“The rest of the army, scattered throughout the city, also gained so much booty; so much, indeed that no one could estimate its amount or its value.  It included gold and silver, table services and precious stones, satin and silk, mantles of squirrel fur, ermine and miniver, and every choicest thing to be found on this earth… so much booty had never been gained in any city since the creation of the world.”[1. Joinville and Villehardouin, trans. M.RB. Shaw, Chronicles of the Crusades, (Baltimore: Penguin Books), 92.]

In addition to the spoils of gold, silks, jewels and fur that Geoffroy de Villeharduoin describes in his account of the Fourth Crusade, the Venetians also brought back larger spoils as symbols of their dominance over the fallen Byzantine capital and Empire. With the sack of Constantinople and the establishment of the Latin Empire, Venice was no longer dependent on the Byzantine Empire, instead, Venice became the dominant power politically and economically in the Byzantine East. The spoils, the porphyry reliefs known as the Four Tetrarchs, a variety of different colored marble columns, and the Quadriga, or the four bronze horses, were affixed to the exterior of San Marco and functioned as visual representations of Venice’s new political and economic identity after the Fourth Crusade.[2. Charles Freeman,  The Horses of St. Mark’s: a Story of Triumph in Byzantium, Paris andVenice, (New York: The Overlook Press, 2004) 88-89.]




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