The Fourth Crusade

The Crusades are often studied in history through religious lenses, but this committee will explore the geopolitical and economic factors that led to the Fourth Crusade. At various points in medieval history, the Byzantine Empire was the most powerful and unified state in Europe. The empire went through cycles of decline and restoration. The Fourth Crusade’s sack of Constantinople struck at the core of the Byzantine Empire and weakened it beyond any hope of restoration without any outside help. Thus, after the Fourth Crusade, when the Nicaean Empire restored the Byzantine Empire, it was unable to stop the further decline of the empire. Thus, the final fall of the Byzantine Empire in 1453 can be attributed to the weakening of the core of Byzantium through the Fourth Crusade. The conquest of Constantinople in 1453 dramatically changed history and its impacts lasted until the 20th century and arguably even today. And as such, these impacts can be attributed to the actions of the Fourth Crusade when they captured Constantinople.

In this committee, we will focus on the economic factors as well as the international and intranational politics of the late 12th and early 13th century that led to the redirection of the Fourth Crusade towards Constantinople ultimately changing the course of human history.



Director's Letter


Dear Delegates,

I am super excited to welcome you all to HNMUN 2019! My name is Justin Tseng and I am thrilled for us all to embark on this amazing journey to the 13th century. The structure of the committee will be a little unorthodox but it adds excitement and realism to the committee. We will be exploring the centuries-old topic of temporal versus spiritual power of secular rulers and the Papacy, respectively.

I was born in the Bay Area in California and moved to Elk Grove, California. I love the cold and stormy weather of the northeast; my ideal day would be having no work on a really windy or rainy day just sitting inside with some tea. In my free time, I like keeping up with tech and recent events and playing chess and video games. I am going to major in Classics in college with a minor in computer science. Learning about the Byzantine Empire is something I sincerely enjoy as well as just learning more about history in general.

I love to  travel, and that is where my interest in international relations began, leading to an interest in model UN in college. My high school did not have anything model UN-related, so coming into college MUN has been a great learning experience and I know that this committee with you all will make the experience even greater! Outside of MUN, I help with event planning, am interested in environmental activism, and just recently built my own computer.

Throughout the preceding 800 years leading to our committee, the Byzantine Empire continued to cycle between periods of decline and restoration. The Fourth Crusade’s sack of Constantinople in 1204 weakened it beyond any point of restoration without any outside aid. The ruling dynasty of the time, the Angelos, caused some of the most tumultuous times in Byzantine history; every single emperor of the dynasty was deposed by his successor leading to a state of constant internal conflict. This committee will explore the events and factors of not just the Byzantine Empire, but also events and factors of most of Europe and the Mediterranean world,  which contributed to the Sack of Constantinople and the reverberation this event had on history up to today.

My passion and interest in the history of this period makes me even more excited for committee and I can’t wait to meet you all and for us all to travel to the 13th century! I am always here if there are any questions or anything that I can help you with!


Justin Tseng
Director, The Fourth Crusade, 14




Crisis Director's Letter

Joe headshot.jpg

Dear Delegates,

My name is Joe Valente, and I am honored to serve as the Crisis Director of the Fourth Crusade for Harvard Model United Nations 2019. I want to welcome you on behalf of the entire committee staff, and I look forward to seeing you all at conference in January.

I am currently a Junior at Harvard College, living in Kirkland House and concentrating jointly in Classics and History, with a secondary field in Economics. As you can probably tell given the topic of this committee, I am passionate about the classics and particularly love the political history of the Roman imperial period (including the Byzantine era).

I was born and raised just north of Boston, and chose to stay nearby for college in part because I love the city. Outside of Model UN, I am the Co-Director of Harvard’s Habitat for Humanity Campus Chapter, and President of the Harvard Classics Club.

While the elements of conspiracy and political intrigue will certainly keep committee lively, this topic is really about much more than this. The Fourth Crusade era raises questions of political legitimacy, factionalism, and just war theory, and is a fascinating look at the geopolitics of the Eastern Mediterranean. These issues and topics may take different forms today, but they are still central to our discussions of the modern world. I can’t wait to see you all discuss these issues in Boston this January. Please feel free to reach out to me or Justin, my Crisis Director, with any questions or concerns.


Joe Valente

Crisis Director, The Fourth Crusade

Harvard National Model United Nations 2019