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An Academic Site devoted to the History, Culture, and Literature of Romania and Eastern Europe.

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Sack of Constantinople 1204
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Niketas Choniates on the Fall of Constantinople – April 13, 1204

Nearly a quarter of a millennium before the fall of Byzantium to the Ottoman Turks, the Eastern Empire faced its greatest peril to date when the army of the Fourth Crusade, having initially been raised to free Jerusalem from the Saracens, sacked Constantinople on Tuesday, April 13, 1204, and established a Latin Empire in its stead. While the Greeks regained possession of the imperial city a half century later, the Byzantine Empire never recaptured its former glory. One of those who lived through the traumatic first fall of the Byzantine Empire was the Greek historian Niketas Choniates who left a vivid description of the assault: "How shall I begin to tell of the deeds wrought by these nefarious men! Alas, the images, which ought to have been adored, were trodden under foot! Alas, the relics of the holy martyrs were thrown into unclean places! Then was se en what one shudders to hear, namely, the divine body and blood of Christ was spilled upon the ground or thrown about. They snatched the precious reliquaries, thrust into their bosoms the ornaments…

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