- Historical event:
- 16 May 1204
- Baldwin of Flanders was crowned Emperor of Byzantium in the famous church of St. Sophia (Hagia Sophia) in Istanbul on this day in 1204.
Count Baldwin of Flanders became the first Latin Emperor of Byzantium.
This happened after the crusading warriors (the Fourth Crusade) had conquered Constantinople, and a large part of the Byzantine Empire – theirs was a very controversial expedition. This conquest of Christian lands by the Christians was led by the Venetians, who controlled about three-eighths of the conquered areas.
The Crusaders wanted Flemish Count Balduin to become their Emperor of Byzantium. He owned many properties in today’s Belgium (Region Flanders was the richest area in Europe).
On this day, Count Baldwin was crowned Emperor of Byzantium in the famous church of St. Sophia (Hagia Sophia) in Istanbul. Allegedly, he wore a very expensive jewelry purchased for the previous Byzantine Emperor Manuel I Comnenus.
It is interesting to note how the European knights-crusaders organized Byzantine Empire (called Latin Empire). That was something akin to a feudal principle (with vassals and seniors). Of course, an emperor was on top of the hierarchy, and owned areas around Constantinople, in Europe and Asia. The rest of the empire was divided into vassal areas (vassals were heads of these areas):
Kingdom of Thessalonica
Principality of Achaea
Duchy of Athens
Duchy of the Archipelago