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BLOSS C.A. Heroines of the Crusades

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BLOSS C.A.
Heroines of the Crusades
page 278



290 - HEROINES OP THE CRUSADES. counters took place, which resulted in open hostility. The feeble emperor died, it is said, of fear; his cousin, a bold, unscrupulous villain, assumed the imperial buskins, and seizing the young Alexius, put him to death. The crusaders at once determined to make war upon the usurper. Constantinople, the empress of the East, the city that for nine centuries had been deemed impregnable to mortal arm, was taken by storm. The right of victory, untrammelled by promise or treaty, confiscated the public and private' wealth of the Greeks, and the hand of every Frank, according to its size and strength, seized and ap-propriated the rich treasures of silks, velvets, furs, gems, spices arid movables which were scattered like glittering baits through all the dwellings of that proud metropolis. When the appetite for plunder was satisfied, order was in-stituted in the distribution of spoils. Three churches were selected for depositories, and the magnitude of the prize exceeded all experience or expectation. A sum seven times greater than the annual revenue of England, fell to the lot of the Franks. In the streets the French and Flem-ings clothed themselves and their horses in painted robes and flowing head-dresses of fine linen. They stripped the altars of their ornaments, converted the chalices into drink-ing cups, and laded their beasts with wrought silver and gilt carvings, which they tore down from the pulpits. In the cathedral of St. Sophia, the veil of the sanctuary was rent in twain for the sake of its golden fringe, and the al-tar, a monument of art and riches, was broken in pieces and distributed among the captors. Having thus taken Constantinople and shared its treas-ures among themselves, the next step was the regulation of their future possessions and the election of an Emperor. Twelve deputies were appointed, six to represent the in-terest of the Franks and six that of the Venetians ; in the name of his colleagues, the bishop of Soissons announced to the barons the result of their deliberations in these words. " Ye have sworn to obey the prince whom we should choose ; by our unanimous suffrage, Baldwin Count of Flanders and


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