The Fourth Crusade: The Byzantine Perspective

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The Fourth Crusade : The Byzantine Perspective
The sacking of medieval Constantinople by the Crusaders during the Fourth Crusade was an event that shocked the people of the medieval ages and triggered a domino sequence that eventually led up to the destruction of one of the most beautiful civilizations in the history of mankind, Byzantium. The reasons behind the barbaric actions taken by the Latin Christians when they attacked their fellow Christians, instead of defending Christianity and the homeland of Jesus, were highly self-interested and conflicted with the original motivation to go on a crusade in the first place. Even though the Fourth Crusade had originally started in part to unify the Eastern and Western empire and take back the Holy
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The two civilizations had no respect for one another as their cultures were very different. The Byzantines considered themselves superior as they understood themselves to be the successors of the Roman Empire and they called the Latins ‘Barbarians’ while the Latins called the Byzantines ‘Greeks’ and hated them. The crusades had first provided the opportunity for a common goal between the two empires but after the failure of the Second and Third Crusade, it ended up leading to even more tension between the East and West Church. In fact, during the Third Crusade that began a mere 13 years before the Fourth Crusade, the Byzantine emperor Isaac II Angelos made a secret deal with Saladin to delay the Crusaders in exchange for the safety of the empire because he knew that he couldn’t trust the Western Crusaders and his actions were justified as the Latins did eventually turn against the Byzantines. A greek Byzantine historian, Niketas Choniates wrote about the Latins in his history of Byzantium, saying, “Between us and them [the Latins] is set the widest gulf. We are poles apart. We have not a single thought in common.” This is a sentiment that many of the Byzantines and Latins of the time had held. The two civilizations didn’t understand each other, and they weren’t interested in trying to do so. The reasons for the sacking of …show more content…
The unsuccessful crusade was the trigger that led to the downfall of the Byzantine empire. Immediately after the fall of Constantinople, the Crusaders agreed to divide Byzantium and establish a Latin Empire, but it was embarrassingly short as it only lasted for half a century before it was conquered again and returned back to the Byzantines. However, even though the latins ruled only Byzantium for a short amount of time, the effect of their attack on Byzantium was long lasting. The attack on Constantinople had left a scar on the Byzantine empire that it never really recovered from, and a mere two hundred years later, it finally succumbed to the years of attack from external forces and fell under the control of the Ottoman

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