Post-classical history

Alexander VI (1431-1503)

Although the growth of the Ottoman Empire resuscitated interest in crusading, Alexander VI’s attempts to counter the threat it represented were overshadowed by his desire to advance the career of his son, Cesare Borgia, and to counter attempts by Charles VIII, king of France, to conquer the kingdom of Naples, which Charles claimed was essential for his putative anti-Ottoman crusade. When the Ottoman Turks threatened Italy, Alexander’s temporal power base, he persuaded the Sforza of Milan, Venice, the Holy Roman Emperor Maximilian, and the Spanish sovereigns to form the League of Venice against France and the Ottomans. Yet when the Turks openly moved against Venice in 1499, Alexander’s attempts to organize a crusade were largely ignored. The sale of indulgences for the Jubilee and the crusade netted large sums in Germany and other regions, but Alexander’s pontificate remained dogged by opposition to the clerical tithes he proposed for an anti- Turkish crusade and criticism of the tactics used to raise money to support largely mercenary crusading armies, partly because of the suspicion that funds were being diverted to support the papal cause in Italy or appropriated by secular rulers when crusade preparations stalled. The crusade and European power struggles had become deeply entwined; Alexander’s efforts to organize an anti-Turkish crusade involving Hungary, Bohemia, and Emperor Maximilian from 1493 onward were sabotaged by Charles VIII’s planned conquest of Naples, which led the Italians to seek an alliance with the Turks in order to protect themselves.

Pope (1492-1503). Of Aragonese origin, Rodrigo Borja (Italianized as Borgia) was elected pope in succession to Innocent VIII.

Pope (1492-1503). Of Aragonese origin, Rodrigo Borja (Italianized as Borgia) was elected pope in succession to Innocent VIII.

Contemporary treatises written by Marino Sanudo and Stefano Taleazzi illuminate the continued commitment to the idea of the crusade, as well as the problems that vexed their organization in this period. Crusading theory and issues that had arisen during the Spanish Reconquista (completed with the capture of Granada in 1492) also informed Alexander’s Inter caetera (1493), which fused the concepts of the defense and expansion of the faith, while seeking to end the dispute between Portugal and Spain over the partitioning and conquest of northern Africa and the Americas, a project to which he granted privileges and funding previously reserved for the crusades.

If you find an error please notify us in the comments. Thank you!