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Wolff, R. L.; Hazard, H. W. (ed.) / Volume II: The later Crusades, 1189-1311

III: The Crusades of Frederick Barbarossa and Henry VI,   pp. 86-122 PDF (16.5 MB)

Page 88

Saladin's conquests, to meet the Moslem challenge as they had done before,
it is more than likely that the kingdom of Jerusalem could have been easily
reestablished. Yet such an easy disposition of what was regarded as the Moslem
peril was impossible for this age. Not only was there no attempt to come
to any agreement of this kind, but Isaac II Angelus, the feeble, tricky,
and irresponsible occupant of the tottering eastern throne, by an alliance
with Saladin among other things, prodded the aggressive princes of the west
to think of the destruction of the Byzantine state. The chief result of the
German participation in the Third Crusade was thus the overthrow of the Byzantine
empire by the Fourth. The latter was, to be sure, the work of Venetians and
Frenchmen, but the experience of the Germans under Frederick Barbarossa and
Henry VI had demonstrated the possibility of removing the Byzantine obstacle
to western designs. 
 Nor was western Christendom, any more than Christendom as a whole, prepared
at this moment of crisis to act in concord. Any crusade undertaken by the
Germans had to fit into Hohenstaufen plans to strengthen and enlarge the
empire. The emperors found in the papacy, which was a constant promoter of
the crusade to the east, a steady opponent of their imperial plans. The papacy
did, indeed, succeed in limiting Barbarossa's Italian ambitions, but it was
unable to prevent Henry VI's acquisition of the Norman kingdom of southern
Italy and Sicily. Both men undertook to lead crusades partly in the hope
of softening papal opposition to their domestic policies. The popes, however
reluctant to support any project calculated to increase the material resources
of the Hohenstaufens, could not withhold official approval from a movement
so likely to enhance their own spiritual power. Except, however, for initial
support in arousing enthusiasm for the proposed crusades, they left the monarchs
free to organize and manage them as they saw fit. These crusades may accordingly
be considered imperial in character, aimed at justifying the predominance
of the German empire in Europe by solving the Moslem problem. They did nothing
to allay the long struggle between the western church and the empire. On
the contrary, by transferring leadership to the latter and emphasizing the
secular aspects of the crusading movement, they heightened the tension. 
 The political organization of central and western Europe prevented close
cooperation among the monarchs. The kings of France and England were at odds
over the Angevin empire, and neither could leave on a crusade while the other
was determined to continue 

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