Latin Catholic West European hordes looted and burned Constantinople
Compiled By: Syed Ali Shahbaz
On April 13, 1204 AD, Constantinople fell to the Latin Catholic West European hordes of the Fourth Crusade, who unable to confront Muslims in Palestine, turned against their own co-religionists of the Greek Orthodox Church, temporarily ending the Byzantine Empire, as the final act in the permanent separation of the two Christian Churches.
For three days the Crusader thugs looted and burned Europe’s largest and most civilized city, committing every crime and sin under the sun. The Latins (as the Byzantines called them because of their adherence to the Catholic sect of the Church of Rome) were viewed as lawless, impious, covetous, blood-thirsty, undisciplined, and (quite literally) unwashed hordes.
During the siege and attacks and counterattacks of the two sides, nearly 35 percent of the city that had known peace for several centuries was destroyed, and over 50 percent of the population became homeless, in addition to the tens of thousands of people massacred. Many ancient and medieval Roman and Greek works were either stolen or destroyed. The magnificent Library of Constantinople was destroyed.
Despite wearing crosses and pretentions to religion, the Crusaders ruthlessly and systematically violated the city's churches and monasteries, destroying, defiling, or stealing all they could lay hands upon, in addition to raping nuns. The medieval historian Speros Vryonis, gives a vivid account of the sack.
He writes: The Latin soldiers subjected the greatest city in Europe to an indescribable sack. For three days they murdered, raped, looted and destroyed on a scale, which even the non-Christian Vandals and Goths would have found unbelievable. Constantinople had become a veritable museum of ancient and Byzantine art, an emporium of such incredible wealth that the Crusader thugs were astounded at the riches they found. The French, the Germans, the Italians, the Anglo-Saxons, and other West Europeans destroyed indiscriminately, halting to refresh themselves with wine, violating the chastity of Greek nuns, and murdering Orthodox clerics.
The Crusader Catholics vented their hatred for the Orthodox Greeks most spectacularly in the desecration of the greatest Church in Christendom. They smashed the silver iconostasis, the icons and the holy books of Hagia Sophia, and seated upon the patriarchal throne a whore who sang coarse songs as they drank wine from the Church's holy vessels.
The Byzantines were convinced that if the Muslims had taken the city they would not have committed such savagery as fellow Christians – and the Muslims didn’t do it, when over two-and-a-half centuries later, under Ottoman Sultan Mohammad al-Fateh they peaceably conquered Constantinople, renamed it Islambol (presently Istanbul), preserved its ancient monuments, and spared its population of any massacre. It is also worth recalling that over a century earlier in 1099 when seizing Bayt al-Moqaddas from the Fatemid Ismaili Shi’ite Muslim dynasty of Egypt, the Crusaders had massacred over 70,000 Arab, Iranian, and Turkish men, women and children.