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Venice and Zara, the fleet was successfully steered by the skill and experience of the Venetian pilots: at Durazzo, the confederates first landed on the territories of the Greek empire: the isle of Corfu afforded a station and repose; they doubled, without accident, the perilous cape of Malea, the southern point of Peloponnesus or the Morea; made a descent in the islands of Negropont and Andros; and cast anchor at Abydus on the Asiatic side of the Hellespont. These preludes of conquest were easy and bloodless : the Greeks of the provinces, without patriotism or courage, were crushed by an irresistible force: the presence of the lawful heir might justify their obedience; and it was rewarded by the modesty and discipline of the Latins. As they penetrated through the Hellespont, the magnitude of their navy was compressed in a narrow channel, and the face of the waters was darkened with innumerable sails. They again expanded in the basin of the Propontis, and traversed that placid sea, till they approached the European shore, at the abbey of St. Stephen, three leagues to the west of Constantinople. The prudent doge dissuaded them from dispersing themselves in a populous and hostile land; and, as their stock of provisions was reduced, it was resolved, in the season of harvest, to replenish their store-ships in the fertile islands of the Propontis. With this resolution, they directed their course: but a strong gale, and their own impatience, drove them to the eastward; and so near did they run to the shore and the city, that some volleys of stones and darts were exchanged between the ships and the rampart. As they passed along, they gazed with admiration on the capital of the East, or, as it should seem, of the earth; rising from her seven hills, and towering over the continents of Europe and Asia. The swelling domes and lofty spires of five hundred palaces and churches were gilded by the sun and reflected in the waters: the walls were crowded with soldiers and spectators, whose numbers they beheld, of whose temper they were ignorant; and each heart was chilled by the reflection, that, since the beginning of the world, such an enterprise had never been undertaken by such a handful of warriors. But the momentary apprehension was dispelled by hope and valour; and every man, says the marshal of Champagne, glanced his eye on the sword or lance which he must speedily use in the glorious conflict. 57 The Latins cast anchor before Chalcedon; the mariners only were left in the vessels: the soldiers, horses and arms, were safely landed ;

57 Et sachiez que il ni ot si hardi cui le cuer ne fremist (c. 66.). . . Chascuns regardoit ses armes . ... que par tems en arons mestier (c. 67.). Such is the honesty of courage.

Fruitless negotiation of the emperor.

and, in the luxury of an Imperial palace, the barons tasted the first fruits of their success. On the third day, the fleet and army moved towards Scutari, the Asiatic suburb of Constantinople: a detachment of five hundred Greek horse was surprised and defeated by fourscore French knights; and in a halt of nine days, the camp was plentifully supplied with forage and provisions.

In relating the invasion of a great empire, it may seem strange that I have not described the obstacles which

should have checked the progress of the strangers. The Greeks, in truth, were an unwarlike people; but they were rich, industrious, and subject to the will of a single man: had that man been capable of fear, when his enemies were at a distance, or of courage, when they approached his person. The first rumour of his nephew's alliance with the French and Venetians was despised by the usurper Alexius : his fatterers persuaded him, that in this contempt he was bold and sincere; and each evening, in the close of the banquet, he thrice discomfited the Barbarians of the West. These Barbarians had been justly terrified by the report of his naval power; and the sixteen hundred fishing boats of Constantinople 58 could have manned a fleet, to sink them in the Adriatic, or stop their entrance in the mouth of the Hellespont. But all force may be annihilated by the negligence of the prince and the venality of his ministers. The great duke, or admiral, made a scandalous, almost a public, auction of the sails, the masts, and the rigging: the royal forests were reserved for the more important purpose of the chase; and the trees, says Nicetas, were guarded by the eunuchs, like the groves of religious worship.59 From his dream of pride, Alexius was awakened by the siege of Zara, and the rapid advances of the Latins; as soon as he saw the danger was real, he thought it inevitable, and his vain presumption was lost in abject despondency and despair. He suffered these contemptible Barbarians to pitch their camp in the sight of the palace; and his apprehensions were thinly disguised by the pomp and menace of a suppliant embassy. The sovereign of the Romans was astonished (his ambassadors were instructed to say) at the hostile appearance of the strangers. If these pilgrims were sincere in their vow for the deliverance of Jerusałem, his voice must applaud, and his treasures should assist, their pious design; but should they dare to invade the sanctuary of empire, their numbers, were they ten times more considerable, should not protect them from his just resentment. The answer of the doge and barons was simple and magnanimous. “In the cause of honour and justice,” they said,

59 Eandem urbem plus in solis navibus piscatorum abundare, quam illos in toto navigio. Habebat enim mille et sexcentas piscatorias naves .

Bellicas autem sive mercatorias habebant infinitæ multitudinis et portum tutissimum. Gunther, Hist. C. P. c. 8. p. 10.

59 Καθάπερ ιερών άλσεων, είπείν δε και θεοφυτευτων παραδείσων εφείδοντο τουτωνί. Nicetas in Alex. Comneno, I. iii. c. 9. p. 348.

we despise the usurper of Greece, his threats, and his offers. Our friendship and his allegiance are due to the lawful heir, to “ the young prince, who is seated among us, and to his father the “ emperor Isaac, who has been deprived of his sceptre, his freedom, “ and his eyes, by the crime of an ungrateful brother. Let that • brother confess his guilt, and implore forgiveness, and we our“ selves will intercede, that he may be permitted to live in afflu

ence and security. But let him not insult us by a second

message; our reply will be made in arms, in the palace of “ Constantinople.” On the tenth day of their encampment at Scutari, the

Passage of crusaders prepared themselves, as soldiers and as catholics, the los

, for the passage of the Bosphorus. Perilous indeed was

July 6. the adventure; the stream was broad and rapid: in a calm the current of the Euxine might drive down the liquid and unextinguishable fires of the Greeks; and the opposite shores of Europe were defended by seventy thousand horse and foot in formidable array. On this memorable day, which happened to be bright and pleasant, the Latins were distributed in six battles or divisions ; the first, or vanguard, was led by the count of Flanders, one of the most powerful of the Christian princes in the skill and number of his cross-bows. The four successive battles of the French were commanded by his brother Henry, the counts of St. Pol and Blois, and Matthew of Montmorency; the last of whom was honoured by the voluntary service of the marshal and nobles of Champagne. The sixth division, the rear-guard and reserve of the army, was conducted by the marquis of Montferrat, at the head of the Germans and Lombards. The chargers, saddled, with their long caparisons dragging on the ground, were embarked in the flat palanders 60; and the knights stood by the side of their horses, in complete armour, their helmets laced, and their lances in their hands. Their numerous train of sergeants 61 and archers occupied the transports; and each transport was towed by the strength and swiftness of a galley. The six divisions traversed the Bosphorus, without encountering an enemy or an obstacle: to land the foremost was the wish, to conquer or die was the resolution, of every division and of every soldier. Jealous of the pre-eminence of danger, the knights in their heavy armour leaped into the sea, when it rose as high as their girdle; the sergeants and archers were animated by their valour; and the squires, letting down the draw-bridges of the palanders, led the horses to the shore. Before their squadrons could mount, and form, and couch their lances, the seventy thousand Greeks had vanished from their sight: the timid Alexius gave the example to his troops; and it was only by the plunder of his rich pavilions that the Latins were informed that they had fought against an emperor. In the first consternation of the flying enemy, they resolved, by a double attack, to open the entrance of the harbour. The tower of Galata 62, in the suburb of Pera, was attacked and stormed by the French, while the Venetians assumed the more difficult task of forcing the boom or chain that was stretched from that tower to the Byzantine shore. After some fruitless attempts, their intrepid perseverance prevailed: twenty ships of war, the relics of the Grecian navy, were either sunk or taken: the enormous and massy links of iron were cut asunder by the shears, or broken by the weight, of the galleys 63 ; and the Venetian fleet, safe and triumphant, rode at anchor in the port of Constantinople, By these daring achievements, a remnant of twenty thousand Latins solicited the licence of besieging a capital which contained above four hundred thousand inhabitants , able, though not willing, to bear arms in defence of their country. Such an account would indeed suppose a population of near two

60 From the version of Vignere I adopt the well-sounding word pnlander, which is still used, I believe, in the Mediterranean. But had I written in French, I should have preferred the original and expressive denomination of vessiers or huissiers, from the huis, or door, which was let down as a draw-bridge; but which, at sea, was closed into the side of the ship (see Ducange au Villehardouin, No. 14. and Joinville, p. 27, 28. edit. du Louvre).

61 To avoid the vague expressions of followers, &c. I use, after Villehardouin, the word sergeants for all horsemen who were not knights. There were sergeants at arms, and sergeants at law; and if we visit the parade and Westminster Hall, we may

observe the strange result of the distinction (Ducange, Glossar. Latin, Servientes, &e. tom. vi. p. 226—231.).

** It is needless to observe, that on the subject of Galata, the chain, &c. Ducange is accurate and full. Consult likewise the proper chapters of the C. P. Christiana of the same author,

The inhabitants of Galata were so vain and ignorant, that they applied to themselves St. Paul's Epistle to the Galatians.

63 The vessel that broke the chain was named the Eagle, Aquila (Dandol. Chronicon, p. 322.), which Blondus (de Gestis Venet.) has changed into Aquilo, the north-wind. Ducange, Observations, No. 83., maintains the latter reading; but he had not seen the respectable text of Dandolo, nor did he enough consider the topography of the harbour. The south-east would bave been a more effectual wind. (Note to Wilken, vol. v. p. 215.]

64 Quatre cens mil homes ou plus (Villehardouin, No. 134.), must be understood of men of a military age. Le Beau (Hist. du Bas Empire, tom. xx. p. 417.) allows Constantinople a million of inhabitants, of whom 60,000 horse, and an infinite number of foot soldiers. In its present decay, the capital of the Ottoman empire may contain 400,000 souls ( Bell's Travels, vol. ii

. p. 401, 402.); but as the Turks keep no registers, and as circumstances are fallacious, it is impossible to ascertain (Niebuhr, Voyage en Arabie, tom. i. p. 18, 19.) the real populousness of their cities.

millions; but whatever abatement may be required in the numbers of the Greeks, the belief of those numbers will equally exalt the fearless spirit of their assailants.

In the choice of the attack, the French and Venetians Firet siege were divided by their habits of life and warfare. The quest of former affirmed with truth, that Constantinople was most nople by accessible on the side of the sea and the harbour. The July 7–18: latter might assert with honour, that they had long enough trusted their lives and fortunes to a frail bark and a precarious element, and loudly demanded a trial of knighthood, a firm ground, and a close onset, either on foot or on horseback.

After a prudent compromise, of employing the two nations by sea and land, in the service best suited to their character, the fleet covering the army, they both proceeded from the entrance to the extremity of the harbour: the stone bridge of the river was hastily repaired; and the six battles of the French formed their encampment against the front of the capital, the basis of the triangle which runs about four miles from the port to the Propontis. 65 On the edge of a broad ditch, at the foot of a lofty rampart, they had leisure to contemplate the difficulties of their enterprise. The gates to the right and left of their narrow camp poured forth frequent sallies of cavalry and light-infantry, which cut off their stragglers, swept the country of provisions, sounded the alarm five or six times in the course of each day, and compelled them to plant a palisade, and sink an entrenchment, for their immediate safety. In the supplies and convoys the Venetians had been too sparing, or the Franks too voracious: the usual complaints of hunger and scarcity were heard, and perhaps felt: their stock of flour would be exhausted in three weeks; and their disgust of salt meat tempted them to taste the flesh of their horses. The trembling usurper was supported by Theodore Lascaris, his son-in-law, a valiant youth, who aspired to save and to rule his country; the Greeks, regardless of that country, were awakened to the defence of their religion; but their firmest hope was in the strength and spirit of the Varangian guards, of the Danes and English, as they are named in the writers of the times. 66 After ten days' incessant labour, the ground was levelled, the ditch filled, the approaches of the besiegers were

65 On the most correct plans of Constantinople, I know not how to measure more than 4000 paces. Yet Villehardouin computes the space at three leagues (No. 86.). If his eye were not deceived, he must reckon by the old Gallic league of 1500 paces, which might still be used in Champagne.

6 The guards, the Varangi, are styled by Villehardouin (No. 89. 95, &c.), Englois et Danois avec leurs baches. Whatever had been their origin, a French pilgrim could not be mistaken in the nations of which they were at that time composed.

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