The Byzantine Empire was pretty much the Biff Tannen of Medieval Europe. When the Western Roman Empire began to crash and burn, their eastern equivalent, Byzantium, turned away and pretended not to hear their desperate pleas, thus establishing Byzantium’s reputation as the alpha-asshole on the European continent.
In 1171, the Byzantines decided to step up their schoolyard-style bullying on the small but thriving Republic of Venice; arresting their merchants for no reason, stealing their goods and repeatedly calling them buttheads. Naturally, Venice got pretty pissed off over this, but with little in the way of military might they appointed an old man named Enrico Dandolo ambassador to smooth things over with the Byzantine Emperor Manuel I Komnenos in the capital of Constantinople.Emperor Manuel I Komnenos.
The Byzantines instead thought it would be more fun just to blind him, and continue to shove Venice around for another 14 years. Nevertheless, Enrico continued to serve as Venice’s emissary, despite being blinded, surrounded by Nia Vardalos fans and badgered with jokes about how to make a Venetian blind.
In 1204, 33 years after the Byzantines blinded him and subjugated his people, Enrico returned from Venice armed to the teeth, and directed the armies of the Fourth Crusade to sack the ever loving shit out of Constantinople.
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