Middle Ages

At that time Theodore Lascaris, who held the land on the other side of the straits towards Turkey, was at truce with the Emperor Henry; but that truce he had not kept well, having broken and violated it. So the emperor held council, and sent to the other side of the straits, to the city of Piga, Peter of Bracieux, to whom land had been assigned in those parts, and with him Payen of Orléans, and Anseau of Cayeux, and Eustace, the emperor's brother, and a great part of his best men to the number of seven score knights.

Then did they sail from the port of Corfu on the eve of Pentecost (24th May), which was twelve hundred and three years after the Incarnation of our Lord Jesus Christ. And there were all the ships assembled, and all the transports, and all the galleys of the host, and many other ships of merchants that fared with them. And the day was fine and clear, and the wind soft and favourable, and they unfurled all their sails to the breeze.

The new emperor went oft to see the barons in the camp, and did them great honour, as much as he could; and this was but fitting, seeing that they had served him right well. And one day he came to the camp, to see the barons privily in the quarters of Count Baldwin of Hainault and Flanders. Thither were summoned the Doge of Venice, and the great barons, and he spoke to them and said: " Lords, I am emperor by God's grace and yours, and you have done me the highest service that ever yet was done by any people to Christian man.

Then a parliament assembled, and the commons of the host declared that an emperor must be elected, as had been settled aforetime. And they parliamented so long that the matter was adjourned to another day, and on that day would they choose the twelve electors who were to make the election. Nor was it possible that there should be lack of candidates, or of men covetous, seeing that so great an honour was in question as the imperial throne of Constantinople.

The marquis would have given him land and possessions so that he might remain with him, but he would not, and spoke to William of Champlitte, who was his friend, and said: " Sir, I come from a land that is very rich, and is called Morea. Take as many men as you can collect, and leave this host, and let us go and conquer that land by the help of God.

Henry, the brother of the Emperor Baldwin of Constantinople, with as many people as he could gather, marched against the Greeks to a city called Tzurulum, which is a three days' journey from Constantinople. This city surrendered, and the Greeks swore fealty to him-an oath which at that time men observed badly. From thence he marched to Arcadiopolis, and found it void, for the Greeks did not dare to await his coming. And from thence again he rode to the city of Bizye, which was very strong, and well garrisoned with Greeks; and this city too surrendered.

So he came to a parliament assembled at Soissons; and the main part of the counts and barons and of the other Crusaders were there assembled. When they heard that the marquis was coming, they went out to meet him, and did him much honour. In the morning the parliament was held in an orchard belonging to the abbey of our Lady of Soissons. There they besought the marquis to do as they had desired of him, and prayed him, for the love of God, to take the cross, and accept the leadership of the host, and stand in the place of Thibaut Count of Champagne, and accept of his money and of his men.

At that time the Marquis Boniface of Montferrat departed from Salonika, and went to Seres, which Johannizza had destroyed; and he rebuilt it; and afterwards rebuilt a castle called Drama in the valley of Philippi. All the country round about surrendered to him, and came under his rule; and he wintered in the land.

All started from the port of Abydos together. Then might you have seen the Straits of St. George (as it were) in flower with ships and galleys sailing upwards, and the beauty thereof was a great marvel to behold. Thus they sailed up the Straits of St. George till they came, on St. John the Baptist's Eve, in June (23rd June 1203) to St. Stephen, an abbey that lay three leagues from Constantinople. There had those on board the ships and galleys and transports full sight of Constantinople; and they took port and anchored their vessels.

Then was there much discord in the host, as had been oft times before on the part of those who wished that the host should break up; for to them it seemed to be holding together too long. And the party that had raised the discord at Corfu reminded the others of their oaths, and said: " Give us ships as you swore to us, for we purpose to go to Syria."

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