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The History of The Decline and Fall of the Roman Empire - Volume 6
by Edward Gibbon
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[Footnote 54: The birth and dignity of Andrew Dandolo gave him the motive and the means of searching in the archives of Venice the memorable story of his ancestor. His brevity seems to accuse the copious and more recent narratives of Sanudo, (in Muratori, Script. Rerum Italicarum, tom. xxii.,) Blondus, Sabellicus, and Rhamnusius.]

[Footnote 541: This description rather belongs to the first setting sail of the expedition from Venice, before the siege of Zara. The armament did not return to Venice.—M.]

[Footnote 55: Villehardouin, No. 62. His feelings and expressions are original: he often weeps, but he rejoices in the glories and perils of war with a spirit unknown to a sedentary writer.]

[Footnote 56: In this voyage, almost all the geographical names are corrupted by the Latins. The modern appellation of Chalcis, and all Euba, is derived from its Euripus, Evripo, Negri-po, Negropont, which dishonors our maps, (D'Anville, Geographie Ancienne, tom. i. p. 263.)]

[Footnote 57: Et sachiez que il ni ot si hardi cui le cuer ne fremist, (c. 66.).. Chascuns regardoit ses armes.... que par tems en arons mestier, (c. 67.) Such is the honesty of courage.]

In relating the invasion of a great empire, it may seem strange that I have not described the obstacles which should have checked the progress of the strangers. The Greeks, in truth, were an unwarlike people; but they were rich, industrious, and subject to the will of a single man: had that man been capable of fear, when his enemies were at a distance, or of courage, when they approached his person. The first rumor of his nephew's alliance with the French and Venetians was despised by the usurper Alexius: his flatterers persuaded him, that in this contempt he was bold and sincere; and each evening, in the close of the banquet, he thrice discomfited the Barbarians of the West. These Barbarians had been justly terrified by the report of his naval power; and the sixteen hundred fishing boats of Constantinople [58] could have manned a fleet, to sink them in the Adriatic, or stop their entrance in the mouth of the Hellespont. But all force may be annihilated by the negligence of the prince and the venality of his ministers. The great duke, or admiral, made a scandalous, almost a public, auction of the sails, the masts, and the rigging: the royal forests were reserved for the more important purpose of the chase; and the trees, says Nicetas, were guarded by the eunuchs, like the groves of religious worship. [59] From his dream of pride, Alexius was awakened by the siege of Zara, and the rapid advances of the Latins; as soon as he saw the danger was real, he thought it inevitable, and his vain presumption was lost in abject despondency and despair. He suffered these contemptible Barbarians to pitch their camp in the sight of the palace; and his apprehensions were thinly disguised by the pomp and menace of a suppliant embassy. The sovereign of the Romans was astonished (his ambassadors were instructed to say) at the hostile appearance of the strangers. If these pilgrims were sincere in their vow for the deliverance of Jerusalem, his voice must applaud, and his treasures should assist, their pious design but should they dare to invade the sanctuary of empire, their numbers, were they ten times more considerable, should not protect them from his just resentment. The answer of the doge and barons was simple and magnanimous. "In the cause of honor and justice," they said, "we despise the usurper of Greece, his threats, and his offers. Our friendship and his allegiance are due to the lawful heir, to the young prince, who is seated among us, and to his father, the emperor Isaac, who has been deprived of his sceptre, his freedom, and his eyes, by the crime of an ungrateful brother. Let that brother confess his guilt, and implore forgiveness, and we ourselves will intercede, that he may be permitted to live in affluence and security. But let him not insult us by a second message; our reply will be made in arms, in the palace of Constantinople."

[Footnote 58: Eandem urbem plus in solis navibus piscatorum abundare, quam illos in toto navigio. Habebat enim mille et sexcentas piscatorias naves..... Bellicas autem sive mercatorias habebant infinitae multitudinis et portum tutissimum. Gunther, Hist. C. P. c. 8, p. 10.]

[Footnote 59: Kaqaper iervn alsewn, eipein de kai Jeojuteutwn paradeiswn ejeid?onto toutwni. Nicetas in Alex. Comneno, l. iii. c. 9, p. 348.]

On the tenth day of their encampment at Scutari, the crusaders prepared themselves, as soldiers and as Catholics, for the passage of the Bosphorus. Perilous indeed was the adventure; the stream was broad and rapid: in a calm the current of the Euxine might drive down the liquid and unextinguishable fires of the Greeks; and the opposite shores of Europe were defended by seventy thousand horse and foot in formidable array. On this memorable day, which happened to be bright and pleasant, the Latins were distributed in six battles or divisions; the first, or vanguard, was led by the count of Flanders, one of the most powerful of the Christian princes in the skill and number of his crossbows. The four successive battles of the French were commanded by his brother Henry, the counts of St. Pol and Blois, and Matthew of Montmorency; the last of whom was honored by the voluntary service of the marshal and nobles of Champagne. The sixth division, the rear-guard and reserve of the army, was conducted by the marquis of Montferrat, at the head of the Germans and Lombards. The chargers, saddled, with their long comparisons dragging on the ground, were embarked in the flat palanders; [60] and the knights stood by the side of their horses, in complete armor, their helmets laced, and their lances in their hands. The numerous train of sergeants [61] and archers occupied the transports; and each transport was towed by the strength and swiftness of a galley. The six divisions traversed the Bosphorus, without encountering an enemy or an obstacle: to land the foremost was the wish, to conquer or die was the resolution, of every division and of every soldier. Jealous of the preeminence of danger, the knights in their heavy armor leaped into the sea, when it rose as high as their girdle; the sergeants and archers were animated by their valor; and the squires, letting down the draw-bridges of the palanders, led the horses to the shore. Before their squadrons could mount, and form, and couch their Lances, the seventy thousand Greeks had vanished from their sight: the timid Alexius gave the example to his troops; and it was only by the plunder of his rich pavilions that the Latins were informed that they had fought against an emperor. In the first consternation of the flying enemy, they resolved, by a double attack, to open the entrance of the harbor. The tower of Galata, [62] in the suburb of Pera, was attacked and stormed by the French, while the Venetians assumed the more difficult task of forcing the boom or chain that was stretched from that tower to the Byzantine shore. After some fruitless attempts, their intrepid perseverance prevailed: twenty ships of war, the relics of the Grecian navy, were either sunk or taken: the enormous and massy links of iron were cut asunder by the shears, or broken by the weight, of the galleys; [63] and the Venetian fleet, safe and triumphant, rode at anchor in the port of Constantinople. By these daring achievements, a remnant of twenty thousand Latins solicited the license of besieging a capital which contained above four hundred thousand inhabitants, [64] able, though not willing, to bear arms in defence of their country. Such an account would indeed suppose a population of near two millions; but whatever abatement may be required in the numbers of the Greeks, the belief of those numbers will equally exalt the fearless spirit of their assailants.

[Footnote 60: From the version of Vignere I adopt the well-sounding word palander, which is still used, I believe, in the Mediterranean. But had I written in French, I should have preserved the original and expressive denomination of vessiers or huissiers, from the huis or door which was let down as a draw-bridge; but which, at sea, was closed into the side of the ship, (see Ducange au Villehardouin, No. 14, and Joinville. p. 27, 28, edit. du Louvre.)]

[Footnote 61: To avoid the vague expressions of followers, &c., I use, after Villehardouin, the word sergeants for all horsemen who were not knights. There were sergeants at arms, and sergeants at law; and if we visit the parade and Westminster Hall, we may observe the strange result of the distinction, (Ducange, Glossar. Latin, Servientes, &c., tom. vi. p. 226—231.)]

[Footnote 62: It is needless to observe, that on the subject of Galata, the chain, &c., Ducange is accurate and full. Consult likewise the proper chapters of the C. P. Christiana of the same author. The inhabitants of Galata were so vain and ignorant, that they applied to themselves St. Paul's Epistle to the Galatians.]

[Footnote 63: The vessel that broke the chain was named the Eagle, Aquila, (Dandolo, Chronicon, p. 322,) which Blondus (de Gestis Venet.) has changed into Aquilo, the north wind. Ducange (Observations, No. 83) maintains the latter reading; but he had not seen the respectable text of Dandolo, nor did he enough consider the topography of the harbor. The south-east would have been a more effectual wind. (Note to Wilken, vol. v. p. 215.)]

[Footnote 64: Quatre cens mil homes ou plus, (Villehardouin, No. 134,) must be understood of men of a military age. Le Beau (Hist. du. Bas Empire, tom. xx. p. 417) allows Constantinople a million of inhabitants, of whom 60,000 horse, and an infinite number of foot-soldiers. In its present decay, the capital of the Ottoman empire may contain 400,000 souls, (Bell's Travels, vol. ii. p. 401, 402;) but as the Turks keep no registers, and as circumstances are fallacious, it is impossible to ascertain (Niebuhr, Voyage en Arabie, tom. i. p. 18, 19) the real populousness of their cities.]

In the choice of the attack, the French and Venetians were divided by their habits of life and warfare. The former affirmed with truth, that Constantinople was most accessible on the side of the sea and the harbor. The latter might assert with honor, that they had long enough trusted their lives and fortunes to a frail bark and a precarious element, and loudly demanded a trial of knighthood, a firm ground, and a close onset, either on foot or on horseback. After a prudent compromise, of employing the two nations by sea and land, in the service best suited to their character, the fleet covering the army, they both proceeded from the entrance to the extremity of the harbor: the stone bridge of the river was hastily repaired; and the six battles of the French formed their encampment against the front of the capital, the basis of the triangle which runs about four miles from the port to the Propontis. [65] On the edge of a broad ditch, at the foot of a lofty rampart, they had leisure to contemplate the difficulties of their enterprise. The gates to the right and left of their narrow camp poured forth frequent sallies of cavalry and light-infantry, which cut off their stragglers, swept the country of provisions, sounded the alarm five or six times in the course of each day, and compelled them to plant a palisade, and sink an intrenchment, for their immediate safety. In the supplies and convoys the Venetians had been too sparing, or the Franks too voracious: the usual complaints of hunger and scarcity were heard, and perhaps felt their stock of flour would be exhausted in three weeks; and their disgust of salt meat tempted them to taste the flesh of their horses. The trembling usurper was supported by Theodore Lascaris, his son-in-law, a valiant youth, who aspired to save and to rule his country; the Greeks, regardless of that country, were awakened to the defence of their religion; but their firmest hope was in the strength and spirit of the Varangian guards, of the Danes and English, as they are named in the writers of the times. [66] After ten days' incessant labor, the ground was levelled, the ditch filled, the approaches of the besiegers were regularly made, and two hundred and fifty engines of assault exercised their various powers to clear the rampart, to batter the walls, and to sap the foundations. On the first appearance of a breach, the scaling-ladders were applied: the numbers that defended the vantage ground repulsed and oppressed the adventurous Latins; but they admired the resolution of fifteen knights and sergeants, who had gained the ascent, and maintained their perilous station till they were precipitated or made prisoners by the Imperial guards. On the side of the harbor the naval attack was more successfully conducted by the Venetians; and that industrious people employed every resource that was known and practiced before the invention of gunpowder. A double line, three bow-shots in front, was formed by the galleys and ships; and the swift motion of the former was supported by the weight and loftiness of the latter, whose decks, and poops, and turret, were the platforms of military engines, that discharged their shot over the heads of the first line. The soldiers, who leaped from the galleys on shore, immediately planted and ascended their scaling-ladders, while the large ships, advancing more slowly into the intervals, and lowering a draw-bridge, opened a way through the air from their masts to the rampart. In the midst of the conflict, the doge, a venerable and conspicuous form, stood aloft in complete armor on the prow of his galley. The great standard of St. Mark was displayed before him; his threats, promises, and exhortations, urged the diligence of the rowers; his vessel was the first that struck; and Dandolo was the first warrior on the shore. The nations admired the magnanimity of the blind old man, without reflecting that his age and infirmities diminished the price of life, and enhanced the value of immortal glory. On a sudden, by an invisible hand, (for the standard-bearer was probably slain,) the banner of the republic was fixed on the rampart: twenty-five towers were rapidly occupied; and, by the cruel expedient of fire, the Greeks were driven from the adjacent quarter. The doge had despatched the intelligence of his success, when he was checked by the danger of his confederates. Nobly declaring that he would rather die with the pilgrims than gain a victory by their destruction, Dandolo relinquished his advantage, recalled his troops, and hastened to the scene of action. He found the six weary diminutive battles of the French encompassed by sixty squadrons of the Greek cavalry, the least of which was more numerous than the largest of their divisions. Shame and despair had provoked Alexius to the last effort of a general sally; but he was awed by the firm order and manly aspect of the Latins; and, after skirmishing at a distance, withdrew his troops in the close of the evening. The silence or tumult of the night exasperated his fears; and the timid usurper, collecting a treasure of ten thousand pounds of gold, basely deserted his wife, his people, and his fortune; threw himself into a bark; stole through the Bosphorus; and landed in shameful safety in an obscure harbor of Thrace. As soon as they were apprised of his flight, the Greek nobles sought pardon and peace in the dungeon where the blind Isaac expected each hour the visit of the executioner. Again saved and exalted by the vicissitudes of fortune, the captive in his Imperial robes was replace on the throne, and surrounded with prostrate slaves, whose real terror and affected joy he was incapable of discerning. At the dawn of day, hostilities were suspended, and the Latin chiefs were surprised by a message from the lawful and reigning emperor, who was impatient to embrace his son, and to reward his generous deliverers. [67]

[Footnote 65: On the most correct plans of Constantinople, I know not how to measure more than 4000 paces. Yet Villehardouin computes the space at three leagues, (No. 86.) If his eye were not deceived, he must reckon by the old Gallic league of 1500 paces, which might still be used in Champagne.]

[Footnote 66: The guards, the Varangi, are styled by Villehardouin, (No. 89, 95) Englois et Danois avec leurs haches. Whatever had been their origin, a French pilgrim could not be mistaken in the nations of which they were at that time composed.]

[Footnote 67: For the first siege and conquest of Constantinople, we may read the original letter of the crusaders to Innocent III., Gesta, c. 91, p. 533, 534. Villehardouin, No. 75—99. Nicetas, in Alexio Comnen. l. iii. c. 10, p. 349—352. Dandolo, in Chron. p. 322. Gunther, and his abbot Martin, were not yet returned from their obstinate pilgrim age to Jerusalem, or St. John d'Acre, where the greatest part of the company had died of the plague.]



Chapter LX: The Fourth Crusade.—Part III.

But these generous deliverers were unwilling to release their hostage, till they had obtained from his father the payment, or at least the promise, of their recompense. They chose four ambassadors, Matthew of Montmorency, our historian the marshal of Champagne, and two Venetians, to congratulate the emperor. The gates were thrown open on their approach, the streets on both sides were lined with the battle axes of the Danish and English guard: the presence-chamber glittered with gold and jewels, the false substitute of virtue and power: by the side of the blind Isaac his wife was seated, the sister of the king of Hungary: and by her appearance, the noble matrons of Greece were drawn from their domestic retirement, and mingled with the circle of senators and soldiers. The Latins, by the mouth of the marshal, spoke like men conscious of their merits, but who respected the work of their own hands; and the emperor clearly understood, that his son's engagements with Venice and the pilgrims must be ratified without hesitation or delay. Withdrawing into a private chamber with the empress, a chamberlain, an interpreter, and the four ambassadors, the father of young Alexius inquired with some anxiety into the nature of his stipulations. The submission of the Eastern empire to the pope, the succor of the Holy Land, and a present contribution of two hundred thousand marks of silver.—"These conditions are weighty," was his prudent reply: "they are hard to accept, and difficult to perform. But no conditions can exceed the measure of your services and deserts." After this satisfactory assurance, the barons mounted on horseback, and introduced the heir of Constantinople to the city and palace: his youth and marvellous adventures engaged every heart in his favor, and Alexius was solemnly crowned with his father in the dome of St. Sophia. In the first days of his reign, the people, already blessed with the restoration of plenty and peace, was delighted by the joyful catastrophe of the tragedy; and the discontent of the nobles, their regret, and their fears, were covered by the polished surface of pleasure and loyalty The mixture of two discordant nations in the same capital might have been pregnant with mischief and danger; and the suburb of Galata, or Pera, was assigned for the quarters of the French and Venetians. But the liberty of trade and familiar intercourse was allowed between the friendly nations: and each day the pilgrims were tempted by devotion or curiosity to visit the churches and palaces of Constantinople. Their rude minds, insensible perhaps of the finer arts, were astonished by the magnificent scenery: and the poverty of their native towns enhanced the populousness and riches of the first metropolis of Christendom. [68] Descending from his state, young Alexius was prompted by interest and gratitude to repeat his frequent and familiar visits to his Latin allies; and in the freedom of the table, the gay petulance of the French sometimes forgot the emperor of the East. [69] In their most serious conferences, it was agreed, that the reunion of the two churches must be the result of patience and time; but avarice was less tractable than zeal; and a larger sum was instantly disbursed to appease the wants, and silence the importunity, of the crusaders. [70] Alexius was alarmed by the approaching hour of their departure: their absence might have relieved him from the engagement which he was yet incapable of performing; but his friends would have left him, naked and alone, to the caprice and prejudice of a perfidious nation. He wished to bribe their stay, the delay of a year, by undertaking to defray their expense, and to satisfy, in their name, the freight of the Venetian vessels. The offer was agitated in the council of the barons; and, after a repetition of their debates and scruples, a majority of votes again acquiesced in the advice of the doge and the prayer of the young emperor. At the price of sixteen hundred pounds of gold, he prevailed on the marquis of Montferrat to lead him with an army round the provinces of Europe; to establish his authority, and pursue his uncle, while Constantinople was awed by the presence of Baldwin and his confederates of France and Flanders. The expedition was successful: the blind emperor exulted in the success of his arms, and listened to the predictions of his flatterers, that the same Providence which had raised him from the dungeon to the throne, would heal his gout, restore his sight, and watch over the long prosperity of his reign. Yet the mind of the suspicious old man was tormented by the rising glories of his son; nor could his pride conceal from his envy, that, while his own name was pronounced in faint and reluctant acclamations, the royal youth was the theme of spontaneous and universal praise. [71]

[Footnote 68: Compare, in the rude energy of Villehardouin, (No. 66, 100,) the inside and outside views of Constantinople, and their impression on the minds of the pilgrims: cette ville (says he) que de toutes les autres ere souveraine. See the parallel passages of Fulcherius Carnotensis, Hist. Hierosol. l. i. c. 4, and Will. Tyr. ii. 3, xx. 26.]

[Footnote 69: As they played at dice, the Latins took off his diadem, and clapped on his head a woollen or hairy cap, to megaloprepeV kai pagkleiston katerrupainen onoma, (Nicetas, p. 358.) If these merry companions were Venetians, it was the insolence of trade and a commonwealth.]

[Footnote 70: Villehardouin, No. 101. Dandolo, p. 322. The doge affirms, that the Venetians were paid more slowly than the French; but he owns, that the histories of the two nations differed on that subject. Had he read Villehardouin? The Greeks complained, however, good totius Graeciae opes transtulisset, (Gunther, Hist. C. P. c 13) See the lamentations and invectives of Nicetas, (p. 355.)]

[Footnote 71: The reign of Alexius Comnenus occupies three books in Nicetas, p. 291—352. The short restoration of Isaac and his son is despatched in five chapters, p. 352—362.]

By the recent invasion, the Greeks were awakened from a dream of nine centuries; from the vain presumption that the capital of the Roman empire was impregnable to foreign arms. The strangers of the West had violated the city, and bestowed the sceptre, of Constantine: their Imperial clients soon became as unpopular as themselves: the well-known vices of Isaac were rendered still more contemptible by his infirmities, and the young Alexius was hated as an apostate, who had renounced the manners and religion of his country. His secret covenant with the Latins was divulged or suspected; the people, and especially the clergy, were devoutly attached to their faith and superstition; and every convent, and every shop, resounded with the danger of the church and the tyranny of the pope. [72] An empty treasury could ill supply the demands of regal luxury and foreign extortion: the Greeks refused to avert, by a general tax, the impending evils of servitude and pillage; the oppression of the rich excited a more dangerous and personal resentment; and if the emperor melted the plate, and despoiled the images, of the sanctuary, he seemed to justify the complaints of heresy and sacrilege. During the absence of Marquis Boniface and his Imperial pupil, Constantinople was visited with a calamity which might be justly imputed to the zeal and indiscretion of the Flemish pilgrims. [73] In one of their visits to the city, they were scandalized by the aspect of a mosque or synagogue, in which one God was worshipped, without a partner or a son. Their effectual mode of controversy was to attack the infidels with the sword, and their habitation with fire: but the infidels, and some Christian neighbors, presumed to defend their lives and properties; and the flames which bigotry had kindled, consumed the most orthodox and innocent structures. During eight days and nights, the conflagration spread above a league in front, from the harbor to the Propontis, over the thickest and most populous regions of the city. It is not easy to count the stately churches and palaces that were reduced to a smoking ruin, to value the merchandise that perished in the trading streets, or to number the families that were involved in the common destruction. By this outrage, which the doge and the barons in vain affected to disclaim, the name of the Latins became still more unpopular; and the colony of that nation, above fifteen thousand persons, consulted their safety in a hasty retreat from the city to the protection of their standard in the suburb of Pera. The emperor returned in triumph; but the firmest and most dexterous policy would have been insufficient to steer him through the tempest, which overwhelmed the person and government of that unhappy youth. His own inclination, and his father's advice, attached him to his benefactors; but Alexius hesitated between gratitude and patriotism, between the fear of his subjects and of his allies. [74] By his feeble and fluctuating conduct he lost the esteem and confidence of both; and, while he invited the marquis of Monferrat to occupy the palace, he suffered the nobles to conspire, and the people to arm, for the deliverance of their country. Regardless of his painful situation, the Latin chiefs repeated their demands, resented his delays, suspected his intentions, and exacted a decisive answer of peace or war. The haughty summons was delivered by three French knights and three Venetian deputies, who girded their swords, mounted their horses, pierced through the angry multitude, and entered, with a fearful countenance, the palace and presence of the Greek emperor. In a peremptory tone, they recapitulated their services and his engagements; and boldly declared, that unless their just claims were fully and immediately satisfied, they should no longer hold him either as a sovereign or a friend. After this defiance, the first that had ever wounded an Imperial ear, they departed without betraying any symptoms of fear; but their escape from a servile palace and a furious city astonished the ambassadors themselves; and their return to the camp was the signal of mutual hostility.

[Footnote 72: When Nicetas reproaches Alexius for his impious league, he bestows the harshest names on the pope's new religion, meizon kai atopwtaton... parektrophn pistewV... tvn tou Papa pronomiwn kainismon,... metaqesin te kai metapoihsin tvn palaivn 'RwmaioiV?eqvn, (p. 348.) Such was the sincere language of every Greek to the last gasp of the empire.]

[Footnote 73: Nicetas (p. 355) is positive in the charge, and specifies the Flemings, (FlamioneV,) though he is wrong in supposing it an ancient name. Villehardouin (No. 107) exculpates the barons, and is ignorant (perhaps affectedly ignorant) of the names of the guilty.]

[Footnote 74: Compare the suspicions and complaints of Nicetas (p. 359—362) with the blunt charges of Baldwin of Flanders, (Gesta Innocent III. c. 92, p. 534,) cum patriarcha et mole nobilium, nobis promises perjurus et mendax.]

Among the Greeks, all authority and wisdom were overborne by the impetuous multitude, who mistook their rage for valor, their numbers for strength, and their fanaticism for the support and inspiration of Heaven. In the eyes of both nations Alexius was false and contemptible; the base and spurious race of the Angeli was rejected with clamorous disdain; and the people of Constantinople encompassed the senate, to demand at their hands a more worthy emperor. To every senator, conspicuous by his birth or dignity, they successively presented the purple: by each senator the deadly garment was repulsed: the contest lasted three days; and we may learn from the historian Nicetas, one of the members of the assembly, that fear and weaknesses were the guardians of their loyalty. A phantom, who vanished in oblivion, was forcibly proclaimed by the crowd: [75] but the author of the tumult, and the leader of the war, was a prince of the house of Ducas; and his common appellation of Alexius must be discriminated by the epithet of Mourzoufle, [76] which in the vulgar idiom expressed the close junction of his black and shaggy eyebrows. At once a patriot and a courtier, the perfidious Mourzoufle, who was not destitute of cunning and courage, opposed the Latins both in speech and action, inflamed the passions and prejudices of the Greeks, and insinuated himself into the favor and confidence of Alexius, who trusted him with the office of great chamberlain, and tinged his buskins with the colors of royalty. At the dead of night, he rushed into the bed-chamber with an affrighted aspect, exclaiming, that the palace was attacked by the people and betrayed by the guards. Starting from his couch, the unsuspecting prince threw himself into the arms of his enemy, who had contrived his escape by a private staircase. But that staircase terminated in a prison: Alexius was seized, stripped, and loaded with chains; and, after tasting some days the bitterness of death, he was poisoned, or strangled, or beaten with clubs, at the command, or in the presence, of the tyrant. The emperor Isaac Angelus soon followed his son to the grave; and Mourzoufle, perhaps, might spare the superfluous crime of hastening the extinction of impotence and blindness.

[Footnote 75: His name was Nicholas Canabus: he deserved the praise of Nicetas and the vengeance of Mourzoufle, (p. 362.)]

[Footnote 76: Villehardouin (No. 116) speaks of him as a favorite, without knowing that he was a prince of the blood, Angelus and Ducas. Ducange, who pries into every corner, believes him to be the son of Isaac Ducas Sebastocrator, and second cousin of young Alexius.]

The death of the emperors, and the usurpation of Mourzoufle, had changed the nature of the quarrel. It was no longer the disagreement of allies who overvalued their services, or neglected their obligations: the French and Venetians forgot their complaints against Alexius, dropped a tear on the untimely fate of their companion, and swore revenge against the perfidious nation who had crowned his assassin. Yet the prudent doge was still inclined to negotiate: he asked as a debt, a subsidy, or a fine, fifty thousand pounds of gold, about two millions sterling; nor would the conference have been abruptly broken, if the zeal, or policy, of Mourzoufle had not refused to sacrifice the Greek church to the safety of the state. [77] Amidst the invectives of his foreign and domestic enemies, we may discern, that he was not unworthy of the character which he had assumed, of the public champion: the second siege of Constantinople was far more laborious than the first; the treasury was replenished, and discipline was restored, by a severe inquisition into the abuses of the former reign; and Mourzoufle, an iron mace in his hand, visiting the posts, and affecting the port and aspect of a warrior, was an object of terror to his soldiers, at least, and to his kinsmen. Before and after the death of Alexius, the Greeks made two vigorous and well-conducted attempts to burn the navy in the harbor; but the skill and courage of the Venetians repulsed the fire-ships; and the vagrant flames wasted themselves without injury in the sea. [78] In a nocturnal sally the Greek emperor was vanquished by Henry, brother of the count of Flanders: the advantages of number and surprise aggravated the shame of his defeat: his buckler was found on the field of battle; and the Imperial standard, [79] a divine image of the Virgin, was presented, as a trophy and a relic to the Cistercian monks, the disciples of St. Bernard. Near three months, without excepting the holy season of Lent, were consumed in skirmishes and preparations, before the Latins were ready or resolved for a general assault. The land fortifications had been found impregnable; and the Venetian pilots represented, that, on the shore of the Propontis, the anchorage was unsafe, and the ships must be driven by the current far away to the straits of the Hellespont; a prospect not unpleasing to the reluctant pilgrims, who sought every opportunity of breaking the army. From the harbor, therefore, the assault was determined by the assailants, and expected by the besieged; and the emperor had placed his scarlet pavilions on a neighboring height, to direct and animate the efforts of his troops. A fearless spectator, whose mind could entertain the ideas of pomp and pleasure, might have admired the long array of two embattled armies, which extended above half a league, the one on the ships and galleys, the other on the walls and towers raised above the ordinary level by several stages of wooden turrets. Their first fury was spent in the discharge of darts, stones, and fire, from the engines; but the water was deep; the French were bold; the Venetians were skilful; they approached the walls; and a desperate conflict of swords, spears, and battle-axes, was fought on the trembling bridges that grappled the floating, to the stable, batteries. In more than a hundred places, the assault was urged, and the defence was sustained; till the superiority of ground and numbers finally prevailed, and the Latin trumpets sounded a retreat. On the ensuing days, the attack was renewed with equal vigor, and a similar event; and, in the night, the doge and the barons held a council, apprehensive only for the public danger: not a voice pronounced the words of escape or treaty; and each warrior, according to his temper, embraced the hope of victory, or the assurance of a glorious death. [80] By the experience of the former siege, the Greeks were instructed, but the Latins were animated; and the knowledge that Constantinople might be taken, was of more avail than the local precautions which that knowledge had inspired for its defence. In the third assault, two ships were linked together to double their strength; a strong north wind drove them on the shore; the bishops of Troyes and Soissons led the van; and the auspicious names of the pilgrim and the paradise resounded along the line. [81] The episcopal banners were displayed on the walls; a hundred marks of silver had been promised to the first adventurers; and if their reward was intercepted by death, their names have been immortalized by fame. [811] Four towers were scaled; three gates were burst open; and the French knights, who might tremble on the waves, felt themselves invincible on horseback on the solid ground. Shall I relate that the thousands who guarded the emperor's person fled on the approach, and before the lance, of a single warrior? Their ignominious flight is attested by their countryman Nicetas: an army of phantoms marched with the French hero, and he was magnified to a giant in the eyes of the Greeks. [82] While the fugitives deserted their posts and cast away their arms, the Latins entered the city under the banners of their leaders: the streets and gates opened for their passage; and either design or accident kindled a third conflagration, which consumed in a few hours the measure of three of the largest cities of France. [83] In the close of evening, the barons checked their troops, and fortified their stations: They were awed by the extent and populousness of the capital, which might yet require the labor of a month, if the churches and palaces were conscious of their internal strength. But in the morning, a suppliant procession, with crosses and images, announced the submission of the Greeks, and deprecated the wrath of the conquerors: the usurper escaped through the golden gate: the palaces of Blachernae and Boucoleon were occupied by the count of Flanders and the marquis of Montferrat; and the empire, which still bore the name of Constantine, and the title of Roman, was subverted by the arms of the Latin pilgrims. [84]

[Footnote 77: This negotiation, probable in itself, and attested by Nicetas, (p 65,) is omitted as scandalous by the delicacy of Dandolo and Villehardouin. * Note: Wilken places it before the death of Alexius, vol. v. p. 276.—M.]

[Footnote 78: Baldwin mentions both attempts to fire the fleet, (Gest. c. 92, p. 534, 535;) Villehardouin, (No. 113—15) only describes the first. It is remarkable that neither of these warriors observe any peculiar properties in the Greek fire.]

[Footnote 79: Ducange (No. 119) pours forth a torrent of learning on the Gonfanon Imperial. This banner of the Virgin is shown at Venice as a trophy and relic: if it be genuine the pious doge must have cheated the monks of Citeaux.]

[Footnote 80: Villehardouin (No. 126) confesses, that mult ere grant peril; and Guntherus (Hist. C. P. c. 13) affirms, that nulla spes victoriae arridere poterat. Yet the knight despises those who thought of flight, and the monk praises his countrymen who were resolved on death.]

[Footnote 81: Baldwin, and all the writers, honor the names of these two galleys, felici auspicio.]

[Footnote 811: Pietro Alberti, a Venetian noble and Andrew d'Amboise a French knight.—M.]

[Footnote 82: With an allusion to Homer, Nicetas calls him enneorguioV, nine orgyae, or eighteen yards high, a stature which would, indeed, have excused the terror of the Greek. On this occasion, the historian seems fonder of the marvellous than of his country, or perhaps of truth. Baldwin exclaims in the words of the psalmist, persequitur unus ex nobis centum alienos.]

[Footnote 83: Villehardouin (No. 130) is again ignorant of the authors of this more legitimate fire, which is ascribed by Gunther to a quidam comes Teutonicus, (c. 14.) They seem ashamed, the incendiaries!]

[Footnote 84: For the second siege and conquest of Constantinople, see Villehardouin (No. 113—132,) Baldwin's iid Epistle to Innocent III., (Gesta c. 92, p. 534—537,) with the whole reign of Mourzoufle, in Nicetas, (p 363—375;) and borrowed some hints from Dandolo (Chron. Venet. p. 323—330) and Gunther, (Hist. C. P. c. 14—18,) who added the decorations of prophecy and vision. The former produces an oracle of the Erythraean sibyl, of a great armament on the Adriatic, under a blind chief, against Byzantium, &c. Curious enough, were the prediction anterior to the fact.]

Constantinople had been taken by storm; and no restraints, except those of religion and humanity, were imposed on the conquerors by the laws of war. Boniface, marquis of Montferrat, still acted as their general; and the Greeks, who revered his name as that of their future sovereign, were heard to exclaim in a lamentable tone, "Holy marquis-king, have mercy upon us!" His prudence or compassion opened the gates of the city to the fugitives; and he exhorted the soldiers of the cross to spare the lives of their fellow-Christians. The streams of blood that flowed down the pages of Nicetas may be reduced to the slaughter of two thousand of his unresisting countrymen; [85] and the greater part was massacred, not by the strangers, but by the Latins, who had been driven from the city, and who exercised the revenge of a triumphant faction. Yet of these exiles, some were less mindful of injuries than of benefits; and Nicetas himself was indebted for his safety to the generosity of a Venetian merchant. Pope Innocent the Third accuses the pilgrims for respecting, in their lust, neither age nor sex, nor religious profession; and bitterly laments that the deeds of darkness, fornication, adultery, and incest, were perpetrated in open day; and that noble matrons and holy nuns were polluted by the grooms and peasants of the Catholic camp. [86] It is indeed probable that the license of victory prompted and covered a multitude of sins: but it is certain, that the capital of the East contained a stock of venal or willing beauty, sufficient to satiate the desires of twenty thousand pilgrims; and female prisoners were no longer subject to the right or abuse of domestic slavery. The marquis of Montferrat was the patron of discipline and decency; the count of Flanders was the mirror of chastity: they had forbidden, under pain of death, the rape of married women, or virgins, or nuns; and the proclamation was sometimes invoked by the vanquished [87] and respected by the victors. Their cruelty and lust were moderated by the authority of the chiefs, and feelings of the soldiers; for we are no longer describing an irruption of the northern savages; and however ferocious they might still appear, time, policy, and religion had civilized the manners of the French, and still more of the Italians. But a free scope was allowed to their avarice, which was glutted, even in the holy week, by the pillage of Constantinople. The right of victory, unshackled by any promise or treaty, had confiscated the public and private wealth of the Greeks; and every hand, according to its size and strength, might lawfully execute the sentence and seize the forfeiture. A portable and universal standard of exchange was found in the coined and uncoined metals of gold and silver, which each captor, at home or abroad, might convert into the possessions most suitable to his temper and situation. Of the treasures, which trade and luxury had accumulated, the silks, velvets, furs, the gems, spices, and rich movables, were the most precious, as they could not be procured for money in the ruder countries of Europe. An order of rapine was instituted; nor was the share of each individual abandoned to industry or chance. Under the tremendous penalties of perjury, excommunication, and death, the Latins were bound to deliver their plunder into the common stock: three churches were selected for the deposit and distribution of the spoil: a single share was allotted to a foot-soldier; two for a sergeant on horseback; four to a knight; and larger proportions according to the rank and merit of the barons and princes. For violating this sacred engagement, a knight belonging to the count of St. Paul was hanged with his shield and coat of arms round his neck; his example might render similar offenders more artful and discreet; but avarice was more powerful than fear; and it is generally believed that the secret far exceeded the acknowledged plunder. Yet the magnitude of the prize surpassed the largest scale of experience or expectation. [88] After the whole had been equally divided between the French and Venetians, fifty thousand marks were deducted to satisfy the debts of the former and the demands of the latter. The residue of the French amounted to four hundred thousand marks of silver, [89] about eight hundred thousand pounds sterling; nor can I better appreciate the value of that sum in the public and private transactions of the age, than by defining it as seven times the annual revenue of the kingdom of England. [90]

[Footnote 85: Ceciderunt tamen ea die civium quasi duo millia, &c., (Gunther, c. 18.) Arithmetic is an excellent touchstone to try the amplifications of passion and rhetoric.]

[Footnote 86: Quidam (says Innocent III., Gesta, c. 94, p. 538) nec religioni, nec aetati, nec sexui pepercerunt: sed fornicationes, adulteria, et incestus in oculis omnium exercentes, non solum maritatas et viduas, sed et matronas et virgines Deoque dicatas, exposuerunt spurcitiis garcionum. Villehardouin takes no notice of these common incidents.]

[Footnote 87: Nicetas saved, and afterwards married, a noble virgin, (p. 380,) whom a soldier, eti martusi polloiV onhdon epibrimwmenoV, had almost violated in spite of the entolai, entalmata eu gegonotwn.]

[Footnote 88: Of the general mass of wealth, Gunther observes, ut de pauperibus et advenis cives ditissimi redderentur, (Hist. C. P. c. 18; (Villehardouin, (No. 132,) that since the creation, ne fu tant gaaignie dans une ville; Baldwin, (Gesta, c. 92,) ut tantum tota non videatur possidere Latinitas.]

[Footnote 89: Villehardouin, No. 133—135. Instead of 400,000, there is a various reading of 500,000. The Venetians had offered to take the whole booty, and to give 400 marks to each knight, 200 to each priest and horseman, and 100 to each foot-soldier: they would have been great losers, (Le Beau, Hist. du. Bas Empire tom. xx. p. 506. I know not from whence.)]

[Footnote 90: At the council of Lyons (A.D. 1245) the English ambassadors stated the revenue of the crown as below that of the foreign clergy, which amounted to 60,000 marks a year, (Matthew Paris, p. 451 Hume's Hist. of England, vol. ii. p. 170.)]

In this great revolution we enjoy the singular felicity of comparing the narratives of Villehardouin and Nicetas, the opposite feelings of the marshal of Champagne and the Byzantine senator. [91] At the first view it should seem that the wealth of Constantinople was only transferred from one nation to another; and that the loss and sorrow of the Greeks is exactly balanced by the joy and advantage of the Latins. But in the miserable account of war, the gain is never equivalent to the loss, the pleasure to the pain; the smiles of the Latins were transient and fallacious; the Greeks forever wept over the ruins of their country; and their real calamities were aggravated by sacrilege and mockery. What benefits accrued to the conquerors from the three fires which annihilated so vast a portion of the buildings and riches of the city? What a stock of such things, as could neither be used nor transported, was maliciously or wantonly destroyed! How much treasure was idly wasted in gaming, debauchery, and riot! And what precious objects were bartered for a vile price by the impatience or ignorance of the soldiers, whose reward was stolen by the base industry of the last of the Greeks! These alone, who had nothing to lose, might derive some profit from the revolution; but the misery of the upper ranks of society is strongly painted in the personal adventures of Nicetas himself His stately palace had been reduced to ashes in the second conflagration; and the senator, with his family and friends, found an obscure shelter in another house which he possessed near the church of St. Sophia. It was the door of this mean habitation that his friend, the Venetian merchant, guarded in the disguise of a soldier, till Nicetas could save, by a precipitate flight, the relics of his fortune and the chastity of his daughter. In a cold, wintry season, these fugitives, nursed in the lap of prosperity, departed on foot; his wife was with child; the desertion of their slaves compelled them to carry their baggage on their own shoulders; and their women, whom they placed in the centre, were exhorted to conceal their beauty with dirt, instead of adorning it with paint and jewels Every step was exposed to insult and danger: the threats of the strangers were less painful than the taunts of the plebeians, with whom they were now levelled; nor did the exiles breathe in safety till their mournful pilgrimage was concluded at Selymbria, above forty miles from the capital. On the way they overtook the patriarch, without attendance and almost without apparel, riding on an ass, and reduced to a state of apostolical poverty, which, had it been voluntary, might perhaps have been meritorious. In the mean while, his desolate churches were profaned by the licentiousness and party zeal of the Latins. After stripping the gems and pearls, they converted the chalices into drinking-cups; their tables, on which they gamed and feasted, were covered with the pictures of Christ and the saints; and they trampled under foot the most venerable objects of the Christian worship. In the cathedral of St. Sophia, the ample veil of the sanctuary was rent asunder for the sake of the golden fringe; and the altar, a monument of art and riches, was broken in pieces and shared among the captors. Their mules and horses were laden with the wrought silver and gilt carvings, which they tore down from the doors and pulpit; and if the beasts stumbled under the burden, they were stabbed by their impatient drivers, and the holy pavement streamed with their impure blood. A prostitute was seated on the throne of the patriarch; and that daughter of Belial, as she is styled, sung and danced in the church, to ridicule the hymns and processions of the Orientals. Nor were the repositories of the royal dead secure from violation: in the church of the Apostles, the tombs of the emperors were rifled; and it is said, that after six centuries the corpse of Justinian was found without any signs of decay or putrefaction. In the streets, the French and Flemings clothed themselves and their horses in painted robes and flowing head-dresses of linen; and the coarse intemperance of their feasts [92] insulted the splendid sobriety of the East. To expose the arms of a people of scribes and scholars, they affected to display a pen, an inkhorn, and a sheet of paper, without discerning that the instruments of science and valor were alike feeble and useless in the hands of the modern Greeks.

[Footnote 91: The disorders of the sack of Constantinople, and his own adventures, are feelingly described by Nicetas, p. 367—369, and in the Status Urb. C. P. p. 375—384. His complaints, even of sacrilege, are justified by Innocent III., (Gesta, c. 92;) but Villehardouin does not betray a symptom of pity or remorse.]

[Footnote 92: If I rightly apprehend the Greek of Nicetas's receipts, their favorite dishes were boiled buttocks of beef, salt pork and peas, and soup made of garlic and sharp or sour herbs, (p. 382.)]

Their reputation and their language encouraged them, however, to despise the ignorance and to overlook the progress of the Latins. [93] In the love of the arts, the national difference was still more obvious and real; the Greeks preserved with reverence the works of their ancestors, which they could not imitate; and, in the destruction of the statues of Constantinople, we are provoked to join in the complaints and invectives of the Byzantine historian. [94] We have seen how the rising city was adorned by the vanity and despotism of the Imperial founder: in the ruins of paganism, some gods and heroes were saved from the axe of superstition; and the forum and hippodrome were dignified with the relics of a better age. Several of these are described by Nicetas, [95] in a florid and affected style; and from his descriptions I shall select some interesting particulars. 1. The victorious charioteers were cast in bronze, at their own or the public charge, and fitly placed in the hippodrome: they stood aloft in their chariots, wheeling round the goal: the spectators could admire their attitude, and judge of the resemblance; and of these figures, the most perfect might have been transported from the Olympic stadium. 2. The sphinx, river-horse, and crocodile, denote the climate and manufacture of Egypt and the spoils of that ancient province. 3. The she-wolf suckling Romulus and Remus, a subject alike pleasing to the old and the new Romans, but which could really be treated before the decline of the Greek sculpture. 4. An eagle holding and tearing a serpent in his talons, a domestic monument of the Byzantines, which they ascribed, not to a human artist, but to the magic power of the philosopher Apollonius, who, by this talisman, delivered the city from such venomous reptiles. 5. An ass and his driver, which were erected by Augustus in his colony of Nicopolis, to commemorate a verbal omen of the victory of Actium. 6. An equestrian statue which passed, in the vulgar opinion, for Joshua, the Jewish conqueror, stretching out his hand to stop the course of the descending sun. A more classical tradition recognized the figures of Bellerophon and Pegasus; and the free attitude of the steed seemed to mark that he trod on air, rather than on the earth. 7. A square and lofty obelisk of brass; the sides were embossed with a variety of picturesque and rural scenes, birds singing; rustics laboring, or playing on their pipes; sheep bleating; lambs skipping; the sea, and a scene of fish and fishing; little naked cupids laughing, playing, and pelting each other with apples; and, on the summit, a female figure, turning with the slightest breath, and thence denominated the wind's attendant. 8. The Phrygian shepherd presenting to Venus the prize of beauty, the apple of discord. 9. The incomparable statue of Helen, which is delineated by Nicetas in the words of admiration and love: her well-turned feet, snowy arms, rosy lips, bewitching smiles, swimming eyes, arched eyebrows, the harmony of her shape, the lightness of her drapery, and her flowing locks that waved in the wind; a beauty that might have moved her Barbarian destroyers to pity and remorse. 10. The manly or divine form of Hercules, [96] as he was restored to life by the masterhand of Lysippus; of such magnitude, that his thumb was equal to his waist, his leg to the stature, of a common man: [97] his chest ample, his shoulders broad, his limbs strong and muscular, his hair curled, his aspect commanding. Without his bow, or quiver, or club, his lion's skin carelessly thrown over him, he was seated on an osier basket, his right leg and arm stretched to the utmost, his left knee bent, and supporting his elbow, his head reclining on his left hand, his countenance indignant and pensive. 11. A colossal statue of Juno, which had once adorned her temple of Samos, the enormous head by four yoke of oxen was laboriously drawn to the palace. 12. Another colossus, of Pallas or Minerva, thirty feet in height, and representing with admirable spirit the attributes and character of the martial maid. Before we accuse the Latins, it is just to remark, that this Pallas was destroyed after the first siege, by the fear and superstition of the Greeks themselves. [98] The other statues of brass which I have enumerated were broken and melted by the unfeeling avarice of the crusaders: the cost and labor were consumed in a moment; the soul of genius evaporated in smoke; and the remnant of base metal was coined into money for the payment of the troops. Bronze is not the most durable of monuments: from the marble forms of Phidias and Praxiteles, the Latins might turn aside with stupid contempt; [99] but unless they were crushed by some accidental injury, those useless stones stood secure on their pedestals. [100] The most enlightened of the strangers, above the gross and sensual pursuits of their countrymen, more piously exercised the right of conquest in the search and seizure of the relics of the saints. [101] Immense was the supply of heads and bones, crosses and images, that were scattered by this revolution over the churches of Europe; and such was the increase of pilgrimage and oblation, that no branch, perhaps, of more lucrative plunder was imported from the East. [102] Of the writings of antiquity, many that still existed in the twelfth century, are now lost. But the pilgrims were not solicitous to save or transport the volumes of an unknown tongue: the perishable substance of paper or parchment can only be preserved by the multiplicity of copies; the literature of the Greeks had almost centred in the metropolis; and, without computing the extent of our loss, we may drop a tear over the libraries that have perished in the triple fire of Constantinople. [103]

[Footnote 93: Nicetas uses very harsh expressions, par agrammatoiV BarbaroiV, kai teleon analfabhtoiV, (Fragment, apud Fabric. Bibliot. Graec. tom. vi. p. 414.) This reproach, it is true, applies most strongly to their ignorance of Greek and of Homer. In their own language, the Latins of the xiith and xiiith centuries were not destitute of literature. See Harris's Philological Inquiries, p. iii. c. 9, 10, 11.]

[Footnote 94: Nicetas was of Chonae in Phrygia, (the old Colossae of St. Paul:) he raised himself to the honors of senator, judge of the veil, and great logothete; beheld the fall of the empire, retired to Nice, and composed an elaborate history from the death of Alexius Comnenus to the reign of Henry.]

[Footnote 95: A manuscript of Nicetas in the Bodleian library contains this curious fragment on the statues of Constantinople, which fraud, or shame, or rather carelessness, has dropped in the common editions. It is published by Fabricius, (Bibliot. Graec. tom. vi. p. 405—416,) and immoderately praised by the late ingenious Mr. Harris of Salisbury, (Philological Inquiries, p. iii. c. 5, p. 301—312.)]

[Footnote 96: To illustrate the statue of Hercules, Mr. Harris quotes a Greek epigram, and engraves a beautiful gem, which does not, however, copy the attitude of the statue: in the latter, Hercules had not his club, and his right leg and arm were extended.]

[Footnote 97: I transcribe these proportions, which appear to me inconsistent with each other; and may possibly show, that the boasted taste of Nicetas was no more than affectation and vanity.]

[Footnote 98: Nicetas in Isaaco Angelo et Alexio, c. 3, p. 359. The Latin editor very properly observes, that the historian, in his bombast style, produces ex pulice elephantem.]

[Footnote 99: In two passages of Nicetas (edit. Paris, p. 360. Fabric. p. 408) the Latins are branded with the lively reproach of oi tou kalou anerastoi barbaroi, and their avarice of brass is clearly expressed. Yet the Venetians had the merit of removing four bronze horses from Constantinople to the place of St. Mark, (Sanuto, Vite del Dogi, in Muratori, Script. Rerum Italicarum, tom. xxii. p. 534.)]

[Footnote 100: Winckelman, Hist. de l'Art. tom. iii. p. 269, 270.]

[Footnote 101: See the pious robbery of the abbot Martin, who transferred a rich cargo to his monastery of Paris, diocese of Basil, (Gunther, Hist. C. P. c. 19, 23, 24.) Yet in secreting this booty, the saint incurred an excommunication, and perhaps broke his oath. (Compare Wilken vol. v. p. 308.—M.)]

[Footnote 102: Fleury, Hist. Eccles tom. xvi. p. 139—145.]

[Footnote 103: I shall conclude this chapter with the notice of a modern history, which illustrates the taking of Constantinople by the Latins; but which has fallen somewhat late into my hands. Paolo Ramusio, the son of the compiler of Voyages, was directed by the senate of Venice to write the history of the conquest: and this order, which he received in his youth, he executed in a mature age, by an elegant Latin work, de Bello Constantinopolitano et Imperatoribus Comnenis per Gallos et Venetos restitutis, (Venet. 1635, in folio.) Ramusio, or Rhamnusus, transcribes and translates, sequitur ad unguem, a MS. of Villehardouin, which he possessed; but he enriches his narrative with Greek and Latin materials, and we are indebted to him for a correct state of the fleet, the names of the fifty Venetian nobles who commanded the galleys of the republic, and the patriot opposition of Pantaleon Barbus to the choice of the doge for emperor.]



Chapter LXI: Partition Of The Empire By The French And Venetians.—Part I.

Partition Of The Empire By The French And Venetians,—Five Latin Emperors Of The Houses Of Flanders And Courtenay.— Their Wars Against The Bulgarians And Greeks.—Weakness And Poverty Of The Latin Empire.—Recovery Of Constantinople By The Greeks.—General Consequences Of The Crusades.

After the death of the lawful princes, the French and Venetians, confident of justice and victory, agreed to divide and regulate their future possessions. [1] It was stipulated by treaty, that twelve electors, six of either nation, should be nominated; that a majority should choose the emperor of the East; and that, if the votes were equal, the decision of chance should ascertain the successful candidate. To him, with all the titles and prerogatives of the Byzantine throne, they assigned the two palaces of Boucoleon and Blachernae, with a fourth part of the Greek monarchy. It was defined that the three remaining portions should be equally shared between the republic of Venice and the barons of France; that each feudatory, with an honorable exception for the doge, should acknowledge and perform the duties of homage and military service to the supreme head of the empire; that the nation which gave an emperor, should resign to their brethren the choice of a patriarch; and that the pilgrims, whatever might be their impatience to visit the Holy Land, should devote another year to the conquest and defence of the Greek provinces. After the conquest of Constantinople by the Latins, the treaty was confirmed and executed; and the first and most important step was the creation of an emperor. The six electors of the French nation were all ecclesiastics, the abbot of Loces, the archbishop elect of Acre in Palestine, and the bishops of Troyes, Soissons, Halberstadt, and Bethlehem, the last of whom exercised in the camp the office of pope's legate: their profession and knowledge were respectable; and as they could not be the objects, they were best qualified to be the authors of the choice. The six Venetians were the principal servants of the state, and in this list the noble families of Querini and Contarini are still proud to discover their ancestors. The twelve assembled in the chapel of the palace; and after the solemn invocation of the Holy Ghost, they proceeded to deliberate and vote. A just impulse of respect and gratitude prompted them to crown the virtues of the doge; his wisdom had inspired their enterprise; and the most youthful knights might envy and applaud the exploits of blindness and age. But the patriot Dandolo was devoid of all personal ambition, and fully satisfied that he had been judged worthy to reign. His nomination was overruled by the Venetians themselves: his countrymen, and perhaps his friends, [2] represented, with the eloquence of truth, the mischiefs that might arise to national freedom and the common cause, from the union of two incompatible characters, of the first magistrate of a republic and the emperor of the East. The exclusion of the doge left room for the more equal merits of Boniface and Baldwin; and at their names all meaner candidates respectfully withdrew. The marquis of Montferrat was recommended by his mature age and fair reputation, by the choice of the adventurers, and the wishes of the Greeks; nor can I believe that Venice, the mistress of the sea, could be seriously apprehensive of a petty lord at the foot of the Alps. [3] But the count of Flanders was the chief of a wealthy and warlike people: he was valiant, pious, and chaste; in the prime of life, since he was only thirty-two years of age; a descendant of Charlemagne, a cousin of the king of France, and a compeer of the prelates and barons who had yielded with reluctance to the command of a foreigner. Without the chapel, these barons, with the doge and marquis at their head, expected the decision of the twelve electors. It was announced by the bishop of Soissons, in the name of his colleagues: "Ye have sworn to obey the prince whom we should choose: by our unanimous suffrage, Baldwin count of Flanders and Hainault is now your sovereign, and the emperor of the East." He was saluted with loud applause, and the proclamation was reechoed through the city by the joy of the Latins, and the trembling adulation of the Greeks. Boniface was the first to kiss the hand of his rival, and to raise him on the buckler: and Baldwin was transported to the cathedral, and solemnly invested with the purple buskins. At the end of three weeks he was crowned by the legate, in the vacancy of the patriarch; but the Venetian clergy soon filled the chapter of St. Sophia, seated Thomas Morosini on the ecclesiastical throne, and employed every art to perpetuate in their own nation the honors and benefices of the Greek church. [4] Without delay the successor of Constantine instructed Palestine, France, and Rome, of this memorable revolution. To Palestine he sent, as a trophy, the gates of Constantinople, and the chain of the harbor; [5] and adopted, from the Assise of Jerusalem, the laws or customs best adapted to a French colony and conquest in the East. In his epistles, the natives of France are encouraged to swell that colony, and to secure that conquest, to people a magnificent city and a fertile land, which will reward the labors both of the priest and the soldier. He congratulates the Roman pontiff on the restoration of his authority in the East; invites him to extinguish the Greek schism by his presence in a general council; and implores his blessing and forgiveness for the disobedient pilgrims. Prudence and dignity are blended in the answer of Innocent. [6] In the subversion of the Byzantine empire, he arraigns the vices of man, and adores the providence of God; the conquerors will be absolved or condemned by their future conduct; the validity of their treaty depends on the judgment of St. Peter; but he inculcates their most sacred duty of establishing a just subordination of obedience and tribute, from the Greeks to the Latins, from the magistrate to the clergy, and from the clergy to the pope.

[Footnote 1: See the original treaty of partition, in the Venetian Chronicle of Andrew Dandolo, p. 326—330, and the subsequent election in Ville hardouin, No. 136—140, with Ducange in his Observations, and the book of his Histoire de Constantinople sous l'Empire des Francois.]

[Footnote 2: After mentioning the nomination of the doge by a French elector his kinsman Andrew Dandolo approves his exclusion, quidam Venetorum fidelis et nobilis senex, usus oratione satis probabili, &c., which has been embroidered by modern writers from Blondus to Le Beau.]

[Footnote 3: Nicetas, (p. 384,) with the vain ignorance of a Greek, describes the marquis of Montferrat as a maritime power. Dampardian de oikeisqai paralion. Was he deceived by the Byzantine theme of Lombardy which extended along the coast of Calabria?]

[Footnote 4: They exacted an oath from Thomas Morosini to appoint no canons of St. Sophia the lawful electors, except Venetians who had lived ten years at Venice, &c. But the foreign clergy was envious, the pope disapproved this national monopoly, and of the six Latin patriarchs of Constantinople, only the first and the last were Venetians.]

[Footnote 5: Nicetas, p. 383.]

[Footnote 6: The Epistles of Innocent III. are a rich fund for the ecclesiastical and civil institution of the Latin empire of Constantinople; and the most important of these epistles (of which the collection in 2 vols. in folio is published by Stephen Baluze) are inserted in his Gesta, in Muratori, Script. Rerum Italicarum, tom. iii. p. l. c. 94—105.]

In the division of the Greek provinces, [7] the share of the Venetians was more ample than that of the Latin emperor. No more than one fourth was appropriated to his domain; a clear moiety of the remainder was reserved for Venice; and the other moiety was distributed among the adventures of France and Lombardy. The venerable Dandolo was proclaimed despot of Romania, and invested after the Greek fashion with the purple buskins. He ended at Constantinople his long and glorious life; and if the prerogative was personal, the title was used by his successors till the middle of the fourteenth century, with the singular, though true, addition of lords of one fourth and a half of the Roman empire. [8] The doge, a slave of state, was seldom permitted to depart from the helm of the republic; but his place was supplied by the bail, or regent, who exercised a supreme jurisdiction over the colony of Venetians: they possessed three of the eight quarters of the city; and his independent tribunal was composed of six judges, four counsellors, two chamberlains two fiscal advocates, and a constable. Their long experience of the Eastern trade enabled them to select their portion with discernment: they had rashly accepted the dominion and defence of Adrianople; but it was the more reasonable aim of their policy to form a chain of factories, and cities, and islands, along the maritime coast, from the neighborhood of Ragusa to the Hellespont and the Bosphorus. The labor and cost of such extensive conquests exhausted their treasury: they abandoned their maxims of government, adopted a feudal system, and contented themselves with the homage of their nobles, [9] for the possessions which these private vassals undertook to reduce and maintain. And thus it was that the family of Sanut acquired the duchy of Naxos, which involved the greatest part of the archipelago. For the price of ten thousand marks, the republic purchased of the marquis of Montferrat the fertile Island of Crete or Candia, with the ruins of a hundred cities; [10] but its improvement was stinted by the proud and narrow spirit of an aristocracy; [11] and the wisest senators would confess that the sea, not the land, was the treasury of St. Mark. In the moiety of the adventurers the marquis Boniface might claim the most liberal reward; and, besides the Isle of Crete, his exclusion from the throne was compensated by the royal title and the provinces beyond the Hellespont. But he prudently exchanged that distant and difficult conquest for the kingdom of Thessalonica Macedonia, twelve days' journey from the capital, where he might be supported by the neighboring powers of his brother-in-law the king of Hungary. His progress was hailed by the voluntary or reluctant acclamations of the natives; and Greece, the proper and ancient Greece, again received a Latin conqueror, [12] who trod with indifference that classic ground. He viewed with a careless eye the beauties of the valley of Tempe; traversed with a cautious step the straits of Thermopylae; occupied the unknown cities of Thebes, Athens, and Argos; and assaulted the fortifications of Corinth and Napoli, [13] which resisted his arms. The lots of the Latin pilgrims were regulated by chance, or choice, or subsequent exchange; and they abused, with intemperate joy, their triumph over the lives and fortunes of a great people. After a minute survey of the provinces, they weighed in the scales of avarice the revenue of each district, the advantage of the situation, and the ample on scanty supplies for the maintenance of soldiers and horses. Their presumption claimed and divided the long-lost dependencies of the Roman sceptre: the Nile and Euphrates rolled through their imaginary realms; and happy was the warrior who drew for his prize the palace of the Turkish sultan of Iconium. [14] I shall not descend to the pedigree of families and the rent-roll of estates, but I wish to specify that the counts of Blois and St. Pol were invested with the duchy of Nice and the lordship of Demotica: [15] the principal fiefs were held by the service of constable, chamberlain, cup-bearer, butler, and chief cook; and our historian, Jeffrey of Villehardouin, obtained a fair establishment on the banks of the Hebrus, and united the double office of marshal of Champagne and Romania. At the head of his knights and archers, each baron mounted on horseback to secure the possession of his share, and their first efforts were generally successful. But the public force was weakened by their dispersion; and a thousand quarrels must arise under a law, and among men, whose sole umpire was the sword. Within three months after the conquest of Constantinople, the emperor and the king of Thessalonica drew their hostile followers into the field; they were reconciled by the authority of the doge, the advice of the marshal, and the firm freedom of their peers. [16]

[Footnote 7: In the treaty of partition, most of the names are corrupted by the scribes: they might be restored, and a good map, suited to the last age of the Byzantine empire, would be an improvement of geography. But, alas D'Anville is no more!]

[Footnote 8: Their style was dominus quartae partis et dimidiae imperii Romani, till Giovanni Dolfino, who was elected doge in the year of 1356, (Sanuto, p. 530, 641.) For the government of Constantinople, see Ducange, Histoire de C. P. i. 37.]

[Footnote 9: Ducange (Hist. de C. P. ii. 6) has marked the conquests made by the state or nobles of Venice of the Islands of Candia, Corfu, Cephalonia, Zante, Naxos, Paros, Melos, Andros, Mycone, Syro, Cea, and Lemnos.]

[Footnote 10: Boniface sold the Isle of Candia, August 12, A.D. 1204. See the act in Sanuto, p. 533: but I cannot understand how it could be his mother's portion, or how she could be the daughter of an emperor Alexius.]

[Footnote 11: In the year 1212, the doge Peter Zani sent a colony to Candia, drawn from every quarter of Venice. But in their savage manners and frequent rebellions, the Candiots may be compared to the Corsicans under the yoke of Genoa; and when I compare the accounts of Belon and Tournefort, I cannot discern much difference between the Venetian and the Turkish island.]

[Footnote 12: Villehardouin (No. 159, 160, 173—177) and Nicetas (p. 387—394) describe the expedition into Greece of the marquis Boniface. The Choniate might derive his information from his brother Michael, archbishop of Athens, whom he paints as an orator, a statesman, and a saint. His encomium of Athens, and the description of Tempe, should be published from the Bodleian MS. of Nicetas, (Fabric. Bibliot. Graec. tom. vi. p. 405,) and would have deserved Mr. Harris's inquiries.]

[Footnote 13: Napoli de Romania, or Nauplia, the ancient seaport of Argos, is still a place of strength and consideration, situate on a rocky peninsula, with a good harbor, (Chandler's Travels into Greece, p. 227.)]

[Footnote 14: I have softened the expression of Nicetas, who strives to expose the presumption of the Franks. See the Rebus post C. P. expugnatam, p. 375—384.]

[Footnote 15: A city surrounded by the River Hebrus, and six leagues to the south of Adrianople, received from its double wall the Greek name of Didymoteichos, insensibly corrupted into Demotica and Dimot. I have preferred the more convenient and modern appellation of Demotica. This place was the last Turkish residence of Charles XII.]

[Footnote 16: Their quarrel is told by Villehardouin (No. 146—158) with the spirit of freedom. The merit and reputation of the marshal are so acknowledged by the Greek historian (p. 387) mega para touV tvn Dauinwn dunamenou strateumasi: unlike some modern heroes, whose exploits are only visible in their own memoirs. * Note: William de Champlite, brother of the count of Dijon, assumed the title of Prince of Achaia: on the death of his brother, he returned, with regret, to France, to assume his paternal inheritance, and left Villehardouin his "bailli," on condition that if he did not return within a year Villehardouin was to retain an investiture. Brosset's Add. to Le Beau, vol. xvii. p. 200. M. Brosset adds, from the Greek chronicler edited by M. Buchon, the somewhat unknightly trick by which Villehardouin disembarrassed himself from the troublesome claim of Robert, the cousin of the count of Dijon. to the succession. He contrived that Robert should arrive just fifteen days too late; and with the general concurrence of the assembled knights was himself invested with the principality. Ibid. p. 283. M.]

Two fugitives, who had reigned at Constantinople, still asserted the title of emperor; and the subjects of their fallen throne might be moved to pity by the misfortunes of the elder Alexius, or excited to revenge by the spirit of Mourzoufle. A domestic alliance, a common interest, a similar guilt, and the merit of extinguishing his enemies, a brother and a nephew, induced the more recent usurper to unite with the former the relics of his power. Mourzoufle was received with smiles and honors in the camp of his father Alexius; but the wicked can never love, and should rarely trust, their fellow-criminals; he was seized in the bath, deprived of his eyes, stripped of his troops and treasures, and turned out to wander an object of horror and contempt to those who with more propriety could hate, and with more justice could punish, the assassin of the emperor Isaac and his son. As the tyrant, pursued by fear or remorse, was stealing over to Asia, he was seized by the Latins of Constantinople, and condemned, after an open trial, to an ignominious death. His judges debated the mode of his execution, the axe, the wheel, or the stake; and it was resolved that Mourzoufle [17] should ascend the Theodosian column, a pillar of white marble of one hundred and forty-seven feet in height. [18] From the summit he was cast down headlong, and dashed in pieces on the pavement, in the presence of innumerable spectators, who filled the forum of Taurus, and admired the accomplishment of an old prediction, which was explained by this singular event. [19] The fate of Alexius is less tragical: he was sent by the marquis a captive to Italy, and a gift to the king of the Romans; but he had not much to applaud his fortune, if the sentence of imprisonment and exile were changed from a fortress in the Alps to a monastery in Asia. But his daughter, before the national calamity, had been given in marriage to a young hero who continued the succession, and restored the throne, of the Greek princes. [20] The valor of Theodore Lascaris was signalized in the two sieges of Constantinople. After the flight of Mourzoufle, when the Latins were already in the city, he offered himself as their emperor to the soldiers and people; and his ambition, which might be virtuous, was undoubtedly brave. Could he have infused a soul into the multitude, they might have crushed the strangers under their feet: their abject despair refused his aid; and Theodore retired to breathe the air of freedom in Anatolia, beyond the immediate view and pursuit of the conquerors. Under the title, at first of despot, and afterwards of emperor, he drew to his standard the bolder spirits, who were fortified against slavery by the contempt of life; and as every means was lawful for the public safety implored without scruple the alliance of the Turkish sultan Nice, where Theodore established his residence, Prusa and Philadelphia, Smyrna and Ephesus, opened their gates to their deliverer: he derived strength and reputation from his victories, and even from his defeats; and the successor of Constantine preserved a fragment of the empire from the banks of the Maeander to the suburbs of Nicomedia, and at length of Constantinople. Another portion, distant and obscure, was possessed by the lineal heir of the Comneni, a son of the virtuous Manuel, a grandson of the tyrant Andronicus. His name was Alexius; and the epithet of great [201] was applied perhaps to his stature, rather than to his exploits. By the indulgence of the Angeli, he was appointed governor or duke of Trebizond: [21] [211] his birth gave him ambition, the revolution independence; and, without changing his title, he reigned in peace from Sinope to the Phasis, along the coast of the Black Sea. His nameless son and successor [212] is described as the vassal of the sultan, whom he served with two hundred lances: that Comnenian prince was no more than duke of Trebizond, and the title of emperor was first assumed by the pride and envy of the grandson of Alexius. In the West, a third fragment was saved from the common shipwreck by Michael, a bastard of the house of Angeli, who, before the revolution, had been known as a hostage, a soldier, and a rebel. His flight from the camp of the marquis Boniface secured his freedom; by his marriage with the governor's daughter, he commanded the important place of Durazzo, assumed the title of despot, and founded a strong and conspicuous principality in Epirus, AEtolia, and Thessaly, which have ever been peopled by a warlike race. The Greeks, who had offered their service to their new sovereigns, were excluded by the haughty Latins [22] from all civil and military honors, as a nation born to tremble and obey. Their resentment prompted them to show that they might have been useful friends, since they could be dangerous enemies: their nerves were braced by adversity: whatever was learned or holy, whatever was noble or valiant, rolled away into the independent states of Trebizond, Epirus, and Nice; and a single patrician is marked by the ambiguous praise of attachment and loyalty to the Franks. The vulgar herd of the cities and the country would have gladly submitted to a mild and regular servitude; and the transient disorders of war would have been obliterated by some years of industry and peace. But peace was banished, and industry was crushed, in the disorders of the feudal system. The Roman emperors of Constantinople, if they were endowed with abilities, were armed with power for the protection of their subjects: their laws were wise, and their administration was simple. The Latin throne was filled by a titular prince, the chief, and often the servant, of his licentious confederates; the fiefs of the empire, from a kingdom to a castle, were held and ruled by the sword of the barons; and their discord, poverty, and ignorance, extended the ramifications of tyranny to the most sequestered villages. The Greeks were oppressed by the double weight of the priest, who were invested with temporal power, and of the soldier, who was inflamed by fanatic hatred; and the insuperable bar of religion and language forever separated the stranger and the native. As long as the crusaders were united at Constantinople, the memory of their conquest, and the terror of their arms, imposed silence on the captive land: their dispersion betrayed the smallness of their numbers and the defects of their discipline; and some failures and mischances revealed the secret, that they were not invincible. As the fears of the Greeks abated, their hatred increased. They murdered; they conspired; and before a year of slavery had elapsed, they implored, or accepted, the succor of a Barbarian, whose power they had felt, and whose gratitude they trusted. [23]

[Footnote 17: See the fate of Mourzoufle in Nicetas, (p. 393,) Villehardouin, (No. 141—145, 163,) and Guntherus, (c. 20, 21.) Neither the marshal nor the monk afford a grain of pity for a tyrant or rebel, whose punishment, however, was more unexampled than his crime.]

[Footnote 18: The column of Arcadius, which represents in basso relievo his victories, or those of his father Theodosius, is still extant at Constantinople. It is described and measured, Gyllius, (Topograph. iv. 7,) Banduri, (ad l. i. Antiquit. C. P. p. 507, &c.,) and Tournefort, (Voyage du Levant, tom. ii. lettre xii. p. 231.) (Compare Wilken, note, vol. v p. 388.—M.)]

[Footnote 19: The nonsense of Gunther and the modern Greeks concerning this columna fatidica, is unworthy of notice; but it is singular enough, that fifty years before the Latin conquest, the poet Tzetzes, (Chiliad, ix. 277) relates the dream of a matron, who saw an army in the forum, and a man sitting on the column, clapping his hands, and uttering a loud exclamation. * Note: We read in the "Chronicle of the Conquest of Constantinople, and of the Establishment of the French in the Morea," translated by J A Buchon, Paris, 1825, p. 64 that Leo VI., called the Philosopher, had prophesied that a perfidious emperor should be precipitated from the top of this column. The crusaders considered themselves under an obligation to fulfil this prophecy. Brosset, note on Le Beau, vol. xvii. p. 180. M Brosset announces that a complete edition of this work, of which the original Greek of the first book only has been published by M. Buchon in preparation, to form part of the new series of the Byzantine historian.—M.]

[Footnote 20: The dynasties of Nice, Trebizond, and Epirus (of which Nicetas saw the origin without much pleasure or hope) are learnedly explored, and clearly represented, in the Familiae Byzantinae of Ducange.]

[Footnote 201: This was a title, not a personal appellation. Joinville speaks of the "Grant Comnenie, et sire de Traffezzontes." Fallmerayer, p. 82.—M.]

[Footnote 21: Except some facts in Pachymer and Nicephorus Gregoras, which will hereafter be used, the Byzantine writers disdain to speak of the empire of Trebizond, or principality of the Lazi; and among the Latins, it is conspicuous only in the romancers of the xivth or xvth centuries. Yet the indefatigable Ducange has dug out (Fam. Byz. p. 192) two authentic passages in Vincent of Beauvais (l. xxxi. c. 144) and the prothonotary Ogerius, (apud Wading, A.D. 1279, No. 4.)]

[Footnote 211: On the revolutions of Trebizond under the later empire down to this period, see Fallmerayer, Geschichte des Kaiserthums von Trapezunt, ch. iii. The wife of Manuel fled with her infant sons and her treasure from the relentless enmity of Isaac Angelus. Fallmerayer conjectures that her arrival enabled the Greeks of that region to make head against the formidable Thamar, the Georgian queen of Teflis, p. 42. They gradually formed a dominion on the banks of the Phasis, which the distracted government of the Angeli neglected or were unable to suppress. On the capture of Constantinople by the Latins, Alexius was joined by many noble fugitives from Constantinople. He had always retained the names of Caesar and BasileuV. He now fixed the seat of his empire at Trebizond; but he had never abandoned his pretensions to the Byzantine throne, ch. iii. Fallmerayer appears to make out a triumphant case as to the assumption of the royal title by Alexius the First. Since the publication of M. Fallmerayer's work, (Muenchen, 1827,) M. Tafel has published, at the end of the opuscula of Eustathius, a curious chronicle of Trebizond by Michael Panaretas, (Frankfort, 1832.) It gives the succession of the emperors, and some other curious circumstances of their wars with the several Mahometan powers.—M.]

[Footnote 212: The successor of Alexius was his son-in-law Andronicus I., of the Comnenian family, surnamed Gidon. There were five successions between Alexius and John, according to Fallmerayer, p. 103. The troops of Trebizond fought in the army of Dschelaleddin, the Karismian, against Alaleddin, the Seljukian sultan of Roum, but as allies rather than vassals, p. 107. It was after the defeat of Dschelaleddin that they furnished their contingent to Alai-eddin. Fallmerayer struggles in vain to mitigate this mark of the subjection of the Comneni to the sultan. p. 116.—M.]

[Footnote 22: The portrait of the French Latins is drawn in Nicetas by the hand of prejudice and resentment: ouden tvn allwn eqnvn eiV ''AreoV?rga parasumbeblhsqai sjisin hneiconto all' oude tiV tvn caritwn h tvn?mousvn para toiV barbaroiV toutoiV epexenizeto, kai para touto oimai thn jusin hsan anhmeroi, kai ton xolon eixon tou logou prstreconta. [P. 791 Ed. Bek.]

[Footnote 23: I here begin to use, with freedom and confidence, the eight books of the Histoire de C. P. sous l'Empire des Francois, which Ducange has given as a supplement to Villehardouin; and which, in a barbarous style, deserves the praise of an original and classic work.]

The Latin conquerors had been saluted with a solemn and early embassy from John, or Joannice, or Calo-John, the revolted chief of the Bulgarians and Walachians. He deemed himself their brother, as the votary of the Roman pontiff, from whom he had received the regal title and a holy banner; and in the subversion of the Greek monarchy, he might aspire to the name of their friend and accomplice. But Calo-John was astonished to find, that the Count of Flanders had assumed the pomp and pride of the successors of Constantine; and his ambassadors were dismissed with a haughty message, that the rebel must deserve a pardon, by touching with his forehead the footstool of the Imperial throne. His resentment [24] would have exhaled in acts of violence and blood: his cooler policy watched the rising discontent of the Greeks; affected a tender concern for their sufferings; and promised, that their first struggles for freedom should be supported by his person and kingdom. The conspiracy was propagated by national hatred, the firmest band of association and secrecy: the Greeks were impatient to sheathe their daggers in the breasts of the victorious strangers; but the execution was prudently delayed, till Henry, the emperor's brother, had transported the flower of his troops beyond the Hellespont. Most of the towns and villages of Thrace were true to the moment and the signal; and the Latins, without arms or suspicion, were slaughtered by the vile and merciless revenge of their slaves. From Demotica, the first scene of the massacre, the surviving vassals of the count of St. Pol escaped to Adrianople; but the French and Venetians, who occupied that city, were slain or expelled by the furious multitude: the garrisons that could effect their retreat fell back on each other towards the metropolis; and the fortresses, that separately stood against the rebels, were ignorant of each other's and of their sovereign's fate. The voice of fame and fear announced the revolt of the Greeks and the rapid approach of their Bulgarian ally; and Calo-John, not depending on the forces of his own kingdom, had drawn from the Scythian wilderness a body of fourteen thousand Comans, who drank, as it was said, the blood of their captives, and sacrificed the Christians on the altars of their gods. [25]

[Footnote 24: In Calo-John's answer to the pope we may find his claims and complaints, (Gesta Innocent III. c. 108, 109:) he was cherished at Rome as the prodigal son.]

[Footnote 25: The Comans were a Tartar or Turkman horde, which encamped in the xiith and xiiith centuries on the verge of Moldavia. The greater part were pagans, but some were Mahometans, and the whole horde was converted to Christianity (A.D. 1370) by Lewis, king of Hungary.]

Alarmed by this sudden and growing danger, the emperor despatched a swift messenger to recall Count Henry and his troops; and had Baldwin expected the return of his gallant brother, with a supply of twenty thousand Armenians, he might have encountered the invader with equal numbers and a decisive superiority of arms and discipline. But the spirit of chivalry could seldom discriminate caution from cowardice; and the emperor took the field with a hundred and forty knights, and their train of archers and sergeants. The marshal, who dissuaded and obeyed, led the vanguard in their march to Adrianople; the main body was commanded by the count of Blois; the aged doge of Venice followed with the rear; and their scanty numbers were increased from all sides by the fugitive Latins. They undertook to besiege the rebels of Adrianople; and such was the pious tendency of the crusades that they employed the holy week in pillaging the country for their subsistence, and in framing engines for the destruction of their fellow-Christians. But the Latins were soon interrupted and alarmed by the light cavalry of the Comans, who boldly skirmished to the edge of their imperfect lines: and a proclamation was issued by the marshal of Romania, that, on the trumpet's sound, the cavalry should mount and form; but that none, under pain of death, should abandon themselves to a desultory and dangerous pursuit. This wise injunction was first disobeyed by the count of Blois, who involved the emperor in his rashness and ruin. The Comans, of the Parthian or Tartar school, fled before their first charge; but after a career of two leagues, when the knights and their horses were almost breathless, they suddenly turned, rallied, and encompassed the heavy squadrons of the Franks. The count was slain on the field; the emperor was made prisoner; and if the one disdained to fly, if the other refused to yield, their personal bravery made a poor atonement for their ignorance, or neglect, of the duties of a general. [26]

[Footnote 26: Nicetas, from ignorance or malice, imputes the defeat to the cowardice of Dandolo, (p. 383;) but Villehardouin shares his own glory with his venerable friend, qui viels home ere et gote ne veoit, mais mult ere sages et preus et vigueros, (No. 193.) * Note: Gibbon appears to me to have misapprehended the passage of Nicetas. He says, "that principal and subtlest mischief. that primary cause of all the horrible miseries suffered by the Romans," i. e. the Byzantines. It is an effusion of malicious triumph against the Venetians, to whom he always ascribes the capture of Constantinople.—M.]



Chapter LXI: Partition Of The Empire By The French And Venetians.—Part II.

Proud of his victory and his royal prize, the Bulgarian advanced to relieve Adrianople and achieve the destruction of the Latins. They must inevitably have been destroyed, if the marshal of Romania had not displayed a cool courage and consummate skill; uncommon in all ages, but most uncommon in those times, when war was a passion, rather than a science. His grief and fears were poured into the firm and faithful bosom of the doge; but in the camp he diffused an assurance of safety, which could only be realized by the general belief. All day he maintained his perilous station between the city and the Barbarians: Villehardouin decamped in silence at the dead of night; and his masterly retreat of three days would have deserved the praise of Xenophon and the ten thousand. In the rear, the marshal supported the weight of the pursuit; in the front, he moderated the impatience of the fugitives; and wherever the Comans approached, they were repelled by a line of impenetrable spears. On the third day, the weary troops beheld the sea, the solitary town of Rodosta, [27] and their friends, who had landed from the Asiatic shore. They embraced, they wept; but they united their arms and counsels; and in his brother's absence, Count Henry assumed the regency of the empire, at once in a state of childhood and caducity. [28] If the Comans withdrew from the summer heats, seven thousand Latins, in the hour of danger, deserted Constantinople, their brethren, and their vows. Some partial success was overbalanced by the loss of one hundred and twenty knights in the field of Rusium; and of the Imperial domain, no more was left than the capital, with two or three adjacent fortresses on the shores of Europe and Asia. The king of Bulgaria was resistless and inexorable; and Calo-John respectfully eluded the demands of the pope, who conjured his new proselyte to restore peace and the emperor to the afflicted Latins. The deliverance of Baldwin was no longer, he said, in the power of man: that prince had died in prison; and the manner of his death is variously related by ignorance and credulity. The lovers of a tragic legend will be pleased to hear, that the royal captive was tempted by the amorous queen of the Bulgarians; that his chaste refusal exposed him to the falsehood of a woman and the jealousy of a savage; that his hands and feet were severed from his body; that his bleeding trunk was cast among the carcasses of dogs and horses; and that he breathed three days, before he was devoured by the birds of prey. [29] About twenty years afterwards, in a wood of the Netherlands, a hermit announced himself as the true Baldwin, the emperor of Constantinople, and lawful sovereign of Flanders. He related the wonders of his escape, his adventures, and his penance, among a people prone to believe and to rebel; and, in the first transport, Flanders acknowledged her long-lost sovereign. A short examination before the French court detected the impostor, who was punished with an ignominious death; but the Flemings still adhered to the pleasing error; and the countess Jane is accused by the gravest historians of sacrificing to her ambition the life of an unfortunate father. [30]

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