Early in October 1202, a fleet of 200 ships set sail from the lagoon of Venice. Banners whipped from every masthead, some bearing the lion of Venice, others charged with the coats of arms of the noblest houses of France.
Leading the fleet was the state galley of Doge Enrico Dandolo, the elected ‘duke of the Venetian Republic. He was more than 80 years old and nearly blind, but undimmed in vigor and ability. His galley was painted imperial vermilion, and a vermilion silk canopy covered the poop on which the doge sat in state. In front of him, four silver trumpets sounded, answered from the other ships by hundreds of trumpets, drums and tabors.