The Latin Empire of Constantinople, 1214
Catastrophe struck the Byzantine Empire in 1204. Venetian mariners, commanded by Doge Enrico Dandolo (1193–1205), the central figure and mainspring of the undertaking, and French knights, led by Boniface de Montferrat, descended on Constantinople in 1203. They constituted most of the Fourth Crusade’s military forces, originally despatched against the Muslim Turkish and Arab masters of Egypt and, then, the Holy Lands by Pope Innocent III. Normans from the Kingdom of the Two Sicilies augmented their ranks. From pope to common warrior, the crusade was riddled with enemies of the Orthodox Byzantine empire.