Cover image for An ungodly war : the sack of Constantinople & the fourth crusade
An ungodly war : the sack of Constantinople & the fourth crusade
Bartlett, W. B.
Personal Author:
Publication Information:
Stroud : Sutton, [2000]

Physical Description:
xviii, 229 pages, 12 pages of plates : illustrations, maps ; 25 cm
Format :


Call Number
Material Type
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Item Holds
D164 .B37 2000 Adult Non-Fiction Non-Fiction Area

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The Fourth Crusade (1202-4) was proclaimed by Innocent IV with the aim of recovering the Holy Places in Palestine. However, the Crusade was financed by the Venetians and at once was diverted to their own ends. In April 1204 this led to the sack of Constantinople, the greatest city in Christendom, and the establishment of a Latin Empire there for the next few decades.

Reviews 2

Booklist Review

The entire crusading movement was a remarkable combination of religious idealism (or fanaticism) and venality on a grand scale. However, with the Fourth Crusade (1202^-04) all pretenses of "noble" motives died. From its inception, the Crusade was encouraged, financed, and controlled by Venetian merchants for commercial reasons. The consequences were immense, but they did not include the reconquest of the Holy Land. Instead, the Crusade resulted in the brutal sack of Constantinople, the richest city in the Christian world, by an army of drunken, frustrated crusaders. The great eastern Christian Byzantine Empire was fatally weakened, leading to the eventual conquest of the region by the Ottoman Turks. Bartlett, author of God Wills It!: The Illustrated History of the Crusades (1999), has captured the cynicism, savagery, and tragic ironies that lay behind this shameful episode. This is an excellent work of popular history geared to general readers, but scholars will appreciate both the accuracy and insight Bartlett displays. --Jay Freeman

Choice Review

An inherently interesting and complicated tale of political intrigue and war is the Fourth Crusade during which, in 1204, a Christian army from the West conquered Constantinople, the capital of the Christian East Roman Empire. Explaining this effort in numerous books and articles was the focus of much of Donald Queller's long and distinguished career. Many followed in the wake of this scholarship, and Bartlett's effort at popular history is successful only insofar as he adheres to what Queller developed. Where Bartlett, who demonstrates control of neither the sources (Latin and Greek) nor foreign language scholarship, diverges from Queller's work, caveat emptor. Particularly disconcerting are the methodological problems raised by Bartlett's efforts to discuss the characters of the major figures in the Crusade as derived from their actions, and then to explain their actions in light of their characters. Bartlett also has trouble with arithmetic: the fall of Constantinople was not 1,000 years after its founding, and Rome was not sacked by Alaric 900 years before Constantinople fell. B. S. Bachrach; University of Minnesota