ANTON GILL RADIO PLAYS
Asterisked plays in VRPCC collections.
No one has ever doubted that Doge Enrico Dandolo, the 39th Doge of Venice, was clever. His audacious appropriation of the forces of the Fourth Crusade to serve the ambitions of Venice is irrefutable evidence that he was a master of intrigue.
Pope Innocent III called for the Fourth Crusade to liberate Jerusalem in 1198. In 1201 a delegation from the north arrived at Venice to commission construction of a new fleet of warships and transports for the Fourth Crusade. Venice agreed to supply, at a cost of 84,000 marks, transportation and nine months of provisions for a Crusader army of 4,500 knights and 19,000 squires and foot-soldiers. Moreover, Venice agreed to supply fifty additional galleys on her own, in exchange for the promise of one-half of any territory captured on the Crusade. June 1202 was set as the time for the Crusaders to gather at Venice, pay for the fleet and embark for the attack on Egypt.
When the Crusaders arrived they were unable to pay for their transportation and provisions, so, unwilling to go home, and in the meantime running up bills with all the locals, a new arrangement had to be made. Dandolo could not play it too tough, however, for Pope Innocent III was already angry with how matters were proceeding and would not hesitate to place the city under interdict.
So, the Venetians offered a new arrangement to replace the old one. Venice had for some time ruled much of the Dalmatian coast, mainly as a way to secure control of the Adriatic and its shipping lanes. Recently, however, the King of Hungary had been inciting rebellion in the Dalmatian towns, offering them his protection. One town that had defected was Zara, which for fifteen years Venice had been trying to recover.
The doge offered to delay the payment of the contract (cancelling it was out of the question). In return, the Crusaders would help Venice recover Zara. The Crusade leaders had little choice, since the alternative was to abandon the Crusade, violate their crusading vow, and return home broke and humiliated. Even so, many in the army objected vigorously, and some even refused to go. But the Doge himself took the cross, and many Venetians followed his example.
Some time around now, a fortuitous concidence happened. Isaac II Angelus was blind and in prison in Constantinople, but his son Alexius IV had managed recently to escape and flee to the West. Early in 1202, as the Crusaders were preparing at last to depart (to attack Zara), young Alexius was in Italy and appealed to the Crusaders to help him drive out the usurper Alexius III and to him (the prince) on the throne. If they should do so, the young prince promised an extravagant amount of help for the Crusade - men, money, weapons, ships.
This appeal fits so neatly with the agenda of the principal leaders of the Crusade that many historians have smelled a plot. Whether through chance or through careful planning, it so happened that Boniface of Montferrat would be glad to participate because he might recover Thessalonica; and Venice would be glad because the prince promised to restore all their old privileges and more besides; and the rest of the Crusaders could look forward to that great pooling of resources of East and West that had been repeatedly touted in crusading thought.
So the agenda was set before the fleet ever sailed on October 1, 1202. The Crusaders would capture Zara for Venice, then would capture Constantinople for the young prince Alexius, and then would proceed on to Outremer. By this time, it was not at all clear whether the ultimate objective was still Egypt, for most of the leaders were no longer thinking much past Constantinople.
With Carlton Hobbs [Enrico Dandolo, Doge of Venice], Michael Goldie [Count Baldwin of Flanders], Stephen Thorne [Boniface of Montferrat], John Gabriel [Geoffrey de Villehardouin], Henry Knowles [Norata / John (Jean de Nesle, chatelain of Bruges)], Eric Cotter [Richard], Garing Campbell [Robert de Clare], Anthony Newlands [Lepero], Eric Allen [Sergio], Ian Frost [Omar], Richard Morse [Akmed], Andrew Branch [Alexius Angelus (Alexius IV)], Roy Spencer [Murtzuphlus], and Gregory de Polnay [Niketas Choniates]. Directed by Richard Wortley ....notes by "SJ"....many thanks-ND
THE MAN WHO WROTE SHAKESPEARE....1978
THE BERLIN RESURRECTION....1982
MISS WHITING'S VISITORS....1983
Nigel Deacon / Diversity website
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