University of Wisconsin Digital Collections
Link to University of Wisconsin Digital Collections
Link to University of Wisconsin Digital Collections
The History Collection

Page View

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

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

Page 14

sading period. The Gesta Francorum ordinarily speaks of anyone who died on
the crusade, for example of hunger, as martyred, but Albert of Aachen had
heard that the clergy prayed for the souls of those who died at Dorylaeum.29
There is not enough evidence for us to be sure how far the complex theology
of martyrdom and indulgence penetrated to the soldiers and camp-followers,
or even, later, to the residents of the Latin states, or how far, indeed,
they were really interested. The suggestion underlies many chronicles that
death in a holy war had the popular sense of "martyrdom" that we find in
Roland Later chansons provide even less evidence. The farther we recede from
the theologians and canonists, the less we find any clear theological concept
at all. For two centuries from the first preaching of the crusade to the
growing realization that it was no longer practical politics, the system
determined a part of public life, and to the extent that law affects the
ordinary public crusading did so; indeed, its influence continued till very
much later. The old, disused system of tariffed penance would not have been
enough for effective recruitment; indulgences reached far more people, and
provided a legal basis for propaganda; persuasion was based on a theology
that must reach everyone. There was some scope for legal compulsion. Once
a man had taken the cross, he must be forced to put his vows into effect.
The First Lateran Council (1123) imposed an interdict on the lands of all
those who did not put their vows into effect between the next Easter and
the Easter following, and forbade them to attend church; later, excommunication
was the normal form of sanction.3° William Marshal spent three years
in the Holy Land in order to make good the crusade vow the young prince Henry
— son of Henry II — had sworn before his death in 1183.31 From
knights or sergeants to monarchs, laymen benefitted in their different degrees
from a tax levied to pay for soldiers. It was logical to extend the indulgence
to those who financed other men's personal service, but such subventions
soon opened the door to abuses which ultimately extended to the whole system
of indulgences. The councils from Fourth Lateran in the early thirteenth
century to Vienne a century later recognized the need for control, but established
no effective method.32 
A good canonist or an experienced preacher could see the problem 
 29. Vita Willibardi, orHodoeporicon, in Titus Tobler, ed., Descriptiones
Terrae Sanctae(Leipzig, 1874), pp. 56—76; Gesta Francorum, ed. and
tr. Louis Bréhier under the title Histoire anonyme de lapremière
croisade (Paris, 1924), pp. 42, 10, 92; Albert of Aachen, Historia Hierosolymitana,
II, 43 (RHC, 0cc., Iv, 332—333). 
30. Hefele, tr. Leclercq, Histoire des conciles, v-i, p. 635; V-2, pp. 1390
31. Histoire de Guillaume le Maréchal, ed. Paul Meyer (Paris, 1901),
lines 7277—7279. 
32. Hefele, tr. Leclercq, Histoire des conciles, ~-2, pp. 1390 if.; vI-2,
pp. 643 if. 

Go up to Top of Page