After the failure of the [[Third Crusade]] (1189–1192), there was little interest in Europe for another crusade against the [[Islam|Muslims]]. Jerusalem was now controlled by the [[Ayyubid dynasty]], which ruled all of
[[Syria ]] and Egypt, except for the few cities along the coast still controlled by the crusader [[Kingdom of Jerusalem]], now centered on [[Acre, Israel|Acre]]. The Third Crusade had also established a [[Kingdom of Cyprus|kingdom on Cyprus]].
[[Pope Innocent III]] succeeded to the papacy in 1198, and the preaching of a new crusade became the goal of his pontificate. His call was largely ignored by the European monarchs: the Germans were struggling against Papal power, and
[[England ]] and [[France ]] were still engaged in warfare against each other. However, due to the preaching of [[Fulk of Neuilly]], a crusading army was finally organized at a [[tournament (medieval)|tournament]] held at [[Écry-sur-Seine|Écry]] by [[Thibaut III of Champagne|Count Thibaut]] of [[Champagne, France|Champagne]] in 1199. Thibaut was elected leader, but he died in 1200 and was replaced by an [[Italian people|Italian ]] count, [[Boniface of Montferrat]]. Boniface and the other leaders sent envoys to [[Republic of Venice |Venice]], [[Republic of Genoa|Genoa ]], and other city-states to negotiate a contract for transport to Egypt, the object of their crusade; one of the envoys was the future historian [[Geoffrey of Villehardouin]]. Genoa was uninterested, but in March 1201 negotiations were opened with Venice, which agreed to transport 33,500 crusaders, a very ambitious number. This agreement required a full year of preparation on the part of the Venetians to build numerous ships and train the sailors who would man them, all the while curtailing the city's commercial activities. The crusading army was expected to comprise 4,500 [[knights ]] (as well as 4,500 [[horses ]]), 9,000 [[squires ]], and 20,000 [[foot-soldiers ]].
The majority of the crusading army that set out from
[[Venice ]] in October 1202 originated from areas within France. It included men from [[Blois ]], Champagne, [[Amiens ]], [[Saint-Pol ]], the [[Ile-de-France ]] and [[Burgundy ]]. Several other regions of Europe sent substantial contingents as well, such as [[Flanders ]] and [[Montferrat ]]. Other notable groups came from the [[Holy Roman Empire]], including the men under Bishop Martin of [[Pairis]]<!--Pairis is not Paris--> and [[Bishopric of Halberstadt|Bishop Conrad of Halberstadt ]], together in alliance with the Venetian soldiers and sailors led by the [[Doge of Venice |doge]] [[Enrico Dandolo]]. The crusade was to make directly for the centre of the Muslim world, Cairo, ready to sail on [[June 24 ]], [[1202 ]]. This agreement was ratified by Pope Innocent, with a solemn ban on attacks on Christian states.<ref>"History of the Church", Innocent III & the Latin East, p.370, Philips Hughes, Sheed & Ward, 1948.</ref>
==Factors Contributing to the Diversion of the Fourth Crusade==