genoa and Pisa to
learn what help might there be had for the land overseass

When Geoffry, the Marshal of Champagne., passed over Mont Cenis, he
came in with Walter of Brienne, going into Apulia, to conquer the land
of his wife, whom he had married since he took the cross, and who was
the daughter of King Tancred. With him went Walter of Montbιliard, and
Eustace of Conflans, Robert of Joinville, and a great part of the
people of worth in Champagne who had taken the cross.

And when he told them the news how the envoys had fared, great was
their joy, and much did they prize the arrangements made. And they
said, " We are already on our way; and when you come, you will find us
ready." But events fall out as God wills, and never had they power to
join the host. This was much to our loss; for they were of great
prowess and valiant. And thus they parted, and each went on his way.

So rode Geoffry the Marshal, day by day, that he came to Troyes in
Champagne, and found his lord the Count Thibaut sick and languishing,
and right glad was the count of his coming. And when he had told the
count how he had fared, the count was so rejoiced that he said he
would mount horse, a thing he had not done of a long time. So he rose
from his bed and rode forth. But alas, how great the pity! For never
again did he bestride horse but that once.

His sickness waxed and grew worse, so that at the last he made his
will and testament, and divided the money which he would have taken
with him on pilgrimage among his followers and companions, of whom he
had many that were very good men and true-no one at that time had
more. And he ordered that each one, on receiving his money, should
swear on holy relics, to join the host at Venice, according as he had
promised. Many there were who kept that oath badly, and so incurred
great blame. The count ordered that another portion of his treasure
should be retained, and taken to the host, and there expended as might
seem best.

Thus died the count; and no man in this world made a better end. And
there were present at that time a very


great assemblage of men of his lineage and of his vassals. But of the
mourning and funeral pomp it is unmeet that I should here speak. Never
was more honour paid to any man. And right well that it was so, for
never was man of his age more beloved by his own men, nor by other
folk. Buried he was beside his father in the church of our lord St.
Stephen at Troyes. He left behind him the Countess, Ws wife, whose
name was Blanche, very fair, very good, the daughter of the King of
Navarre. She had borne him a little daughter, and was then about to
bear a son.


When the Count was buried, Matthew of Montmorency, Simon of Montfort,
Geoffry of Joinville who was seneschal, and Geoffry the Marshal, went
to Odo, Duke of Burgundy, and said to him, " Sire, your cousin is
dead. You see what evil has befallen the land overseass We pray you by
God that you take the cross, and succour the land overseas in his
stead. And we will cause you to have all his treasure, and will swear
on holy relics, and make the others swear also, to serve you in all
good faith, even as we should have served him."

Such was his pleasure that he refused. And be it known to you that he
might have done much better. The envoys charged Geoffry of Joinville
to make the self-same offer to the Count of Bar-le-Duc, Thibaut, who
was cousin to the dead count, and he refused also.

Very great was the discomfort of the pilgrims, and of all who were
about to go on God's service, at the death of Count Thibaut of
Champagne; and they held a parliament, at the

beginning, of the month, at Soissons, to determine what they should
do. There were present Count Baldwin of Flanders and Hainault, the
Count Louis of Blois and Chartres, the Count Geoffry of Perche, the
Count Hugh of Saint- Paul, and many other men of worth.

Geoffry the Marshal spake to them and told them of the offer made to
the Duke of Burgundy, and to the Count of Bar-le-Duc, and how they had
refused it. " My lords," said he, " listen, I will advise you of
somewhat if you will


consent thereto. The Marquis of Montferrat* is very worthy and
valiant, and one of the most highly prized of living men. If you asked
him to come here, and take the sign of the cross and put himself in
place of the Count of Champagne, and you gave him the lordship of the
host, full soon would he accept thereof."

[note: Boniface, Marquis of Montferrat, was one of the most
accomplished men of the time, and an approved soldier. His little
court at Montferrat was the resort of artist and troubadour. His
family was a family of Crusaders. The father, William of Montferrat,
had gone overseass and fought valiantly against the infidel.
Boniface's eldest brother, William of the Long Sword, married a
daughter of the titular King of Jerusalem, and their son became
titular king in turn. Another brother, Conrad, starting for the Holy
Land, stopped at Constantinople, and did there such good service that
the Greek emperor gave his sister to him in marriage; but afterwards
fearing the perfidy of his brother-in-law, Conrad fled to Syria, and
there battled against Saladin. Yet another brother, Renier, also
served in the Greek Empire, married an Emperor's daughter, and
received for guerdon of his deeds the kingdom of Salonika. Boniface
himself had fought valiantly against Saladin, been made prisoner, and
afterwards liberated on exchange. It was no mean and nameless knight
that Villehardouin was proposing as chief to the assembled Crusaders,
but a princely noble, the patron of poets, verrsed in state affairs,
and possessing personal experience of Eastern warfare. I extract these
details from M. Bouchet's

Many were the words spoken for and against; but in the end all agreed,
both small and great. So were letters written, and envoys chosen, and
the marquis was sent for. And he came, on the day appointed, through
Champagne and the Isle-de-France, where he received much honour, and
specially from the King of France, who was his cousin.


So he came to a parliament assembled at Soissons; and the main part of
the counts and barons and of the other Crusaders were there assembled.
When they heard that the marquis was coming, they went out to meet
him, and did him much honour. In the morning the parliament was held
in an orchard belonging to the abbey of our Lady of Soissons. There
they besought the marquis to do as they had desired of him, and prayed
him, for the love of God, to take the cross, and accept the leadership
of the host, and stand in the place of Thibaut Count of Champagne, and
accept of his money


and of his men. And they fell at his feet, with many tears; and he, on
his part, fell at their feet, and said he would do it right willingly.

Thus did the marquis consent to their prayers, and receive the
lordship of the host. Whereupon the Bishop of Soissons, and Master
Fulk, the holy man, and two white monks whom the marquis had brought
with him from Ws own land, led him into the Church of Notre Dame, and
attached the cross to his shoulder. Thus ended this parliament, and
the next day he took leave to return to his own land and settle his
own affairs-telling them all to settle their own affairs likewise, for
that he would meet them at Venice.

Thence did the marquis go to attend the Chapter at Citeaux, which is
held on Holy Cross Day in September (14th September 1241). There he
found a great number of abbots, barons and other people of Burgundy;
and Master Fulk went thither to preach the Crusade. And at that place
took the cross Odo the Champenois of Champlitte, and William his
brother, Richard of Dampierre, Odo his brother, Guy of Pesmes, Edmund
his brother, Guy of Conflans, and many other good men of Burgundy,
whose names are not recorded. Afterwards took the cross the Bishop of
Autun, Guignes Count of Forez, Hugh of Bergi (father and son), Hugh of
Colemi. Further on in Provence took the cross Peter Bromont, and many
others whose names are unknown to us.

Thus did the pilgrims make ready in all lands. Alas! a great mischance
befell them in the following Lent (March 1202) before they had
started, for the Count Geoffry of Perche fell sick, and made his will
in such fashion that he directed that Stephen, his brother, should
have his goods, and lead his men in the host. Of this exchange the
pilgrims would willingly have been quit, had God so ordered. Thus did
the count make an end and die; and much evil ensued, for he was a
baron high and honoured, and a good knight. Greatly was he mourned
throughout all his lands.


After Easter and towards Whitsuntide (June 1202) began the pilgrims to
leave their own country. And you must

know that at their departure many were the tears shed for


pity and sorrow, by their own people and by their friends. So they
journeyed through Burgundy, and by the mountains of Mont-joux (? Jura)
by Mont Cenis, and through Lombardy, and began to assemble at Venice,
where they were lodged on an island which is called St. Nicholas in
the port.

At that time started from Flanders a fleet that carried a great number
of good men-at-arms. Of this fleet were captains John of Nκle,
Castellan of Bruges, Thierri, who was the son of Count Philip of
Flanders, and Nicholas of Mailly. And these promised Count Baldwin,
and swore on holy relics, that they would go through the straits of
Morocco, and join themselves to him, and to the host of Venice, at
whatsoever place they might hear that the count was faring. And for
this reason the Count of Flanders and Henry his brother had confided
to them certain ships loaded with cloth and food and other wares.

Very fair was this fleet, and rich, and great was the reliance that
the Count of Flanders and the pilgrims placed upon it, because very
many of their good sergeants were journeying therein. But ill did
these keep the faith they had sworn to the count, they and others like
them, because they and such others of the same sort became fearful of
the great perils that the host of Venice had undertaken.

Thus did the Bishop of Autun fail us, and Guignes the Count of Forez,
and Peter Bromont, and many people besides, who were greatly blamed
therein; and of little worth were the exploits they performed there
where they did go. And of the French failed us Bernard of Moreuil,
Hugh of Chaumont, Henry of Araines, John of Villers, Walter of
Saint-Denis, Hugh his brother, and many others, who avoided the
passage to Venice because of the danger, and went instead to
Marseilles-whereof they received shame, and much were they blamed-and
great were the mishaps that afterwards befell them.


Now let us for this present speak of them no further, but speak of the
pilgrims, of whom a great part had already come to Venice. Count
Baldwin of Flanders had already arrived there, and many others, and
thither were tidings brought to


them that many of the pilgrims were travelling by other ways, and from
other ports. This troubled them greatly, because they would thus be
unable to fulfil the promise made to the Venetians, and find the
moneys that were due.

So they took counsel together, and agreed to send good envoys to meet
the pilgrims, and to meet Count Louis of Blois and Chartres, who had
not yet arrived, and to put them in good heart, and beseech them to
have pity of the Holy Land beyond the sea, and show them that no other
passage, save that from Venice, could be of profit.

For this embassy they made choice of Count Hugh of Saint-Paul and
Geoffry the Marshal of Champagne, and these rode till they came to
Pavia in Lombardy. There they found Count Louis with a great many
knights and men of note and worth; and by encouragements and prayers
prevailed on many to proceed to Venice who would otherwise have fared
from other ports, and by other ways.

Nevertheless from Placentia many men of note proceeded by other ways
to Apulia. Among them were Villain of Neuilly, who was one of the best
knights in the world, Henry of Arzilliιres, Renaud of Dampierre, Henry
of Longchamp, and Giles of Trasegnies, liegeman to Count Baldwin of
Flanders and Hainault, who had given him, out of his own purse, five
hundred livres to accompany him on this journey. With these went a
great company of knights and sergeants, whose names are not recorded.

Thus was the host of those who went by Venice greatly weakened; and
much evil befell them therefrom, as you shall shortly hear.


Thus did Count Louis and the other barons wend their way to Venice;
and they were there received with feasting and joyfully, and took
lodging in the Island of St. Nicholas with those who had come before.
Goodly was the host, and right worthy were the men. Never did man see
goodlier or worthier. And the Venetians held a market, rich and
abundant, of all things needful for horses and men. And the fleet they
had got ready was so goodly and fine that never did Christian man see
one goodlier or finer; as well galleys


as transports, and sufficient for at least three times as many men as
were in the host.

Ah ! the grievous harm and loss when those who should have come
thither sailed instead from other ports! Right well if they had kept
their tryst, would Christendom have been exalted, and the land of the
Turks abased! The Venetians had fulfilled all their undertakings, and
above measure, and they now summoned the barons and counts to fulfil
theirs and make payment, since they were ready to start.

The cost of each man's passage was now levied throughout the host; and
there were people enough who said they could not pay for their
passage, and the barons took from them such moneys as they had. So
each man paid what he could. When the barons had thus claimed the cost
of the passages, and when the payments had been collected, the moneys
came to less than the sum due-yea, by more than one half.

Then the barons met together and said: "Lords, the Venetians have well
fulfilled all their undertakings, and above measure. But we cannot
fulfil ours in paying for our passages, seeing we are too few in
number; and this is the fault of those who have journeyed by other
ports. For God's sake therefore let each contribute all that he has,
so that we may fulfil our covenant; for better is it that we should
give all that we have, than lose what we have already paid, and prove
false to our covenants; for if this host remains here, the rescue of
the land overseas comes to naught."

Great was then the dissension among the main part of the barons and
the other folk, and they said: " We have paid for our passages, and if
they will take us, we shall go willingly; but if not, we shall inquire
and look for other means of passage." And they spoke thus because they
wished that the host should fall to pieces and each return to his own
land. But the other party said, " Much rather would we give all that
we have and go penniless with the host, than that the host should fall
to pieces and fail; for God will doubtless repay us when it so pleases

Then the Count of Flanders began to give all that he had and all that
he could borrow, and so did Count Louis, and the Marquis, and the
Count of Saint-Paul, and those who were of their party. Then might you
have seen many a fine vessel of gold and silver borne in payment to
the palace of the Doge. And when all had been brought together, there


was still wanting, of the sum required, 34,000 marks of silver. Then
those who had kept back their possessions and not brought them into
the common stock, were right glad, for they thought now surely the
host must fail and go to pieces. But God, who advises those who have
been ill-advised, would not so suffer it.


Then the Doge spoke to his people, and said unto them:

Signors, these people cannot pay more; and in so far as they have paid
at all, we have benefited by an agreement which they cannot now
fulfil. But our right to keep this money would not everywhere be
acknowledged; and if we so kept it we should be greatly blamed, both
us and our land. Let us therefore offer them terms.

"The King of Hungary has taken from us Zara in Sclavonia, which is one
of the strongest places in the world; and never shall we recover it
with all the power that we possess, save with the help of these
people. Let us therefore ask them to help us to reconquer it, and we
will remit the payment of the debt of 34,000 marks of silver, until
such time as it shall please God to allow us to gain the moneys by
conquest, we and they together." Thus was agreement made. Much was it
contested by those who wished that the host should be broken up.
Nevertheless the agreement was accepted and ratified.


Then, on a Sunday, was assemblage held in the church of St. Mark. It
was a very high festival, and the people of the land were there, and
the most part of the barons and pilgrims.

Before the beginning of High Mass, the Doge of Venice, who bore the
name of Henry Dandolo, went up into the reading-desk, and spoke to the
people, and said to them:" Signors, you are associated with the most
worthy people in the world, and for the highest enterprise ever
undertaken; and I am a man old and feeble, who should have need of
rest, and I am sick in body; but I see that no one could command


and lead,you like myself, who am your lord. If you will consent that I
take the sign of the cross to guard and direct you, and that my son
remain in my place to guard the land, then shall I go to five or die
with you and with the pilgrims."

And when they had heard him, they cried with one voice: "We pray you
by God that you consent, and do it, and that you come with us! "

Very great was then the pity and compassion on the part of the people
of the land and of the pil-rims; and many were the tears shed, because
that worthy 0and good man would have had so much reason to remain
behind, for he was an old man, and albeit his eyes were unclouded, yet
he saw naught, having lost his sight through a wound in the head. He
was of a great heart. Ah! how little like him were those who had gone
to other ports to escape the danger.

Thus he came down from the reading-desk, and went before the altar,
and knelt upon his knees greatly weeping. And they sewed the cross on
to a great cotton hat, which he wore, in front, because he wished that
all men should see it. And the Venetians began to take the cross in
great numbers, a great multitude, for up to that day very few had
taken the cross. Our pilgrims had much joy in the cross that the Doge
took, and were greatly moved, because of the wisdom and the valour
that were in him.

Thus did the Doge take the cross, as you have heard. Then the
Venetians began to deliver the ships, the galleys, and the transports
to the barons, for departure; but so much time had already been spent
since the appointed term, that September drew near (1202).


Now give ear to one of the greatest marvels, and most wonderful
adventures that you have ever heard tell of. At that time there was an
emperor in Constantinople, whose name was Isaac, and he had a brothor,
Alexius by name, whom he had ransomed from captivity among the Turks.
This Alexius took his brother the emperor, tore the eyes out of his
head, and made himself emperor by the aforesaid


treachery. He kept Isaac a long time in prison, together with a son
whose name was Alexius. This son escaped from prison, and fled in a
ship to a city on the sea, which is called Ancona. Thence he departed
to go to King Philip of Germany, who had his sister for wife; and he
came to Verona in Lombardy, and lodged in the town, and found there a
number of pilgrims and other people who were on their way to join the

And those who had helped him to escape, and were with him, said: "
Sire, here is an army in Venice, quite near to us, the best and most
valiant people and knights that are in the world, and they are going
overseass Cry to them therefore for mercy, that they have pity on thee
and on thy father, who have been so wrongfully dispossessed. And if
they be willing to help thee, thou shalt be guided by them. Perchance
they will take pity on thy estate." And Alexius said he would do this
right willingly, and that the advice was good.

Thus he appointed envoys, and sent them to the Marquis Boniface of
Montferrat, who was chief of the host, and to the other barons. And
when the barons saw them, they marvelled greatly, and said to the
envoys: " We understand right well what you tell us. We will send an
envoy with the prince to King Philip, whither he is going. If the
prince will help to recover the land overseass we will help him to
recover his own land, for we know that it has been wrested from him
and from his father wrongfully." So were envoys sent into Germany,
both to the heir of Constantinople and to King Philip of Germany.

Before this happened, of which I have just told you, there came news
to the host which greatly saddened the barons and the other folk,
viz., that Fulk, the good man, the holy man, who first preached the
Crusade, had made an end and was dead.

And after this adventure, there came to the host a company of very
good and worthy people from the empire of Germany, of whose arrival
they of the host were full fain. There came the Bishop of Halberstadt,
Count Berthold of Katzenelenbogen, Gamier of Borland, Thierri of Loos,
Henry of Orme, Thierri of Diest, Roger of Suitre, Alexander of
Villers, Ulric of Tone, and many other good folk, whose names are not
recorded in this book.



Then were the ships and transports apportioned by the barons. Ah, God
I 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 any0port. 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).

At this time all the barons had not yet arrived. Thus the Marquis of
Montferrat had remained behind for some business that detained him.
And Stephen of Perche had remained at Venice sick, and Matthew of
Montmorency. When they were healed of their sickness Matthew of
Montmorency came to rejoin the host at Zara; but Stephen of Perche
dealt less worthily, for he abandoned the host, and


went to sojourn in Apulia. With him went Rotrou of Montfort and Ives
of la jaille, and many others, who were much blamed therein; and they
journeyed to Syria in the following spring.*

[note: Literally, "in the passaae of March," i.e. among the pilgrims
who periodically started for the (,,y Land in March.]


On the day following the feast of St. Martin, certain of the people of
Zara came forth, and spoke to the Doge of Venice, who was in his
pavilion, and said to him that they would yield up the city and all
their goods-their lives being spared-to his mercy. And the Doge
replied that he would not accept these conditions, nor any conditions,
save by consent of the counts and barons, with whom he would go and

While he went to confer with the counts and barons, that party, of
whom you have already heard, who wished to disperse the host, spoke to
the envoys and said, " Why should you surrender your city? The
pilgrims will not attack you -have no care of them. If you can defend
yourselves against the Venetians, you will be safe enough." And they
chose one of themselves, whose name was Robert of Boves, who went to
the walls of the city, and spoke the same words. Therefore the envoys
returned to the city, and the negotiations were broken off.

The Doge of Venice, when he came to the counts and barons, said to
them: "Signors, the people who are therein desire to yield the city to
my mercy, on condition only that their lives are spared. But I will
enter into no agreement with them-neither this nor any other-save with
your consent." And the barons answered: " Sire, we advise you to
accept these conditions, and we even beg of you so to do." He said he
would do so; and they all returned together to the pavilion of the
Doge to make the agreement, and found that the envoys had gone away by
the advice of those who wished to disperse the host.

Then rose the abbot of Vaux, of the order of the Cistercians, and said
to them: " Lords, I forbid you, on the part of the Pope of Rome, to
attack this city; for those within it


are Christians, and you are pilgrims." When the Doge heard this, he
was very wroth, and much disturbed, and he said to the counts and
barons: "Signors, I had this city, by their own agreement, at my
mercy, and your people have broken that agreement; you have covenanted
to help me to conquer it, and I summon you to do so."

Whereon the counts and barons all spoke at once, together with those
who were of their party, and said: " Great is the outrage of those who
have caused this agreement to be broken, and never a day has passed
that they have not tried to break up the host. Now are we shamed if we
do not help to take the city." And they came to the Doge, and said: "
Sire, we will help you to take the city in despite of those who would
let and hinder us."

Thus was the decision taken. The next morning the host encamped before
the gates of the city, and set up their petraries and manoonels, and
other engines of war, which they had in plenty, and on the side of the
sea they raised ladders from the ships. Then they began to throw
stones at the walls of the city and at the towers. So did the assault
last for about five days. Then were the sappers set to mine one of the
towers, and began to sap the wall. When those within the city saw
this, they proposed an agreement, such as they had before refused by
the advice of those who wished to break up the host.


Thus did the city surrender to the mercy of the Doge, on condition
only that all lives should be spared. Then came the Doge to the counts
and barons, and said to them: " Signors, we have taken this city by
the grace of God, and your own. It is now winter, and we cannot stir
hence till Eastertide; for we should find no market in any other
place; and this city is very rich, and well furnished with all
supplies. Let us therefore divide it in the midst, and we will take
one half, and you the other."

As he had spoken, so was it done. The Venetians took the part of the
city towards the port, where were the ships, and the Franks took the
other part. There were quarters


assigned to each, according as was right and convenient. And the host
raised the camp, and went to lodge in the city.

On the third day after they were all lodged, there befell a great
misadventure in the host, at about the hour of vespers; for there
began a fray, exceeding fell and fierce, between the Venetians and the
Franks, and they ran to arms from all sides. And the fray was so
fierce that there were but few streets in which battle did not rage
with swords and lances and cross-bows and darts; and many people were
killed and wounded.

But the Venetians could not abide the combat, and they began to suffer
great losses. Then the men of mark, who did not want this evil to
befall, came fully armed into the strife, and began to separate the
combatants; and when they had separated them in one place, they began
again in another. This lasted the better part of the night.
Nevertheless with great labour and endurance at last they were
separated. And be it known to you that this was the greatest
misfortune that ever befell a host, and little did it lack that the
host was not lost utterly. But God would not suffer it.

Great was the loss on either side. There was slain a high lord of
Flanders, whose name was Giles of Landas: he was struck in the eye,
and with that stroke he died in the fray; and many another of whom
less was spoken. The Doge of Venice and the barons laboured much,
during the whole of that week, to appease the fray, and they laboured
so effectually that peace was made. God be thanked therefor.


A fortnight after came to Zara the Marquis Boniface of Montferrat, who
had not yet joined, and Matthew of Montmorency, and Peter of Bracieux,
and many another man of note. And after another fortnight came also
the envoys from Germany, sent by King Philip and the heir of
Constantinople. Then the barons, 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 Roumania 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.


Then arose much debate. The abbot of Vaux, of the order of the
Cistercians, spoke, and that party that wished for the dispersal of
the host; and they said they would never consent: that it was not to
fall on Christians that they had left their homes, and that they would
go to Syria.

And the other party replied: "Fair lords, in Syria you will be able to
do nothing; and that you may right well perceive by considering how
those have fared who abandoned us, and


sailed from other ports. And be it known to you that it is only by way
of Babylon, or of Greece, that the land overseas can be recovered, if
so be that it ever is recovered. And if we reject this covenant we
shall be shamed to all time."

There was discord in the host, as you hear. Nor need you be surprised
if there was discord among the laymen, for the white monks of the
order of Citeaux were also at issue among themselves in the host. The
abbot of Loos, who was a holy man and a man of note, and other abbots
who held with him, prayed and besought the people, for pity's sake and
the sake of God, to keep the host together, and agree to the proposed
convention, in that " it afforded the best means by which the land
overseas might be recovered; " while the abbot of Vaux, on the other
hand, and those who held with him, preached full oft, and declared
that all this was naught, and that the host ought to go to the land of
Syria, and there do what they could.

Then came the Marquis of Montferrat, and Baldwin Count of Flanders and
Hainault, and Count Louis, and Count Hugh of St. Paul, and those who
held with them, and they declared that they would enter into the
proposed covenant, for that they should be shamed if they refused. So
they went to the Doge's hostel, and the envoys were summoned, and the
covenant, in such terms as you have already heard, was confirmed by
oath, and by charters with seals appended.

And the book tells you that only twelve persons took the oaths on the
side of the Franks, for more (of sufficient note) could not be found.
Among the twelve were first the Marquis of Montferrat, the Count
Baldwin of Flanders, the Count Louis of Blois and of Chartres, and the
Count of St. Paul, and eight others who held with them. Thus was the
agreement made, and the charters prepared, and a term fixed for the
arrival of the heir of Constantinople; and the term so Fixed was the
fifteenth day after the following Easter.


Thus did the host sojourn at Zara all that winter (1202-1203) in the
face of the King of Hungary. And be it known to you that the hearts of
the people were not at peace, for


the one party used all efforts to break up the host, and the other to
make it hold together.

Many of the lesser folk escaped in the vessels of the merchants. In
one ship escaped well nigh five hundred, and they were all drowned,
and so lost. Another company escaped by land, and thought to pass
through Sclavonia; and the peasants of that land fell upon them, and
killed many, so that the remainder came back flying to the host. Thus
did the host go greatly dwindling day by day. At that time a great
lord of the host, who was from Germany, Garnier of Borland by name, so
wrought that he escaped in a merchant vessel, and abandoned the host,
whereby he incurred great blame.

Not long afterwards, a great baron of France, Renaud of Monmirail by
name, besought so earnestly, with the countenance of Count Louis, that
he was sent to Syria on an embassy in one of the vessels of the fleet;
and he swore with his right hand on holy relics, he and all the
knights who went with him, that within fifteen days after they had
arrived in Syria, and delivered their message, they would return to
the host. On this condition he left the host, and with him Hervιe of
Chitel, his nephew, William the vidame of Chartres, Geoffry of
Beaumont, John of Frouville, Peter his brother, and many others. And
the oaths that they swore were not kept; for they did not rejoin the

Then came to the host news that was heard right willingly, viz., that
the fleet from Flanders, of which mention has been made above, had
arrived at Marseilles. And John of Nκle, Castellan of Bruges, who was
captain of that host, and Thierri, who was the son of Count Philip of
Flanders, and Nicholas of Mailly, advised the Count of Flanders, their
lord, that they would winter at Marseilles, and asked him to let them
know what was his will, and said that whatever was his will, that they
would do. And he told them, by the advice of the Doge of Venice and
the other barons, that they should sail at the end of the following
March, and come to meet him at the port of Modon in Roumania. Alas!
they acted very evilly, for never did they keep their word, but went
to Syria, Where, as they well knew, they would achieve nothing.

Now be it known to you, lords, that if God had not loved the host, it
could never have held together, seeing how many people wished evil to



Then the barons spoke together and said that they would send to Rome,
to the Pope, because he had taken the capture of Zara in evil part.
And they chose as envoys such as they knew were fitted for this
office, two knights, and two clerks. Of the two clerks one was
Nevelon, Bishop of Soissons, and the other Master John of Noyon, who
was chancellor to Count Baldwin of Flanders; and of the knights one
was John of Friaize, the other Robert of Boves. These swore on holy
relics that they would perform their embassy loyally and in good
faith, and that they would come back to the host.

Three kept their oath right well, and the fourth evilly, and this one
was Robert of Boves. For he executed his office as badly as he could,
and perjured himself, and went away to Syria as others had done. But
the remaining three executed their office right well, and delivered
their message as the barons had directed, and said to the Pope: " The
barons cry mercy to you for the capture of Zara, for they acted as
people who could do no better, owing to the default of those who had
gone to other ports, and because, had they not acted as they did, they
could not have held the host together. And as to this they refer
themselves to you, as to their good Father, that you should tell them
what are your commands, which they are ready to perform."

And the Pope said to the envoys that he knew full well that it was
through the default of others that the host had been impelled to do
this great mischief, and that he had them in great pity. And then he
notified to the barons and pilgrims that he sent them his blessing,
and absolved them as his sons, and commanded and besought them to hold
the host together, inasmuch as he well knew that without that host
God's service could not be done. And he gave full powers to Nevelon,
Bishop of Soissons, and Master John of Noyon, to bind and to unloose
the pilgrims until the cardinal joined the host.



So much time had passed that it was now Lent, and the host prepared
their fleet to sail at Easter. When the ships were laden on the day
after Easter (7th April 1203), the pilgrims encamped by the port, and
the Venetians destroyed the city, and the walls and the towers.

Then there befell an adventure which weighed heavily upon the host;
for one of the great barons of the host, by name Simon of Montfort,
had made private covenant with the King of Hungary, who was at enmity
with those of the host, and went to him, abandoning the host. With him
went Guy of Montfort his brother, Simon of Nauphle and Robert
Mauvoisin, and Dreux of Cressonsacq, and the abbot of Vaux, who was a
monk of the order of the Cistercians, and many others. And not long
after another great lord of the host, called Enguerrand of Boves,
joined the King of Hungary, together with Hugh, Enguerrand's brother,
and such of the other people of their country as they could lead away.

These left the host, as you have just heard; and this was a great
misfortune to the host, and to such as left it a great disgrace.

Then the ships and transports began to depart; and it was settled that
they should take port at Corfu, an island of Roumania, and that the
first to arrive should wait for the last; and so it was done.

Before the Doge, the Marquis, and the galleys left Zara, Alexius, the
son of the Emperor Isaac of Constantinople, had arrived together. He
was sent by the King Philip of Germany, and received with great joy
and great honour; and the Doge gave Mm as many galleys and ships as he
required. So they left the port of Zara, and had a fair wind, and
sailed onwards till they took port at Duras. And those of the land,
when they saw their lord, yielded up the city right willingly and
sware fealty to Mm.

And. they departed thence and came to Corfu, and found there the host
encamped before the city; and those of the host had spread their tents
and pavilions, and taken the horses out of the transports for ease and
refreshment. When they heard that the son of the Emperor of

Parts: 1 - 2 - 3 - 4


Ancient Greece

Medieval Greece / Byzantine Empire

Modern Greece

Science, Technology , Medicine , Warfare
, Biographies , Life , Cities/Places/Maps , Arts , Literature , Philosophy ,Olympics, Mythology , History , Images

Science, Technology, Arts
, Warfare , Literature, Biographies
Icons, History

Cities, Islands, Regions, Fauna/Flora ,
Biographies , History , Warfare
Science/Technology, Literature, Music , Arts , Film/Actors , Sport , Fashion


Scientific Web