The Fall of Constantinople: Being the Story of the Fourth Crusade

By Edwin Pears | Go to book overview

CHAPTER XII.
FROM ZARA TO CORFU.

IN the beginning of April 1203 the bearers of the Pope's message arrived at Zara. That message consisted of two parts: first, a confirmation of the absolution which had been granted by the bishop; and, second, the formal order that the Crusaders were not to attack the Greeks except in case they refused to sell them provisions.1

The first part of the message was communicated to the army. There is no evidence to show that the second was, and there is much to suggest that it was not. It had been arranged that Alexis should join the army on the 20th of April. He might arrive at any day, and it would then be no longer possible to conceal from the great host the secret arrangement which had been concluded in January. His arrival would, therefore, be extremely inopportune. The disaffection in the army was great. The example of Simon de Montfort and others, whose departure I have already mentioned, had been largely followed by many who were unwilling to violate their oaths. The Pope's order not to attack Greece, if, as I have suggested, it were kept secret, might become known. The ill-feeling between the army and the Venetians, which had shown itself by the rioting immediately after the capture, still existed. All were weary of inaction, and wished to be

____________________
1
'Quod si forsan ea vobis contingeret denegari . . . possitis et vos cum timore Domini sub satisfaciendi proposito, ad necessitatem tantum, ea sine personarum accipere læsione' ( Epist. vi. 102). 'Permittebat etiam eis ut, de maritimis locis Romaniæ, quam alluit id mare, cibos inemptos, id est, absque pretio, moderate tollerent, qui eis ad annum et dimidium possent sufficere' ( Gunther, No. 8). 'Ne autem victualia vobis desint, charissimo in Christo filio nostro, Imperatori Constantinopolitano scribimus, ut . . . victualia vobis faciat exhiberi' ( Epist. vi. 102).

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