The Fourth Crusade: And the Sack of Constantinople Jonathan Phillips

ISBN: 9780224084529

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Unknown Binding


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The Fourth Crusade: And the Sack of Constantinople  by  Jonathan Phillips

The Fourth Crusade: And the Sack of Constantinople by Jonathan Phillips
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Jonathan Phillips’ The Fourth Crusade garners a 4 Star stamp for relating this convoluted and outrageous history at the turn of the 13th Century with clarity and great war storytelling. The Catholic dictionary defines a crusade as “expeditions undertaken, in fulfillment of a solemn vow, to deliver the Holy Places from Mohammedan tyranny.” Well, this crusade got seriously off track right from the start.

It never got to the “Holy Places” and wound up attacking only fellow Christian cities. Why? Well, Phillips explains this all pretty clearly. Think of it as the prequel to “The Sopranos”. A bunch of nobles set up a contract with the Venetians to transport and support 37,000+ crusaders to the Holy Land for a 9-month crusade. The price is set at 85,000 silver marks. However, only about 12,000 warriors show up at the docks. Well the Venetians want the full price regardless and when the money isn’t fully paid, they recommend the group go attack an annoying little town on the Adriatic called Zara.

Unfortunately the Zarathustrians (or whatever you would call them) are Christian and the Pope said “no, no” to attacking Christian cities. Screw that said the Venetians and Zara was captured and ransacked. The Pope is pissed off and makes the Venetians and crusaders return what they stole.Along comes this deposed prince from Constantinople and says, “Hey, I’ll give you 200,000 smackers to restore my Dad and I to rule in Byzantium”.

Hmmm,…the crusaders can pay off the loan sharks from Venice and also get all the supplies they need to carry on to the real objective, the Holy Land. Just one minor detail, they have to capture the best defended Christian city in the known world. And guess what, they do. The prince and his Dad are made co-rulers and the money starts to flow. However, the Greeks are not happy people, they really don’t like the prince and they really hate the crusaders.

After much tussling, the prince and his Dad are deposed again, the crusaders are kicked out of the city and have to capture it again. They do. But now they are so exhausted they can’t hold the city and also go on a crusade at the same time. And the Pope is really pissed off now.

In the end, they never actually make it on a crusade.Phillips tells the story from the initiation of the crusade to the aftermath. After a somewhat tedious start, he tells a fascinating story of this ill-starred adventure.

The role of religion in people’s lives and the toughness of the individual, as well as their martial excellence, really come through clearly. How the individual organizes to go off on a crusade, the politics of the times, the military science employed in defending and attacking the cities, the logistics of armies in the medieval era, all are covered well.

If you are interested in history, this is a great book to add to your collection.



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