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

By Edwin Pears | Go to book overview

CHAPTER XIV. FLIGHT OF THE EMPEROR ALEXIS AND RESTORATION OF ISAAC.-- REVOLUTION IN THE CITY.

THE most useful ally of the invaders was the spirit of indifference and discontent which reigned within the city. While this spirit paralysed the efforts of the defenders, there was probably also a small but active, although secret, party in favour of Isaac and of young Alexis. The latter had made many promises to his friends within the city, and had urged them to assist him.1

The dissatisfaction with the ruling Emperor was great, and was doubtless increased by this party. The enemy without had not asked for possession of the city. There was nothing said even about an occupation. All that was demanded was that a young prince, who undoubtedly had claims to the throne if his father were dead, should replace Alexis the Third. There was indeed a payment to be made, though it is doubtful whether the terms of the convention with Alexis were at this time known within the city, and even if they were the payment might perhaps be avoided, or at least levied on the provinces. At any rate, it was better to come to an arrangement with the enemy when his demands were so reasonable than to fight.2 Moreover, there was now a distinct threat that if an arrangement were not

Feeling within Constantinople.

____________________
1
Gunther, xiii.: 'Cives itaque magnificæ urbis, territi fuga regis sui, quem etiam plerique nec prius propter scelera perpetrata satis dilexerant, simulque per nuntios a juniori Alexio promissis ac precibus frequentibus attentati, nostris quoque, contra spem suam, comminantibus excidium urbis, nisi illum legitimum heredem regni in regem susciperent, patentibus portis, illum cum toto exercitu infra mœnia pacifice admiserunt.'
2
Nicetas says (p. 721) that the object of the assault was, ὡς ἢ τω + ̑ν κατὰ σκοπὸν ἐπιτευξόμενοι ἢ τούτων διαπεσόντες ἐς συμβάσεις βλέψοντες˙ ἀμϕότερα γὰρ ἡ ϕήμη διπταμένη λαμπρω + ̑ς ἐκώτιλλεν.

-308-

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