Post-classical history


The Call of the Cross

The response to the loss of Jerusalem and most of Outremer reinvented crusading. Central elements of later campaigns were introduced or confirmed: tightly organized preaching; crusade taxation, which allowed for more professional recruitment; transport by sea; and a widening strategic understanding of what was required to ensure the recovery of Jerusalem. Preachers and polemicists developed a sharper concentration on the flexible image of the cross, a banner of victory but also a badge of faith and sign of repentance. Extending the idea of communal penance contained in Gregory VIII’s bull Audita Tremendi, crusade publicists extrapolated the act of crusading into a clear general scheme of religious revivalism. This they associated with a firmer distinctive vocabulary of personal commitment mirrored in legally more explicit privileges of the crusader, thecrucesignatus. Taking the cross now in theory clearly separated crusading from pilgrimage, even if surviving written liturgies and chroniclers retained the link. To the crusader’s special spiritual status coupled with the now customary privileges were joined precise and immediate secular benefits, such as exemption from the novel taxes levied to pay for the armies bound for the east. The experience of 1188–92 established in lay as well as ecclesiastical circles the technical name for participants in crusading even if it failed to discover an agreed term for the activity in which they were involved. Propagandists began to talk almost exclusively of ‘crucesignati’, a habit that soon found its way into chronicles, histories and government records. In the accounts of the English Exchequer, crusiatus appeared in 1188/9 and crucesignatus, for the first time, in 1191/2.1 Vernacular equivalents, such as the verbs croisier and croiser, began to appear in the poems of departing crusaders and within a generation croisié had become common when describing a crusader.2 While Jerusalem dominated the language of preparation for the campaigns in the east, the failure of the Palestine war of 1191–2 to restore the Holy City to Christian rule produced a subtle but significant shift in linguistic focus that shadowed military reality. Thereafter the iter Jerosolymitana gave place to the broader inclusive euphemisms of negotium Terrae Sanctae or even simply the negotium sanctum, the business of the Holy Land, the holy business.


The effort to mobilize Christendom involved every available medium of communication in a carefully organized campaign. Although published in late October and early November 1187, only days after his accession, Gregory VIII’s Audita Tremendi had taken weeks of drafting since September when definite news of Hattin reached the papal Curia, then in Verona. Its release had awaited the arrival at the Curia, now moved to Ferrara, of Joscius archbishop of Tyre from Sicily, and been further delayed by the death of the already ailing Urban III on 20 October. The bull provided the basic ingredients of the appeal for action.3 Proceeding from an account of Saladin’s victory to a call for general Christian repentance, it emphasized the opportunity the crisis provided for the dutiful believers to follow in the path of the Maccabees and to serve the will of God. After the casus belli and the exhortation came the statement of the spiritual and temporal privileges, based on those declared by Eugenius III in 1145–6. With Audita Tremendi were sent other letters affirming papal and curial commitment and enjoining fasts and a seven-year truce on all Christian princes.

By the time they issued Audita Tremendi, Gregory VIII and his advisors probably guessed it was assured an eager reception. With Archbishop Joscius would have come news of William II of Sicily’s plans to send a fleet to the Holy Land.4 Already western courts were full of rumours, backed by hard evidence from correspondents from Outremer and southern Europe that preceded the formal authorization of a new crusade. Richard of Poitou’s hasty and impulsive adoption of the cross at Tours in November 1187, without his father, Henry II’s, permission, almost certainly anticipated the arrival of the papal bull.5 While papal legates – Archbishop Joscius of Tyre to France and the former abbot of Clairvaux, Cardinal Henry of Albano, to Germany – accompanied the bull, by the end of the year preparations to receive the message they brought were in full swing. At an imperial diet at Strassburg in December, encouraged by the rhetoric of Bishop Henry of Strassburg, German lords had begun to take the cross, overcoming an initial wariness.6 At the Christmas 1187 court of Canute VI of Denmark at Odense, apparently surprise and shock both at what had happened and what was being proposed inhibited spontaneous response.7 On both the emotional and political levels, reassurance of the priority to be given any projected campaign was necessary. As elsewhere, many German lords were probably reluctant to make any move before they knew the intentions of their king-emperor, Frederick Barbarossa. Deference to rulers’ decisions characterized the reception of the papal call to arms. Given the financial and political implications, it was small wonder Richard of Poitou’s failure to wait for his father’s lead left the old king speechless.8

Within weeks of the circulation and reception of the papal bull, the preaching campaign assumed coherent regional patterns. In Germany, after the Strassburg diet, it was spearheaded by Bishop Henry of Strassburg and Bishop Godfrey of Würzburg, whose eloquence helped create a mood of mass enthusiasm that culminated in a great assembly at Mainz on 27 March 1188. Billed by the papal legate Henry of Albano as a ‘curia Christi’, court of Christ, there Frederick received the cross. Subsidiary preaching tours were organized, such as the bishop of Strassburg’s journey to Hainault, Nesle, Louvain and Lille.9 A similarly rapid but controlled response was evoked in England and northern France. Before the end of 1187, Henry II had ordered the sequestration of the profits from the pilgrim trade at the shrine of Thomas Becket at Canterbury in order, he claimed, to assist Jerusalem and ransom Christian captives.10 Political rivalries and resentments between Henry and Philip II of France were quickly if temporarily submerged. At Gisors in the Vexin, between Normandy and Philip’s royal lands, the two rulers took the cross on 21 January 1188 in the presence of Joscius of Tyre, less than three months after the papal bull. With them were most of the counts of northern France: Flanders, Blois, La Perche, Champagne, Dreux, Clermont, Beaumont, Soissons, Bar and Nevers (King Henry himself being duke of Normandy and count of Anjou, Maine and Touraine).11 By the time Frederick of Germany took the cross two months later, a carefully organized crusade preaching tour of Wales by Archbishop Baldwin of Canterbury was approaching its fifth week. The preaching in Henry II’s lands in France and England had been organized at a conference at Le Mans in late January and Geddington, in Northamptonshire, on 11 February 1188, where sermons were delivered by the archbishop of Canterbury, who took the cross there, and his deputy, the bishop of Rochester. By the end of the month, Archbishop Baldwin was preparing his Welsh tour; the bishop of St Asaph may have already begun preaching.12 In France, Philip II managed to gather a large assembly to Paris, also on 27 March, mid-Lent, to discuss the crusade tax and related financial provisions for crusaders. By Easter 1188, coordinated preaching and recruitment campaigns, coupled in Angevin and Capetian lands with attempts to raise the crusade tax, were well established and credited with dramatic success in attracting tens of thousands of crucesignati, from Germany to the Atlantic.

Central to the commitment of taking the cross was the concurrent resolution of outstanding internal and diplomatic problems. At Gisors, Henry II and Philip II agreed (only temporarily as it turned out) to shelve their territorial disputes. In Germany, the general peace was extended to Frederick’s opponents, such as the archbishop of Cologne, and the troublesome duke of Saxony, Henry the Lion, who was presented with a choice of accompanying the crusade all expenses paid or exile. Henry chose the latter. Under the possibly sincere guise of promoting the crusade, Henry II attempted to assert his authority over the Welsh princes, through Archbishop Baldwin’s tour, and, unsuccessfully, over Scotland, by trying to extract a contribution to the crusade tax. Despite an attached offer to settle a border dispute, the Scottish barons declined to treat Henry as their lord for crusade finance or anything else.13 For Philip II, no less important than ensuring that his uncontrollably powerful Angevin vassal Henry II accompanied him on any eastern expedition was the similar commitment of other great feudatories, such as the duke of Burgundy or the counts of Flanders and Champagne. Philip, a calculating, cautious and resourceful opportunist who tended to wait on favourable events rather than risk grand gestures, needed to ensure that the bold undertaking of the crusade did nothing to limit his prospects of widening royal control within the French kingdom.

Although across Christendom reactions to the call to arms were conditioned by considerations of material and political advantage, as one contemporary observed, ‘for the love of God, remission of sins and respect of the kings’, there can be no doubt the message produced strong psychological and religious responses.14 At its most straightforward, the effectiveness of the promotion of the crusade relied on two related elements. The shock of the loss of Jerusalem and the Holy Cross was heightened by the images of both being so familiar. Western audiences, primed by Scripture, liturgy, songs, popular stories, sculpture, stained glass, relics and the travellers’ tales of returning pilgrims, could easily feel personal engagement, involvement and hence responsibility, emotions crusade publicists took care to encourage. The enormous twelfth-century popularity of Jerusalem as a pilgrimage destination encouraged identification with the place that went beyond liturgical metaphors, biblical narratives or western images, models and imitations of the Holy Sepulchre. Acquaintance with the Christian history of the Holy City and particularly the True Cross was reflected in the adoption in the west in the twelfth century of the name Heraclius, commemorating the Byzantine emperor who in ad 630 restored to Jerusalem the fragment of the cross captured by the Persians, a highly relevant historical precedent after 1187.15 Confronted with Saladin’s alleged atrocities, engagement translated horror into guilt, anger and a sense of collective duty, sentiments propaganda sought to direct. The effect was registered throughout western Christendom in hundreds if not thousands of charters drawn up for departing crusaders by monks to whom they had given or mortgaged their property for the good of their souls and, usually, for some ready cash to allow them, as the documents explicitly state, to depart for Jerusalem.

Exhortation and admonition in official letters, sermons and propagandist tracts remained consistent. The destruction of the kingdom of Jerusalem, Saladin’s capture of the Holy City and, especially, the loss of the True Cross represented a disaster of biblical proportions, redeemable only by individual and collective repentance. The rhetorical themes elevated the pragmatic to the transcendent. In a tract designed to accelerate preparations, Henry of Albano declared the cross ‘the ark of the vassal of the Lord, the ark of the New Testament’, ‘the glory of the Christian people, the remedy of sin, the care of the wounded, the restorer of health’.16 The image of the cross dominated written and spoken appeals, Henry of Albano’s formulae being mirrored, at times verbatim, by others, such as Peter of Blois, Archbishop Baldwin’s secretary, one of the most insistent crusade publicists. The language of the liturgy jostled with that of the Old Testament, the Eucharist with the Psalms and the Maccabees. ‘Christ’s blood cries out for help,’ proclaimed Peter of Blois.17 The crusade was carefully and closely identified with spiritual renewal. Specifically this process was associated with voluntary poverty and amendment of life. One contemporary preacher of the cross, Alan of Lille, emphasized that the poverty being praised by propagandists implied spiritual humility, not economic destitution. He made this clear by citing the version of the Sermon on the Mount Beatitudes in Matthew 5:3, ‘blessed are the poor in spirit’, not the socially more radical Luke 6:20 (‘blessed are you poor; for yours is the kingdom of Heaven’).18 The sumptuary regulations in Audita Tremendi, published by Henry of Albano in Germany and Henry II in England in 1188, underlined the thrust of the preaching, directed at prosperous audiences and aimed at moral regeneration, not social reform or redistribution of wealth. Adopting simple dress could be a gesture of reform only for those used to fine clothes, not an option for paupers and beggars. The repeated themes were of penance, not vainglory, humility of spirit, not in an embrace of indigence but a rejection of the mentality of wealth. As Gregory VIII put it, ‘we are not saying “give up the things you have” but “send them off to the heavenly barn and entrust them to God”’.19 Such entreaties became more urgent as political in-fighting delayed the departure of the crusade in 1189 and 1190. However, presenting this mixture of obligation and opportunity for Christian renewal through the recovery of the Holy Land was not left to metaphor. Repeated emphasis on Saladin’s violence, the fate of the vanquished of Hattin, as captives or, like Reynald of Châtillon, martyrs, and the desecration of the Holy Places firmly located the forthcoming struggle in the temporal as well as spiritual sphere.

The process of disseminating the message was carefully managed. The designated papal legates recruited local ecclesiastics to proselytize their own regions. Not least this helped bridge the language barrier. Henry of Albano, legate to the Germans, reputedly knew no German.20 Interpreters were essential members of any preaching team in alien country, whether at Mainz in 1188 or on Archbishop Baldwin’s Welsh tour, when the archdeacon of Bangor performed the job.21 Occasionally, and perhaps for the same reason, laymen were recruited to speak, as, it was later recorded, in Denmark, where Esbern, brother of the Slav-bashing archbishop of Lund, stirred his fellow nobles by evoking their Viking past, the glory of which nonetheless paled in comparison with ‘the greater and more profitable conquests’ of holy war.22 Partially hidden networks of affinity underpinned the operation. Both Henry of Albano and Baldwin of Canterbury were former Cistercian abbots. Their order played a distinctive role in fostering crusade enthusiasm at this time by devising special regular prayers for crucesignati included in their liturgical round. Perhaps not unconnected, in the lands of the French king, Cistercians managed to win exemption from the crusade tax.

Besides official ecclesiastical support, political, social and personal contacts exerted similar pressure. After the meeting at Gisors in January 1188, the English and French kings agreed to levy a special tax of 10 per cent on movables, soon nicknamed the Saladin Tithe. The process of collecting this tax, which seems to have begun in the spring of 1188, spread the news of the enterprise perhaps more effectively than any grandiose preaching campaign. The great Paris assembly in March 1188, at which the Tithe was authorized in Philip II’s lands, was attended by large numbers of clergy, nobles and an ‘innumerable multitude’ of knights and commoners.23 Given that those who had taken the cross were exempted for payment, the tax may also have proved a highly effective recruiting agent. One departing crusader from the Dauphiné in the foothills of the Alps referred more generally to the ‘magna mota’, the great movement, of the Jerusalem expedition, suggesting a similarly wide exchange of information through the networks of trade, social dialogue and travel.24

The ears of the great were repeatedly bent by crusade enthusiasts. Especially vulnerable were those, such as Henry II, who could be accused of procrastination. Peter of Blois, who had first alerted the Angevin court to the shocked reaction of the papal Curia to the news of Hattin in September 1187, composed a series of exhortatory crusade pamphlets. In 1188–9, he spent much time at the king’s side. In the spring of 1189, Peter witnessed a private encounter between King Henry and the abbot of Bonneval in which the abbot lamented the delays in sending any troops to the Holy Land despite the practical difficulties – essentially the problems of kingship in a wicked world – Henry self-pityingly outlined. The abbot’s criticism merely echoed more public denunciations of backsliding and internecine political squabbling, for example, by the legate Henry of Albano.25 The effectiveness of such personal approaches on Henry cannot easily be assessed, as he died shortly afterwards, in July 1189.

News of Hattin and the loss of Jerusalem had overcome Henry’s quarter-century equivocation over the Holy Land and his innate dislike of being told his military duty by the church. During the visit to the west of Heraclius of Jerusalem in 1185, Henry privately expostulated, ‘these clerks can incite us boldly to arms and danger since they themselves will receive no blows in the struggle, nor will they undertake any burdens which they can avoid’.26 Many had failed to answer the increasingly urgent appeals from Jerusalem for aid in the 1180s, so Henry was probably not alone in harbouring such doubts. Ralph Niger, a well-connected close observer of these events in northern France and a critic of Outremer before 1187, doubted the spiritual benefit of an armed crusade without a prior, commensurate spiritual transformation amongst western crusaders.27 However, such objections became untenable in the face of both the news from Outremer and the subsequent propaganda campaign.

Successful recruitment depended on secular support. William II of Sicily had set the tone for his people by adopting a hair shirt and shutting himself away for four days, as well as commissioning a fleet to provide immediate aid for Outremer.28 Inevitably, papal letters and legates were directed at royal courts, where their reception determined the scale of the response. In Denmark, there were some significant naval contributions, possibly concentrated in the ports of southern Jutland nearest to the Frisians with whom many of them sailed. However, without Canute VI taking the cross, noble commitment was modest, one source identifying only fifteen crusaders ‘whose hearts God specially touched’.29 The five nobles who actually embarked were all close associates of the king, and so presumably enjoyed his approval. Similarly, across the border in Norway, the leader of the small Norwegian force, Ulf of Lauvnes, was a royal favourite, but the lack of King Sverre’s participation restricted aristocratic engagement. The picture appeared the same in Scotland, where William the Lion avoided entanglement in an operation led by his overbearing southern neighbour. As a consequence, only a handful of Scottish royal courtiers and officials took the cross, led by Robert of Quincy, himself of Anglo-Norman ancestry.30

In none of these northern European countries was preaching widespread, partly because its function was primarily to confirm existing enthusiasms rather than to stir up enthusiasm from scratch. In Germany, France and England the extensive preaching campaigns followed demonstrations of overt royal commitment, on the pattern of Louis VII and Bernard of Clairvaux in 1146. The main preaching agents were not only close to the monarch but were actively engaged in the wider organization of the enterprise. Bishop Godfrey of Würzburg, a count in his own right (of Helfenstein), followed his preaching efforts in early 1188 with a central role in diplomatic preparations and later in the conduct of the eastern expedition which he accompanied, to die at Antioch in July 1190. In England Archbishop Baldwin led the preaching, not, as it proved, for any particular oratorical skill but as the embodiment of both secular and ecclesiastical authority. Like Godfrey of Würzburg, Baldwin was committed to undertake the crusade. One of his companions recalled soon after how, on 10 April 1188, in a steep and difficult valley near Caernavon, Baldwin ordered his party to dismount and march on foot ‘in intention at least rehearsing what we thought we would experience when we went on our pilgrimage to Jerusalem’.31 Like Bishop Godfrey, Archbishop Baldwin gave his life to the crusade, dying at the siege of Acre in November 1190.

While the impact of the preaching of the Third Crusade was spectacular, it presumed prior acceptance of the message being promoted. Preaching provided ceremonial confirmation of pledges already agreed and created the conditions in which preparation, planning and recruitment could be achieved with the maximum public consent. Preaching rarely created a spontaneous response. By taking the cross the crucesignatus not only acquired exemptions from repayment of debts, paying the crusade tax and answering certain law suits but also gave a solemn promise to fulfil the vow, in theory enforceable through canon law. The high chances of death on crusade and the need to convert income into capital, commonly through sale or mortgage of property, required careful consideration and consultation not least with other family members. Conjugal rights also could not, in theory, be ignored nor the very real dangers to life, limb and possessions to which abandoned crusaders’ wives, widows and heiresses were liable. Numerous uplifting moral anecdotes, known as exempla, concerned the obtaining of family agreement before the irrevocable adoption of the cross. On a social as well as political level, the crusade sermon and the ritual of giving the cross constituted an act of recognition as much as inspiration.

Tricks of theatre and stagecraft were necessary if the ritual was to work as it should, ceremonially conveying a religious and political message of identity and mutual commitment. The rhetoric’s effect relied on the audience being primed by expectation, through prior advertisement, and a barrage of oratorical devices, from the lurid atrocity stories, to the metaphorical exploitation of the image of the cross, to powerful verbal refrains. The exempla, according to an Anglo-Norman preaching manual of a generation later, were designed to attract listeners’ attention and prevent boredom as well as inspiring contrition.32 The customary liturgical setting for the sermon was provided by the mass, with its concentration on the sufferings of Christ, the cross and repentance. Conveniently, in 1187–8 preaching coincided with the seasons of Christocentric festivals of Christmas and Easter, and the penitential period of Lent. Before the Second Crusade, Louis VII had announced his desire to go to the Holy Land at Christmas 1145, Bernard of Clairvaux preached at Vézelay at Easter 1146 and Conrad III took the cross at Christmas 1146, occasions not forced by events as in 1187–8.

If the timing and ceremonial setting were carefully chosen, so were the props. Congregations were accustomed to understand wordless messages, such as those conveyed by relics. When Philip II of France finally left on crusade in June 1190, he received the scrip and staff of a pilgrim at the royal abbey church of St Denis in front of an array of relics that encouraged all present to pray not just to the saints on show but also to the Virgin May and to Christ Himself ‘for the deliverance of the Holy Land’.33 The transcendent was a potent presence. Fragments of the True Cross had proved popular since the First Crusade. Crucifixes, increasingly prominent in the rituals of the mass in the twelfth century, probably served as well, reflecting the centrality of the cross in Third Crusade propaganda. In Wales during Lent 1188, the preachers shared a cross that each handed to the next member of the team when it was their turn to speak.34 More striking visual aids may have been employed, although testimony comes only from two Muslim observers. According to the well-informed Iraqi historian Ibn al-Athir (1160–1233), a picture was circulated in the west showing Christ being struck in the face by an Arab. Saladin’s friend and chief judge in his army, Baha’ al-Din Ibn Shaddad, recorded that Conrad of Montferrat, whose timely appearance had saved Tyre in July 1187, commissioned a large painting of Jerusalem showing a Muslim cavalryman trampling over the Holy Sepulchre on which his horse was urinating. ‘This picture he publicised overseas in the markets and assemblies, as the priests, bareheaded and dressed in sackcloth, paraded it, crying doom and destruction.’35 Both Muslim writers strongly disapproved of such representational religious art, which may be why they mentioned these pictures. But Ibn Shaddad accurately commented that ‘images affect [Christians’] hearts, for they are essential to their religion’. If used, such large illustrated screens would have provided telling support for the preachers’ message to audiences already well versed in how to read sacred wall paintings and stained glass, although they may have been startled and impressed by the pictures’ immediacy and direct relevance.

A full array of persuasive artifice was displayed on Archbishop Baldwin’s Lenten tour of Wales from 2 March to 23 April 1188 as described by one of its leading members, the royal clerk Gerald of Wales, prolific chronicler, ethnographer, polemicist and frustrated careerist, whose Journey through Wales, drafted within months of the event, served the dual function of historical account and immediate crusade propaganda.36 As with many crusade preaching campaigns, Baldwin’s mission combined ecclesiastical and secular politics with its religious purpose. By celebrating mass in each of the Welsh cathedrals, Baldwin was asserting the authority of Canterbury over an independent-minded and occasionally recalcitrant provincial church. Involving the Welsh princes in the crusade restricted their capacity to cause trouble in the event of the king of England’s absence as well as publicly binding them into the English royal polity. When Owain Cyfeiliog ‘alone of all the Welsh princes’ failed to present himself to take the cross he was excommunicated. The meticulous organization reflected these multiple purposes. Magnates and bishops were visited in turn, and, given the frequency with which local leaders met the archbishop’s party on entering their territory, almost certainly by pre-arrangement. Gryffydd ap Cynan of Gwynedd even apologized for being late. The preaching of the cross formed a central part of the wider plan. Once they werecrucesignati, the Welsh princes were obliged to support Henry II’s crusade, a role of potential subservience that the Scottish nobility studiously and successfully avoided.

In his characteristically self-regarding style, Gerald frankly admitted the careful stage-management and theatrical manipulation of the preaching and cross-taking ceremonies. He recalled the role he played at New Radnor on 4 March after the archbishop’s opening sermon of the tour:

I myself who have written these words, was the first to stand up. I threw myself at the holy man’s feet and devoutly took the sign of the cross. It was the urgent admonition given some time before by the King which inspired me to give this example to the others, and the persuasion and oft-repeated promises of the archbishop and the Chief Justiciar [Ranulf Glanvill, himself a crucesignatus], who never tired of repeating the King’s words… In doing so I gave strong encouragement to the others and an added incentive to what they had just been told.

Gerald later confessed that the king had added the douceur of promising to pay his crusade expenses.37 The essential manoeuvre was to set an example, to show the rest of the congregation what to do, as Adhemar of Le Puy had done at Clermont in 1095. Directing crowd psychology was important. Gerald’s taking the cross was thus premeditated, not at all dependent on the quality of Baldwin’s sermon, an experience that was unlikely to have been unusual in 1188 even if the part played by the greatest in the land was.

Although local interpreters were employed, what was actually preached may have mattered less than how and by whom it was spoken. The language of third-party descriptions of crusade sermons in 1187–8 across Europe stressed the formality of proceedings, rather like the Latin liturgy itself. Gerald’s personal testimony confirms this. His greatest popular success at Haverfordwest on 23 March provoked over 200 to adopt the cross, yet he preached in Latin and French, which many of his audience could not understand. The force of delivery apparently counted for more than the detailed content of the speech. After Archbishop Baldwin’s address had flopped, Gerald, on being handed the portable cross as a prop, roused his audience to surge forward to take the cross in three carefully contrived rhetorical climaxes. A resentful wife of one of those who took the cross by being caught up in this crowd enthusiasm later allegedly complained of Gerald’s bewitching ‘soft words’ and ‘simple looks’ without which her husband and the rest ‘would have got clear off, as far as the preaching of the others was concerned’.38

However incomprehensible the actual words, the ceremonial religious context underlined the message. On one level, as indicated in Gregory VIII’s Audita Tremendi, preaching the cross was a general call to repent. For Baldwin’s team, as for Henry of Albano and Godfrey of Würzburg in Germany, this penitential purpose matched the season of Lent. The archbishop’s sermon at Chester on Easter Day, 17 April, marked the climax of the Welsh part of his tour. Other festival days with special appropriateness were also set aside by preachers of the Third Crusade to reinforce the ubiquitous symbolism and cult of Jerusalem and the cross: 14 September, Holy Cross Day, or ‘Laetare Jerusalem’ Sunday, chosen by Henry of Albano for Frederick Barbarossa’s ‘court of Christ’ and by Philip II for his Paris assembly in March 1188.39 Crusade sermons were often placed immediately after the celebration of mass, whose elements of confession and penance feature prominently in Gerald’s account. The concentration on the figure, passion and redemptive nature of Christ Crucified within the mass provided the closest association with the aims of crusade sermons and the rituals for adopting the cross. More precisely, a sermon delivered immediately after the mass invited audiences to choose to follow or reject Christ in the very presence of His body and blood, the consecrated and, as was increasingly believed, transubstantiated elements of the Eucharist. (The doctrine of transubstantiation, insisting on the real presence of Christ’s body and blood in the Eucharist, while previously widely accepted by academics and others, only became the official teaching of the Roman Catholic church at the Fourth Lateran Council in 1215.) Where no mass preceded the preaching, as on Anglesey on 11 April, the General Confession was recited, as it had been at Clermont in 1095. For some recruits, such as a group of criminals – ‘robbers, highwaymen and murderers’ – at Usk, adopting the cross was likened to a form of conversion.40 An aura of sanctity, at least in remembrance, attended the expedition, Gerald recording a number of miracles of healing associated with spots where the cross had been preached as well as littering his narrative with miraculous and uplifting anecdotes.41

Although Gerald omitted any details of the content of his or the archbishop’s sermons, as opposed to their delivery, something of their nature may be drawn from contemporary tracts, such as those by Peter of Blois and the papal legate Henry of Albano. Their form is suggested by Gerald’s description of his address at Haverfordwest, which employed repeated climaxes to stir his audience into successive waves of enthusiasm. A generation later, an English preaching manual, known as the Ordinatio de predicatione Sancti Crucis in Angliae (The Ordinance for Preaching the Holy Cross in England, c.1216), indicated how this effect was achieved. Exempla were used liberally to attract the audience’s attention, sometimes through alarming moral stories, such as the nasty one used by Gerald of the mother who overlay and smothered her beloved little son as God’s punishment for trying to prevent her husband joining the crusade. Complex theology was conveyed through simple images, metaphors and references to familiar cults, such as that of the Virgin Mary, or even parallels with everyday life. In the Ordinatio the cross is portrayed as confirming salvation ‘as if by charter’, just like any ordinary land deal, except that the estate was ‘the inheritance of Christ’. Much of the material for sermons, as for propaganda pamphlets, comprised a series of meditations on the allegorical significance of Christ, the cross, the Crucifixion, the paradox of life though death, the snares of fleshly delight and the spiritual rewards of the crucesignatus. Unlike many later sermon collections, the English Ordinatio includes a model address, ‘the Call to Men to Take the Cross’, clearly designed for a lay audience: the punchlines of some of its exempla, drawn from edifying exploits of earlier crusaders, are in the French vernacular. The sermon is structured around a single, simple message, repeated in a variety of different ways and punctuated by variants on the traditional crusade refrain ‘Arise, therefore, take up my (sic) cross and follow me’ (Matthew 16:24) modified to fit the preceding exemplum. Thus, the dreadful pun of the Englishman Hugh of Beauchamp’s supposed last words on the field of Hattin, ‘Although my name is Beauchamp, I was never in beau champ (i.e. paradise) until today’, is followed by the preacher’s exhortation ‘Arise so that you may come to the beau champ.’42 Gerald of Wales’s Haverfordwest sermon probably employed very similar techniques. Each anecdote and refrain feeds a central message, the repetition of phrases, especially if accompanied by audience responses, inducing an almost trance-like enthusiasm in large congregations.

Another crucesignatus of 1188–9, the English royal official and chronicler Roger of Howden, who, unlike Gerald, actually went to the Holy Land, recorded exactly such a populist poetical sermon-lament devised by a cleric, Berthier of Orléans, who may possibly be identified with a clerk working at the French court in Philip II’s chancery. The verses confirm the ubiquity of the message being drummed into audiences across Christendom. Familiar themes are rehearsed: vengeance for the insult to Christ; an attack on soft-living; the loss of the True Cross, ‘the ark of the New Testament’; the obligation on believers to recover it; the association with the Eucharistic sacrifice; the debt laid up by the Redeemer’s Crucifixion; the call to ‘take up your cross’. At each separate stage in the poem-sermon comes the refrain: ‘The wood of the cross, the banner of the chief, the army follows, which has never given way, but has gone before in the strength of the Holy Spirit.’43 The psychological impact of such relentless propaganda cannot be measured, but was widely felt. The same moral tone of shame, self-sacrifice and chivalry directed on the gaining of paradise, not earthly reward, suffuses a song composed in 1188 or 1189 by Conon of Béthune, an important Picard lord who fought on both the Third and Fourth Crusades.44 Otho of Trazegnies in Hainault, in making a pious donation to his local monastery prior to embarking for the east, declared his journey was ‘to avenge the insult to God’.45 However delivered, the message was received.


Recruitment and finance formed part of a single process of converting enthusiasm into action. The assemblies at Geddington in February and Paris in March 1188 discussed arrangements for taking the cross and the administration of the Saladin Tithe together. The source of funding influenced the construction of the armies. In Germany, Frederick tried to insist that each crusader should pay his own way, placing the emphasis for organizing recruitment and recruits firmly in the hands of local magnates and urban communities beyond the king’s own extensive military entourage, for which he paid out of his own resources, possibly supplemented by a tax on Jews and a form of hearth tax levied on royal lands.46 However, the bulk of his huge force, which some estimated at 20,000 knights and 80,000 infantry, was not raised or funded directly by the crown, perhaps a factor in its disintegration when Frederick himself died before the Holy Land was reached. Similarly, the failure of Philip II of France to collect the Saladin Tithe and his limited authority outside his own royal lands restricted his personal contingent to the 2,000 knights and squires for whom he negotiated a transport contract with Genoa in 1190. The rest of the large French contribution came from provincial nobles and other lords. By contrast, Richard I’s access to large sums from the Saladin Tithe and his own fundraising ploys in 1189–90 allowed him to command a royal army numbering perhaps 6,000, while subsidizing a fleet of over 100 ships that may have carried almost 9,000 soldiers and sailors, some of whom, at least, were in the king’s direct pay, ‘retained’, as one of Richard’s officials later put it.47 Just as an English expatriate in France, Ralph Niger, noted the difference in the nature and level of fundraising between the German and western monarchs, so a German observer paid tribute to the lavish scale of the English king’s preparations and finances.48 The ability before and during any crusade campaign to convert what in theory constituted a volunteer army into a paid or retained force added enormously to its cohesion and the authority of the paymaster. Philip II increased his hold over the disparate French contingents at Messina at Christmas 1190 when he provided large subsidies to the duke of Burgundy (1,000 marks) and the count of Nevers (600 marks). On arrival in the Holy Land in 1191 Richard I and Philip II competed in offering wages to unattached troops, Richard’s deeper pockets winning the day. This secured Richard’s dominance of the ensuing Palestine campaign, for which he financially bailed out the count of Champagne and slipped 5,000 marks to the commander of the remaining French troops, Duke Hugh of Burgundy.49

The Saladin Tithe exerted another direct impact on patterns of recruitment. As the tax was designed to aid crucesignati, they were exempt. Hearing this, claimed Roger of Howden, himself a crucesignatus, ‘all the rich men of his (Henry II’s) lands, both clergy and laity, rushed in crowds to take the cross’.50 In addition to the now customary crusader privileges, they could expect not just the tax exemption but also the proceeds from their non-crusading vassals and tenants. These could be lucrative and consequently could become subject to legal dispute. An East Anglian crucesignatus, Robert of Cokefield, unsuccessfully tried to appropriate the tithe from two manors he held as a life tenant from the abbey of Bury St Edmunds. The abbot may have been especially alert to the legal niceties as he had been refused permission to take the cross in February 1188 by Henry II despite appearing before the king brandishing a cloth cross, needle and thread.51 For the non-crusader, the Saladin Tithe was bitterly resented, partly because of its unprecedented rate of 10 per cent on movables (i.e. surplus income after essentials had been paid for). Partly, too, because it fell equally on church as on lay lands, challenging vociferous ecclesiastical sensitivities over immunities and separation from the secular state. Given the lack of immediate moves to set off for the east, some taxpayers suspected the eagerness of the habitually rapacious Angevin government to collect the tax; it was no coincidence that the Saladin Tithe provided a model for subsequent lucrative extraordinary taxes. Collectors’ misappropriation and individual peculation left a sour taste.52

In most regions of Europe, no such direct incentive existed. Even in France, Philip II, despite gaining agreement to the Saladin Tithe from the large assembly of clerics, nobles and knights at Paris in March 1188, was forced to cancel the grant the following year and even apologize for having introduced it in the first place.53 Some tax collection did occur. The count of Nevers, the king’s cousin, imposed a levy of 12d a house in his lands, but this may not have been part of the Saladin Tithe. It was a fixed-sum, not fixed-rate, tax, was imposed only after negotiation with the local clergy and nobility and made no mention of exemption for crucesignati.54 Here, as in most places, the material pressures to take the cross operated in line with lordship, kinship and community. Although the surviving evidence overwhelmingly derives from the propertied classes, those lower down the economic and social scale were unlikely to be able to fund themselves. One English crusader assumed that those who set out shared their tears with ‘their household servants (familiaribus), relatives and friends’.55 The provisions of Gregory VIII’s bull, the Saladin Tithe and the French debt and mortgage ordinance of March 1188 assumed that crusaders, typically ‘clerks, knights and sergeants (servientes)’, had property to dispose of, otherwise the details about raising money would be redundant. Under the Saladin Tithe, crusaders were to receive the tithe receipts from ‘their lands and their men’.56 Frederick Barbarossa’s insistence on his followers being of a certain material sufficiency suggests the same. Not only did the poor not take the cross, lacking the economic or legal freedom to do so, many who did were prevented from departing by subsequent poverty. An inquiry into the non-fulfilment of crusade vows conducted in Lincolnshire in England a decade after the Third Crusade found that for twenty out of twenty-nine named crucesignati the cause of default was poverty.57 So, whether or not tax avoidance was available, the reality of crusade recruitment rested on the ability to pay or be paid for, from monarchs down to prosperous peasant farmers and urban and rural artisans.

This failed to do much to inhibit the scale of recruitment. From the Baltic to the Mediterranean observers noted the extraordinary response. ‘Enthusiasm for the new pilgrimage was such that already [1188] it was not a question of who had received the cross but of who had not yet done so.’58Recruiting fanned out from the great assemblies at Gisors, Mainz and Paris early in 1188, mainly propelled by the lords and their retinues, with the active encouragement of secular clergy and monasteries which, as on earlier crusades, supplied important financial resources in the way of cash in return for gifts and mortgages of property. While preaching provided the focus, in towns, cities and the courts of nobles, rumour and word of mouth created a public mood, the Dauphinois crusader’s ‘great movement’ (‘magna mota’).59 Peer group pressure and the fear of shame inevitably acted as effective recruiting officers. Poets cast those who failed to answer the call as ‘recreants and cowards’. Chroniclers, perhaps in similarly imaginative vein, noted that waverers received ‘wool and distaff’ as a hint that any who remained ‘were only fit for women’s work’.60 Wives and mothers added their voices to the chorus, perhaps the most persuasive of all. As a sign of commitment, some recruits wore hair shirts (often, like Abbot Samson of Bury, making sure that everybody around them knew), abstained from meat and followed the simple dress code laid down by the sumptuary laws instituted by Gregory VIII’s bull and repeated in sermons and local legislation during the following three years. While reflecting an element of theatrical showing-off, such sartorial demonstrations helped create and sustain the atmosphere of engagement.

That said, it must be recognized that the impression of, in Arnold of Lübeck’s words, ‘rich and poor as one’ demonstrating a universal adherence to the crusade may mislead.61 Many who took the cross in 1188 out of sudden emotion or careful calculation abandoned their vows ‘having saluted Jerusalem from afar’, as one English monk acidly observed.62 Many others did not take the cross at all, including William Marshal, who famously made a whole career out of the pursuit of courtliness and chivalry. He preferred to remain at home with his new, rich wife and a job in Richard I’s regency government. In mitigation, he had only recently returned from two years in Outremer (1184–6). However, his failure to sign up in 1188–9, when he was close to Henry II, points to the exercise of common sense in response to the crusade. Especially in the entourage of monarchs, such a defining commitment was not undertaken indiscriminately. Life and politics in western Europe were not suspended. In Germany and Italy, Barbarossa’s son and viceroy, Henry VI, vigorously pursued his claim, through his wife, to the kingdom of Naples and Sicily, while his opponents, led by adherents of the exiled duke of Saxony, Henry the Lion, encouraged revolt. In France and England, despite crusade preparations beginning in the first months of 1188, deteriorating relations between Philip II and Henry II increasingly took precedence in 1188–9. This culminated in a damaging war over the succession to Angevin lands between Henry and his son Richard of Poitou, vigorously supported by Philip II. All three were crucesignati. Once Richard departed on crusade in 1190, his brother John schemed to control the government, which was being run by bureaucrats, many of whom had taken the cross in 1188 only to be released by the pope in 1189 on account of their important civil office.63 The king’s crusade failed to prevent a sharp tussle for power that led to the overthrow of Richard’s Chancellor, William Longchamp, in 1191. Although the personal involvement of ruling monarchs drew with them much of their ruling elites and many of their officials, many remained. Central and local administration continued. The bulk of the lay and clerical populations stayed put. The crusade was profoundly interesting for some; a matter of indifference to others. Not all contemporary chroniclers appeared obsessed with it. In England, monastic writers such as Gervase, sacrist of Christ Church Canterbury, or Jocelyn of Brakelond at Bury St Edmund’s, only recorded concern with the crusade when it impinged on their religious houses. Gervase was, in retrospect at least, positively hostile, blaming Archbishop Baldwin, a particular bête noire, for the onerous Saladin Tithe and portraying his Welsh tour as a jaunt devised to avoid facing messy litigation with the Canterbury monks. Gervase gave events in the east in 1190–92 short shrift and, with hindsight, described the whole venture as ‘unfortunate’.64 Commitment to the crusade was frequently proportionate rather than consuming.

Recruitment for the Third Crusade was distinguished by the leadership of monarchs and their ability to secure their nobilities behind the enterprise to a degree surpassing even the Second Crusade. Secular governmental power in each kingdom – royal, comital and urban – reinforced or subsumed the ecclesiastical mechanisms for recruitment, most notably in the Angevin lands, especially in England. There, from an early stage, the relatively centralized royal administration took over all aspects of crusade planning and operation. The commitment of monarchs, while facilitating recruitment and material provision, extended the notion and traditions of good lordship to the enterprise, a visible expression of the moral dimension of rule that lay at the heart of consensual authority.Lacking coercive force, twelfth-century kings relied on their subjects’ acceptance of the mutual benefits of their rule. Leadership of such an unequivocally praiseworthy and virtuous cause as the crusade enormously enhanced the scope for kings to display the transcendent aspects of their position and, thereby, demand the respect and support of their subjects. Practical limits remained. Frederick Barbarossa could use the crusade to demonstrate his pre-eminence in German politics and impose a national peace on political factions, represented by the negotiated exile of the dissident Henry the Lion. However, in return he was expected to subsidize his own crusade himself. Similarly, Philip II of France could command the almost universal support of the church and the regional counts of France in 1188 for the crusade as such, but he could not impose the Saladin Tithe. Suspicion of novel fiscal exactions proved stronger than political trust. An essential ingredient in establishing moral leadership was the public, personal obligation created by taking the cross. That was why the ceremonies at Gisors and Mainz were so important. They bound the royal crucesignati to the crusade in a contract with church and people that only action could fulfil or papal absolution untie. Henry II of England well understood the implications of such a commitment, which was one reason he had avoided it for twenty-five years.

The tangible result of royal participation was early demonstrated in Sicily. To William II’s rapid action in sending a fleet to the Holy Land in 1188 some attributed the survival of the remaining Christian outposts. Yet despite his display of formal grief and mourning on hearing of the catastrophe of Hattin, William did not take the cross. Although he may have discussed a joint enterprise with his brother-in-law Henry II, William seemed not to have organized his nobility for the crusade. By his death, in November 1189, no firm undertakings had been reached by the king or his nobles. In the ensuing power struggle, his eventual successor, his dwarfish illegitimate cousin Tancred of Lecce, recalled the Sicilian fleet from the Levant. The only residual Sicilian involvement in the crusade lay in William’s lavish, if perhaps fanciful, bequest to Henry II of grain, wine, money, gold plate and a hundred galleys equipped for two years. This may have represented what William imagined he would contribute to the crusade. In the event his legacy provided a source of conflict and an opportunity for extortion for Richard I when he arrived in Sicily in the autumn of 1190.65 The contrast between the Sicilian experience and that of Henry II’s Angevin lands was sharp. Even if dissipated in the succession war of 1188–9, by the time of his own death in July 1189, Henry’s preparations had raised men and money. Perhaps more importantly, they had committed large sections of the nobility on both sides of the English Channel to the crusade through the collective action of taking the cross. His successor Richard was one of them. Continued Angevin royal and noble interest assured sustained dedication to the crusade. Without the king’s lead, the movement would have lost cohesion and drive, as happened in Sicily.

The depth of Angevin engagement was impressive.66 The inner circle of recruits was drawn from the political and administrative elite; representatives of the higher clergy, led by Archbishop Baldwin and Justiciar Glanvill’s nephew, Hubert Walter bishop of Salisbury; powerful nobles such as the earls of Leicester and Ferrers, Nigel of Mowbray and Richard of Clare; former sheriffs, such as Roger Glanvill; ministers, such as Roger’s brother, the Justiciar Ranulf, whose sacking in 1189 allowed him to fulfil his vow; royal friends, agents, household officials and government bureaucrats, a number of whom, including Gerald of Wales and the future Justiciar Geoffrey FitzPeter, had their vows absolved unfulfilled. Compared with France or Germany the list of great magnates is short, a reflection of the political structure of the Angevin regime but also a matter of chance; a number of English earldoms had lapsed; others were held by minors. The core of the Angevin recruitment centred on the king’s court. Beyond the immediate circle of royal patronage or acquaintance, the characteristic crucesignati were local aristocrats, knights and gentry, many with close links to the higher nobility. Fifty-nine crucesignati named in the government financial records as exempt from a levy to pay for defence against the Welsh were men of substance from across the whole kingdom, from Sussex to Yorkshire, Wiltshire to Suffolk. For convenience, such knights tended to travel in groups based on tenurial, political, geographic or family association. The collective enthusiasm of taking the cross could persist in action. According to one Yorkshire observer, the massacres of Jews during Lent 1190 at King’s Lynn, Stamford and York were led by bands of young crusaders acting together. No less than the followers of the great, local networks survived from recruitment to campaign. At the siege of Acre in 1191, the royal judge and chronicler Roger, the parson of Howden near the Humber in the East Riding of Yorkshire, found a group of fellow countrymen from the region of his parish: John of Hessle, Richard and Berengar of Legsby, the parson of Croxby, Robert the Huntsman of Pontefract.

Urban as well as rural associations lent structure to recruitment in England as in the rest of western Europe. Ships from London formed a distinct part of the large north European fleet that assembled at Dartmouth in May 1189, taking Silves in Portugal from the Moors that September. The next year at least one ship carrying eighty Londoners followed. These were led by figures from the city’s merchant oligarchy, such as Geoffrey the Goldsmith and William FitzOsbert, nicknamed Longbeard, as well as members of the chapter and clergy of St Paul’s cathedral. A further source of unity lay in the adoption by these citizens of Thomas Becket, a fellow Londoner, as their patron saint, an illustration of how crusading fed off wider streams of contemporary spirituality. The leading role of beneficed secular clergy among the Londoners was mirrored elsewhere. According to some sources, even monks caught crusade fever, in contradiction of their vows: ‘a great number went from the cloister to camp, threw off their cowls, donned mail shirts, and became knights of Christ in a new sense, replacing alms with arms’.67

While clerics, beyond their important morale-building religious duties, could expect to act as scribes, accountants, secretaries even quartermasters, the bulk of recruitment was aimed at those, like the 3,000 Welsh recruits described by Gerald of Wales, ‘highly skilled in the use of the spear and the arrow, most experienced in military matters and only too keen to attack the enemies of our faith at the first opportunity’.68 The appeal was not restricted to warriors; many crucesignati were artisans: blacksmiths, skinners, tanners, cobblers, tailors, millers, butchers, vintners, potters and bakers, who could, in theory at least, usefully ply their trades on crusade. They were probably joined by genuine non-combatants, pilgrims, but their numbers may not have been overwhelming, especially given the emphasis on professional troops in an attempt to avoid the mistakes of the Second Crusade, where non-combatants had allegedly compromised military efficiency. A final group of recruits were women. The ordinances for the crusade restricted female recruitment to old washerwomen, who doubled as delousers for the troops, ‘as good as apes for picking fleas’.69However, these provisions were ignored. Women fought at Acre, to the admiration of western sources and the fascinated horror of Arabic ones. In a list of forty-seven Cornish recruits there were at least four crucesignatae.70

Although England is possibly the best-documented region of Europe for the preparations for the Third Crusade, the pattern revealed there is matched elsewhere, for example in Normandy. If royal authority and money were less pervasive in Capetian France or Hohenstaufen Germany, the role played by the monarchs was just as important. In France, Philip II taking the cross at Gisors in January 1188 provided the cue for almost all the higher nobility of his kingdom to follow suit, their decisions eased as both Philip’s Angevin rivals, Henry II and Richard of Poitou, later Richard I, had also signed up. In addition to the counts of Flanders, Blois, Perche, Champagne, Dreux, Clermont, Beaumont, Soissons, Bar and Nevers, who took the cross with the king, other crucesignatiincluded the duke of Burgundy and the count of Sancerre. The only significant magnate not to take the cross was Count Raymond V of Toulouse. (Despite his close family ties with the county of Tripoli, Raymond, whose father had died suddenly and some said suspiciously in Palestine during the Second Crusade, was old – dying in 1194 after ruling for forty-six years – and beset by rivalries with Richard of Poitou and the problem of heresy in his dominions.) Lords such as the counts of Flanders, Burgundy and Champagne were effectively autonomous princes. At Gisors this was recognized when it was agreed that followers of Philip II should wear red crosses; those of Henry II, white; and those of the count of Flanders, green.71 Recruitment followed regional power. All across France from Hainault to Poitou, Normandy to the Dauphiné lords and knights took the cross and began making provisions for departure. Although narrative sources emphasize the role of Richard I and his Anglo-French followers, charter evidence indicates that the contribution from the rest of France may have outstripped it. Whole regions lost their lords. Across the frontier in Limburg, the absence of Duke Henry III and his two sons removed any check to civil unrest and local violence.72

The same story was told in the German lands stretching from Flanders to Austria, the Baltic to the Alps. The lead was given by Frederick Barbarossa: ‘by his own example he inspired all the young men to fight for Christ’.73 The urgency and thoroughness of his preparations stimulated recruitment, which, as in 1146–7, constituted the active dimension of the establishment of a general peace under which disputes were settled or postponed, as crusade privileges not only advantaged the crucesignati but obliged non-crusaders to respect their rights and property. By May 1189, when the great German army mustered at Regensburg on the Danube, Frederick and his second son, Frederick duke of Swabia, had been joined by seven bishops, an abbot, the duke of Dalmatia, the count of Holland and over twenty counts and margraves from all corners of the Reich, from the Low Countries, to Swabia, from Bavaria to Saxony. At much the same time, other German crucesignati left by sea, including the counts of Guelders and Altenburg and the landgrave of Thuringia, who was accompanied by a large military household. In the land army, with the magnates marched ‘the dreaded and orderly array of ministeriales and chosen knights’.74Ministeriales were a particularly German social group, technically unfree but materially and culturally indistinguishable from free knights. The first to take the cross in Alsace from the local bishop of Strassburg had been ‘a certain powerful and active knight called Siegfried, one of count Albert of Dagsburg’s ministeriales’.75 Such bonds lent further unity to the army. As in England, urban crusaders played a prominent role. Citizens from Metz accompanied the land army. Eleven ships from Bremen and four from Cologne joined the expeditionary fleets in 1189, which attracted support from Denmark and Frisia as well as the Rhineland, the Low Countries and England. The Cologne flotilla apparently carried as many as 1,500 men and supplies for three years.76

These patterns of recruitment across Europe are striking for two reasons; their scale and their cause. The emotions of those who took the cross mixed devotion, anger, adventure, peer-group pressure, escapism, and the insistence of social superiors and employers. The success in mobilizing such huge armies from such a large area testifies to the coherence of the appeal as much as to the efficiency of organization. That organization depended heavily on the leaders, especially the kings. Subsequent disappointments and failures should not colour perceptions of the impulses that raised these massive armies in the first place. One overwhelming emotion for any crucesignatus, notable for the prominence it held in crusade sermons, was fear; fear of pain, hardship, alien surroundings, physical torment and likely death. Leopold V duke of Austria sailed from Venice in the autumn of 1190. After wintering in Zara in the Adriatic, he arrived at Acre the following spring. His personal following was modest. A contemporary German chronicler of the Third Crusade named ten chief companions. Of these, nine died, the tenth only surviving after illness.77 The preachers and propagandists knew what they were talking about. To become a crucesignatus was to invite the torments of the cross.


11. Europe and the Near East at the Time of the Third Crusade

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