Tag Archives: Crusades

Permeable Parameters


I learned, just the other day, that for archaeologists ‘the present’ began in 1950. Which is a very odd idea, considering how we usually think of the ‘present’ being now, now, now (not then), now (you get the idea), and 1950 as the past. The reasoning behind this is that, since radio-carbon dating is rather important to the field, such a method of dating is useless after 1950 because of the amount of radiation we have ejected into the atmosphere through nuclear testing and accidents. It would be as if we could somehow calculate the age of the posts in a wooden house from the specific type of water contained within, only to turn around and find out someone went and threw them in a lake. Not very helpful. So, the past ends, and the present begins for archaeology in 1950. Which makes me wonder…

When Did It Begin?

History, as an academic field, has a quality which is often overlooked; it has a beginning. Strange as it may seem, the History of Ireland began on a specific year, as did the History of Britain, some of the Americas, all Australia, and large swathes of Asia and Africa. The other swathes of Africa and Asia, and big chunks of Europe and America are harder to define historically for reasons that I am about to tell you very soon, possibly in the present, though it may be history when you read it… Anyway, moving on.

The "Tusculum portrait", possibly th...

Julius Caesar, brought History to Gaul and Britain, got stabbed for his troubles (Image via Wikipedia)

So, the History of Ireland began in 431AD, when Prosper of Aquitaine reported that a certain Palladius was dispatched by the papacy to Ireland.  The History of Britain began around 55BC when Julius Caesar invaded, but it didn’t take, and they had to start again in 43AD; it was a real success, and soon the British were wandering all over the world introducing History (and Flags) to everyone they met, whether they liked it or not. The beginning of the History of Rome, or Egypt, or any such ancient empire, is slightly more difficult to pinpoint. Why is this? Well, for something to be History it must first be written text, and it must be authenticated, verified, and rigorously investigated. ‘Things’ are material, and material is archaeology, and archaeology goes way farther back in time than History, but History relies on the written word, on documents, manuscripts, letters, books. By this very simple fact the History of a nation can have a beginning, the moment someone mentions somewhere in a letter our interest is piqued, the second we find an alternative view the heart begins to race, and when we find controversy, dissent, disagreement in texts, oh how the angry ink does flow!

Prosper of Aquitaine was not the first to write of Ireland, but he was the first to give us a name, a date, and an event that could be corroborated: the dispatch of a bishop from Rome. With Christianity came writing, and with writing came the recording of events, of history. The History of Rome begins with murky myths, hyperbolic propaganda, and, well, lies, so we have to be very careful. In fact when dealing with Romans, if History has taught us nothing else, it would be very wise to be cautious and suspicious. While the History of Central and South America was recorded by such peoples as the Maya and Inca, North American History began with Columbus, simply by virtue of the fact that the Native Americans didn’t write anything down. Hopefully some of you are sitting there shocked, how can this be true? Well, it isn’t completely true; oral history is a valuable resource, but it is highly prone to alteration so it is often judged very harshly. We who have lived in a culture that has worshipped the written word for millennia sometimes forget that our earliest histories are oral, that our nations’ foundations are often hidden in myth. Which is where archaeology comes in; history, literature, and archaeology working in harmony create a far more vibrant image of the past than any could alone.


The Book Of Durrow (Image via Wikipedia)

But then you might wonder, how can we trust these ancient writers and chroniclers? Caesar was a propagandist, the Crusaders believed in angelic manifestations, and the British love Marmite, how can we rely on any of them to give us an honest account of history? The answer is quite simple: we don’t. This is a crucial fact, this is what divides breathless myth-hunting Scotsmen from real historians: we don’t actually believe a source until we have thoroughly investigated it.  Some historians have spent their entire lives working on specific texts or individuals, let alone periods of history. Manuscripts are poured over, analysed for every little scrap of information; we can garner an astonishing amount of data from what the words were written on and with, in what script and style, how the language is used and constructed, from the mistakes and omissions, and that’s before we even bother to read the text! You’d be surprised how much you can tell from a manuscript from the way the letters are formed, let alone the texture of the page. Just looking at the image above, an expert could immediately tell that the script is Insular, most likely from a wealthy Irish or Irish-influenced monastery, sometime in the 7th century just from the way it is written (it also helps that this book is rather well-known, sadly it’s rather difficult to find images of the more fun obscure texts, but if I could find them online they wouldn’t be obscure). Real historians, when faced with a difficulty or conundrum, don’t resort to aliens or Templar Knights (unless of course you are investigating the Crusades) to provide a quick and easy solution; no, they go back to the text, they start again, and again, and examine more texts, and yet more again. And then they die of old age.

History, or Historical?

Where then does history end and the present begin? I study the early medieval period, so anything after 1100 seems terrifically new to me, in some respects (Printed books? Lame. Manuscripts are what all the cool kids examine!), but I enjoy reading about pretty much any historical period, so at this point (and things may change later) I am at a bit of a loss as to say where history ends. A historian I know once declared to me that anyone who studies the 20th Century isn’t a historian, they are just a news-reporter who’s running a bit late. I thought him a bit harsh, but it made me wonder, is the Second World War history? It must be, right? It happened ages ago, before either I or my father was born. My grandparents lived through it, so I am only one generation removed from the most destructive and violent conflict in history. But at the same time, there are still quite a few people living who either fought in, or lived through, the war; if there is somebody still living who remembers the events first hand, is it history? And we are still living through its consequences, but then aren’t we living with the consequences of all of history? Iraq and Libya have both lost their dictators in narrow sewers, discovered them, and then executed them in my lifetime, but I don’t think that I am living in history. The terrorist attacks on London or the US don’t feel like history to me, they are part of my life, but only in a minute fashion; they hold a far greater and lamentable grasp on the lives of so many others. Even the first Iraq war, or the Falklands, hardly seems like history, they only just happened. But they may be historical. Could that be a way to skip around the issue? These are historical events, we are living through historical moments in time, which will become history once everyone who has witnessed them is dead.

Does History begin with the written word, and end when the last survivor of a specific event dies? Or does it begin with the first witness, and end when the consequences of an act have passed? Or from the earliest memory to roughly a week ago? What you may consider as History is (or indeed, was) somebody else’s life, their present, their memories. And for me, that is what makes the study of History so fascinating; it’s not the examination of dry facts, of mulling over great battles, it’s the recreation of a life. In my work, I get to read the private letters and thoughts of people who died over a thousand years ago, I try to tease out what facts I can to see how they lived and died, what they hoped and worked for. I work with comparably little information when you consider the tsunami of sources available to a historian of the Modern Period (newspapers, diaries, letters, government documents, written accounts, news broadcasts, films, radio, novels, comics, art, laws, the list go on…). It may be easier for them, but I, at least, expect more of them.

History is a tremendous puzzle, especially the further back you go, which is what makes it so bloody interesting. So I don’t really care when it ends, only that it doesn’t. And if you don’t find the investigation of the past at the very least interesting, there is something very, very wrong with your world perspective.

“Disobedience, in the eyes of anyone who has read history, is man’s original virtue. It is through disobedience that progress has been made, through disobedience and through rebellion.” – Oscar Wilde

(The quote is somewhat tangential to the essay, but the man is not wrong)

In Defence of the Middle Ages.

Atheists and secularists frequently use the so-called ‘Dark Ages’ as evidence of Christianity’s oppressive power,Knights that the ‘darkness’ of the age was due to the stifling effect of organised religion. They argue that from the fall of Rome to the Renaissance all scientific endeavour ground to a halt, that Europe (the region to which the followers of the carpenter were largely confined) existed in an appalling state of intellectual squalor, and that the cause of this was the oppressive teachings of men in pointy hats. Some atheists proclaim that Islam is in the midst of its own ‘Dark Age’ today, but, since it has the incomparable benefit of living next door to civilised people, it should shake off its shackles and join the modern world. My views on faith are no secret, summed up neatly by Émile Zola: “Civilization will not attain perfection until the last stone, from the last church, falls on the last priest.” I tolerate the faith of others (barely) only out of friendship and the belief that Reason will eventually win. Yet I do not agree with this attack on the Medieval Church, or the labelling of the Middle Ages as ‘Dark’. Sometimes atheists are similar to theists – they hear a truth they are comfortable with and they stop; no further investigation is necessary. The Catholic Church is guilty of innumerable crimes against humanity, and I wish it dissolved, preferably from acid derived from derisory glances distilled in scorn and mockery, but for the right reasons, not for misconceptions and propaganda of equal virulence to that espoused by the faithful. Here I write in defence of the Middle Ages, in defence of the Catholic Church, in defence of Skepticism.

The commonly held idea of the Middle Ages is vague at best, mostly cobbled together from random bits of information, popular conceptions, and bad movies. Images of knights in armour, extreme and random violence, endemic plague and pestilence, squalor and filth, and the ever-present hand of the Church haunt the ‘Dark Ages’. It is compared to that which came before, mighty Rome, with its great architecture, civilisation, and indoor plumbing, and that which came after, the Renaissance, the birth of age of Reason, with its art, culture, industry, and smog. The idea of a ‘Dark Age’ was invented during the Renaissance because the scholars and educated folk of the time believed that they were reinventing and rediscovering the glory that was Rome, hence ‘Renaissance’, a rebirth of the Classical era. This idea has endured to the modern-day, but is a blatant anachronism, the unfair definition of a past society by modern standards. The anti-theist voices of our age look back and see that pagan Rome and the quasi-secular Renaissance had one major feature in common, the lack of a domineering and oppressive organised faith, which was the presumed reality of the ‘Dark Age’.  Again, we face anachronism, fused with anti-clericalism and secularist propaganda.

Let’s begin with Rome. It was beautiful and brutal; they built aqueducts and fed Christians to lions, but they had a dark side too. Their entire society was built on conquest and slavery, their culture was largely borrowed from others, and their abuse of the dative case in vulgar Latin is unforgivable. The Empire did not collapse, as I have heard people pontificate several times, due to the influence of Christianity. The Eastern Roman, or Byzantine, Empire survived for centuries, and was far more deeply Christianised at the time of the Western Empire’s collapse. It was more likely due to a combination of factors, including devaluation of currency, increasing levels of local loyalty over imperial, increasing burdens of bureaucracy, limited understanding of macro-economics, and the lack of an export market or affluent middle-class to purchase goods. And the fact that tens of thousands of Germans invaded, smashed the Roman army to bits, were inadequately assimilated, and eventually occupied every position in the Imperial Army leading to military dictatorship and the re-establishment of a kingdom in Italy.

All the endeavours of the Empire might have been lost in the West; all the literature, philosophy, mythology, and strange cookbooks might have gone the way of toilet paper were it not for the one organisation that revelled in arduous tasks. The Catholic Church preserved all the learning of Rome when all public institutions lost their funding; for the next thousand years generations of monks would diligently copy the speeches of Cicero, the philosophies of Plato, the Histories of Herodotus. Many of the great works of Ancient Greece and Rome survive today only in manuscripts from the 14th Century which were inscribed by monks. This alone is an astounding feat. But the monks, their abbots, and many bishops didn’t stop there; they desired to understand what these works were about, and that required education, a detailed understanding of the complexities of Latin, philosophy, and literature, the creation of vast libraries and the manufacture of books. One hundred years or so after the fall of Rome, Charles the Great built himself an empire with the aid of the Church, and provided the impetus for a veritable explosion of learning. Great monasteries produced scientific works to calculate the cycles of the moon decades, and sometimes centuries, in advance. Charles instituted a standardised script which was based on a combination of the Roman uncial and Irish monastic scripts, propagated by the monastic networks. Hundreds of years later when the learned men of the Renaissance examined ancient documents and marvelled at the clarity of the writing, the breadth of understanding, they assumed that what they read was written by Roman hands. They modelled their writing on what they found, which is the way we write today. But they were wrong, what they had presumed to be from the Classical Period was actually from the ‘Dark Ages’. Not only can we trace they way we write to the Carolingian renovatio (renewal), but also Western music, and it provided the groundwork for Romanesque and Gothic art and architecture.

The notion of the Middle Ages as being dominated by the Church is also a fallacy. Heresy was rife, superstitions and local cults were more popular than what was proclaimed from the pulpit, and kings frequently ignored popes. Sometimes, if a king or emperor were powerful enough they would appoint their own pope; from time to time Germany would have one pope, Italy another, and France, feeling left out, would also decide to have one. Papal power reached its dizzying heights of infallibility only in the late 19th Century, and some of its most infamous crimes against science occurred during the Renaissance, not the ‘Dark Ages’. The Catholic Church was far too weak to do much in the Middle Ages, and had to rely on foreign kings and mercenaries to defend it; the Pope was even run out of Rome more than once! The reality of the oppressive features of the Catholic Church has been transposed from the modern era, since we are all so learned and know better, to an earlier, more ‘primitive’ time, when people were actually less faithful and far more superstitious than the Church would have preferred. Even one of the Church’s most evil crimes, the unbelievable defence of paedophiles in its ranks, is a relatively recent occurrence; in the Middle Ages a cleric accused of such a deed would be confined to a cell and made to live on bread and water, and if found guilty was often excommunicated and banished, which was a serious threat in those days. More witches were burned by popular and civic authorities than the Church during the Inquisition, the Crusades were as much a secular military conquest as a theological exercise, and the Papacy even defended Jews from attack by Christians, under pain of excommunication, from the Middle Ages until the Renaissance.

Even Islam in the Middle Ages was not remotely as oppressive as we are often led to believe. The Muslims of Al-Andalus (Andalusia, Spain) built a kingdom which promoted philosophy, science, and religious tolerance, as did Baghdad at the other end of the Muslim world, often surpassing any endeavour of a similar kind in Christian Europe. Where the Christian faith preserved the legacy of Plato and Rome, Islam did the same for Aristotle and Persia. The Christian World learned of Aristotle through the medium of Islam, and they conquered architectural and engineering problems Rome never could because of the innovations of Arabic mathematics. In the Middle Ages these were not faiths of ignorance, but of learning. They became dogmatists of ignorance in the modern era when threatened with a better explanatory paradigm, science. Indeed the foundation of science, and many of its principles, can be found in either texts that the Church preserved and studied, or policies that it actively encouraged. Early scientists were often members of the clergy, such as the great astronomer Copernicus (who provided the first accurate description of the heliocentric theory), or believed that their advances only proved the majesty of God’s Creation, like another great astronomer Kepler (who developed the laws of planetary motion).

We cannot judge the past by the standards of today; we don’t look at Italians and Germans and think “once a fascist, always a fascist”; we don’t think that the founders of the U.S. were obese rednecks who loved guns and god, and we don’t deride ancient Jews for the settlement policies of modern Israel. I wish to be clear though; the Catholic Church and all organised religion should be abolished. My argument against anachronism is twofold; placing the standards of the present on the past is just wrong and intellectually deceitful, but equally, demanding that the present conform to the past is just outright stupidity. The Middle Ages were not ‘Dark’, and the Christian faith was the accepted paradigm of the time, but faith itself is now an anachronism, a failed paradigm since the beginning of the Age of Reason in the 17th Century. We must be skeptical about populist claims and propagandising public figures, even when they come from those who proclaim the virtues of science over faith, of atheism over theism. It is necessary to question those who lay claim to history to prove their point, it is in fact essential that we dispute all received wisdom until proven, lest we become slavering dogmatists ourselves. We must dissent, and we must be skeptical.

As a final note, this picture, while being rather popular on various atheist dark ageswebsite (search for “dark ages graph” or variations thereof), has been invented by an intellectual cretin. Firstly, there is no statistical data of any kind about the scientific advances of any era until the early modern, so everything before the ‘Enlightenment’ part of the graph is at best a lie. Secondly, they are extrapolating an idyllic future based on unsubstantiated data. Thirdly, this is borderline racist as it neglects the amazingly advanced culture and science found in China and Persia during “Christian Dark Ages”, the ancient Phoenicians (who taught the Greeks to write), and the Hindus of India who saw Europe as an intellectual backwater in the 14th Century, among others. Fourthly, “Just think… We could have been exploring the galaxy by now”? Seriously? Just think, the Romans with nuclear weapons, the Mongols with Predator Drones, Vikings with submarines, obese Incans… We could be dead by now. This kind of asinine fairytale delusion of what the future “may have been” serves no purpose in a serious argument. It posits the notion that somehow someone could have seen and understood all the intricacies of human society and conspired to oppress it over hundreds of years. In this respect the graph is a theist argument for the hand of god influencing human affairs. This is as stupid as creationism. History unfolded with no great design, no guiding hand. It happened. Deal with it. Live in the real world.

Beware Christians Bearing Arms.

Who Started What?

One of the interesting features about the Crusades was that they weren’t organised very well in some respects. Some of them weren’t really organised at all, they just kind of happened. There were plans and schemes and such but they were not orchestrated by one single authority. All that bound them together was Jerusalem, or the idea of Jerusalem as most of the participants had never before left their own villages let alone their own kingdoms. Who came up with the idea of ‘Crusade’? Well, in reality that notion did not appear until much later, almost 200 years after they had begun. The first crusaders referred to themselves as armed pilgrims, which doesn’t really sound much less intimidating. They were going on a pilgrimage to the Holy Land as people had been doing for centuries, they just took swords, shields, spears, bows, arrows, plate-mail, chain-mail, war-horses, catapults and siege towers instead of the usual nothing-but-food-and-water ethos that other pilgrims adhered to. And also, unlike normal pilgrims who ran away when faced with unhappy foreigners, these new-age pilgrims met them with a considerable amount of aggression. This notion of armed pilgrimage came about before Pope Urban II,Pope Urban II but he was the one who got it going. Important people had been thinking that the Holy Land should be freed from Islam for quite some time. Urban, and several of his successors, reckoned the Muslims didn’t really need it (or Spain, or Sicily), and besides, the long walk would do the pilgrims a world of good and then they could get their sins remitted and go to heaven. That was actually one of the reasons for crusading, overwhelming guilt. Everyone in Western Europe lived under the burden of crushing, heart-attack inducing, oppressive guilt, especially knights and the like whose job it was to kill, and endemic warfare, mostly due to the massive amount of killings perpetrated by those same knights. The popes came up with a great solution, export the problem somewhere else and let someone else deal with these armour-clad sociopaths. And wouldn’t it be handy if they did something useful, like, I dunno, conquer a holy city or something…?


The Seljuk Turks had recently seized Anatolia, modern Turkey, from the Byzantine Empire, the greatest empire in the West at that time, which really wasn’t saying much. There were some other places that were far more enlightened, like Muslim Spain, but Byzantium was the richest. The emperor’s robes dripped with precious stones and gold and weighed more than he did. The Byzantine army however wasn’t really up to the same level. The Emperor relied on foreign mercenaries to defend his walls, including men from all over Western Europe. When the Seljuks invaded Anatolia the Emperor Romanos IV Diogenes led an army out to fight them. The two forces met near the town of Manzikert. The army of the empire was defeated, thrown into confusion, chased from the field of battle, and the emperor was captured and blinded. You could imagine that the Seljuks were pretty happy with themselves having won new lands for themselves and thought themselves pretty safe now that they had beat the socks off the Byzantines. Safe and secure with loads of land to graze their horses on, practice their archery skills, play in the meadows, smoke pipes and figure out what to do next. Maybe raise a family, buy a dog, get some rugs of the Persians next door… And then all of a sudden thirty thousand Europeans appear and start barging their way through your land. Dirty, smelly, unruly, armour-clad men wandering around Seljuk land like a drunk looking for chips. They smashed their way through Anatolia, gained an amazing victory at Antioch by defeating a much larger army, and then seized Jerusalem. In the space of roughly two years these so-called pilgrims had clobbered their way through the lands the Seljuks had only themselves recently conquered. This army came from out of nowhere and brought two hundred years of war with them. Why? Because, in part, of Manzikert. The leaders of the West were very suddenly made to realise that those Seljuks meant business and Byzantium wasn’t up to the task anymore. Alexios I Komnenos, Emperor of what was left of Rome, had asked for help from Christian kings and the Pope for any troops they could spare as he and his predecessors had done many times before. Knights from every kingdom had fought under his banner. Something was different this time though. This time the Pope had notions of his own and the knights of Europe were hungry for land. This time Alexios didn’t get the usual handful of knights, this time he got a Crusade.

Don’t Trust Hermits Called Peter

Before the French went looking for a fight the Germans, not to be out-done, decided to have a go at it first.Peter the Hermit Preaching First CrusadeLed by Peter the Hermit, a man who had whipped the German peasantry and lower nobility into a religious frenzy, this first of the First Crusades was undisciplined and very un-German as armies go. Most of the army was illiterate and probably had no idea where Jerusalem was, let alone how far away it was. They started fighting and plundering before they had even left their own lands, attacking the Jews of Germany. They fought with the Christian Hungarians for food on the way to Constantinople and then fought with the Byzantine army which was commanded by the man who was essentially their employer. This would be like getting up for work, beating up a housemate for cereal, starting a fight with someone on the street for a Twix, and then once you get to work attacking other members of staff for muffins. Alexios managed to get his unruly employees across the Bosporus and pointed them in the direction of the enemy, like a drunken guided missile. This did not go very well. The ‘army’, such as it was, broke up and started to pillage and plunder, ignoring the fact that they were in the lands of people who really did not want them there. Sure the Hungarians and Byzantines didn’t want them either, but at least they were somewhat friendly. The army of the hermit was like that annoying family member you tolerate even though they drink all your wine and eat all your food and entrench themselves in front of your tv because you know they have to go home sometime and they are family after all. What if that relative went into a complete stranger’s house, what would happen then? They probably would not be forced to drink their own urine or the blood of animals when cut off from water and later to be absolutely annihilated by the Turks. Which is what happened to Peter’s army. Of the 40,000 who left Germany only a few thousand survived, saved by the Byzantines. Including Peter. Lucky him.

Once More, With Feeling…

The second First Crusade was organised by men of war, not a man who lived in a cave, and as such was substantially better organised. It was led by men like Stephen Count of Blois, Godfrey of Boullion, and Raymond Count of Toulouse. These were seriously powerful men who ruled vast swathes of France and Germany. These were men of faith and courage who commanded lords and knights, not a peasant rabble. They marched their massive armies across Europe to Byzantium where the met the Emperor Alexios. They were joined there by a Norman army led by Bohemund. This was probably the most professional of the crusading armies, battle-hardened from Sicilian campaigns against the Moors, and its leader was seeking to carve out a kingdom for himself. Many of the leaders swore an oath of fealty to Alexios and promised that everything they fought for would be his, except for Raymond of Toulouse, who dared to negotiate with the Emperor on equal terms. You have to remember, Constantinople was the most important city in the Western World at the time, and Byzantium the greatest empire. It was Rome, or rather all that was left of Rome, and that gave it a certain air of awesome. That and the fact that it was one of the richest cities in the world. In any event, the Crusaders left Constantinople full of hope and courage. They too marched into Anatolia and were harried and harassed by Turkish armies and eventually found their way to Jerusalem after an amazing victory at Antioch which had confirmed in their minds that God was on their side.

Man on Fire

While at Antioch a certain monk called Peter found the Holy Lance which had pierced Christ at the Crucifixion. Except that while at Constantinople the crusaders had all gone on tours of the holy shrines and seen something very similar… How very odd it must have been to find another exact same unique relic. They hadn’t learned the lesson of hermits called Peter. Maybe the fact that he was a monk confused them. To prove his piety and honesty he decided to undergo trial by fire. A long narrow corridor of wood, as wide and tall as a man, was constructed and set alight. Peter then walked down the corridor of flame. Which is a perfectly reasonable thing to do. At the end of it he was met by his adoring fans who nearly trampled him to death. Imagine that, surviving a slice of hell only to be congratulated to near-death. As he survived some people said that he was protected by God and had spoken the truth. Others said that he had been burned and trampled and died a few days later so how could you argue that God really liked this guy? Ah but he was kept alive for a short time, maybe God did protect him but then punished Peter for making him save him. One of the leaders of the Crusade took the Lance, rode out with the whole army and beat the Seljuk army and the Lance and poor Peter were largely forgotten to history. And conspiracy novels. So, don’t trust religious Peters and keep them away from naked flames, they may be flammable…

The Mislaid Crusade

The Fourth Crusade was announced not long after the Third, which had ended in a tie and Jerusalem in Muslim hands. The Pope, Innocent III, wanted Jerusalem back in Christian hands. An army was called to meet a Venice. For a change the Crusade would not go overland, through Byzantium and then through Anatolia; it had taken them a while to notice that plan usually ended in armies being torn apart before getting to their destination. This time they would take the direct route. So the armies would arrive at Venice, hop on some ships that were being built there in advance and then sail to the Holy Land in style. On getting to Venice, the Venetians asked the crusaders to pay for all the new fancy ships, but the crusaders didn’t have enough money. So the Venetians said ‘If you help us capture Zara we can split the spoils and then we’ll see about the payment.’ The crusaders said ‘fair enough’ and off they went and captured the city. The city wasn’t as rich as it was supposed to be, so they were hungry, in debt, and were excommunicated by the Pope for attacking Christians, which really wasn’t what crusading was supposed to be about. The leaders of the crusade didn’t stop there. It appears that they lied to the troops, told them that they were un-ex-communicated, and now the Emperor of Byzantium would help them. But first they would have to make him emperor. The wrong Alexios was in power. Alexios III had deposed Issac whose son, Alexios IV, was now with the crusaders and looking to get back in power. The crusaders went and captured Constantinople, a Christian city, installed Alexios IV as emperor. Alexios IV was deposed and killed a few months later by Alexios V. When the crusaders went looking to get paid Alexios V told them he wouldn’t pay because he wasn’t the one who made the deal, but they didn’t care, one Alexios was as good as another. Again they attacked the city, appointed one of their own as Emperor and sacked the city for three days, promptly forgetting about the crusade. This new Latin Empire of Constantinople lasted 60 years. If you lived as long as the Latin Empire you wouldn’t see retirement, so it wasn’t terribly successful as empires go, just as the Fourth Crusade wasn’t the most successful of crusades…