STEP 4: Later Crusades and the Fall of Constantinople
Momentous defeats had befallen the Crusader kingdoms since the victory at Arsuf. By the dawning of the thirteenth century, Christians in the Holy Land held only a small fraction of what was once theirs. Even interest in Crusading had declined in strength. Pope Innocent III, however, managed to enlist the aid of several French and Italian nobles. The leader of this effort was the Doge of Venice, Enrico Dandolo who made an attempt to assemble a fleet of troop ships in late 1204. The use of these ships and the expertise of the sailors manning them were beyond the resources of the Crusading Army. These costs caused them to be diverted to Constantinople. To gain the money necessary, 200,000 marks, the Crusaders won the Byzantium throne back for the ousted Isaac II who was later overthrown yet again. The Crusaders received no money and in anger and excessive greed committed the infamous sack of Constantinople. The ancient city fell to this army on April 13, 1204 and a small Latin kingdom existed around it for some time. The sack of Constantinople ended the main Crusading effort in the Holy Land for quite some time. Several efforts led by German knights achieved some small gains in the years immediately following 1204. As for Byzantium, it no longer guarded the eastern front of Europe and would hold out for another two centuries until its conquest by Muhammad II. Turkish domination of much of Eastern Europe directly stemmed from the actions of the Crusading Army in this instance. The later Crusades proved that Christian universalism could not hold together the many feuding states of Europe forever. This proved deadly for many since only the actions of the Polish King, John, saved Austria and possibly the rest of Western and Central Europe from the domination of the Turks. Turkish seapower would dominate the Mediterranean until Philip II of Spain and the Battle of Lepanto in 1571. It would then seem that the Crusades had stalled but not halted the ceaseless domination of the Saracen powers.
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