One of several states set up by the Crusaders
in 1204, when some dodgy map-reading on the part of their Venetian
tour guides led to the sacking, pillaging, and raping of their Christian
ally the Byzantine Empire
, instead of the infidel Saracen
s that the Fourth Crusade
had been nominally directed against.
The Byzantine Empire, already weak from the encroaching Turks in the east, fell apart. Venice seized many strategic islands, the Byzantine ruling dynasty fled to Trebizond on the Black Sea or holed up in fastnesses in Greece such as the mountains of Epirus and the fortress of Monemvasia, and several Crusader states (the Latin States) were founded on the wreckage.
The Latin Empire had its capital at Constantinople. The first emperor was Count Baldwin IX of Flanders.
- Baldwin I 1204-1205
- Henry 1206-1216
- Peter of Courtenay 1217
- Empress Yolanda 1217-1219
- Robert 1221-1228
- John of Brienne 1231-1237
- Baldwin II 1240-1261
Byzantines retook Anatolia
in 1224 and finally Constantinople in 1261.
Another state was based at Thessalonica (Salonica or Thessaloniki), founded by Marquis Boniface I of Montferrat, who called it a kingdom. It was elevated to the rank of empire in 1225, reduced to a mere despotate in 1242, and fell to the Byzantines again in 1246.
- Boniface 1204-1207
- Demetrius I 1207-1224
- Theodore Angelus 1224-1230
- Manuel 1230-1237
- John 1237-1244
- Demetrius II 1244-1246
There was also a Principality of Achaea
and a Duchy of Athens