A very good chapter on a tragic and horrible episode, the sack of Constantinople by the Fourth Crusade in 1204, illustrated by lucid narrative and pungent analysis. We haven't had a chapter relating so closely to a single set of military incidents since Chapter XLI on Belisarius in Italy, which was good, or Chapter XXXI on the Sack of Rome, which was a refreshingly direct chapter after several dull ones. In a grand sweeping history like this, which covers 1300 years in 71 chapters, it makes sense to occasionally zoom in on key moments of inflection, and this is certainly one of them - the capital of the Eastern remnant of the Roman Empire, destroyed by the heirs of the West. Gibbon is helped, as he readily admits, by the survival of two eyewitness accounts of events from opposing sides, to both of whom he extends an essential sympathy while at the same time sparking off them. It enables him to show himself at his best.