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Middle Ages

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.

At the time when the messengers arrived, there were in Constantinople five ships of Venice, very large and very good, laden with pilgrims, and knights and sergeants, who were leaving the land and returning to their own countries. There were at least seven thousand men at arms in the ships, and one was William the advocate of Béthune, and there were besides Baldwin of Aubigny, and John of Virsin, who be- longed to the land of Count Louis, and was his liegeman, and at least one hundred other knights, whom the book does not here name.

When mass had been said, the Doge desired the envoys to humbly ask the people to assent to the proposed covenant. The envoys came into the church. Curiously were they looked upon by many who had not before had sight of them.

Then came tidings that in a certain valley, three leagues distant from the host, were the men and women whom ohannizza was leading away captive, together with 9.11 his plunder, and all his chariots. Then did Henry appoint that the Greeks from Adrianople and Demotica should go and recover the captives and the plunder, two battalions of knights going with them; and as had been arranged, so was this done on the morrow. The command of the one battalion was given to Eustace, the brother of the Emperor Henry of Constantinople, and the command of the other to Macaire of Sainte-Menehould.

So much time had passed that it was now Lent, and the host prepared their fleet to sail at Easter. When the ships were laden on the day after Easter (7th April 1203), the pilgrims encamped by the port, and the Venetians destroyed the city, and the walls and the towers.

The envoys came before the Emperor Isaac, and the emperor and all those about him did them great honour. And the envoys said that they desired to speak to him privily, ,on the part of his son, and of the barons of the host. And he rose and entered into a chamber, and took with him only the empress, and his chancellor, and his dragoman (interpreter) and the four envoys.

The Marquis Boniface of Montferrat rode all along the shore to the palace of Bucoleon, and when he arrived there it surrendered, on condition that the lives of all therein should be spared.

At that time those who had gone to the city of Piga - Peter of Bracieux and Payen of Orléans being the chiefs - fortified a castle called Palormo; and they left therein a garrison of their people, and rode forward to conquer the land. Theodore Lascaris had collected all the people he could, and on the day of the feast,of our Lord St. Nicholas (6th December 1204), which is before the Nativity, he joined battle in the plain before a castle called Poemaninon.

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