Fourth Crusade Essay

Words: 1181
Pages: 5

Role of the Papacy in the 4th Crusade
The fourth Crusade was one of the most astonishing turn of events during the Middle Ages. Each Crusade was called for one purpose, to reconquer the Holy Land from the Muslims. With that in mind, the fourth Crusade was disaster, not only failing to get anywhere near Jerusalem but then to attack and conquer two Christian cities, which had been unprecedented to this time. When discussing these points in history, it is important to discuss how such events came to be, and whilst the sacking of Zara and Constantinople are not in question, what is in question is how much of a role did Pope Innocent III did play in the 4th Crusade? Was he the mastermind, or was control of the 4th Crusade taken from him? This
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Constantinople was first assaulted in July 1203, with the walls being breached in April 1204. What followed was horrific, with three straight days of pillaging, raping and defacing anything of value. The debt to the Venetians had been repaid but now the Crusaders only sought to make themselves wealthy, set to take anything they could carry out of the city.
During this time, Pope Innocent III had expressed disapproval towards the Crusaders, indiacting again that this is not something he endorsed, however upon learning of the success of the Crusaders he was quick to accept the leadership of Constantinople:
“…Pope Innocent III was furious at the conquest of Constantinople. He wrote the following letter in anger to the papal legate. Despite these bitter words, there was little that the Pope could do to alter what had happened and so, as his initial anger subsided, Innocent first recognized and then embraced the new order in Constantinople”.
In conclusion, although it could be argued that Pope Innocent III was a benefactor of the 4th Crusade, attacking other Christian cities were not what he had planned. His hopes centred around being the saviour of the Crusades, and returning the lands to the Christians lost to the Muslims in the 3rd Crusade. As evidenced by his reaction throughout the Crusade, the Pope certainly did not intend to attack other Christian cities, and dealt harshly with those who were a part of any