The sack of Zadar, 1202

In 1202, six French envoys of the Fourth Crusade (1202-1204) arrived in Venice in hopes of acquiring a fleet and supplies. After the initial agreements fell through and when more crusaders arrived in Venice in June 1202, Doge Enrico Dandolo signed a treaty with the leaders of the Fourth Crusade who, in return for the fifty fully armed galleys and knights, agreed to support the Venetians to capture Zadar, a city that accepted the King of Hungary and Croatia’s suzerainty in 1186. Although the crusaders had an agreement with the Venetian Doge Enrico Dandolo for transport across the sea, the price far exceeded what they were able to pay. In order to reach an agreement Venice set the condition that the crusaders help them capture Zadar, Trst (Trieste), Muggia and Pula. In addition, Doge Enrico Dandolo proposed that the Crusaders agree to remain in Zadar during the winter after the city’s capture in order to reduce the threat of pirates attacks on Venetian commerce and to support Venetian’s interest in regaining military and commercial control in Dalmatia. Additionally, the plan to capture Zadar helped convince the Great Council of Venice to consent to the Doge’s plan. With the enthusiastic support of the Venetians and the Great Council, the Republic of Venice’s participation in the Fourth Crusade was confirmed.

Doge Enrico Dandolo

The siege of Zadar was the first major action of the Fourth Crusade and the first attack against a Catholic city by a Catholic Crusader army. The large Crusader army and armada arrived at Zadar in November 1202. At the commencement of the siege, Doge Enrico Dandolo gave the citizens of Zadar an ultimatum – to either leave the city immediately or remain an be killed. Confusion ensued, as Pope Innocent III forbade the Crusade from participating in a siege of a Catholic city and in actions unrelated to their original religious agenda, especially since Zadar was under the suzerainty of King Emerik of Hungary who had himself participated in a crusade in the name of the Pope.

The sack of Zadar during the 4th crusade

Although a part of the Crusaders refused to take part in the siege and returned home, the attack on Zadar began on 11th November 1202 despite letters from Pope Innocent III forbidding such an action and threatening excommunication. Zadar fell on 24 November and the Venetians and the crusaders sacked the city. Much of the city was demolished and its population escaped to the Croatian royal cities of Nin and Biograd na Moru, then noted as Jadera Nova (New Zadar). Two years later, most of the citizens returned to Zadar, after which the city was also referred to as Jadera Vetula (Old Zadar)

After spending the winter in Zadar the Crusaders continued their campaign, which subsequently led to the Siege of Constantinople. A number of contingents abandoned the Crusader army after the sack of Zadar. In 1203, Pope Innocent III excommunicated the entire crusading army, along with the Venetians but Zadar remained under Venetian rule. The siege and sacking of Zadar in 1202 had a major impact on the city, its economy and its people. Apart from the political effects of its status in the Kingdom of Croatia and Dalmatia; the destruction of the city had long-lasting effects on a city that was one of the major maritime and trade centres on the Adriatic Sea, a city which had the potential to rival the Republic of Venice and Dubrovnik.

Published by borisbirosevic

Hi! My name is Boris Birošević. I live in Zagreb, Croatia. My father studied history so he passed the love for it on me from my youth ages. He always told me interesting stories from history. I loved listening to him and I was always attracted to that, for me, unexplored and mystical world. I read all six books “History of the Croats” by Vjekoslav Klaić during my elementary school. During high school, I was (I could say) the best in history in my generation, and I further expanded my knowledge in college because we had a lot of history-related subjects. By the way, I have a master of journalism degree. I have been studying and dealing with history for 25 years, on a daily basis. I have a broad and deep knowledge of Croatian, European and worldwide history. My goal is to transfer my knowledge to others in an interesting and even so objective way. On my website and blog, I will try to bring details from Croatian history closer to foreigners because it is still unknown to many and difficult to access. I will also cover some topics that are close and related to Croatian history in a certain way (Western Balkans, Slavs, Austria-Hungary, etc.) I hope that on my page everyone will find something for himself. For me, history is not a job but a calling… Join me on my website "HISTORY OF CROATIA and related history"...

One thought on “The sack of Zadar, 1202

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: