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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 11

Ch. I THE LEGAL AND POLITICAL THEORY OF THE CRUSADE 11 
dulgence of their offenses (criminum) and eternal life. They shall know that
whether they survive or die, they shall have relaxation of the penance imposed,
for all their sins of which they shall have made true confession. "21 
 After the comparative failure of the Third Crusade, Celestine III wrote
in stronger terms. We shall see how, stage by stage, failure made the papacy
increasingly intransigent. Celestine preferred the threat of excommunication
to the inducement of the indulgence. He reverted to Urban's old themes, while
bringing them up to date and using the more legalistic phraseology of his
own day. In condemning sin, he singled out private enmities and tournaments.
By implication, the crusade offered meritorious enmity and a profitable tournament.
Celestine did not claim that Jerusalem was Christian because Christians had
been ruling it for nearly a century, but spoke of "the filthiness of the
pagans in the taking of the Holy Land, which is the inheritance of the Lord";
he also said that they came "ruinously" and "violently". Later he referred
to "that tiny piece of the portion of the land of the Lord which is still
held under the power of the Christians". When, as so often in recruiting
propaganda, the church is identified with the people of ancient Israel, it
has in fact both a political and a legal implication. Politically, the church,
(Latin) Christian society under papal guidance, has claimed the right to
the "inheritance of the Lord" in the same way as the chosen people had a
right to the promised land; and when Celestine approvingly quoted how one
man overthrew a thousand, and "slaughtered something like an infinite multitude",
he was coming close to a justification of the slaughter of infinite multitudes
in any situation, because any situation may be seen as reproducing events
of the Old Testament.22 This gave the war its legality. 
 It was at the end of Innocent III's pontificate and during that of Honorius
III that the definition of the "Holy Land" was extended to include Egypt;
thus the legal concept of holy war and indulgence was stretched to cover
what was originally no more than a strategic concept recommended by Richard
I of England and actually attempted by the Fifth Crusade.23 At the same time
we reach the fullest expression of indulgence, but no more precise definition
of holy war. For Innocent III it was still otiose to define closely the justification
of the war. For example, he spoke of the "ungrateful slaves" and "disloyal
21. Ibid., Gregory viii, iii, 52 (no. 2: 1187). 
22. Ibid., Celestine III, p. 88 (no. 12: 1193). 
 23. Ibid., Honorius III, p. 332 (no. 16: 1217); Chronique d'Ernoul et de
Bérnardle Trésorier, cap. 31, ed. Louis de Mas Latrie (Paris,
1871), p. 338, if this is not hindsight. Cf. volume II of the present work,
chapter XI. 


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