April 13 - 1204 - The Sack of Constantinople
When Constantinople was sacked and the Byzantine Empire was overthrown in 1204, the invaders were not supposed to have been attacking the city at all. Instead, the Fourth Crusade was initially aimed at taking Jerusalem back from Muslim hands. Yet the Roman Catholic Crusaders found their way to Constantinople to help out in a dynastic struggle. Tensions spilled over by the Spring of 1204, as the actual citizens of Constantinople rose up against Emperor Alexios IV Angelos. Then the Western Europeans take the city. After large scale violence, looting, and destruction, the Crusaders had killed thousands and destroyed an astonishing number of precious works of art. They also got rid of the Byzantine Empire and placed the Count of Flanders, Baldwin, as the head of a "Latin Empire." The Sack of Constantinople would become one of the infamous moments of the middle ages, but it also might be the obvious outcome of empowering soldiers with religious authority and telling them they are on a holy mission.