Fourth Crusade part 2

We shall carry on with the fourth crusade for today.

Arrival at Constantinople

After the Venetians and crusaders conquered Zara, they set out on a long journey to Constantinople where they stopped at towns with Alexios IV’s supporters. When they got there, immediately skirmishes broke out. The most important one was when 500 knights routed 2,000 Byzantines. This secured the lands across the Bosporus strait and the safety of their forages.

The Siege of Constantinople

After the skirmishes, the siege set in. The Venetians besieged and captured the suburbs across the Golden Horn where they set up their base while the crusaders set up base on the flat ground facing the main wall of Constantinople. The Byzantines had a garrison of 15,000: 5,000 Varangians {the elite Nordic guard} and 10,000 regular garrison troops. The fighting was fierce; many times the Venetians (who were the bravest troops) thrusted into the city only to be driven back and they had to burn parts of the city to get out. These fires damaged morale and made Emperor Alexios III (Alexios IV’s uncle) look bad, so in the cover of the night he slipped away to Thrace. The officials raised Alexios IV’s father, Ivan III, back again as emperor {he had ben blinded and thrown into prison by Alexios III} and the crusaders agreed that Alexios IV became co-ruler.

The Reign of Alexios IV 

Alexios IV faced problems from the start. He had to pay the crusaders but he managed to pay only half of it. Then the Varangian also want their pay but Alexios couldn’t, so they left. The crusaders wanted the rest of their money now, but Alexios had none, so he said that when the yearly taxes arrived in 3 months time, he would pay. But the crusader couldn’t wait because the Ayyubids were just getting stronger and they needed the money and troops to make up of what they lost. The crusaders set siege to Constantinople again. Without the elite Varangian guard and with only poorly trained militia against veteran crusaders, the city fell quickly. After the sacking, the crusaders set up kingdoms and gave a lot of land to Venice. These kingdoms were eventually retaken by the Byzantines, but poor leadership and a crumbling economy led to military reliance on their vassals the Ottomans, who became their down fall. That is it for the fourth crusade; the rest of the week will be on the Bronze Age.