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Hazard, H. W. (ed.) / The fourteenth and fifteenth centuries

I: The Crusade in the Fourteenth Century,   pp. 2-26 ff. PDF (9.6 MB)

Page 4

Jerusalem in 1187. Toward the end of the thirteenth century, the crusading
spirit had been slumbering throughout Europe. Now the time was ripe for action,
but the calamities and humiliations which had befallen the Christian hosts
in the past indicated the need for better organization and a greater measure
of harmony in the future. Thus the crusade in the fourteenth century passed
through two distinct stages. The first was that of propaganda, consisting
mainly of literary works by numerous thinkers and pious travelers who planned
the passagium and advised the leaders on the elements of a successful campaign.
The second comprised positive action in a series of expedi tions conducted
against the Moslem states in the Near East. The first phase occupied roughly
the first half of the century, while the second followed as a natural corollary
to propagandist efforts on behalf of the crusading cause. In a number of
cases we find that propagandists also took part in some of the memorable
crusading campaigns of the later Middle Ages. 
 In regard to the crusading terrain, the fourteenth century pre sented a
broader arena. In 1096, when Godfrey of Bouillon em barked with the blessing
of pope Urban II on his momentous journey to the Near East, the medieval
world was still very limited in dimensions. Beyond the confines of Egypt
and the Fertile Crescent, if we except certain areas on the western shores
of India, the rest of the globe was enveloped in the thick mist of oblivion.4
It was not until the age of the later crusades that the clouds began to lift
and the imagination came to perceive the alien regions of Central Asia and
the Far East. This immense growth in the size of the known world was, in
part, a by-product of the later crusades. Even though the movement lacked
the full vigor and the spectacular achievements of the early crusades, its
later history brought forth results of a more enduring value for mankind.
It is true that the traditional scene of action remained as before in the
Levant, and the eyes of all Chris tians remained fixed on the land of promise,
but the crusading mind traveled much farther into limitless Cathay with the
adventurers and missionaries who opened up the eastern route to Khanbaliq
("Cam baluc," Peking) in the heart of Asia. The idea of collaboration with
the Mongols, who had become a growing factor in world politics and who shared
with the Christians an abhorrence for the Moslem Mam luks, was regarded as
basic to the foreign policy of the papacy and its 
 4. For a full discussion, see John Kirtland Wright, The Geographical Lore
of the Time of the Crusades (New York, 1925), and a more recent work by I.
de Rachewiltz, Papal Envoys to the Great Khans (Stanford, 1971). 

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