Middle Ages

Then the Emperor Alexius issued from the city, with all his forces, by other gates which were at least a league from the camp; and so many began to issue forth that it seemed as if the whole world were there assembled. The emperor marshalled his troops in the plain, and they rode towards the camp; and when our Frenchmen saw them coming, they ran to arms from all sides. On that day Henry, the brother of Count Baldwin of Flanders, was mounting guard over the engines of war before the gate of Blachernae, together with Matthew of Wallincourt, and Baldwin of Beauvoir, and their followers.

Before the assault the Emperor Mourzuphles had come to encamp, with all his power, in an open space, and had there pitched his scarlet tents. Thus matters remained till the Monday morning, when those on the ships, transports, and galleys were all armed. And those of the city stood in much less fear of them than they did at the beginning, and were in such good spirits that on the walls and towers you could see nothing but people. Then began an assault proud and marvellous, and every ship went straight before it to the attack.

At the feast of St. Martin after this (11th November 1204), Henry, the brother of the Emperor Baldwin, went forth from Constantinople, and marched down by the straits to the mouth of Abydos; and he took with him some hundred and twenty good knights. He crossed the straits near a city which is called Abydos, and found it well furnished with good things, with corn and meats, and with all things of which man has need. So he seized the city, and lodged therein, and then began to war with the Greeks who were before him.

Geoffry the Marshal rode before and led the host, and rode till he came to a city called Cariopolis. Then he saw that the horses were weary with marching all night, and entered into the city, and put them up till noon. And they gave food to their horses, and ate themselves of what they could find, and that was but little.

Then did Henry, the Regent of the empire, take council with the barons that were with him; and they decided to ride forward. So they rode forward for two days, and encamped in a very fair valley, near a castle called Moniac. The castle yielded itself to them, and they remained there five days; and then said they would go and relieve Renier of Trit, who was besieged in Stanimac, and had been shut up therein for thirteen months. So Henry the Regent of the empire, remained in the camp, with a great part of the host, and the remainder went forward to relieve Renier of Trit at Stanimac.

Thus did the host sojourn at Zara all that winter (1202-1203) in the face of the King of Hungary. And be it known to you that the hearts of the people were not at peace, for the one party used all efforts to break up the host, and the other to make it hold together.

Now listen to the miracles of our Lord-how gracious are they whithersoever it pleases Him to perform them! That very might the Emperor Alexius of Constantinople took of his treasure as much as he could carry, and took with him as many of his people as would go, and so fled and abandoned the city. And those of the city remained astonied, and they drew to the prison in which lay the Emperor Isaac, whose eyes had been put out. Him they clothed imperially, and bore to the great palace of Blachernae, and seated on a high throne; and there they did to him obeisance as their lord.

As they had settled, so was it done, and they encamped before the walls and before the towers by their ships. Count Baldwin of Flanders and Hainault quartered himself in the scarlet tents that the Emperor Mourzuphles had left standing, and Henry his brother before the palace of Blachernae; and Boniface, Marquis of Montferrat, he and his men, towards the thickest part of the city. So were the host encamped as you have heard, and Constantinople taken on the Monday after Palm Sunday (12th April 1204).

After this time came from the land of Syria a great company of those who had abandoned the host, and gone thither from other ports than Venice. With this company came Stephen of Perche, and Renaud of Montmirail, who was cousin to Count Louis, and they were by him much honoured, for he was very glad of their coming. And the Emperor Baldwin, and the rest of the people also received them very gladly, for they were of high rank, and very rich, and brouaht very many good people with them.

Syndicate content