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The Fourth Crusade: The Conquest of Constantinople (The Middle Ages Series) Paperback – September 2, 1999

ISBN-13: 978-0812217131 ISBN-10: 0812217136 Edition: 2nd

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The Fourth Crusade: The Conquest of Constantinople (The Middle Ages Series) + The Crusades Through Arab Eyes (Saqi Essentials) + The Crusades: The Authoritative History of the War for the Holy Land
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Product Details

  • Series: The Middle Ages Series
  • Paperback: 368 pages
  • Publisher: University of Pennsylvania Press; 2nd edition (September 2, 1999)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0812217136
  • ISBN-13: 978-0812217131
  • Product Dimensions: 6.1 x 0.8 x 9.2 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1.2 pounds (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.6 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (8 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #1,209,035 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Editorial Reviews

Review

"A masterful, up-to-date revision, which has taken a classic to an even higher level of historical inquiry and subtlety."—James Ross Sweeney, Pennsylvania State University



"As a work of scholarship the new edition is a considerable achievement since it has taken a classic and made it even better."—Nottingham Medieval Studies



"The narrative is crisp; the vignettes of individuals, illuminating; and the overall grasp of action, masterful, whether describing the first terrifying assault of the Venetian ships or analyzing the complex power structure in the Byzantine court."—Grover A. Zinn, Jr., Church History, in a review of the first edition



"Strongly argued and well-documented."—The Historian

About the Author

Donald E. Queller was Professor of History at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign; among his other books are The Office of the Ambassador in the Middle Ages and The Venetian Patriciate: Reality Versus Myth. Thomas F. Madden is Associate Professor of History at St. Louis University.

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Customer Reviews

4.6 out of 5 stars
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Great book for the 4th Crusade.
Carl E.
This book does a great job of making the facts more available to the modern lay reader.
Florida Dad
I would buy it again and I intend to keep it and reread it.
W. Frayne

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

43 of 46 people found the following review helpful By A Customer on June 29, 1998
Format: Hardcover
To the contemporary mind, the Crusades represent a bizzare, even horrific, historical event. It is difficult, if not impossible, for those living in the 20th Century to comprehend the religious fervor that prompted thousands from Western Europe, both the great and the humble, to commit themselves and their fortunes to the expirgation of the infidel from the Holy Land. Of the sordid history that is the Crusades, however, the most baffling is perhaps the notorious Fourth Crusade in the early 13th Century, when Christians from Western Europe, and their Venetian allies, attacked and laid waste to Constantinople, arguably the greatest city on earth and, more to the point, inhabited by fellow Christians. The mystery is made even more remarkable by the knowledge that the Pope himself forbade the Crusaders' attack of Constantinople. What prompted the Crusaders to rebuke the Holy See? What went wrong? The present work provides an insightful and lucid analysis of the unhappy events that culminated in the destruction of the greatest city in Christiandom. "The Fourth Crusade" is essential reading for anyone who has tried to make sense of a momentous historical event that seems to defy rational explanation, or for those who simply conclude that Constantinople fell victim to the Crusaders' greed. The reality is much more complex, though "The Fourth Crusade" manages to present its analysis in an entertaining and engaging manner that brings to life a period of history like no other.
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27 of 28 people found the following review helpful By Florida Dad VINE VOICE on May 26, 2005
Format: Paperback
The Fourth Crusade is one of the most important events in world history, in that it solidified the schism between the Eastern and Western Christian Churches that still exists today, but most know little or nothing about it. Most who claim to know something about it actually know little about the facts of the matter. This book does a great job of making the facts more available to the modern lay reader.

Queller and Madden do an excellent job with helping the reader to understand the mind of the people of that time, instead of having a self-righteous modern attitude towards all things middle ages, as is too common today.

In any book about the 4th Crusade, three questions must be answered:

(1) Why did the Crusade end up in Constantinople instead of the Holy Land?

(2) How was this small army able to successfully conquer Constantinople - one of the best defended cities of the time?

(3) Why was the sack of Constantinople particularly brutal, even by medieval standards?

This book successfully answers questions (1) and (2). The authors show the tragic set of circumstances and morally questionable decisions that led the crusaders to Constantinople - against the explicit command of Pope Innocent III, who called the Crusade in the first place. They also show how the lack of understanding of the Latins led Constantinople to fall so easily.

However, this book doesn't really answer the most important question of the actual sack. Had the crusaders simply sacked the city like most sacks of the time, it is doubtful it would have engendered such animosity in the East for all things Western. But instead they ravaged the city in an orgy of violence, sex, sacrilege and greed. Why?
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8 of 9 people found the following review helpful By Francisc Stugren on January 3, 2008
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
After reading a lot of history in the obsolete style of Runciman and others, and many historical novels who, although documented, remain just what they are - novels - this book truly opened my eyes to the work of the real, honest historian. Queller and Madden not only try to tell the story of this unique and intriguing event that was the fourth crusade, they also try to answer questions which have always fascinated people like me, interested in the mechanics of the events, not only in the big picture:

- How many people gathered and how were they distributed along social class lines?
- Where were all those people lodged in Venice?
- How much money was collected and from whom?
- How many ships were provided and who built and delivered them?
- When did the bulk of the crusaders leave for their destination?
- How was communication working between Rome, Venice and the crusaders?
- What is plausible truth and what is hearsay, invention or whishful thinking in contemporary eyewitness accounts, like that of Geoffroy de Villehardouin?

The product of their work is highly readable prose and the attitude is one of honesty. Age-old prejudices (like the widespread opinion that everything that happened was a diabolical plot of Enrico Dandolo, the doge of Venice) are analyzed critically in their historical context. Most important, Queller and Madden admit that there are limits to what a historian can hold for true beyond the shadow of a doubt. The documents of the time are scarce, and those that exist must be interpreted accurately and should not always be taken literally but merely as attempts at journalism in an age where the ethics of the press had not yet developed.
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful By W. Frayne on March 19, 2012
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
I will let the other reviewers pontificate on the subject matter content. I purchased this book to remedy my ignorance about the 4th Crusade. Queller and Madden certainly did that. I thoroughly enjoyed this volume. I would buy it again and I intend to keep it and reread it. The narrative tends to be dry but that is the price you pay for a thorough account. Definitely worthwhile.
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