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Why The 4th And 5th Crusades Ended In Failure

1236 words - 5 pages

The Fourth Crusade and Fifth Crusade, both of which were initiated by Pope Innocent III, ended in failure. The reasons that these crusades were both unsuccessful are because of the Papacy’s lack of power, influence, and support, the widespread heresy at the time that caused discord and conflict amongst the Christians, as well as poor or illogical decision making by those in power.
In 1198 the recently elected Pope Innocent III began preaching for another Crusade that would attempt to regain control of the Holy Land, as the Third Crusade left Saladin, a Muslim leader, in control of Jerusalem. Innocent III began preparing for war, and formed an agreement with the Venetians, stating that the Crusaders would pay the Venetians for transportation to the Holy Land. Innocent III overestimated his forces, and needed less supplies than he requested, however, Venice still wanted the full agreed upon amount to be paid. The men tried to pull their money together to pay the entire amount, however they still were well short of the required sum. As a pope, Innocent III did not have the power, wealth, and men that the kings had. At the beginning of the 1200’s the papacy had far less influence than the kings. As the Crusaders were unable to pay, they instead formed an agreement which stated that the Crusaders would help the Venetians take over the Christian city of Zara in order to gain its wealth and supplies, however, “The barons and nobles among the crusaders agreed to what the doge proposed. But no one in the army knew this plan, except the leaders.” (7) This secret arrangement led to dissonance among the Crusaders when word got out, as many people, including Innocent III, despised the idea of harming a fellow Christian in any way. The city of Zara sent messengers to the Crusaders in an attempt to surrender before the fighting had even begun, on the condition that none of people in Zara would be harmed. The Venetians did not want to accept their surrender, however the barons and nobles eventually talked him into accepting it, in order to placate those who wished to break up the army. Thus, they captured the city of Zara, and controlled all of its assets. Even after this notable victory, Innocent III’s men still needed more supplies in order to fight in the Holy Land, which showed just how much more the Crusaders needed if they wanted to have a chance at taking Jerusalem. So, the next thing that they did was to try to capture the Christian city of Constantinople to gain even more resources. After a while, they finally succeeded in taking this second wealthy city, but even still the Crusaders were unable to make progress toward the Crusade’s original purpose of recapturing of the Holy Land. Upon seeing the futility in continuing in this unproductive pattern as well as blatantly opposing the sacking of Christian cities, Innocent III wrote a letter asking the Crusaders to stay in Constantinople while he strengthened the army. Innocent III also sent a letter that...

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