The Fourth Crusade and Religious War

Stephen Costello

Professor Kite


April 26 2016

Global Connections


4th Crusade and Religious War

For the first half of my Istanbul class, I focused on the 4th Crusade and its effect on the city of Constantinople, as well as how religious war effects the world still to this day.

To start off with some background information about the 4th Crusade, I first wrote one paper depicting the events that happened during it. The original goal of the Crusade was to bring Christianity to Cairo by liberating it from the Muslim population that existed there. The crusaders had an arrangement with the Venetians of Venice in the Roman Empire, where they would sail the Crusaders across the Mediterranean to Cairo. The first issue that came up was that, since not as many Crusaders showed up as expected, they did not have enough money to pay the venetians for their fleet. The way that they compensated for the payment originally was to attack the Port of Zara for the Venetians because the people there owed them money. This was the first act where religious war, effected people outside of the participants. The people at Zara were also Christian in fact.

After ransacking Zara, the Crusaders were still in need of more money in order to fund their Crusade to Cairo. While the Crusaders were spending the winter in Zara, they were approached by an Alexios III Angelos, of Constantinople. He made a deal with them where if they overthrew the Emperor of Constantinople, Alexios II, then he would fund the rest of their journey to Cairo, as well as give them additional troops to aide in the upcoming battles. The Crusaders agreed to this deal and went on to be the first group to ever penetrate the walls of Constantinople, another mostly Christian society. The city was ransacked and most historians mark this as the end of the Byzantine Empire as a whole. The people of Constantinople were never part of this religious war, they even largely practiced the same religion, yet still they fell victim to the Crusade.

For my next paper of the semester I went on to look at how this trend of religious war effecting people who are not participants, effects the human population to this day. On this paper I mostly looked at the ongoing war in Syria between the Sunni Muslims and ISIS, and the Shia minority group which is in control of the area. This war has driven more than four million people from their homes in Syria to this day, and the neighboring countries are now struggling with one of the largest refugee crisis’s that the world has ever seen. ISIS has gone on record saying that they are not afraid to kill anybody who does not agree with their very particular interpretation of the Islamic religion.

The main connection that I wanted to draw between the 4th Crusade and today was the fact that war, and in particular religious war, effects people who do not wish to participate in the conflict. In the 4th Crusade this could be seen when the Crusaders destroyed Constantinople, despite the people there having nothing to do with their conflict, and not doing anything to get involved. They in fact killed other Christians while in the process, despite, having orders from the Pope, not to harm anybody who was Christian. This particular portion can be seen through attacks in the Middle East by ISIS that cause other Muslim casualties. They do not care who dies as long as it brings them closer to fulfilling one of their agendas.

Religious war and conflict is not only seen through Syria and ISIS, it is also found all throughout the world, but mainly in the Middle East. Israel, Lebanon, and Jordan have had conflicts with each other many times that were fueled for religious purposes. Each conflict that has happened has destroyed people’s homes and caused people to evacuate the area of conflict into other areas. When people flee on country and into another as refugee’s, it then causes issues for that country, as they are now experiencing a rapid growth in their population, and do not usually have the resources to provide for this sudden increase. The surrounding countries that people flee too usually have nothing to do with the conflict, so if effects these places and the lives of the people who live there as well. Events like the 4th Crusade have been going on forever, and they still happen to this day. Religious War, more often than not effects large populations outside of the conflicting parties.

4 thoughts on “The Fourth Crusade and Religious War

  1. Kamil Prostko

    “To the victor go the spoils” or so they saying says. It has always been the case that war has led to a lot of casualties and it was usually the wealthy ones that went away unscathed while people suffered. Europe has a long history of constant fighting among each other and as a result had to deal with a lot of plagues, famines and pillaging. For my class, we studied how the European Union was created and how they work together to make sure war never occurs again between the countries. The thing that led to the creation of European War was World War II which left all of Europe in utter destruction without any infrastructure or economy. It started out with few countries and has grown ever since into one of the biggest powers in the world.
    It was essentially that these war conflicts created the union that exists there today. The current migrant crisis is impacting both the SYrian refugees and the Europeans. In a world where we’re overpopulated, it’s hard to house an additional couple million people in small countries of the European Union. This is why they are struggling. The unforseen cirmustances of the war have brought maor changes to both Europe and the Syrian migrants and they never should have gone through such a process. A lot of countries are afraid of taking in a foreign culture to a very homogeneous one and the ones that are willing don’t have enough space to accomodate everyone.

  2. Winston Pemberton

    I liked how you started with the 4th crusade and related that to problems that we have nowadays. You showed that people might think that religious fighting stopped during the middle ages but it never actually stopped. People have always fought for their religion and still do. As you said Isis and the war in Syria is a prime a example. They fight for not only their country but also their beliefs. The war as you said causes people to want to leave to protect their families but when this happens in mass number it starts a conflict in another country. This can be seen all throughout the European countries that took in hundreds of thousands of refugees. Though it is a good thing to take in people that life in a constant state of fear their cultural difference causes other countries to feel like they’re being invaded. Germany and Austria are going through this process now because of these difference they want to make their country close off their borders and look inward before they look outward. This way of thinking hasn’t been seen in many years and political parties that are extremely right wing are actually winning for the first time. In all I’ll have to agree with you that religious wars that are going on today aren’t just affecting one country but every country around it and it’s not for the better.

  3. George Harmon

    The crusades really were a series of events that has had an overwhelming impact on todays society. Much of the current geopolitical landscape can have its origins traced back as far as the crusades. At the very least they can also be traced through the Ottoman empire. The concept of remembering history is something that is undoubtedly important to you & I. I studied the Culture of Armenia and remembering history is something that is so ingrained in their state of being, that the idea of forgetting their cultural ties is one that is next to impossible. I like your topic and Im glad that you can also appreciate remembering ancient histories, as for some cultures, it is part of them.

  4. James Danahy

    I found your thoughts on the fourth crusade very interesting. However, I think the part I found the most interesting was the connection you made to the wars of modern times. The fact that both now and at the time of the fourth crusade people who have no personal stake are still directly affected by the results. You mention ISIS, which, at least for me, hearkens back to a discussion we had in our Identity and Independence class about a female suicide bomber. The woman we discussed in particular most likely would not have chosen to participate in the actions she did if not for the society around her pressuring her into it. The origins of this pressure, in a sense, can be traced to the conflict with nations housing Islamic extremists and much of the West and our lack of discourse with these countries only leads to further misunderstanding and misfortune for everyone involved.


Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *