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

IV: Financing the Crusades,   pp. 116-149 PDF (13.4 MB)

Page 124

braltar to the Holy Land: men of the British Isles, the Low Countries, Germany,
even Scandinavia. The expedition which took Lisbon may be taken as typical
of such crusades, although it was largely diverted from its original destination.
The crusaders came from both sides of the North Sea and the English Channel,
in large part the sailors of those seas, men neither of the chivalry nor
of the peasantry. Like a commune, they elected their leaders and made policies
in council and assembly. The booty won at Lisbon was shared among the members
of the expedition, and presumably the other financial arrangements were similarly
 The crusaders from the Italian cities organized their sacred expeditions
like trading ventures. To participate in the First Crusade the Genoese nobles
and merchants formed a compagna on the model of their earlier expeditions
against the Moslems. The ships were provided and outfitted by subscription;
each man who subscribed or went on the crusade had a certain financial interest
in the profits or losses. When the expedition ended after the capture of
Caesarea, the booty was divided according to the shares held by the members
in the compagna.32 The success of this expedition led the Genoese to finance
others of a similar character over the succeeding centuries. 
 In Venice the state was stronger than in Genoa, as may be seen in the Venetian
participation in the Fourth Crusade. Villehardouin describes the process
by which the Venetians made their bargain with the French crusaders: First,
the French envoys spoke to the doge and his council, who, after deliberation,
made their offer to the French on the part of the Venetian state. When the
envoys accepted the offer, the doge, Enrico Dandolo, had still to persuade
the grand council and, finally, to sway the commons at an assembly in Saint
Mark's. All Venetians shared in the costs and profits of the expedition as
citizens of the state, and all were encouraged by the doge to think of themselves
as sharing in the merits of the crusade.33 The corporate principle could
hardly be more completely embodied. 
 Unlike the centralized Venetian republic, most of the states of medieval
Europe were loosely organized principalities. Medieval princes took the cross
not as princes but as individuals. The crusade of Robert of Normandy, like
the conquest of England by his father William I, was not that of the duchy
but of the duke. Not even Louis IX of France 
31. Osbern, De expugnatione Lyxbonensi, ed. and tr. C. W. David (CURC, 24;
New York, 
1936), esp. introduction, pp. 12—26. 
 32. Caffaro di Caschifellone, Annali Genovesi di Caffaro e de'suoi continuatori,
ed. Luigi T. Beigrano and C. Imperiale di Sant' Angelo (5 vols., Genoa, 1890—1929),
I, 5—14. 
 33. Villehardouin, La Conquete de Constantinople, I, 22-31. 

Go up to Top of Page