THE FOURTH CRUSADE
The Fourth Crusade
In 1202, an army of 34,000 responded to an appeal from Pope Innocent III for a new crusade to the Holy Land. This unruly force of Christians lacked the funds to get beyond Venice, where it needed to hire ships.
It consequently fell under the influence of Enrico Dandolo, the manipulative Doge of Venice.
With his backing, the crusaders were soon diverted to Constantinople where they helped the young Alexius IV take the throne.
The Latin Empire
However, six months later, when they realized they were unlikely to receive their promised financial reward from the emperor, the crusaders lost patience and launched a new attack, ousting Alexius in favour of one of their own, Baldwin I, Count of Flanders.
Though the dark years that followed, known as the Latin Empire, the once great city was reduced by pillage, misrule and emigration to a scattering of disconnected villages grouped behind the city walls. Outside Constantinople, the exiled Byzantine emperors survived the turmoil, biding their time as the rulers of the Empire of Nicaea, just to the south, which included modern day Iznik.