1204 - The Fourth Crusade

      Innocent III commenced his pontificate with a call to crusade, but what followed was very different from the events he envisioned.  click here for more on Innocent III


      His troops were diverted to Constantinople by Venetian paymasters (who controlled the world of commerce), and there they deviated from the master plan by sacking the city.  Baldwin of Flanders was installed as the first Latin emperor, further frustrating Innocent III's objective of unifying the two major branches of the church - east and west.

         The Venetians, who traded with merchants in the Levant, had now installed their own patriarch as the head of the eastern church and managed to sack the cathedral staff before all was said and done.

Fourth Crusade

  Innocent's great scheme had been turned on its head, but nevertheless, his decree that the church had an obligation to take property from infidels laid the groundwork for his successor, the great 'lawyer pope' Innocent IV, who would ascend to the seat of Peter fifty years later.