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Middle Ages

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."

Before the time appointed for the coronation, the Marquis Boniface of Montferrat espoused the empress who had been the wife of the Emperor Isaac, and was sister to the King of Hungary. And within that time also did one of the most noble barons of the host, who bore the name of Odo of Champlitte of Champagne, make an end and die. Much was he mourned and bewept by William his brother, and by his other friends; and he was buried in the church of the Apostles with great honour.

The Marquis of Montferrat besieged Napoli, but he could there do nothing, for the place was too strong, and his men suffered greatly. James of Avesnes, meanwhile, continued to besiege Corinth, where he had been left by the marquis. Leon Sgure, who was in Corinth, and very wise and wily, saw that James had not many people with him, and did not keep good watch. So one morning, at the break of day, he issued from the city in force, and got as far as the tents, and killed many before they could get to their armour. .

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