The crusades gave away a good Casus Belli and successfully worked for a period of time. Many kingdoms and especially the pope profited from them. But there is one dark crusade where instead of attacking the infidels and the none believers in the name of god they attacked people from the same faith. The Byzantine empire once stood strong and was the bridge between Europe and Asia. It was one of the gates between the Muslim and Christian world. They were constantly harassed between both sides and at this fourth crusade in 1204 the Empire was gone. In the once vast empire was broken, new states developed on the previous territory that were Latin and Byzantine. The Empire was restored in 1261 but the might was gone and it was really hard to manage afterwards. The empire fell centuries soon and it was because of this silly crusade caused by some beneficial factors.
The crusades gathered their forces and were suppose to sail to Egypt. Venice had the largest fleet as a merchant state and offered to give them passage through boats, but wanted some money in return. They calculated the precise amount in order to use the crusaders and exploit their gathered force. Because the crusaders didn’t have the money as Venice calculated, they attacked a city in the name of Venice. Also the Byzantine king/prince was in need and sought help from them. He offered them money and they needed the money for the boats. This was somewhat planned and was a very good play from Venice and the Pope. The crusades did what they were suppose to and the Byzantine emperor couldn’t pay them. They occupied the capital and destroyed the empire. This was a huge blow for everyone and in a historical aspect it was a huge mistake.
But what if Venice didn’t use their position to gain such leverage? They were the victors out of this and used it to make a powerful merchant state. If they didn’t send the crusaders to attack cities and sailed off to Egypt as planned the center of the Muslim world what would have happen?
The Muslim Realm
Taking a look between the south and north of the Mediterranean there was a vast difference in the middle ages. The cultures and religions were different. The crusades planned that if they took Egypt they could control the Muslims hearth and make an end to this. If the Catholic church controlled the wast territory that was settled with Muslims it would gain Hegemony and destroy the second religion and church which was the Orthodox. Even though they stopped the Orthodox head seat with the Fourth Crusade people didn’t want to dissolve their faith and the pope was powerless there.
But if the Crusades went to Egypt as planned they would have a some success by the calculations of the sources I found and added to this article. The plan at first was to attack the city of Alexandria. It had a huge Christian population and the largest one in whole Egypt. This was a way to close in the deal with the people and use this city as a base because they will be accepted by the majority of citizens. If they besiege this city they could gain the trust of the people inside wearing the banner of Christ and take it very easily.
If we take a look that the army sacked the biggest city in the world at that time Constantinople and they did it twice they could easily take much smaller cities around the region. The army had one task and it was to stop the Muslims, despite the personal agendas. Egypt wasn’t used to being invaded and they didn’t had such defensive capabilities and the Muslims fought in numbers. If the crusade was fast they couldn’t have reacted that easily to mobilize the army. There were many advantages with the crusaders. One of the was the current Sultan of the Egypt and his policies. Al-Adil I had other believes. He was a trader and didn’t want to fight in a war. He wanted profit and economic growth instead of wasting time and money on something useless. This would have had an effect on the attack as well.
But this didn’t happen and what they did instead was drilled a big whole. Afterwards that whole was filled with low kingdoms which weren’t unified and the Ottomans had a huge luck and captured the whole Balkan. They even pushed to the Holy Roman Empire. This was a disaster but it happen and none could stop it.
Phillips, Jonathan (2004). The Fourth Crusade and the Sack of Constantinople.