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BLOSS C.A. Heroines of the Crusades

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BLOSS C.A.
Heroines of the Crusades
page 276



will be made in arms in the palace of Constantinople." Ten days after, the crusaders prepared themselves to attack the cjty. The navy of the Greek Empire consisted of only twenty ships. The vessels of the republic sailed without opposition, therefore, into the harbor, and the Croises, with cheerful zeal commenced the siege of the largest city in the world. The Franks divided their army into six. battalions : Baldwin of Flanders led the vanguard with his bowmen, the second, third, fourth and fifth divisions were command-ed by his brother Henry, the Counts of St. Paul, Blois, and Montmorenci, and the rearguard of Tuscans, Lombards, and Genoese was headed by the Marquis of Montserrat. So far from being able to surround the town, they were scarcely sufficient to blockade one side ; but before their squadrons could couch their lances, the seventy thousand Greeks that had prepared for the conflict vanished from sight. The Pisans and the Varangian guard, however, de-fended the walls with extraordinary valor, and victory was for a long time poised in the scales of doubt. Meanwhile, on the side of the harbor the attack was suc-cessfully conducted by the Venetians, who employed every resource known and practised before the invention of gun-powder. The soldiers leapt from the vessels, planted their scaling-ladders, and ascended the walls, while the large ships slowly advancing, threw out grappling-irons and drawbridges, and thus opened an airy way from the masts to the ramparts. In the midst of the conflict, the venerable doge, clad in complete armor, stood aloft on the prow of his galley ; the great standard of St. Mark waved above his head, while with threats, promises, and exhortations, he urged the rowers to force his vessel upon shore. On a sudden, by an invisible hand, the banner of the republic was fixed upon the walls. Twenty-five towers were stormed and taken. The emperor made a vigorous effort to recover the lost bulwarks, but Dandolo, with remorseless resolution, set fire io the neighboring buildings, and, thus secured the conquest so dearly won. The discomfited Alexius, seeing all was lost, collected what treasure he could carry, and in 288 HEROINES OF THE CRUSADES.


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