Electronic Theses and Dissertations

Date of Award


Document Type


Degree Name

M.A. in History

First Advisor

Jeffrey Watt

Second Advisor

Isaac Stephens

Third Advisor

Joshua Hendrickson

Relational Format



The historiography of the Fourth Crusade has neglected long-term macroeconomic developments and its influence on the Fourth Crusade within the Byzantine Empire and the Italian states of Venice, Pisa, and Genoa. It is well-established that the Venetians rerouted the crusading forces to Constantinople which caused political, religious, and economic challenges that altered the Mediterranean world. Yet, the trend of writing on political events and short-term microeconomics and macroeconomics from 1180 to 1204, has done great disservice to the larger trans-regional disputes that engulfed the Mediterranean during the eleventh and twelfth centuries. This thesis will attempt to fill the void of the historiography by examining the effects of long-term financial warfare by the Italian states and the Byzantine Empire, through the analysis of macroeconomic factors, urban geography and planning, and political disputes caused by ever-changing alliances and loyalties, which influenced the decision of the Venetians to reroute the crusading forces to Constantinople. To provide evidence to support this thesis, an examination of the Chrysobulls ratified in the late-eleventh and twelfth centuries, Byzantine laws on produce and goods sold in the markets of Constantinople, and macroeconomic factors (i.e., taxation, tariffs, currency circulation and minting) will generate a holistic picture of economic developments that influenced the sack of Constantinople in 1204. The examination of these factors through a different perspective, provided evidence that the Venetians used the trade war to justify rerouting the crusaders to Constantinople through political cunning and economic savvy. The sources provide further evidence that the Republics of Pisa and Genoa aided, albeit to various extents and often neglecting the Chrysobulls, in both the political and economic objectives of the Venetians and Byzantines, respectively. This demonstrates that the sack of Constantinople was not caused by a single event, as historians tend to suggest, but rather by several important moments throughout the century that fed into the anger and hostility that all participants held.



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