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BLOSS C.A. Heroines of the Crusades

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BLOSS C.A.
Heroines of the Crusades
page 277



the silence of the night, deserting his wife and people, sought refuge in Thrace. In the morning the Latin chiefs were surprised by a summons to attend the levee of Isaac, who, rescued from his dungeon, robed in the long-lost pur-ple, and seated upon the throne in the palace of the Bla-quernel, waited with impatience to embrace his son and reward his generous deliverers. Four ambassadors, among whom was Villehardouin, the chronicler of these events, were chosen to wait upon the rescued emperor. " The gates were thrown open on their approach, the streets on both sides were lined with the bat-tle-axes of the Danish and English guard ; the presence-chamber glittered with gold and jewels, the false substi-tutes of virtue and power ; by the side of the blind Isaac, his wife was seated, the sister of the King of Hungary : and by her appearance, the noble matrons of Greece were drawn from their domestic retirement and mingled with the circle of senators and soldiers." The ambassadors with courteous respect congratulated the monarch upon his res-toration, and delicately presented the stipulations of the young Alexius. These were, " the submission of the East-ern empire to the pope, the succor of the Holy Land, and a present contribution of two hundred thousand marks of silver." "These conditions are weighty," was the empe-ror's prudent reply : " they are hard to accept, and difficult to perform. But no conditions can exceed the measure of your services and deserts." The ready submission of Isaac and the subjection of the Greek church to the Roman pontiff, deeply offended his subtle and revengeful subjects, and gave rise to so many plots and conspiracies, that the newly-restored emperor prayed the crusaders to delay their departure till order was re-established. To this they assented, but the odious taxes for rewarding their services were collected with dif-ficulty, and Isaac resorted to the violent measure of robbing the churches of their gold and silver. Occasions of dissen-sion ripened into causes of hatred. A devastating fire was attributed to the Latins, and in consequence desultory en- 19 ISABELLA. 289


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