Geoffrey of Villehardouin was born in around 1150. In 1185 he was appointed to the office of marshal of Champagne, and having taken the cross in 1199 he was subsequently appointed as an envoy by the leaders of the Fourth Crusade. He was privy to crucial decisions made throughout the course of the crusade, which ended with the conquest of Constantinople from its Greek Christian rulers in April 1204. His account of The Conquest of Constantinople relates the controversial history of the Fourth Crusade and the early years of the Latin empire from the perspective of a well-informed insider. John of Joinville was born in 1224 or 1225. In 1233 he inherited the office of seneschal of Champagne that would give him a leading role in the administrative affairs of the county. He took the cross for the first crusade led by King Louis IX of France. Joinville became a close friend of Louis IX and after their return to France he was a familiar figure at the royal court. Joinville refused to join Louis on his second crusade and was therefore not present when the king died in 1270. He honoured his friend’s memory by giving evidence to the enquiry that established the king’s sanctity and by composing The Life of Saint Louis as a record of his holy words and good deeds.
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