Biography of Enrique Dandolo (ca. 1105-1205)

Thirty ninth Doge of Venice (1192-1205), born about 1105 and died in 1205. Man of enormous physical and mental energy, being almost centenary took the cross and led an expedition that ended in Constantinople. Enrique Dandolo was gifted as well as a gifted diplomat and it seems that its influence in the Fourth Crusade was decisive. His work laid the foundations of the commercial power of the Republic of Venice in the East.

It belonged to one of the families of constituents who claimed to be descendants of the twelve tribunes who chose the first Doge in 697. What little is known of his life out of politics is that during the 12th century it maintained contacts with the Patriarch of grade for fifty years. Its first mention in history dates back to 1171, year in which participated in the war between Venice and the Byzantine Emperor Manuel Comnenus, in which the Venetians were decimated by a plague and Dandolo was sent from Chios to Constantinople to sign peace. According to the Chronicle of Novgorod, the emperor made him to torture and ordered that they abrasaran the eyes, although a descendant of his, Andrea Dandolo, said after that the Doge had not completely lost vision. Thirty years after his death, Geoffrey de Villehardouin, who had known the Doge in person, wrote that Dandolo had lost sight due to a wound in the head. In 1172 it was Ambassador of Venice to the Court of Guillermo II of Sicily and then returned to Constantinople with the consular post of bailiff. Another diplomatic position he/she played Dandolo was as Ambassador to Ferrara. In 1178 Dandolo was one of the twelve Commissioners voters to choose dux and he/she himself was elected June 1, 1192, as successor of Orio Malipiero (or Mastropiero)

Despite his advanced age, he/she developed an enormous activity. He/She signed the end of the trade war against Verona and declared war to the Pisans, who had settled in Istria, and the city of Zara, whose inhabitants had been under Hungarian protection. In 1198 he/she signed a Treaty of friendship with the Emperor Alexios III, but in 1201 relations with Byzantium were broken, when the basileo granted many privileges to the Genoese and the Pisans.

In March 1201 Dandolo gave the Venetian fleet to the leaders of the Fourth Crusade, for the transport of troops to the Holy Land, in Exchange for a high sum of money. The Doge himself took the cross, like other Venetian nobles. When the Crusaders began to gather in Venice in the Easter of 1202, remained to pay 34,000 frames of the agreed amount. The heir to the throne of Constantinople, Alexios, the younger , then offered to pay money to change that the Crusaders help him return to his father the throne of Constantinople. All the Christian leaders accepted and the final decision was the pilgrimmage DUX, without whose ships was impossible to undertake the expedition. Dandolo took advantage of the situation and moved the wires to the Fourth Crusade in the service of the interests of Venice. The details of the negotiation are not well known, but the crusade, whose first destination was Egypt, began with the siege of Zara (1202 October) as payment of part of the amount is still owed and the sacking of Constantinople after. The influence of Dandolo grew day by day among the barons of the cross. Robert Clare said that at the Council of war which took place after the conquest of Zara, the dux insisted that the occupation of Greece would greatly facilitate the conquest of the Holy land. In any case, as well noted historian Riant, the initiative of the Doge was strictly limited by the Venetian Constitution and Dandolo led the negotiations in accordance with the Councils of the Serenissima.

In April of 1203 Dandolo signed in Corfu a solemn Covenant with Alejo, the younger and with Boniface of Montferrat, the crusade leader. At the end of may the ships departed for Constantinople, where weeks later sunk. On 23 June he/she presided over the Council of war held in the Abbey of St. Stephen. Dux transported in his ship to Alejo, the younger, expected a big popular welcome, facing the walls of Constantinople, but the heir to Isaac II was not well received. The Venetians camped outside the city walls and the Crusaders prepared the siege. Dandolo, took part personally in the attack by sea, carrying the banner of San Marcos, in his ship but Alejo III fled, and Isaac II was spare on the throne almost without a fight. Dandolo, who had not signed any treaty with Isaac II, but with his son, Alejo, the younger, pressured to Alejo (IV) was associated with the throne, which took place August 1, 1203.

Alexios IV, who did not have the support of the Greek episcopate or the village, was not able to fulfill the promises made to the Crusaders. A popular revolution dethroned him and a court conspiracy put on the throne and Byzantium Alejo V Murzuflos in January 1204. The new basileo demanded the Crusaders to leave the city, but they were already planning their conquest, which took place from April. At the Council of war of the May 1, 1204, Enrique Dandolo signed with the barons of partition of Byzantium, Convention according to Venice three-quarters of the conquered.

The taking of Constantinople was the Foundation of the Latin Empire, whose Crown was offered by the barons to Enrique Dandolo; It rejected it for not violating the Venetian Constitution and may 4, 1204 was elected Emperor Baldwin IX of Flanders. The new sovereign Dandolo gave the title of despot. In 1205 the Doge took part in the disastrous expedition against the Bulgarians and died shortly afterwards, being buried in the basilica of Hagia Sophia. Pietro ZianiDoge succeeded him.


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