CONFLICT BETWEEN THE GREEKS AND LATINS IN CONSTANTINOPLE-BURNING OF THE CITY
While the Emperor Alexius was away on this progress, there befell a very grievous misadventure; for a conflict arose between the Greeks and the Latins who inhabited Constantinople, and of these last there were many. And certain people-who they were I know not-out of malice, set fire to the city; and the fire waxed so great and horrible that no man could put it out or abate it. And when the barons of the host, who were quartered on the other side of the port, saw this, they were sore grieved and filled with pity-seeing the great churches and the rich palaces melting and falling in, and the great streets filled with merchandise burning in the flames; but they could do nothing.
Thus did the fire prevail, and win across the port, even to the densest part of the city, and to the sea on the other side, quite near to the church of St. Sophia. It lasted two days and two nights, nor could it be put out by the hand of man. And the front of the fire, as it went flaming, was well over half a league broad. What was the damage then done, what the possessions and riches swallowed up, could no man tell-nor what the number of men and women and children who perished-for many were burned.
All the Latins, to whatever land they might belong, who were lodged in Constantinople, dared no longer to remain therein; but they took their wives and their children, and such of their possessions as they could save from the fire, and entered into boats and vessels, and passed over the port and came to the camp of the pilgrims. Nor were they few in number, for there were of them some fifteen thousand, small and great; and afterwards it proved to be of advantage to the pilgrims that these should have crossed over to them. Thus was there division between the Greeks and the Franks; nor were they ever again as much at one as they had been before, for neither side knew on whom to cast the blame for the fire; and this rankled in men's hearts upon either side.
At that time did a thing befall whereby the barons and those of the host were greatly saddened; for the Abbot of Loos died, who was a holy man and a worthy, and had wished well to the host. He was a monk of the order of the Cistercians.