Boniface of Montferrat

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Boniface of Montferrat (c. 1150-1207) was marquis of Montferrat and the leader of the Fourth Crusade.

When the original leader of the Fourth Crusade, Count Theobald III of Champagne, died in 1201, Boniface was chosen as its new leader. Boniface's family was well-established in the east; his oldest brother William was the father of King Baldwin V of Jerusalem, and his brother Conrad was active in the Third Crusade. Another brother, Renier, was a son-in-law of Manuel I Comnenus. Despite these illustrious family connections, Boniface had nothing to recommend him as a leader of the Crusades: he had little to no military experience, and was more notable as a patron of troubadors, including Raimbaut de Vacqueiras, who accompanied him on the expedition.

Boniface was a cousin of Philip of Swabia, who was married to Irene, a sister of the deposed Byzantine emperor Isaac II Angelus. After the Crusade was diverted to Zara, Boniface travelled to Swabia to meet with Philip, and while there also met with Alexius Angelus, Isaac II's son, who had escaped from the custody of his uncle Alexius III Angelus. Alexius Angelus made many promises to the Crusaders and their principal financer, the doge of Venice, for riches and honors if they would help him reclaim his kingdom. Both Boniface and Alexius travelled separately to Rome to ask for Pope Innocent III's blessing for the endeavour; however, Boniface was specifically told by Innocent not to attack any Christians, including the Byzantines.

The Crusader army was in debt to the doge of Venice, who had provided their fleet. He instructed them to attack the rebellious cities of Trieste, Moglie, and Zara and beat them into submission before sailing for Cairo. The Pope was angered by these Christian cities being attacked by a Crusader army. The doge, Enrico Dandolo, was now the true war leader of this Crusade, with Boniface as only a figurehead. He placated the Pope by having Alexius Angelus promise to submit the Orthodox Church to Rome when he was restored to his throne in Constantinople. This being done, the fleet set sail for Constantinople in 1203.

After the conquest of Constantinople in 1204, Boniface was assumed to be the new emperor, both by the western knights and the conquered Byzantine citizens. However, the Venetians vetoed him, believing that he already had too many connections in the Empire (and, likely, felt that they would not have as much influence in the new Empire if Boniface was in control). Instead, they chose Baldwin of Flanders. Boniface founded the Kingdom of Thessalonica and also held territory in Crete, though he later sold Crete to the Venetians.

He was first married around 1170 to Helene di Busca. She died, leaving one son:

  • William (Guglielmo), b. ca 1170. Marquess of Montferrat

Boniface remarried with a daughter of Umberto III, count of Savoie, Aosta and Moriana. She died in 1202, leaving no known children.

In Constantinopel he married a Hungarian princess, Margareta, daughter of Bela III of Hungary, who was the widow of Emperor Isaac II Angelus. They had one child:

  • Demetrius, b. ca, 1205. King of Thessalonica

Boniface was killed in an ambush by the Bulgarians on September 4, 1207, and his head was sent to Bulgarian Tsar Kaloyan.



Preceded by:
Conrad
Marquess of Montferrat
1192-1207
Succeeded by:
William IV
Preceded by:
King of Thessalonica
1205-1207
Succeeded by:
Demetrius

Template:End boxde:Bonifatius II. (Montferrat) hu:Montferrati Bonifác

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