The Fourth Crusade and the Sack of Constantinople
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The Fourth Crusade and the Sack of Constantinople


In 1202, zealous western Christians gathered in Venice determined to liberate Jerusalem from the grip of Islam. But the crusaders never made it to the Holy Land. Steered forward by the shrewd Venetian doge, they descended instead on Constantinople, wreaking devastation so terrible and inflicting scars so deep that as recently as 2001 Pope John Paul II offered an apology to the Greek Orthodox Church.

The crusaders spared no one: They raped and massacred thousands, plundered churches, and torched the lavish city. A prostitute danced on the altar of the ravaged Hagia Sophia. And by 1204, barbarism masquerading as piety had shattered one of the great civilizations of history. Here, on the eight hundredth anniversary of the sack, is the extraordinary story of this epic catastrophe, told for the first time outside of academia by Jonathan Phillips, a leading expert on the crusades.

Knights and commoners, monastic chroniclers, courtly troubadours, survivors of the carnage, and even Pope Innocent III left vivid accounts detailing the events of those two fateful years. Using their remarkable letters, chronicles, and speeches, Phillips traces the way in which any region steeped in religious fanaticism, in this case Christian Europe, might succumb to holy war.

Title:The Fourth Crusade and the Sack of Constantinople
Edition Language:English
Format Type:Paperback
Number of Pages:400 pages

    The Fourth Crusade and the Sack of Constantinople Reviews

  • Jim
    Jun 10, 2016

    The 4th Crusade achieved its infamy by being diverted from its original goal of re-taking Jerusalem, thanks to two "targets of opportunity" that intervened: First, the city of Zara on the Adriatic, an...

  • Jack
    Jan 09, 2008

    Why is the Fourth Crusade one of the most awesome events in western if not world history? It's because the idiots involved didn't even make it to the Holy Land or any Muslim controlled territory but i...

  • Stephen Simpson
    Oct 21, 2014

    One of the best books I've read on the Fourth Crusade. Well-sourced throughout, the author strikes a very good balance between rich and dense historical facts and a narrative that makes it engaging (w...

  • Mike
    Oct 20, 2007

    Jonathan Phillips’ The Fourth Crusade garners a 4 Star stamp for relating this convoluted and outrageous history at the turn of the 13th Century with clarity and great war storytelling. The Catholic...

  • Jonathan
    May 29, 2007

    I loved this book! Jonathan Philips describes the events leading up to the Sack of Constantinople with perfect clarity. Supported by a plethora of facts and a clear writing style this book is an excel...

  • Coyle
    Feb 01, 2008

    It's always refreshing to come across a writer who can make history interesting and engaging without dumbing it down. ...

  • Toonvanelst
    Jun 18, 2009

    An honest and concious account of the Fourth Crusade written by a superb historian. Jonathan Phillips explains how an initially Egypt bound expedition goes wrong from the start and ends up taking one ...

  • Nigel
    Sep 13, 2011

    I made the crucial mistake, while reading this, of listening to the Radio 4 comedy, All The World's A Globe, with the result that every now and then I would discover that I was reading it in the voice...

  • Zachary
    Sep 15, 2014

    The Crusades were a horrific series of religious wars that began with Alexius Comnenus requesting Western aid to push the Turks out of Anatolia in the decades after Manzikert and the botched response ...

  • Jeff Lanter
    Feb 26, 2010

    I have to lavish some praise on this book. I found it to be both extremely approachable for someone wanting to learn about the crusades (even if you have no prior knowledge like myself), but also ente...

About Jonathan Phillips

Jonathan Phillips

Dr. Jonathan Phillips is Professor of Crusading History in the Department of History, Royal Holloway, University of London, UK. His scholarly contributions to the crusades include the books Defenders of the Holy Land: Relations Between the Latin East and West, 1119-1187, The Crusades, 1095-1197, and most recently, The Fourth Crusade and the Sack of Constantinople. His articles have appeared in a n