Post-classical history


The Latin word crucesignatus (pl. crucesignati) was one of the contemporary medieval terms used to refer to a crusader, along with pilgrim (Lat. peregrinus) and other formulations. Its literal meaning, “a person signed with the cross,” derives from the cross that a crusader usually wore on his clothing as a visible sign of his vow to go on crusade. This practice was so common that the expression “to take the cross” (Lat. crucem accipere, crucem assumere, and the like) came to be effectively synonymous with “to make a crusade vow.” Although crusaders are known to have fixed or sewn crosses on their clothing as early as the Council of Clermont (1095), evidently with the encouragement of Pope Urban II, the use of the term crucesignatus does not seem to have become widespread until the time of the Third Crusade (1189-1192). This chronology suggests that the widespread use of the term was connected with the development of a formal ritual for bestowing and receiving the cross, for which there is evidence from the late twelfth century.

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