Post-classical history

The Crusading Movement



Following the Council of Clermont and his call to arms (described in Chapter 1), Pope Urban II remained in France until September 1096. The projected expedition to the East was not the only reason for his extended stay, but Urban was naturally concerned to provide leadership and guidance in the formative stages of what would become the First Crusade, very much his own creation. He corresponded with Bishop Adhemar of Le Puy, appointed as papal legate to the army, and with Raymond IV, count of Toulouse, the intended secular leader, whom he met at least twice in 1096. He urged various churchmen to preach the cross in France, and, as we have seen, he himself took the lead by proclaiming the crusade at a number of centres that he visited during his lengthy itinerary around southern, central, and western France in these months. He also dispatched letters and embassies beyond France, many in an attempt to control the response to his crusade summons.

Urban had intended that the crusade army should consist fundamentally of knights and other ranks who would be militarily useful. However, as the news of what he had proclaimed at Clermont spread through the West, so men and women of all social classes and occupations took the cross. Urban had lost control in the matter of personnel. One immediate consequence was the appalling violence unleashed against the Jews of northern France and the Rhineland, the first of a series of pogroms and other forms of anti-semitism that would become closely associated with crusading activity in succeeding generations. Many, but by no means all, of those responsible were drawn precisely from those social groups that Urban wished to keep at home, especially bands of urban and rural poor.

These bands, led by men like Peter the Hermit and Walter Sans-Avoir, were the first to form and the first to depart, as early as spring 1096. Collectively, they are known traditionally as the People’s Crusade, but in reality they were essentially independent groups of the poor, lacking supplies and equipment, though some contained or were even led by knights. Streaming from northern France, the Low Countries, the Rhineland, and Saxony in particular, they sought to reach Constantinople, but many failed to get even that far. Their foraging for food and lack of discipline, combined with their sheer ferocity, naturally alarmed the authorities in the lands through which they passed, above all the Byzantines. Many were killed in the inevitable armed clashes. Those who did get through to Constantinople were hurriedly shipped across the Bosphorus in August 1096, after which they split into two groups. One attempted to take Nicaea but failed, the Turks surrounding and killing most; the other was ambushed and massacred near Civetot in October. The remnant fled back to Constantinople to join up with what has been identified as ‘the second wave’ of the crusade.

This, the backbone of the expedition, was formed of discrete contingents grouped around one or more great lords, representing the sort of effective military forces that Urban and Emperor Alexius had hoped for. The major contingents were those of: Count Raymond IV of Toulouse, numerically the largest; Godfrey of Bouillon, duke of Lower Lorraine, and his brother, Baldwin of Boulogne; Hugh, count of Vermandois; Duke Robert of Normandy, his cousin Robert, count of Flanders, and his brother-in-law Count Stephen of Blois; and Bohemond of Taranto and his nephew Tancred, who led the Normans of southern Italy. Godfrey, Bohemond, Baldwin, and Raymond would become the first lords, respectively, of the kingdom of Jerusalem, the principality of Antioch, the county of Edessa, and the county of Tripoli. They began to leave for the East in late summer 1096, gradually mustering at Constantinople later that year and in early 1097. Their long trek finally ended in success over two years later when Jerusalem fell to the crusaders on 15 July 1099. It had been an incredible journey. Against all the odds, and despite fearsome suffering and deprivation, especially during the ghastly protracted siege of Antioch in 1097-8, they had managed to liberate the Holy Places. It is no wonder that many contemporaries regarded it as miraculous.

The astonishing achievement of the expedition partly inspired the departure of ‘the third wave’, the so-called crusade of 1101, but no one in these years could have predicted that what Urban had conjured up would prove to be only the First Crusade, nor that the crusade would come to be deployed elsewhere than in the Holy Land and against opponents other than Muslims—in short, that the crusading movement would emerge to become one of the most important components, and defining characteristics, of late medieval western culture.

So far as crusading to the Latin East is concerned, it was fundamentally the political circumstances facing the settlers after 1099 that required the summoning and dispatch of further expeditions in their support. A pattern came to be established in the twelfth and thirteenth centuries whereby a setback in the East prompted calls for help from the West, which were then endorsed by the papacy in the form of crusade declarations, although not all aid was in the shape of a crusade and neither did easterners always ask for a crusade in their appeals. This pattern embraces most of the major crusades that have traditionally been numbered as well as a host of lesser and lesser- known expeditions shown by modern research to be as much crusades as their more famous siblings. (This renders the traditional numbering anachronistic.) The deteriorating position in the East led to at least one crusade summons being directed at every generation in the twelfth and thirteenth centuries— although by no means all were universal calls to arms—first to bolster the Latin settlements and then, beginning with the fall of Edessa to the Muslim atabak Zangi in 1144 and of Jerusalem itself to Saladin in 1187, to recover them. The crusades declared on behalf of the Latin empire of Constantinople (1204-61), created in the wake of the notorious Fourth Crusade which resulted in the sack of the city, also fit the pattern; but these crusades were chiefly directed against the Byzantines, now established in Nicaea and seeking to restore the losses of 1204.

A change in approach and strategy in crusading to the East, with considerable logistical implications, should also be noticed. The First Crusade took the overland route to Palestine through the Byzantine empire, as we have seen. So did the forces of the Second Crusade (1147-9) that went East, led by King Louis VII of France and King Conrad III of Germany. But the forces of Emperor Frederick I ‘Barbarossa’ on the Third Crusade (1189-92) were the last to attempt this. The future, with the benefit of hindsight, lay in the decision taken by his fellow monarchs Richard I of England and Philip II of France to sail across the Mediterranean to the Holy Land. Moreover, it is from the time of the Third Crusade that the idea of making Egypt the goal of crusade emerged as a serious alternative to campaigning in the Latin East itself. This was sensible, since the wealth and political importance of Egypt within the Ayyubid empire established by Saladin meant that if it could be weakened, even taken, then the Latin East could more easily be restored. The first crusade to depart apparently with this intention was the Fourth (1202-4), but it came to be diverted to Constantinople. The initial forces of the Fifth Crusade (1217-29) were the first to disembark in Egypt, at Damietta, but disaster struck as they advanced down the Nile towards Cairo. The same fate befell the first crusade of King Louis IX of France (1248-54). His second crusade, which proved to be the last of the great international crusades to the East before 1300, saw his death at Tunis in 1270.

Some other thirteenth-century expeditions did sail directly to the Holy Land, but, as has been shown earlier, crusading was never necessarily tied to that location. Indeed, it must be stressed that at the very time (1096) that the first crusaders were en route to Jerusalem, Urban II quite unambiguously permitted, or rather urged, Catalan nobles who had taken the cross for the crusade to the East to fulfil their vows in Spain. In return for aiding the church of Tarragona, they were promised forgiveness of sins. The crusade, then, at the very point of its inception, was being simultaneously applied by the same pope at both ends of the Mediterranean against Muslims. Given this precedent, it is not surprising that after the First Crusade Spain quickly became an established theatre for crusading expeditions, beginning with those of 1114 and 1118. The nature and pace of the Reconquista was fundamentally altered as a result of a series of crusades throughout this period and beyond.

Nor is it very surprising that the crusade also came to be deployed rapidly against other peoples on other frontiers of western Christendom. Particularly notable was its extension to the struggle between Germans and pagan Slavs to the north and east of areas of German settlement. The Saxons’ war with the Wends was first elevated into a crusade by Pope Eugenius III in 1147, although previous to this, in 1108, crusading rhetoric had been employed in an attempt to gain recruits. As the Drang nach Osten proceeded, so in time crusades came to be declared further and further beyond the Elbe, and along the Baltic: in Pomerania, Prussia, Livonia, Estonia, Lithuania, and Finland. Again, to the south, the brunt of the sudden, ferocious descent of the Mongols upon Europe in 1241 was borne by the hapless Poles and Hungarians, prompting in the same year the declaration of the first of a number of crusades against them. Attitudes would change in the later thirteenth century with the prospect of a joint alliance against the Muslims.

Two further species of crusade remain to be considered. Both were controversial at the time and continue to be so. The first involved the application of force against papal political opponents within western Christendom in the bid to remove them from power. It may have been Innocent II who first proclaimed such a crusade in 1135, in the course of his bitter struggle with Roger II, Norman king of Sicily. The evidence is not entirely conclusive, but it does indicate a direction of thinking and policy that had its roots in the holy wars declared by the reform popes of the later eleventh century against their enemies, notably Emperor Henry IV of Germany. Whatever the case, the first unambiguous crusade of this type was launched by Pope Innocent III in 1199 against Markward of Anweiler and his supporters in Sicily, who were opposing papal policy in Italy. The crucial precedent set, other ‘political crusades’ followed. In England, for example, a crusade was declared in 1216-17 against both the English rebels who had forced King John to concede Magna Carta and their French allies, under Prince Louis of France, who was chosen in late 1215 to replace John as king. Like Sicily, England had by then become a papal fief, and its king a papal vassal, following John’s submission to Innocent III in 1213, so action could be justified as force applied against rebellious papal sub-vassals. But of all these crusades, the most significant, so far as their momentous political consequences are concerned, were those declared against the Hohenstaufen emperors in Italy and Germany. So critical had the struggle with Emperor Frederick II become, in the pope’s perception, that a crusade was first proclaimed against him in 1239. By then, Frederick had control of southern Italy and Sicily and he had recently crushed the papacy’s north Italian allies. By early 1240 he was threatening Rome itself. Upon his death in 1250, further crusades were declared against his heirs until 1268, when the last of the hated dynasty, Conradin, was captured and executed.

The period 1199-C.1240 is an important one in the history of the crusading movement, since any inhibitions in papal circles had finally been overcome when it came to the application of the crusade against political opponents. The same period also saw diversification in another respect with the emergence of the crusade against heretics. Again there are clear indications that such action had been foreshadowed, not least by Innocent III, the pope who was finally provoked in 1208 to declare a crusade against the adherents of the Cathar heresy in southern France, by then very strongly entrenched. The notorious Albigensian Crusade, which failed to eradicate the heresy but destroyed so much of the cultural, social, and political fabric of Languedoc, would proceed episodically for the next twenty years. Once more, precedent set, it was so much easier to launch crusades against other heretics, for example those against the Stedinger heretics in Germany in 1232, and against Bosnian heretics in 1227 and 1234.

In sum, so far as applications of crusade are concerned, we can identify and plot a clear process of evolution from the time of the First Crusade. Urban II saw little distinction in the merit to be gained from seeking to rescue Christian people and places from Muslim oppression in Spain and the Levant, and he considered the crusade to be an appropriate instrument to that end in both theatres. His successors drew out the logic of that position and extended it to other opponents of the Church. The scope of the Second Crusade, as it evolved in practice, illustrates this graphically in relation to the West’s frontiers: simultaneously, crusade operations were being conducted in Spain and Portugal, and north-eastern Europe, as well as Syria. Under Pope Innocent III another major breakthrough occurred with the first deployments of crusading against heretics and papal political opponents. Both could be, and were, depicted as oppressors of Christians and Mother Church, and much the same justificatory framework, sentiment, and imagery that were used in papal bulls declaring crusades against Muslims, Slavs, or Mongols, were employed in the calls to crusade against Hohenstaufen emperors or Cathar heretics. Enemies within posed no less a threat than the enemy without; indeed, as popes and others frequently stressed, they were more dangerous. Crusades against these enemies were considered more necessary than those to the Holy Land accordingly. The crusade, the most potent weapon in the papacy’s formidable arsenal, increasingly emerged, then, as an instrument to be applied as and when popes saw fit, and against whomsoever and wherever its use was appropriate. By the middle of the thirteenth century, this was unquestionably the reality, but it should be stressed that by no means all contemporaries were content with each and every aspect of this broad development. Papal policy was one thing, public opinion another.

If crusade was a moving target across time and space in terms of whom it came to be applied against and where, then equally, considered as an institution, it was so with regard to content, substance, and apparatus. This can be seen very clearly in the case of crusaders’ spiritual and temporal privileges, but a similar broad evolutionary pattern is to be seen, for example, in the way in which crusades were promoted and preached, and how they were financed and organized. By the end of this period, crusading had become an elaborate and complex business, ‘the business of the cross’ as it was described at the time. Some key aspects of this are considered below.

Promotion and Preaching

The core of all crusade promotion consisted of papal proclamation of the expedition in question since popes alone possessed the requisite authority to declare a crusade and offer the spiritual and material privileges enjoyed by crusaders. But proclamation alone was rarely sufficient to move men and women to take the cross. Additional measures were needed. According to one account of the Council of Clermont, Urban II instructed the assembled prelates to announce what he had said throughout the churches of their dioceses and to preach the cross. He himself proclaimed the crusade in the course of his itinerary around France, and he also commissioned specific agents to preach in particular localities. The evidence does not suggest that Urban’s hopes were fully realized in practice, however, not least because prelates lacked the means to publicize the crusade call easily and automatically throughout their dioceses: ecclesiastical administrative structures were still primitive, and the lack of a formal authenticated crusade bull scarcely helped matters. Preaching, too, was in its infancy, an unfamiliar act for most clergy. But the First Crusade provided a model, however rudimentary, which would be progressively elaborated and extended upon in the course of the twelfth and thirteenth centuries in the attempt to maximize the impact of the crusade call, with dissemination of papal proclamations and local preaching remaining the fundamental components. These will be examined in turn.

No formal bull launched the First Crusade. In this it is unusual, since most of the others were proclaimed by crusade encyclical, the basic form of which was finally established by Quantum praedecessores (1145) for the Second Crusade: an initial narrative section explaining why a crusade is necessary, an exhortation to take the cross, and a listing of crusader privileges. From the letters of St Bernard of Clairvaux, commissioned to preach the crusade, and other evidence, it is plain that the bull was to be publicized, but in practice it seems that dissemination was haphazard. It was only in Alexander Ill’s pontificate that the attempt was first made to disseminate crusade bulls systematically at local level, crucially through direct mandate to local prelates. In 1181, in particular, the pope instructed all prelates to ensure that his crusade bull Cor nostrum was published in all churches and to announce crusader privileges to the faithful. This was probably achieved by the production of transcripts of the letter in local episcopal chanceries, which were then distributed to the individual churches of the diocese in question. This, at any rate, became the routine procedure in the thirteenth century, and in a few instances we can trace exactly the sequence of administrative measures leading from the papal curia to provincial archbishops, thence to their suffragan bishops, and so on down the hierarchy to parish priest level. The whole process is indicative both of the increasing sophistication of the Church’s administrative structures (possible with the greater application of literacy to the art of government) and also of the progressive establishment of a centralized Church under papal monarchy. Local prelates were now being mandated to act in the matter of the crusade, as in other business, in a much more streamlined and sure way than was possible in 1095. This is equally true with regard to crusade preaching.

Two types of preaching may be identified according to occasion, audience, and purpose. The first was preaching before assemblies of Church or State, the Council of Clermont being the prototype. Later examples include Innocent III’s preaching at the Fourth Lateran Council (1215) and that of Innocent IV and Gregory X to the assembled dignitaries at the First and Second Councils of Lyons (1245, 1274). Before secular assemblies, two famous examples are the preaching of St Bernard before Louis VII and the magnates of France at Vezelay in 1146, and his dramatic preaching at Conrad III of Germany’s Christmas court the same year. Indeed, it became entirely normal for crusade preachers to utilize such occasions, as well as more recreational gatherings like tournaments, in an attempt to secure the vows of important men in attendance, to launch promotional campaigns more broadly, and, frequently from the Second Crusade, to make public a prince’s assumption of the cross. Many were highly stage-managed affairs planned weeks or months in advance with little left to chance. The parlement held in Paris in March 1267 is a good example. There, Louis IX took his second crusade vow, followed immediately by three of his sons and others close to him, his relics of the Passion deliberately on public display for the occasion: he had secretly informed the pope of his intentions the previous September.

Preaching of this type was aimed at the very highest in society and is to be contrasted with the more humdrum carried out in the field. It is here that we see the real progress made after Clermont. Until the late twelfth century, all the signs indicate that local preaching was haphazard and unsystematic, lacking central co-ordination. The great leap forward came under Innocent III. Already in 1198, for the Fourth Crusade, a new general executive office for the business of the cross had been established, one or more executors being appointed to specific provinces of the Church for promotional and other purposes. With them operated freelance preachers such as the famous Fulk of Neuilly. In 1213, for the Fifth Crusade, a more elaborate structure was introduced. For almost every province an executive board was established, with legatine powers in the matter of the crusade, to implement promotional policy. Answerable to them were delegates appointed to individual dioceses and archdeaconries within the province in question. And, for the first time, guidelines were laid down as to how the cross should be preached. This universal structure was not used again though it set the pattern for later promotional campaigns in some areas, for example England. Instead, Innocent’s successors were more pragmatic and ad hoc in their approach, dictated partly by political circumstances in the West. But there is no doubt that, after his pontificate, local promotion was altogether more coherent and intensive than it had been previously.

The second major development concerned preaching personnel. Any ecclesiastic, cleric or monk, might be called upon to preach the cross, although it seems that the ordinary parish clergy rarely did so. This was the case in the twelfth century, and still so in the thirteenth, but with two important differences. First, the preaching of papal legates, prelates, and other dignitaries tended to become more limited after the Fifth Crusade: to those stage-managed occasions considered previously, and to the launching of promotional campaigns in individual provinces or dioceses. Increasingly, instead, more of the burden came to be taken up by the mendicant orders, the Franciscan and Dominican friars, once they became established throughout Christendom in the 1220s and 1230s. Thereafter, they bore the brunt of local preaching. They were admirably equipped for the task: they were professional preachers by virtue of their apostolic mission, preaching on a regular basis to the populace unlike the enclosed monks of traditional monasticism; they were well trained in the art of preaching; and with their houses spread throughout the West, they possessed a network of centres from which extensive local preaching could be conducted quite easily.

After the Third Crusade, local preaching came to be closely planned in advance in the attempt to achieve maximum coverage, to utilize resources fully, and to avoid duplication of effort. On occasion, political problems arose to complicate matters, but preaching offensives were rarely haphazard. Individual agents were deputed to preach the cross at specific places or over particular areas. To do this systematically, planned itineraries were called for, the first well-documented tour of this type being that led by Baldwin of Ford, archbishop of Canterbury, to Wales in 1188. Extensive tours like this tended to become rare in the thirteenth century, partly because of the reorganization brought about by Innocent III and partly because the area deputed to any one preacher came to be reduced as more personnel, notably the friars, were deployed on the ground. Typically, by the later thirteenth century, one friar would be responsible for preaching in only one or two archdeaconries, but even then he would need to follow an itinerary to ensure systematic coverage. His preaching was fundamentally concentrated on urban centres and, in rural areas, the larger vills. This was sensible given population concentrations and the finite number of preachers that were available. They went, inevitably, to places where a good turn-out could be expected. In their preaching they were assisted by the secular clergy, who were sent advance notice that the friar intended to preach on a particular day at a specified place. Ecclesiastical censure was threatened to compel both the parish clergy and their flocks to attend. If this was the stick, the carrot took the form of partial indulgence granted to those attending sermons. This was first made available by Innocent III. The number of days of remitted penance had risen to a maximum of one year and forty days by the end of the thirteenth century.

The drive to intensify the local preaching effort was paralleled by developments in the art of crusade preaching itself. Most of the themes used by popes, bishops, and friars alike remained much the same from Clermont onwards, not surprisingly. But from the later twelfth century preaching evolved quite profoundly, particularly with a new emphasis on popular preaching. This was accompanied by a remarkable growth in the production of aids for preachers regularly addressing popular audiences: collections of model sermons, manuals of themes, collections of exempla, and so forth. Crusade preaching specifically was deeply conditioned by this development, with the production of model crusade sermons, for example, and handbooks designed to help the preacher in his task. The most popular was that compiled c. 1266-8 by the Dominican Humbert of Romans, an exhaustive survey which collected into one compact work those materials and arguments that he considered, as a former crusade preacher himself, to be most useful. Armed with these sorts of materials, thirteenth-century crusade preachers were far better equipped than their predecessors. In this respect, too, crusade promotion had become more professional.

The result of the various developments outlined above was that by the later thirteenth century the Church had successfully elaborated the means to expose all parts of the West to the crusade call, through systematic publication of crusade bulls and the privileges they contained, and by the deployment on the ground of local preachers better qualified than before. Very few could have been ignorant of current crusading policy as a result. It is an achievement that underlines the sophistication reached by the thirteenth-century Church and which reflects the authority and power of papal monarchy. However, even at its height under Innocent III, the papacy never had things all its own way. For example, from 1095 onwards a series of freelance preachers, especially those of the millennial tendency, latched on to the crusade. The result was seen in the bands of poor on the First Crusade, or the so-called Children’s Crusade of 1212, or the Crusade of the Shepherds of 1251. Limitations to papal monarchy in practice can also be seen in the difficulties that popes faced in seeking to establish peace in the West, vital for successful crusade recruitment. For example, from the 1170s a succession of popes persistently sought to establish peace between the warring kings of England and France in the interests of the Latin East, but with little effect. They would crusade only as and when it suited them.

Personnel and Recruitment

According to one account of the Council of Clermont, Urban II actively sought to dissuade the elderly, the infirm, women, clerics, and monks from taking crusade vows, a stance confirmed by his surviving letters. He knew that effective aid for the Christians of the East would not come from non-combatants, whatever their zeal, but from the military classes of society. Warfare was for warriors, holy war was no exception, and other social groups should refrain from it. Besides, such people had prior obligations and responsibilities that disqualified them from crusading. For example, if a priest were to go on the crusade, the cure of his parishioners’ souls might be endangered, whilst monks were bound by their vows to spiritual not temporal warfare on behalf of all, leaving aside the fact that churchmen were forbidden to bear arms. Twelfth-century popes maintained this attitude, but unsuccessfully. Large numbers of non-combatants took the cross and departed, especially on crusades to the Holy Land, thereby causing immense problems. In particular, they placed intolerable strains on available food supplies, exacerbating, if not causing, the famine situations that developed on the march to the East and the consequent staggering rise in prices of foodstuffs. They also posed a major problem for discipline and organization, and contributed not a little to the developing friction with the Byzantines, the crusaders’ supposed allies, all the time consuming resources which would otherwise have been available to others more useful than themselves.

This is all starkly clear from eyewitness accounts of the First and Second Crusades, and the experience prompted the monarchs who led the Third Crusade to take steps to prevent the participation of a host of non-combatants. But neither they nor later crusade leaders who followed suit were entirely successful; crusader privileges and the lure of the Holy Places were so potent that crusading, at least to the Latin East, retained its considerable popular appeal. This is another indication of the practical limits to papal power, further impressed upon us when we allow for the sharp shift in papal policy concerning crusade vows that occurred under Innocent III.

Throughout the twelfth century, popes were generally strict concerning the personal fulfilment of vows, permitting deferment, commutation, or redemption only in particular circumstances, such as the infirmity, illness, or poverty of the individual in question. Otherwise, under threat of ecclesiastical censure, the able-bodied were expected duly to fulfil their vows. In 1213, however, Innocent III enunciated a radical policy change in connection with recruitment to the Fifth Crusade. Appreciating the practical problems caused by the presence of large numbers of non-combatants on campaign, he ruled that anyone, excepting only monks, could now take the cross, but those vows might now be redeemed, deferred, or commuted as seemed appropriate. His successors sought to make good the implications of this in practice, and by the mid-thirteenth century a system of vow redemption for cash had been instituted, the essence of which was the raising of moneys in return for the crusader’s indulgence. Anyone could take the cross, regardless of his or her value on the battlefield, but the great majority were urged—even compelled—to redeem their vows. The cash raised then went to support those best qualified in the art of war. It was a development which, again, could only have occurred once the Church’s administration had reached a certain level of efficiency and intensity, and once, too, the volume of coin in general circulation had sufficiently expanded through the sustained growth of the European economy.

Those best qualified to prosecute crusading warfare came, of course, from the military classes of the West: those of the degree of knighthood and above, the seigneurial class (in purely military terms, the heavy cavalry) and their tactical auxiliaries. These last included sergeants, mounted and foot, crossbowmen, siege engineers, and so forth. Some others, drawn from the nonmilitary strata of society, would be needed for specific purposes: for example, clerics to administer the sacraments and, being literate, to deal with administrative chores; or merchants, to keep the army supplied. But it seems clear that as time went on such individuals, along with surgeons, stable lads, and other ranks, tended to participate as members of a crusader lord’s household. Sailors, too, were obviously crucial when the campaign in question involved the transport of a force by sea. But the core of crusade armies in this period, to the East or elsewhere, was always the knights; it was around them, and to sustain them in the field, that other ranks were organized. It is also the case, given contemporary economic, social, and political realities, that where those of the seigneurial class led, others followed, so some discussion of their recruitment to crusades is appropriate here.

A distinction needs to be drawn between motivation and the ideological forces at work, and the processes involved in recruitment. Crusading rapidly penetrated the cultural values of western knighthood, with participation soon coming to be widely accepted as an integral feature of ideal knightly behaviour. This was a standard applicable to all members of the class, but despite this only a minority in each generation went on crusade. Leaving aside individual zeal and enthusiasm, or their absence, analysis suggests that the precise personnel of each force was largely dictated by the workings of social and political structure, the medium through which the crusade call passed. Lordship ties were especially important because of the way in which society was hierarchically organized with wealth and power massively concentrated at the top. If a king or great prince took the cross, then many of his circle would follow his lead accordingly, because of the pressures and inducements he could employ. John of Joinville’s record of the discussion between two of Louis IX’s knights, on the eve of his assumption of the cross in 1267, provides perhaps the sharpest illustration of the awful dilemmas that some might experience as a result. One observed: ‘if we do not take the cross, we shall lose the favour of the king; if we do take it, we shall lose God’s favour, since we shall not be taking it for his sake but through fear of displeasing the king.’ And John of Joinville himself reveals that he, too, was pressed very hard to take vows. Lesser lords naturally exerted less influence, but the same forces were at work. There are innumerable examples of how a particular count, or bishop, or other lord took the cross immediately to be followed by those in his service, from the First Crusade onwards. Equally, if a lord required a particular individual to stay at home in his service, then that man could find his crusading aspirations thwarted. This could even lead to outright refusal of permission to take the cross in the first place. A famous example is provided by Abbot Samson of Bury St Edmunds who, in 1188, was prevented from taking the cross by Henry II in the interests of king and realm.

Kinship ties also played a major part in recruitment throughout the history of the crusading movement, partly because men were predisposed to look to their kinsmen for support. There was, accordingly, a tendency on all crusades for sons to accompany their fathers, for brothers to go with brothers, or for uncles to depart with nephews, but this pattern of behaviour should not be exaggerated. It is also apparent that families tended to approach the prospect of a crusade collectively, decisions being taken jointly as to who exactly of the family, if anyone, should go, and who should stay behind. It is certainly no chance, for example, that Frederick Barbarossa was accompanied on the Third Crusade by one of his sons, whilst the government of the empire during the crusade was entrusted to another, the future Emperor Henry VI; and family conferences must have preceded the decisions of the brothers, sons, and nephews of Louis IX who accompanied the king on his two crusades. In some instances, crusading decisions led to family discord, a famous case being Henry II’s furious reactions to the vows, taken without reference to him, of his eldest son and heir Young Henry in 1183, and then of Richard in 1187.

The recruitment value of more distant ties of kinship is not so easy to assess, especially those extending beyond first and second cousin kinship, but time and again we can observe members of extended family units on crusade together. It is unlikely that this was always or entirely chance, rather than the product of prior decisions to crusade jointly. John of Joinville, for example, does not say that he took the cross having previously consulted his cousin John, count of Sarrebruck and lord of Apremont, but the fact that they jointly hired a ship for embarkation on Louis IX’s first crusade is highly suggestive, John of Joinville deliberately stressing their kinship in his account.

Ties stemming from local and regional association also had a bearing on recruitment. This is seen operating most clearly, perhaps, in the contingents from individual towns and cities on crusades: such men, by virtue of urban social and political structures, were particularly used to acting collectively. But ties of local and regional association also influenced the knightly classes, although it is not always easy to determine their exact role since these ties themselves partly stemmed from kinship and lordship bonds operating within the regional society in question. Nevertheless, Geoffrey of Villehardouin, participant in and chronicler of the Fourth Crusade, is especially revealing of contemporary perceptions in this regard, choosing to list those who took the cross in northern France by dividing them up according to discrete politico-geographical areas. First he lists those in Champagne who followed the lead of Count Thibaut of Champagne, followed by those from Blois and the Chartrain under Count Louis of Blois, then those from the Ile de France, those from Flanders, and so on. Geoffrey of Villehardouin indicates for each contingent a number of theinternal ties of kinship, but modern research on the individuals named by the chronicler has exposed other pre-existent internal links within these forces. We find a combination of ties that bound the knightly classes of each of these regions firmly together: kinship ties, lordship ties, and looser yet no less significant ties of friendship, neighbourhood and acquaintance, common experience, and political outlook. The pattern, where the evidence is sufficient to draw firm conclusions, is replicated in other crusade forces. In short, in the matter of the crusade, as in other ventures, men of a particular regional society and loyalty tended to act together as a group. This is further illustrated by battle formations drawn up on campaign. At Tunis in 1270, for example, Charles, king of Sicily, count of Anjou, and count of Provence led the Italians, Provencals, and Angevins, whilst the Navarrese, Champenois, and Burgundians served under Thibaut, king of Navarre and count of Champagne. Sometimes this discreteness within forces was visually represented, as when in 1188 it was agreed that the crusading subjects of Philip II participating in the Third Crusade should wear red crosses, those of Henry II white, and those of the count of Flanders green.

Although the sorts of ties outlined above plainly exerted a major influence on the pattern of recruitment, it is important to allow for other factors if we are to explain why some knights of a particular regional society, or baronial honour, or lordly retinue went on crusade and why others did not. First, for various reasons, both spiritual and mundane, some were undoubtedly sceptical of, or hostile to, crusading. Others, equally clearly, were crusade enthusiasts, most obviously those who went on crusade or took the cross more than once in their careers: they plainly found crusading to be compatible with their spiritual ideals and chivalric values. Others came to inherit a dynastic tradition of crusading, frequently reinforced by other traditions transmitted through marriage. For those born into such families, once precedents had been set, the pull of the crusade was inevitably more profound, powerful, and poignant. That weight of tradition might be resisted, of course, and the same is true concerning other motivating influences. An individual’s recruitment to the crusade could never have been a matter purely of free choice, but ultimately it was up to that individual to decide whether to respond or not to the call being made to his peer group as a whole.


Wars can be cripplingly expensive for the societies and individuals who wage them and the crusades were no exception. Unfortunately, the total sums expended on any single crusade cannot be exactly quantified as we lack the detailed records to allow it, but sufficient data survives, particularly for some thirteenth-century crusades, to gain at least an impression of the magnitude of the financial drain represented by these expeditions. Probably the best documented is Louis IX’s first crusade, estimated by the French government in the fourteenth century to have cost Louis 1,537,570 livres tournois between 1248 and his return to France in 1254. The accounts list sums paid for provisions and clothing for the king and his household, the wages of knights, crossbowmen, and sergeants, the replacement and purchase of horses, mules, and camels, hire and provisioning of shipping, gifts and loans to crusaders, the king’s ransom after he was taken prisoner by the Muslims in April 1250, work on fortifications in the Holy Land, and so on. This sum is equivalent to more than six times his typical annual income of 250,000 livres, but it cannot be considered to be the total cost to the king since it has been estimated that Louis also subsidized, through contracts, gifts, and loans, around 55 per cent of the crusaders accompanying him. Nor does it allow for ‘hidden costs’, such as the large sums involved in constructing the new royal port of Aigues Mortes, specifically chosen for embarkation, or the costs incurred by Louis in seeking to pacify and stabilize his kingdom before departure. A figure closer to 3,000,000 livres, or twelve times his budgetable annual income, is probably nearer the mark. Whatever the exact sum, even this, of course, does not allow for the individual expenses of great lords such as Alphonse of Poitiers or Charles of Anjou, or lesser knights, such as John of Joinville, and their retainers. The total cost of his crusade to the kingdom of France was far greater than the amount that the royal accounts for Louis’s expenditure on campaign alone would indicate. In the light of these considerations, it is not surprising that finance was always a constant source of worry to all crusaders at all social levels. Moreover, crusades were not self-financing ventures; although the quantities of plunder and booty could be spectacular, they rarely outweighed expenditure and losses.

The attempt to raise funds was central to every crusader’s preparations, the securing of adequate negotiable treasure a first priority, but the exact expedients to which crusaders resorted naturally varied greatly according to individual circumstances. Certain typical patterns of behaviour may nevertheless be identified. If a crusader had any savings then he would use them, but chivalric society was not generally renowned for thrift, although some individuals, on taking the cross, are known immediately to have cut their expenditure. Another obvious response was to call in debts owed to the crusader before departure, or to settle disputes with other landowners, gaining tenurial security as well as a sum in return. In the case of ecclesiastical institutions, the crusader would hope to gain spiritual support as well in the shape of prayers. Current research is also clarifying the important role played by an individual’s family, acquaintances, and lords in his crusade financing. Just as he would look to his social network for purposes of recruitment, so could he expect a measure of subsidy through loans or outright gifts from his contacts. Examples are legion. This is true of members of other social classes as well as knights and nobles. Urban confraternities and guilds made money available for the crusade participation of their members, for example. Furthermore, as we shall see later, contracts for crusade service were also employed, the lord paying for the service of knights on campaign, thus alleviating their financial worries, though certainly not solving them outright.

But it was exploitation of rights and material assets that from the beginning provided the surest means of raising liquid cash in sufficient quantities. First, there was sale of produce, stock, and chattels; timber, in particular, was a commodity often sold to raise money quickly. One of Earl Richard of Cornwall’s first actions on taking the cross in 1236 was to cut down and sell his woods, while Alphonse of Poitiers is known to have raised a considerable sum from timber sales for his second crusade in 1270. Lords might also enfranchise their serfs in return for cash, as the measures of Alphonse of Poitiers again illustrate, or sell rights and privileges to townsmen living under their jurisdiction. In one instance, in March-April 1202, Count Hugh of St-Pol established three, perhaps four, urban communes within his lands to raise money towards his participation in the Fourth Crusade. Jurisdictional rights were also involved in spectacular fashion when in 1189 Richard I relaxed the homage of the king of Scotland and handed over some castles in return for the huge sum of 10,000 marks.

The selling of land, however, especially the inherited patrimony, was another matter. This was generally avoided since the long-term interests of family and lineage were involved, but it sometimes happened for various reasons. Two early examples are provided by Godfrey of Bouillon’s sale of his county of Verdun to raise money for the First Crusade and the sale by the viscount of Bourges of both the city and the viscounty to King Philip I to help finance his participation in the 1101 crusade. Nearly 150 years later, Philip’s successor Louis IX enabled John, count of Mâcon, to go on crusade by purchasing his county for 10,000 livres tournois. Altogether more typical, from 1095 onwards, was the raising of money through various forms of loan, generally, but not always, secured on the estate in question. Most commonly, the device was mortgage or vifgage (in which the lender was repaid out of the profits of the estate while in his possession). It appears that in the first century of crusading, monasteries played the major role in providing crusaders with liquid cash in this way, although we do find other creditors. Among examples of lenders coming from within a crusader’s family is King William II ‘Rufus’ of England, to whom his brother, Duke Robert of Normandy, pawned the entire duchy of Normandy for 10,000 marks in 1096 before departing on the First Crusade. We also find other creditors, such as crusaders’ lords and merchants, involved in the business, but from the available evidence it seems that monasteries were dominant, although this could be something of a false impression deriving from the lopsided survival of certain types of record. For the thirteenth century, the picture is rather different. Since ecclesiastical corporations were comparatively wealthy, it is not surprising that they continued as sources of credit for crusaders, as for others, but as a result of economic growth and social development other possible lenders were increasingly available as alternatives. The result was that a greater proportion of credit arrangements came to involve merchants, great magnates, crusaders’ lords, crusaders’ kin, even humble knights, indeed, anyone able and willing to do business with the crusader in question. Society and economy were changing, and so inevitably did this aspect of the crusading movement.

Perhaps the most significant change in crusade financing in these centuries lay in the emergence of secular and ecclesiastical taxation specifically for purposes of crusade. In part, this was a function of the experience of the very earliest crusades, notably the First, which taught how expensive crusading was in practice, but it was also a development that could not have occurred without considerable growth in the notions and apparatus of the secular state and papal monarchy, attendant centralization and administrative sophistication, and greater refinement in the concepts of crusade and Christendom.

Secular taxation preceded papal measures in this regard, crusading lords drawing upon the feudal convention that vassals should aid their lords at times of need. Naturally, there was resistance to the establishment of the notion that as of right a crusading lord could exact such an aid, as opposed to his seeking of a voluntary grant, but in France at any rate this seems to have been established by the end of the twelfth century. The same is true of the tallaging of non-feudal tenants, such as townsmen and peasants living on the lord’s domain. This, for example, allowed Louis IX to raise perhaps 274,000 livres tournois from the towns of the French royal domain for his first crusade. As sovereigns, kings, exceptionally, could also seek more general levies from all their subjects, although much depended on political circumstances. Louis VII may have raised the first royal levy of this type in 1146, but the evidence is far from conclusive, and the origins of general taxation for crusading purposes should probably be seen to lie in the measures taken by Louis VII and Henry II to raise money for the Holy Land in 1166, when a tax based on individual income and property value was decreed in their dominions. This was followed in 1185 by a graduated tax in France and England on income and movables, again in aid of the Holy Land, but the first compulsory tax precisely tied to a specific crusading expedition was the famous Saladin Tithe (1188), to help finance the Third Crusade. It was imposed, again, in both kingdoms, but at a far higher rate than before, a tenth for one year of the value of income and movables of all subjects, lay and ecclesiastical, excepting crusaders who would receive the tithes of their non-crusading vassals. The yield was massive, one chronicler estimating the yield in England alone at £70,000, though it probably was not as much as that, and the resistance to it in France plainly limited the yield to Philip II. Indeed, he had to promise that neither he nor his successors would ever impose such a tax again. Nor did they, apparently. Nevertheless, the contribution to the financing of the Third Crusade was considerable. Occasional taxation of this type followed in some states in the thirteenth century, for example the twentieth imposed in England in support of the Lord Edward’s crusade of 1270, but never, it seems, at the level of intensity of the Saladin Tithe; and generally these were voluntary not compulsory levies, with a flavour more of almsgiving than taxation.

This was not the case with papal taxation of the universal Church. Individual churches and churchmen suffered demands for money for the crusade from the outset. William Rufus, for example, plundered English ecclesiastics to pay his brother the 10,000 marks agreed for Normandy in 1096. But it was only in 1199, for the Fourth Crusade, that Innocent III mandated all clergy to pay a fortieth for one year of their revenues. He promised that this would not set a precedent, but it did of course, and the rate went up as well. A triennial twentieth was imposed in 1215 for the Fifth Crusade, another in 1245 following the final fall of Jerusalem, soon superseded by a tenth in France and England, a quinquennial hundredth in 1263—equivalent to a twentieth for one year—and a sexennial tenth in 1274. These taxes were universal, although exemptions became progressively more common, and for the Holy Land crusade; others were local and for other crusades, for example the taxes in France in 1209 and 1226 to support the Albigensian Crusade.

To raise and transmit the proceeds of these taxes was a massive task requiring an elaborate system of collectors, whose actions—and the moneys they raised—were very carefully monitored. The system reached its zenith in 1274 when Gregory X, building upon the work of his predecessors, especially Innocent III and Honorius III, divided Christendom into twenty-six col- lectorates, a general collector appointed to each. They in turn appointed sub-collectors. By this time, too, self-assessment of tax liability, envisaged by Innocent III in 1199, had given way to external assessment, thus reducing fraud through deliberate undervaluation. At first, the moneys raised were paid locally to crusaders or sent directly to the Holy Land for disbursement to crusaders on campaign, but by the 1240s there was greater centralization, popes granting the yields to individual crusade leaders. The sums raised, unless political circumstances caused obstacles, were huge. Nearly 1,000,000 livres tournois were raised from the French church for Louis IX’s first crusade, for example. No wonder he remained solvent for the first four years of the crusade. No wonder, too, that there were so many bitter complaints from the clergy throughout the thirteenth century concerning this obligatory taxation. The system was efficient indeed, although a degree of fraud and embezzlement in such vast revenue gathering exercises was unavoidable.

To these sums should be added others: private gifts and legacies for the crusade, the coins deposited by the faithful for the Holy Land in the chest placed in all churches after Innocent III instituted the practice in 1199, and moneys derived from the imposition of the cross as penance for a wide range of crimes, the cross then being redeemed for cash. Above all were the proceeds of the vow redemption policy previously discussed. Enormous sums were raised, as can be seen from the magnitude of the grants made to individual crusaders from these sources. And those crusaders, as we have seen, were by the thirteenth century to be drawn fundamentally from the military classes. The emergence and development of papal crusade funding in their support was the practical corollary of the central notion that since crusading concerned the common good of the Church, and since crusaders fought in that cause, then members of all other social groups should contribute and help sustain those who risked their lives on behalf of the one Christian commonwealth.


The growth in external resourcing of crusades, briefly surveyed above, helped to assuage one of the greatest anxieties of all crusaders in the field, but no less a cause for concern were those very real and practical problems that face all armies: transport, provisioning and supply, discipline, command structure and organization, leaving aside issues involving the opponent more directly, such as strategy and tactics in the precise field of operations, intelligence, and so forth. For the great crusades to the East, which particularly concern us here since the evidence relating to these matters is superior compared to that surviving for other crusades, such problems were considerably magnified by the sheer distances involved, the duration of the campaigns in question—anything up to six years in the thirteenth century—and the difficulties stemming from the international nature of such enterprises. These included the challenge of effectively combining and articulating forces with different languages and customs, and differing military traditions and techniques, often led by proud and troublesome commanders who quarrelled amongst themselves. These forces also took with them their inherited prejudices, and they might extend to the crusade in question present political animosities in the crusaders’ homelands. A case in point is the bitter rivalry on the Third Crusade between Richard I and Philip II, and the sour relations between their respective forces. When allowance is made for such things, the astonishing achievement of the First Crusade is thrown into even sharper relief.

Some of these problems not surprisingly proved to be intractable, but, as ever in human history, some lessons were never (or never fully) learned; others, though learned, were not transmitted to succeeding generations, and this despite an attempt by some crusade participants to teach to posterity from their own experiences. Odo of Deuil, the French historian of the Second Crusade, is an excellent example, since he wrote with the guidance of future generations of crusaders explicitly in mind. They should learn from the mistakes committed, he hoped. Hence much of his practical advice concerning routes to be taken and the type of transport wagons to be used, for example. From at least Innocent Ill’s time, too, popes consciously sought to draw on past experience and on advice as to how crusades might best be launched and implemented. The best- known recommendations are the surviving memoirs submitted to Gregory X in advance of the Second Council of Lyons (1274), which was summoned to consider a new international crusade to rescue the Holy Land.

On reaching the theatre of operations, crusaders had no option but to think on their feet and react to changing circumstances, despite any preconceived strategy. In so far as their fate lay in their own hands, however, advance planning and preparation were clearly important, and here it is possible to see a degree of progress from the First Crusade. This was the result partly of some learning through experience, partly of changes in the practice of warfare in the West—these changes then applied specifically to crusading—and partly of growing sophistication in the art of government and administration in the West, which allowed more precise planning and preparation of crusades by their leaders and participants.

It may be that the evidence has not survived, but for the First Crusade there appears to have been very little advance planning on the part of the leaders. Presumably they communicated with each other and set Constantinople as the mustering point, but it does not seem that they had taken prior action over the crucial matter of supply once they had left their own lands. Very suggestive are the clashes on reaching Byzantine territory, for example, and the fact that a negotiated agreement was reached with Emperor Alexius, concerning the furnishing of markets for provisions and the security and safe-conduct of the crusaders, only on their having reached Constantinople. Nor is there any indication that those who crossed the Adriatic had arranged shipping in advance from the various ports, and the very events of the crusade demonstrate clearly that no formal command structure had been established before departure.

With the Second Crusade come clear signs of development, and from then on a reasonably clear pattern can be identified. Concerning shipping, the first indication that an entire crusade might go by sea across the Mediterranean comes in the negotiations between Louis VII and Roger II of Sicily in 1146-7, Roger offering to make available both his fleet and food supplies. Ultimately, Louis decided to follow Conrad III along the land route. For the Third Crusade, the intention was that the forces of both Richard and Philip would go by sea from southern France. Richard raised a considerable fleet in England, Normandy, Brittany, and Poitou which sailed in 1190 to meet up with the king at Marseilles. The rendezvous was missed, but ultimately this northern fleet joined with other ships contracted from Italian ports to transport Richard’s force to the East. Around 200 ships left Messina, where they had wintered, in April 1191. Richard’s rival, Philip II, negotiated the first crusade shipping contract that has survived. In February 1190, for 5,850 marks, he secured Genoese shipping for the transport of 650 knights, 1,300 squires, and 1,300 horses, with provisions for eight months from embarkation, and wine for four. Thereafter, all future crusades to the East went by sea, with shipping contracted in advance with one or more of the Mediterranean ports, Pisa, Genoa, Venice, and Marseilles taking the lion’s share of the business.

The hardships and attrition experienced by the first generations of crusaders, confirmed by the sufferings in Asia Minor of Frederick Barbarossa’s army on the Third Crusade, undoubtedly informed this important development. So, too, did the shift towards the Egyptian strategy in eastern crusading, and the impossibility of travelling through Anatolia after 1204, following the establishment of the hostile Byzantines in Nicaea. But the option of the sea route, and thus the Egyptian strategy, was only possible because of major developments in Mediterranean shipping in the period. In particular, long voyages across the width of the Mediterranean became feasible as western naval power became dominant and as the size, load capacity, and capabilities of ships increased. Key difficulties facing the transportation of large armies were also solved as a result of technical and technological advances. Especially important was the solution to the problem of shipping horses, for without them armies with knights at their core could be emasculated to the point of being practically useless. The Venetian crusade of 1123 seems to have been the first to transport horses directly to the Holy Land; by the time of the Third Crusade this had become familiar practice. As noted previously, however, we must guard against seeing a steady learning curve in the practice of crusading. For example, it is clear that despite Louis IX’s planning in advance to land on the beaches of Egypt, his fleet in 1248 was badly equipped for the task since it was comprised overwhelmingly of sailing ships which grounded well before they reached dry land, the knights having to wade ashore. Oared ships were what was needed, as Emperor Frederick II had appreciated in 1224, when preparing for his original intention of attacking Egypt on his crusade.

Turning to supply, both Louis VII and Conrad III seem to have learned from the experience of the First Crusade. At any rate, both sought before departure to procure the privilege of securing food supplies and safe passage from the rulers whose lands they would pass through. In 1146 Louis, for example, wrote on this score to Roger II—the sea route was still an option—the Byzantine Emperor Manuel Comnenus, Conrad himself, and King Geza of Hungary. Louis and Conrad also set different departure dates to ease supply and discipline problems since they would be taking the same route, their forces to join only at Constantinople.

The shift to the sea route necessarily changed things drastically. Surviving contracts show that normally the shippers agreed to supply food and wine (or water) for the forces in question for a stipulated number of months from embarkation.

Sometimes other consumables, and fodder for the horses, were also included. In addition, crusade leaders and accompanying great lords took to building up supplies of foodstuffs in advance and forwarding them to the port of embarkation or, in the case of Richard I, transporting them to the East on his own ships: large quantities of bacons, beans, cheese, flour, biscuit, galantine, wine, syrups, and other consumables are known to have been aboard his fleet when it sailed in 1190. Louis IX, apart from building up supplies at Aigues Mortes, laid up huge quantities of wine and cereals on Cyprus in advance of his first crusade. John of Joinville, in a famous passage, speaks in wonder of the mountains of wine barrels and hills of wheat and barley. Naturally, all manner of military equipment was also raised in large quantities for shipment. Surviving accounts, though fragmentary, supply details of the purchase of crossbows and bolts, bows and arrows, hauberks, horseshoes, stakes, beams, and so forth, and chroniclers’ reports reveal the existence on campaign of other matériel. Crusaders could, of course, hope to buy provisions, arms, horses, and other necessaries in the Holy Land, but surviving accounts reveal how expensive this could be with the descent of crusading forces pushing prices up sharply.

If the destination was Egypt, then plainly as much matériel as possible would have to be taken by ship from the West. It made good sense for crusade leaders to plan centrally and provide what their forces as a whole would require by way of siege equipment, for example, and for individual contingents to take with them what they could. John of Joinville tells how he, the count of Sarrebruck, and their eighteen knights travelled down the Saône and Rhône to Marseilles in 1248, their great war horses led along the river bank, accompanying their supplies and equipment loaded on boats. Lastly, crusaders needed to take what cash they could to meet the expenses that they would inevitably incur on campaign. For crusade leaders, this was especially important since they would be expected to meet some, at least, of the needs of their followers, and coin was also important to maintain the level of their forces. An example is Richard I’s taking into his pay on the Third Crusade those crusaders who had exhausted their own resources. Money could also be crucial for the internal discpline of crusading armies.

Organization, command structure, and discipline were always critical issues, especially for the large, international crusades comprising contingents drawn widely from the West. The fundamental units, individual knights’ and lords’ households, possessed their own structure and discipline; the problem was how to combine these units to form a larger division, and then to establish a firm command structure over all the divisions making up the one army. The rivalries between the leaders of the First Crusade and the kings who led the Second and Third Crusades pointed up the need for an acknowledged commander-in-chief to be appointed before departure, or at least on arrival in the East. The Fourth Crusade saw the first attempt in this direction with the appointment, first, of Thibaut of Champagne, and then, on his death, of Boniface of Montferrat. When a crusade was led by one ruler of stature, the problem did not arise. Louis IX, for example, was indisputably the overall commander of his two crusades. But the acceptance of a commander-in-chief was not in itself always sufficient to ensure cohesion and discipline. Partly in response to this problem, crusade leaders came to employ formal contracts drawn up in advance of departure, in which the precise obligations for service on crusade were laid down in legally binding form. They may have been employed in the twelfth century; if so, none has survived. As the thirteenth century proceeded, they became more common, as they did for other forms of warfare, the development reaching its term with the crusades of Louis IX. The 1270 crusade, above all, was organized from the top down through contract usage. For Louis’s own household on crusade, around 400 knights were bound to him by contract, Louis granting money, transport, and, in some instances, board, in return for the service of a specified number of knights to be provided by the contractor. Louis also contracted with divisional commanders, such as Alphonse of Poitiers, Guy of Flanders, Robert of Artois, and Edward of England. They had to ensure the service under them of the number of knights specified, so in turn they employed sub-contracts, some of which survive. In short, the 1270 expedition provides the fullest picture of a great international crusade structured throughout by means of contracts, for shipping as for men. Crusading in practice, in the ways considered above, had developed a long way from the First Crusade.

Some Effects

A movement that diversified and intensified to become such a multi-faceted and complex phenomenon as the crusade could not have failed to have had momentous repercussions at the time. Indeed, the effects of the crusading movement were almost limitless; few aspects of the contemporary western world, leaving aside its immediate neighbours, were not affected and influenced in some way, directly or indirectly. On the stage of world history, crusading played a major role in redrawing the political and cultural map, since it deeply conditioned the process of expansion of Latin Christendom, contributing to the emergence of new Latin states in north-eastern Europe, the Iberian peninsula, and of course the East, although some of these states proved to be only temporary. Within the West, its various applications also helped to shape, even determine decisively, some political developments, most notably the victory of the papacy against the Hohenstaufen emperors who threatened to overthrow it. The fate of the various parts of their empire became one of the major issues of international politics in the later thirteenth century and far beyond. Again, although the Albigensian Crusade did not destroy the Cathar heresy—it was too blunt an instrument—it drastically affected the politics and culture of southern France, the main beneficiary being the French crown. For the first time, as a direct result of the crusade, French royal power was extended meaningfully into Languedoc and to the Mediterranean. And through its very declaration of crusades, the papacy sought to give reality to its claims to direct the affairs of Christendom in this period, the vision coming closest to realization under Innocent III.

On another level, crusading was important in helping to change westerners’ views of themselves, accelerating the process whereby they came to appreciate that they possessed a common identity rooted in a shared cultural tradition, despite their local difficulties. And since the distinctive and unifying characteristic was the shared Latin Christian culture, the vast chasm which opened up between westerners and non-westerners was fundamentally religious in conception. In this sense, as total ideological war, the crusades dramatically increased the xenophobic streak within western culture, hitherto relatively dormant, and heightened the exclusive world view in which Latin Christian cultural superiority was taken for granted. One related consequence was a drastic change in Christian-Jew relations within the West, the pogroms of 1096 testifying to a new, persecuting attitude that soon established itself at the heart of western culture. Another perceptual change lay in the way in which crusading, as an ideal and in practice, came to penetrate chivalric values, and thus contributed sharply to the knightly class’s perception of itself and to the cultural distance that separated those of the degree of knighthood from other social classes.

The impact of the crusade in more mundane ways can be seen everywhere, but space precludes more than a very partial listing here. From the above survey, it will be apparent that as the movement developed, so more and more westerners became touched directly by it. By the mid-thirteenth century, for example, there can have been few laymen and laywomen who did not hear at least one crusade sermon, probably more, in the course of their lives; and as the vow redemption policy was implemented and extended, so more and more of their contemporaries took the cross. Again, with the extension of crusade taxation and other fund raising expedients, fewer and fewer pockets can have remained untouched, whether those of the peasant, townsman, cleric, or whomever. And crusaders’ thirst for cash obviously presented opportunities for those wishing to extend their interests in a particular locality, for example, since the supply side of the land market was significantly eased at times of crusade. Similarly, the wealth of the Italian maritime republics was clearly enhanced by the demands of crusaders for shipping and supply, and the establishment of the Latin settlements in the East allowed them to extend their trading ventures. The need for weapons, foodstuffs, and other necessaries also provided temporary growth in demand in crusaders’ homelands for a whole range of items, although it is impossible to know whether the economic stimulus stemming from expenditure for the crusades was outweighed by the disruption that crusading also caused to economic life.

These are but some of the more notable and obvious effects of the crusading movement in this period, but nothing directly has been said here about the impact upon the crusader himself, his family, his friends, his tenants. Yet it was at this very personal and human level that the crusading movement wrought perhaps its most powerful and poignant influence for those caught up within it at the time. As in all wars, many participants returned physically or mentally scarred, if they returned at all; their lives could never be the same again. Nor could the lives of crusaders’ wives and children, and those otherwise entwined in the crusader’s fate for one reason or another. Modern historical research is only now beginning to unearth the profundities of the crusading movement’s impact at this fundamental level.

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