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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 15

clearly, but could suggest no remedy beyond conscience, always the weakness
of canon law. Gilbert of Tournai was only reviving condemnations of an earlier
century when he attacked the financing of the crusade by exploiting the poor,
but it was the whole public that was exploited; he also discussed the real
legal abuse, which was the severity of sentences in the condemnation of those
who, often for a good reason, failed to fulfil the crusading vow, when severity
was used only to extort higher redemption money.33 These abuses, by common
consent, made the whole business unpopular. In fact it was a business, an
often capricious system of tax collection which gave increasing prominence
to redemption. Cash payments necessitated a return to the custom of partial
indulgences ("proportionate" plenary indulgence), and there was no adequate
means of assessment. In a study of legal theory one can do little more than
emphasize the feebleness of the law which wholly failed to regulate the trade
in indulgences or the scale of redemption. 
 Innocent's declaration at the Fourth Lateran Council of a new crusade illustrates
the law at its height. After giving instructions for the "passage" (passagium
= "crossing" or "crusade"), it announces miscellaneous provisions almost
haphazardly. Clerks may retain the profit of their benefices while they are
away. Those people who have taken the cross will be excommunicated if they
do not go. All prelates and others responsible for the cure of souls must
preach the crusade. Those who cannot go should pay a soldier to go for three
years. Those who supply ships or contribute to their construction receive
an indulgence. All clerks are to give a twentieth of their ecclesiastical
revenues for three years, the pope and the cardinals a tenth. While crusaders
are away they will be exempt from taxation and from payments of interest.
Pirates who pillage pilgrims are excommunicated. The usual prohibition of
contraband (arms, iron, and so forth) is repeated in slightly strengthened
form. No ship is to go to the east for four years, lest the enemy benefit;
on the contrary, it should remain in the Christian reserve. Tournaments are
prohibited for three years, wars for four. Then comes the plenary indulgence,
in the form already quoted above, but those who, short of paying for a substitute,
contribute to the costs, receive remission "according to the quality of the
subvention and their devotional disposition".34 Here appears a scale of exact
payment for an incalculable return, and such could lead to nothing but abuse.
33. "Collectio de scandalis ecclesiae," ed. Autbert Stroick, Archivum franciscanum
XXIV (1931), 40. 
34. See above, note 25. 

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