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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 130

 The crusade appertained peculiarly to the church. Like the laity, individual
clerics took the cross and led companies of crusaders, helped other crusaders
with gifts and loans, and paid the taxes levied by their princes. But it
is rather as a corporation that the church had its unique place in financing
the crusades. The privileges of crusaders reveal the early concern of the
church with the problem, and it evolved other, more positive methods of supporting
its great enterprises. 
 Through the military orders of warrior-monks, the church provided directly
for the defense of the Holy Land. The most important of these orders were
the Knights of the Temple and the Brethren of the Hospital of St. John, although
for a time the Teutonic Knights added their strength and resources to the
common task. The orders formed permanent corps of crusaders stationed in
the east with reserves in Europe. Each created an elaborate organization
with houses of various ranks throughout Europe as well as Outremer. In the
west these houses acted as recruiting stations and managed the resources
of the orders locally. Early in the thirteenth century James of Vitry wrote
of the orders, "They have been prodigiously increased by vast possessions
both on this side of and beyond the sea, for they own villages, cities and
towns. ~ The records more than bear out his statement. Each house of the
orders, as James went on to say, sent "a certain sum every year for the defense
of the Holy Land to their grand master", whose seat was in the east. The
sum sent by preceptories of the Hospital seems normally to have been a third
of their revenues, paid twice a year before the regular spring and autumn
passages to the east.53 The financial organization of the orders not only
supplied their own needs, but also permitted them, especially the Templars,54
to act as bankers for the crusades. Their part in the collection of the general
taxes of 1185 and 1188 has already been noted, and they also received clerical
taxes in 1201 and 1215. Their regular passages offered facilities for other
crusaders to resupply themselves. Deposits with houses in the west could
be withdrawn in the east, and money could also be borrowed from them in the
Holy Land to be repaid in Europe. They preferred to deal in coin and apparently
did not develop credit operations beyond transfers. Yet they remained the
crusade bankers par excellence, serving the papacy and princes as well as
lesser men, while their own resources gave them a prime place in the defense
of the Holy Land. 
 52. James of vitry, The History of Jerusalem, tr. Aubrey Stewart, PPTS,
XI-2 (London, 
1896), pp. 53-54. 
53. Edwin J. King, The Knights Hospitallers in the Holy Land (London, 1931),
p. 277. 
 54. Delisle, Opérationsfinancieres des Templiers, pp. 14—31,
appendix xiv, xviii-xxi, xxxxviii (p. 240); cf. Piquet, Des Banquiers. 

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