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The Fourth Crusade, 1202-04

2. The Conquest of Constantinople

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In this module, we trace events from the Siege of Zara (November 1202) to the Sack of Constantinople (April 1204), focusing in particular on: (i) the crusaders' successful siege of Zara, but its failure to generate enough cash to pay off the Venetians; (ii) the offer from Alexios Angelos (via his brother-in-law, Philip of Swabia) to pay the crusaders 200,000 marks (among other things) if they restore him to the throne of the Byzantine Empire; (iii) the arrival of the crusaders to Constantinople, and their success in placing Alexios Angelos (and his son, Isaac) on the Byzantine throne; (iv) the friction that develops between Alexios Angelos (now Alexios IV) and the crusaders after Alexios struggles to pay the promised amount, Alexios' deposition following in-fighting among the Byzantine elites, and the crusaders' sack of Constantinople on 12-13 April 1204.


In this course, Dr Nicholas Morton (Nottingham Trent University) explores the Fourth Crusade (1202-04). We begin by thinking about the origins of the Fourth Crusade, focusing in particular on the preparations made by Pope Innocent III, the deal that was struck with the Venetian Republic in 1201, and the consequences of the Crusaders' inability to pay. After that, in the second module, we continue the story as the Crusaders sack two Christian cities, including the capital of the Byzantine Empire itself – Constantinople. In the third module, we ask how it came about that the Fourth Crusade was diverted so far from its original aims, before turning in the fourth module to the longer-term impact of the Fourth Crusade – not least the fragmentation of the Byzantine Empire and widening of the schism between the Roman Catholic and Eastern Orthodox churches.


Dr Nicholas Morton is a specialist in the history of crusading and the Medieval Mediterranean between the tenth and thirteenth centuries. More recently he has begun to focus specifically upon the theme of inter-faith relations between Christianity and Islam in this region. He has published extensively on topics connected to this subject area, writing a range of monographs and scholarly articles. He is also an editor for the Ashgate series Rulers of the Latin East.

Currently Dr Morton is completing a monograph exploring the First Crusaders' attitudes and behaviour towards the various non-Christian peoples they encountered during their campaign. This will be a highly revisionist work addressing many key scholarly and public orthodoxies surrounding the nature of Christian/Islamic interaction during the crusade.

Cite this Lecture

APA style

Morton, N. (2018, August 15). The Fourth Crusade, 1202-04 - The Conquest of Constantinople [Video]. MASSOLIT.

MLA style

Morton, N. "The Fourth Crusade, 1202-04 – The Conquest of Constantinople." MASSOLIT, uploaded by MASSOLIT, 15 Aug 2018,

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