Post-classical history

Nivelon of Chérisy (d. 1207)

Bishop of Soissons (1176-1207), highest-ranking cleric on the Fourth Crusade (1202-1204), and subsequently archbishop of Thessalonica (1205-1207).

Nivelon took the cross in late 1199 or early 1200 and hosted three conferences at Soissons in 1200 and 1201 at which crusade leaders planned their strategy. In the winter of 1202-1203, Nivelon led the delegation that obtained papal absolution for the capture of Zara (mod. Zadar, Croatia). Later, along with other crusade leaders, he kept the army’s rank and file ignorant of Pope Innocent III’s prohibition of the diversion to Constantinople (mod. Istanbul, Turkey). Joined by other crusade clerics, he preached the righteousness of the crusaders’ war against Constantinople in 1204, and his ship, the Paradise, led the assault on the city’s harbor walls on 12 April. Following the capture of the city, he served as an imperial elector and was elevated to the archbishopric of Thessalonica (mod. Thessaloniki, Greece) in 1205. That same year he returned to France to recruit reinforcements for the Latin Empire, and in Soissons, which he enriched with relics stolen from Constantinople, he told his story to an unknown cleric (the Anonymous of Soissons) who produced the text De terra Iherosolimitana, which told of the crusade and Nivelon’s role in bringing relics to the West. Nivelon died in 1207 in Italy while trying to return to the East.

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