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Books Online: The History of the Crusades. Volume 2. Page 1
by Joseph Michaud
The Story of the Crusades is nowhere told so masterfully and comprehensively as in the pages of Michaud. Volume 2 of 3.
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Page 1

CONTENTS

Book IX.—A.D. 1195-1198.

Book X.—A.D. 1198-1204.

Book XI.—A.D. 1198-1204.

Book XII.—A.D. 1200-1215.

Book XIII.—A.D. 1242-1245.

Book XIV.—A.D. 1248-1255.

BOOK IX.

FOURTH CRUSADE.

A.D. 1195-1198.

WHEN we cast a retrospective glance over the periods we have described, we congratulate ourselves upon not having lived in those times of war and trouble; but when we look around us, and reflect upon the age of which we form a part, we fear we have little reason to boast over the epochs commonly termed barbarous. During twenty-five years a revolution, born of opinions unknown to past ages, has pervaded cities, agitated nations, and shaken thrones. This revolution has for auxiliaries war and victory; it strengthens itself with all the obstacles that are opposed to it; it is for ever born again from itself, and when we believe we can perceive the end of its ravages, it re-appears more terrible and menacing than ever. At the moment in which I resume the account of the Crusades,[1] the spirit of sedition and revolt, the fanaticism of modern doctrines, which seemed to slumber, all at once awake, and again threaten the world with universal disorder; nations which tremble for their liberty and their laws, are aroused, and spring up in arms; a coalition of all kings and of all nations, a general crusade is formed not to defend the tomb of Christ, but to preserve that which Europe possesses of its ancient civilization. It is amidst the rumours of a new revolution, of a formidable war, that I am about to describe the revolutions and wars that disturbed the East and the West in the middle ages. May I, whilst deploring the calamities of my country, profit by the events of which I am a witness, and by the frightful spectacle which is before my eyes, to paint with greater truth the passions and the troubles of a remote age, and revive in the hearts of my contemporaries a love of concord and peace.

The death of Saladin was followed by that which almost always is to be observed in the dynasties of the East,—a reign of agitation and trouble succeeding a reign of strength and absolute power. In these dynasties, which have no other support but victory, and the all-powerful will of a single man, as long as the sovereign, surrounded by his soldiers, commands, he is tremblingly obeyed; but as soon as he has closed his eyes, his people precipitate themselves towards license with the same ardour that they had yielded to servitude; and passions, long restrained by the presence of the despot, only blaze forth with the greater violence when there remains nothing of him but a vain remembrance.

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