[MGSA-L] Art and Propaganda: Putting a Good Face on the Sack of I Poli

DANIEL P. Tompkins pericles at temple.edu
Mon Sep 15 12:58:30 PDT 2014

Here is a fascinating article on Venetian representations of the Fourth
Crusade.  Madden, the author, has a way of describing things that is
perhaps more forceful for overt restraint.  I've highlighted a few passages
that appeal to my cynicism.

As he says, this makes the Venetian actions look OK *to Venetians if *not
to the rest of us.



The Venetian Version of the Fourth Crusade: Memory and the Conquest of
Constantinople in Medieval VeniceThomas F. Madden

*Speculum *87.2 (2012)

Modern historians know a great deal about the events of the Fourth Crusade,
yet very little about the thousands of Venetians and other Italians who joined
it or about the experiences that they brought back with them.

... The introduction of foreign narratives of the Fourth Crusade into the
fourteenth-century Venetian memory of the event did not, however,
completely erase the earlier tradition that the pope had promoted the
diversion to Constantinople. ... Just as importantly, *Venetian chronicles
in the fourteenth century continued to say nothing of the excommunication
of the Venetians* during the crusade. ...   While not without its errors,
Ramusio's *De bello Constantinopolitano* was the most accurate description
of the crusade produced to date. It describes the diversion of the crusade
in support of Alexius Angelus as an act of charity and righteousness that
would benefit Christendom, but not as a papal project.........

*The artist, Vicentino, leaves the identification of the depicted document
ambiguous.... The viewer is free to project any narrative onto the
manuscript. *... Vicentino appears to have struck a middle course between
two competing memories of the diversion of the Fourth Crusade, producing a
work that could accommodate both. It was a scene that all members of the
Great Council could view with approval for it evoked both shared and
contested memories without rejection or privilege.

...Driven by a desire to hold together a fracturing crusade, Enrico
Dandolo, and perhaps other leaders, fashioned a narrative that informed not
only the perceptions of Venetian crusaders during the expedition but those
of generations of Venetians afterward.
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