THE ENVOYS ARRIVE IN VENICE, AND PROFFER THEIR REQUEST
The Doge of Venice, whose name was Henry Dandolo* and
[note: That Henry Dandolo was a very old man is certain, but there is doubt as to his precise age, as also as to the cause of his blindness. According to one account he had been blinded, or all but blinded, by the Greeks, and in a treacherous manner, when sent, at an earlier date, on an embassy to Constaritinople-whence his bitter hostility to the Greek Empire. I agree, however, with Sir Rennell Rodd that, if this had been so, Villehardouin would scarcely have refrained from mentioning such an act of perfidy on the part of the wicked Greeks. (See p. 41 of Vol 1of Sir Rennell Rodd's
Princes of Achaia.) It is hardly to be imagined that he would keep the matter dark because, if he mentioned it, people would think Dandolo acted throughout from motives of personal vengeance. This would be to regard Villehardouin a- a very astute controversial historian indeed.] who was very wise and very valiant, did them great honour, both he and the other folk, and entertained them right willingly, marvelling, however, when the envoys had delivered their letters, what might be the matter of import that had brought them to that country. For the letters were letters of credence only, and declared no more than that the bearers were to be accredited as if they were the counts in person, and that the said counts would make good whatever the six envoys should undertake.
So the Doge replied: " Signors, I have seen your letters; well do we know that of men uncrowned your lords are the greatest, and they advise us to put faith in what you tell us, and that they will maintain whatsoever you undertake. Now, therefore, speak, and let us know what is your pleasure."
And the envoys answered: " Sire, we would that you should assemble your council; and before your council we will declare the wishes of our lords; and let this be tomorrow, if it so pleases you." And the Doge replied asking for respite till the fourth day, when he would assemble his council, so that the envoys might state their requirements.
The envoys waited then till the fourth day, as had been appointed them, and entered the palace, which was passing rich and beautiful; and found the Doge and his council in a chamber. There they delivered their message after this manner: " Sire, we come to thee on the part of the high barons of France, who have taken the sign of the cross to avenge the shame done to Jesus Christ, and to reconquer Jerusalem, if so be that God - will suffer it. And because they know that no people have such great power to help them as you and your people, therefore we pray you by God that you take pity on the land overseas and the shame of Christ, and use diligence that our lords 'have ships for transport and battle."
" And after what manner should we use diligence? said the Doge. " After all manners that you may advise and propose," rejoined the envoys, " in so far as what you propose may be within our means." " Certes," said the Doge, " it is a great thing that your lords require of us, and well it seems that they have in view a high enterprise. We will give you our answer eight days from to-day. And marvel not if the term be long, for it is meet that so great a matter be fully pondered."