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Historical Background
General Remarks
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The Children's Crusade
The Consequences of the Crusades
The Fourth Crusade (1200-1204)
After succeeding to the papacy in 1198, Pope Innocent III began preaching a new crusade that would free Jerusalem by invading Egypt, hoping to create a reassertion of papal power. In 1201, a contract was negotiated between the Crusaders and the city-state of Venice to transport the army to Egypt. Only a third of the expected troops showed up in Venice, leading to the Crusaders' failure to pay the contractual sum for ships and transport. This brought the Crusaders under Venetian control.

As a form of payment, the Crusaders agreed to capture the Christian city of Zara in Dalmatia. Meanwhile, the Marquess of Montferrat had negotiated an agreement with the Byzantine prince Alexius Angelus (the later Alexios IV), who fled from Byzantium when his father Isaac II, Emperor of Byzantium, was overthrown in 1195. Alexius offered money, men and transport if the Crusaders would reconquer Constantinople and make him an emperor. As the army approached the city, the regime fled and Alexios became Alexios IV Emperor of Byzantium.

As a result of Alexios IV´s great public opposition, he was soon overthrown and strangled by one of his courtiers, who refused to honour his predecessor's contract with the crusaders. To regain control of Byzantium, the Crusaders conquered Constantinople in 1204, sacking the city for 3 days. Nothing was spared, not even the Hagia Sophie and the graves of the past emperors.

Almost no crusader made it to the Holy Land.

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