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1392 UNIVERSAL HISTORY-THE MODERN WORLD.

was an important factor in all the conflicts

of the Middle Ages, and to obtain this the

secular princes were wont to bid against

each other as in a market. It now appeared

that the elder as well as the younger Alexius

was willing to sell out the independence of

the Greek Church for the support of Rome.

The Eastern Emperor accordingly sent ambassadors to Pope Innocent and tendered

the submission of the Byzantine Christians

as the price of papal interference. Innocent

was already angered with the Venetians,

and the Crusaders themselves had shown

so refractory a spirit as to incur his displeasure. Since, therefore, in either case the

solidarity of the church was to be attained

by the submission of the schismatic Greeks,

the Pope readily, even eagerly, espoused

the cause of the Emperor against the prince.

The Crusaders were forbidden to disturb

the peace of a Christian dominion. The

tyrant of Constantinople was promised the

protection of Rome. She, and not the barons

and knights, would heal the schism of long suffering Christendom. If any would disobey

her mandate, let them remember the terrors

wherewith she was wont to afflict those who

set at naught her wishes. Legates were sent

to Zara to acquaint the tempted army with

the will and purpose of the Holy Father.

Little were the Venetians terrified by

these premonitory mutterings from the Vatican. They openly disregarded the interdict

and proceeded with their preparations for

the expedition. The Crusaders proper heard

the papal voice with more respect, but with

them there was a division of sentiment.

The more scrupulous were disposed to heed

and obey the command of the Pope, but the

greater number, either regarding themselves

as hopelessly involved and compromised

with the Venetians, or else influenced by

the lustful hope of repairing their fortunes

out of the treasures of Constantinople, chose

to stop their ears and follow their inclinations.

When the papal envoys perceived that

their mission was fruitless they left Zara, took

ship and sailed for Syria. In doing so they

bade all follow who would fight for the Cross

and obey the voice of the Church. Not a few

of the barons and knights accepted this opportunity of escaping from all entanglements

and going on board with the legates, departed for Palestine. The remaining and more adventurous portion of the Crusaders silently defied the Pope, cast in their lot with the Venetians, and made ready for the campaign against the Byzantine capital. Chief among

those who thus joined their fortunes with republican Venice in preference to papal Rome, were the Marquis of Montferrat, the counts of

Flanders, Blois, and St. Paul, eight others of

the leading French barons, and a majority of

the warriors who had originally embarked in

the Crusade.

The expedition which was now set on foot

against Constantinople was the most formidable armament which had been seen in the

Mediterranean since the days of Pompey the

Great. The squadron included fifty galleys

of war, one hundred and twenty horse transports, two hundred and forty vessels for the

conveyance of the troops and military engines, and seventy store-ships for the supplies. The force of Crusaders on board consisted of six thousand cavalry and ten thousand foot, and the Venetian soldiers numbered about twenty thousand.

It now appeared that Alexius Comnenus

was much more of a diplomatist and intriguer

than warrior. During the whole progress of

the expedition which was openly directed

against his capital he made no attempt to

stay its course or prevent its entrance to

the Bosphorus. The harbor of Constantinople was found to be defended by only

twenty galleys; for the Greek admiral, Michael

Struphnos, brother-in-law of the Emperor,

had broken up the vessels of his master's

fleet in order that he might sell for his own

profit the masts, rigging, and iron which they

contained. When in the immediate face of

the peril the proposition was made to build a

new navy, the eunuchs of the Imperial palace

to whom the keeping of the parks and hunting grounds had been entrusted refused to have

the timber cut! Such has ever been the folly

of those effete despotisms which have survived

their usefulness.

Nor did the people of the city of Constantine show much interest in the crisis which

was evidently upon them. Like voluptuous

idlers floating in the Bay of Biscay, they recked

not of the gathering storm. What to them

was a change of masters? The tyrant Alexius was in a measure deserted to his fate.

Great, however, was the strength of the