IT remains to be told how the tidings of the conquest of Constantinople and the overthrow of the Eastern Empire was received by Innocent. The deviation at Zara and again at Corfu for the imperial city had been in direct opposition to the Pope's instructions. His absolution for the crime at Zara had been conditional upon no further attack being made upon the territory of any Christian nation. If the condition were not observed the absolution became ipso facto null. The Crusaders had been anxious that their first offence should be absolved by Innocent, but the leaders, doubtless, did their best to keep him in ignorance of the object of the expedition until it had been accomplished. The absolution had been conveyed to Corfu by Nivelon de Quierzy towards the end of April. The means of conveyance, however, were then so slow that the Pope only learned of what passed when it was too late to interfere with success. On the 20th of June, Innocent wrote to Boniface under the impression that the expedition, which had left nearly a month before, was still on that island.1 Nearly two months later he appears to have been in doubt whether the fleet had really left for Constantinople.2 It was not apparently until January 1204 that Innocent learned what was the destination of the crusade, although at that time the city had been captured and young Alexis restored.3
How the news was received by Innocent.