A Crusaders Criticism of the Greeks
Odo of Deuil c. 1148
And then the Greeks degenerated entirely into women; putting aside all manly vigour, both of words and of spirit, they lightly swore whatever they thought would please us, but they neither kept faith with us nor maintained respect for themselves. In general they really have the opinion that anything which is done for the holy empire cannot be considered perjury. Let no one think that I am taking vengeance on a race of men hateful to me and that because of my hatred I am inventing a Greek whom I have not seen. Whoever has known the Greeks will, if asked, say that when they are afraid they become despicable in their excessive debasement an when they have the upper hand, they are arrogant in their severe violence to those subjected to them....
The city [Constantinople] itself is squalid and fetid and in many places harmed by permanent darkness, for the wealthy overshadow the streets with buildings and leave these dirty, dark places to the poor and to travellers; there murders and robberies and other crimes which love the darkness are committed. Moreover, since people live lawlessly in this city, which has as many lords as rich men and almost as many thieves as poor men, a criminal knows neither fear nor shame, because crime is not punished by law and never entirely comes to light. In every respect she exceeds moderation- for just as she surpasses other cities in wealth, so, too, does she surpass them in vice. Also, she possesses many churches unequal to Santa Sophia in size but equal to it in beauty, which are to be marvelled at for their beauty and their many saintly relics. Those who had the opportunity entered these places, some to see the sights and others to worship faithfully.
Conducted by the emperor [Manuel Comnenus], the king [Louis VII of France] also visited the shrines and after returning, when won over by the urgency of his host's requests, dined with him. That banquet afforded pleasure to ear, mouth, and eye with pomp as marvellous, viands as delicate, and pastimes as pleasant as the guests were illustrious. There many of the king's men feared for him; but he, who had entrusted the care of himself to God, feared nothing at ail, since he
had faith and courage, for one who is not inclined to do harm does not easily believe that anyone will harm him.
Although the Greeks furnished us no proof that they were treacherous, I believe that they would not have exhibited such unremitting servitude if they had had good intentions....
Distrusting their pledge, scorning their favours, and foretelling the injuries which we afterwards endured, the bishop of Langres, however, urged us to take the city. He proved that the walls, a great part of which collapsed before our eyes, were weak, that the people were inert, that by cutting the conduits the fresh water supply could be withdrawn without delay or effort. He, a man of wise intellect and saintly piety, said that if that city were taken it would not be necessary to conquer the others, since they would yield obedience voluntarily to him who possessed their capital. He added further that Constantinople is Christian only in name, not in fact, and, whereas for her part she should not prevent others from bringing aid to Christians, her emperor had ventured a few years previously to attack the prince of Antioch. He said: "First he took Tarsus and Mamistra and numerous strongholds and a broad expanse of land, and, after expelling the Catholic bishops in the cities and replacing them with heretics, he besieged Antioch. And although it was his duty to ward off the near-by infidels by uniting the Christian forces, with the aid of the infidels he strove to destroy the Christians." . . .
To us who suffered the Greeks' evil deeds, however, divine justice, and the fact that our people are not accustomed to endure shameful injuries for long, give hope of vengeance. Thus we comfort our sad hearts, and we shall follow the course of our misfortunes so that pos terity may know about the Greeks' treacherous actions.