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Zacour, N. P.; Hazard, H. W. (ed.) / The impact of the Crusades on Europe
(1989)

I: The Legal and Political Theory of the Crusade,   pp. 3-38 PDF (14.2 MB)


Page 10

 10 A HISTORY OF THE CRUSADES 
tuted a stated good work for so many "day" units of purgatorial pains which
would previously have been remitted by penance.'7 Throughout the crusading
period, the plenary indulgence was confined to the crusade proper, and the
first known unambiguous plenary indulgence (for all the pains of all sins
committed, if confessed and repented) appears to have been that offered by
Urban II himself at Clermont in 1095. Canon 2, as reported, conceded remission
of all penance to whoever made the pilgrimage, not from pride and avarice
but out of piety and in order to liberate the tomb of Christ.'8 Indulgences
were inextricably associated with social motivation, especially the purpose
of fighting. Their use should not be seen as the act of private devotion
that it subsequently became. They were essential to the law of the crusade,
and constitute a useful legal and political criterion. 
 Examples illustrate the development of this practice and its underlying
theory. The Second Lateran decree was by later standards as imprecise as
Urban had been at Clermont (it actually uses as a definitiOn the phrase "as
decreed by our lord pope Urban"): "To those who set out for Jerusalem, to
defend the Christian nation and war against the tyranny of the unbelievers,
we concede remission of their sins."9 Much later, in 1181, it is interesting
to see Alexander III associating the notions of defense and attack with the
remission of sin. Thus in a bull to the master of the Temple, Arnold of Toroge,
he writes of the duty of Templars to lay down their lives for their friends
(John 15:13), adding "and you do not at all fear to protect them from the
attacks of the pagans". He charges them "for the remission of sins, by the
authority of God and the blessed Peter, prince of the apostles," to defend
the church by attacking its enemies, and to rescue it where it is "under
the tyranny of the pagans".2° 1181 was the year of Reginald of Châ~
tillon's brutal breach of the truce; Arab power was growing, but crusading
aggression against Egypt was still fresh in the memories of men. In a few
years' time Jerusalem would fall, and Gregory VIII wouid call all Christians
to penance, good works, and the (armed) pilgrimage to the Holy Land, the
"labor" of its recovery, "to look not for profit or worldly glory, but for
the will of God". He granted the indulgence, which is of course "plenary",
to those who undertake the "journey" with a contrite hear~t and humble spirit,
"and to those who depart in repentance for sins and in a true faith, we promise
full in 
17. Dictionnaire de théologie catholique (16 vols., Paris, 1923—1950),
s.v. "indulgences". 
18. Hefele, tr. Leclercq, Histoire des conciles, V-i, p. 401. 
19. Ibid., p. 634. 
20. Aloysius Tomassetti, ed., Bullarium diplomatum et privilegiorum.. . editio
(Turin, 
1857—1872), Alexander III, II, 830 (no. 111). 


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