Medieval History: Eight Crusades

The main objective of the Crusades was to deliver Holy territories from their Muslim conquerors.  All the wars were fought in the name of Christendom, and are therefore sanctioned by the Church.

There was a total of eight Crusades, and despite the noble goal, there was one instance were the original goal was undermined in favor of selfish endeavors.  This occurred in the Fourth Crusade, which lead to the fall of Constantinople.  What actually happened? Why did it happen? Was it just or not?During that time, Pope Innocent III held the papal seat.  The purpose of the Fourth Crusade was initially the attack of Muslim Egypt, as was planned by Count Tibald of Champagne (Lowe, n.

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p.)  When Tibald died, Boniface of Montferrat took his place (Lowe, n.p.).

The fourth Crusade consisted of French knights who were headed to Jerusalem (Atkinson, n.p.).  They were sent out to sea to travel to the Holy Land, and had to ask the assistance of Venetians for food and transportation (Atkinson, n.

p.).  The Venetians did help the crusaders; in fact, the merchants even provided supplies and armed ships (Atkinson, n.p.

).  However, the Venetians had ulterior motives.  Enrico Dandoelo, the duke of Venice, took advantage of the crusaders’ needs (Atkinson, n.p.

).  In exchange for the good deeds of the Venetians, the crusaders must contribute to their political conquests.  The crusaders obliged, and they first attacked Zara, which deviated from Venetian authority (Lowe, n.p.

).  Pope Innocent III was outraged by this attack, noting that the said crusaders have departed from the original plan and that they attacked a Christian territory (Lowe, n.p.).

As a result, he excommunicated all those crusaders (Lowe, n.p.).Unfortunately, the crusaders proceeded to deviate from the original plan.

After Zara, Constantinople was the next target of attack for the crusaders.  First, they removed Alexius Angelus from the seat of power and brought Isaac back (Atkinson, n.p.).

Nonetheless, Isaac paid a huge price for the crusaders’ help.  What the crusaders demanded was excessive, and   Isaac’s actions enraged his subjects so much that he and his son was put to death (Atkinson, n.p.).

Moreover, the crusaders decided to charge the city and indulge themselves with its riches.  Gold and silver treasures were stolen.  Altars and churches were defiled.  Literary works and pieces of art were either destroyed or stolen.

Religious relics were taken or destroyed.  Women were raped and abused.  Even tombs were ransacked.  Most of what was taken was shipped to Europe.

With the arrival of the crusaders, Constantinople had fallen (Atkinson, n.p.).The Crusades initially had a just cause.

They proceeded to places to defend the Church against those who challenged it.  In contrast, the events that marked the the Fourth Crusade was not just at all.  In exchange for food and transportation, they fought a battle that was not theirs in the first place.  They veered away from the original plan and participated in efforts to fulfill selfish intentions.

What’s worse, they were sent to those places as people of the Church and yet they committed unacceptable acts.  They resorted to robbery and rape, and were consumed by material desires.  Hence, the Fourth Crusade was not a just endeavor, as it resulted in the death of many people and the destruction of property and the city itself.ReferencesAtkinson, J.

(n.d.). The Fourth Crusade – Sack of Constantinople.

The Latter Rain Page. Retrieved January 23, 2008, from, S.

(n.d.) The Fourth Crusade and the Fall of Constantinople.  Varangian Voice,  14.

Retrieved January 23, 2008, from

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