Venice and the Fourth Crusade
John Godfrey describes how the capture of Constantinople in 1204 was an unexpected result of the Crusading movement.
By the closing years of the twelfth century the crusading movement was over its peak, but still had plenty of life in it, and, indeed, had become a tradition, appealing, as all traditions do, to men impelled by varying motives.
The words of Anna Comnena - in connection with the First Crusade - could be applied also to the Crusaders of a century later:
‘Some were guileless men and women marching in all simplicity to worship at Christ’s tomb, while others were of a more wicked kind’.
The Third Crusade marked the end of an age. Never again would an expedition under such high-powered leadership set out from the west. On the opposite side, Saladin had died in 1193. In 1197 a force of German crusaders attempted a march on Jerusalem which collapsed on the arrival of a Muslim army from Egypt. In the spring of 1199 the greatest of Crusaders in English eyes, Richard Coeur de Lion, died from a chance arrow in a minor skirmish in the Loire valley.