Latin Empire

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Imperium Romaniae
Empire of Romania
Flag of the Latin Empire.png
Blason Empire Latin de Constantinople.svg
Official language Latin , old French
Capital Constantinople
Form of government Feudal monarchy
surface 339,000 km² (1204) km²
founding 1204
resolution 1261

The Latin Empire (officially empire Romaniae , German  Empire Romagna ) is the 1204 by Crusaders ( "CHF") and Venetians as a result of the Fourth Crusade installed kingdom, which is essentially the area around Konstantin Opel and parts of Thrace , Bithynia and Northwest Asia Minor included. The empire, constituted as a feudal association, existed until 1261 .


In March 1204, one month before the capture of Constantinople , the Venetians and Franks signed a formal treaty to partition the Byzantine Empire (the so-called partitio terrarum imperii Romaniae ). They agreed u. a. the plundering of the city to settle the Frankish debts and the establishment of a “Latin” empire (as opposed to the “Greek”, Byzantine), headed by an emperor appointed by six Frankish and six Venetian electors. After the conquest of the Byzantine capital on April 13, 1204, the treaty came into force. Baldwin of Flanders was chosen as the first emperor unexpectedly , since Boniface of Montferrat was actually considered to be the leader of the crusade.

Baldwin, an experienced military leader, was elected, but out of consideration for Venetian interests, he was not given the means to establish a strong central power. Formally the areas of the Kingdom of Thessaloniki , the Duchy of Archipelagos and the Latin principalities of the Peloponnese were also subordinate to the emperor .

The weaknesses of the new state, in which the French and Venetians in particular exercised power, soon became apparent : it was not possible to secure the entire former Byzantine territory (only in the Peloponnese and in the vicinity of the capital did this effectively, while Venice was defeated) Colonial empire in the Aegean ), it was still possible to prevent Byzantine successor states from quickly forming ( empire Nikaia , despotate Epirus ), especially since the empire Trebizond had made itself independent as early as 1185, as did Cyprus . In addition, the Bulgarians invaded Thrace , who were welcomed as liberators by the Byzantine Orthodox population. Internally, the Venetian colony on the Golden Horn achieved economic dominance and formed a state within the state that was almost independent of the emperor .

The Latin Empire, the Venetian possessions and the Greek successor states after partition in 1212.

The strengthening of Nikaia in the following decades finally ensured that the empire soon shrank to the immediate vicinity of the capital. The Latin emperors also got into financial distress, especially since Venice, which in fact controlled the state finances, provided little or no help. Constantinople, once the jewel of the Mediterranean, also fell into disrepair, while tensions between the Catholic rulers and their Orthodox subjects increased. The Latin foreign rulers had no relation to the Greek inhabitants and had no understanding of their mentality or of the Orthodox faith. They only exercised their administrative function as the pro forma government of a Franconian-Venetian colonial regime and did nothing for the common good (e.g. to maintain the building stock in the capital or to repair the war damage of 1204). During these decades, the gulf between the Greek Orthodox and Roman Catholic cultures became so deep that most Greeks later preferred a conquest by the Turks to the pact with the “Latins” (“rather the sultan's turban than the cardinal's hat”).

The triumphant advance of Nikaia (first securing Asia Minor against the Seljuks , then conquering larger parts of the former Byzantine land holdings in Europe) reached its climax in August 1261, when a Nicene army, rather by chance, took over the almost undefended Constantinople in one coup - the bulk of the armed forces of the Latin Empire was on a foray. The Byzantine Empire was thus restored, but could never return to its old size: The focus on the recapture of the capital had diverted attention from the Turks , who overran the Byzantine-Asia Minor possessions in the following decades.

The Republic of Genoa took over the role of Venice (Genoese-Byzantine Treaty of 1261) and supported Byzantium with its fleet. The fragmentation of the Byzantine dominion was largely eliminated (although Franconian and Venetian possessions in the Aegean and in Greece still held some of them until after the fall of Constantinople to the Turks in 1453), but the catastrophic imperial consequences of the conquest of 1204 remained in effect: Byzantium had become a second-rate power.

Ruler list

Latin Emperor, 1204–1261

Co-emperors and regents Remarks
House of Flanders
Baldwin I
(1204–1205 / 06)
Regent: Heinrich of Flanders (1205–1206) Fourth Crusade (1202–1204)
Battle of Adrianople (1205)
Courtenay house
(1216–1217 / 19)
Regent: Conon de Béthune (1216–1217)
Regent: Jolante of Flanders (1217–1219)
never ruled
Regent: Conon de Béthune (1219–1220)
Regent: Giovanni Colonna (1220–1221)
Regent: Maria von Courtenay (1227–1228)
Battle of Poimanenon (1224)
Loss of Thessaloniki (1224)
Baldwin II
Regent: Narjot de Toucy (1228–1231) Co
-emperor: Johann von Brienne (1231–1237)
Regent: Anseau de Cayeux (1237–1238)
Regent: Narjot de Toucy (1238–1240)
Regent: Philippe de Toucy (1245–1249)
Battle of Pelagonia (1259)
End of the Latin Empire after the reconquest of Constantinople in 1261 by
Michael VIII. Palaiologos

Latin titular emperors (1261-1383)

(Jakob von Baux bequeathed his claims to Duke Ludwig I of Anjou , who was also the pretender to the throne of Naples ; Ludwig and his descendants never held the imperial title.)


  • Antonio Carile : Per una storia dell'Impero Latino di Costantinopoli (1204–1261) (= Il mondo medievale. Sezione di storia bizantina e slava 6, ZDB -ID 759762-9 ), 2nd expanded edition, Pàtron, Bologna 1978.
  • Andreas Külzer : The conquest of Constantinople in 1204 in the memory of the Byzantines. In: Gherardo Ortalli , Giorgio Ravegnani, Peter Schreiner (eds.): Quarta Crociata. Venezia - Bisanzio - Impero Latino. Volume 2. Istituto Veneto di Scienze, Lettere ed Arti, Venice 2006, ISBN 88-88143-74-2 , pp. 619-632.
  • Peter Lock: The Franks in the Aegean, 1204-1500. Longman, London / New York 1995.
  • Robert Lee Wolff: The Latin Empire of Constantinople, 1204-1261. In: Kenneth M. Setton (Ed.): A History of the Crusades. Volume 2: Robert Lee Wolff, Harry W. Hazard (Eds.): The later crusades. 1189-1311 , 2nd Edition, University of Wisconsin Press, Madison et al. a. 1969, pp. 187-234
  • Jean Richard: The Establishment of the Latin Church in the Empire of Constantinople (1204-1227) . In: Mediterranean Historical Review 4 (1989) 45-62.

Web links

Commons : Latin Empire  - collection of images, videos and audio files


  1. ^ In addition: David Jacoby: The venetian government and administration in latin Constantinople, 1204–1261: a state within a state. In: Gherardo Ortalli , Giorgio Ravegnani, Peter Schreiner (eds.): Quarta Crociata. Venezia - Bisanzio - Impero Latino. Volume 1. Istituto Veneto di Scienze, Lettere ed Arti, Venice 2006, ISBN 88-88143-74-2 , pp. 19-80.