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

XI: The Fifth Crusade,   pp. 376-428 PDF (13.1 MB)

Page 380

to the royal family and to the clergy of France to give him whole hearted
support.4 Soon after Robert's arrival in France, he sum moned a council to
deal especially with the difficult question of usury, through which many
of the nobles and clergy had been pauperized and, as a consequence, could
not afford to give the desired support to the crusade. But the clergy of
France complained bitterly to the pope of the legate's encroachments upon
their authority, of his avarice, and of the slanderous abuse to which they
were subjected, both by the legate and by the crusading preachers associated
with him. Contemporary sources are in agreement that his imprudent conduct
had incurred general hatred. Philip Augustus supported the clergy in their
complaints, and the pope, seeing the grave danger to the success of the crusade,
acknowledged the excessive zeal of Robert, although pleading extenuating
circum stances.5 
 The preaching of Robert of Courçon, like that of his greater contemporary
James of Vitry, was most successful among the masses, the unfortunate, and
the weak. He permitted all who volunteered to accept the cross: old men,
women, children, crip ples, the deaf, and the blind. William the Breton,
a contemporary historian, alleges that many nobles refused to take the cross
because of the difficulties and confusion occasioned by the presence of so
many ill-suited to the task of a crusade.6 But this was largely Innocent's
fault: in his anxiety lest aid to the Holy Land be unduly delayed, the pope
had expressly admonished his agents not to take the time, at the moment when
the cross was assumed, to examine too closely the physical or moral fitness
of the crusaders. Exceptions could be made later in all cases of urgent necessity.
 In the autumn of 121 5, when Robert returned to Rome to participate in the
Fourth Lateran Council, the prelates of France, in his presence, placed before
the pope their list of grievances, so numerous and, in many instances, so
well founded that the pope could only plead with the prelates to forgive
the legate's indiscre tions.7 Yet, at the end of 1 218, at the request —
incredible as it may seem — of the French crusaders, Robert was sent
to Palestine by Honorius III as spiritual adviser to the French fleet, but
in all things subordinate to the recently chosen papal legate, cardinal Pelagius.8
  PL, CCXVI, cols. 827—828; RHGF, XIX, 579. 
  Du Theil, "Mémoire," pp. 578—580. See also the letter of Innocent
III (May 14, 1214) to Philip Augustus in RHGF, XIX, 59. 
6 De gestis Philippi Augusti, in RHGF, XVII, 108. 
 Ex chronologia Roberti Altissiodorensis, in RHGF, XVIII, 283. 
8 P. Pressutti (ed.), Regesta Honoriipapae III (2 vols., Berlin, 1874—1875),
nos. 1498, 1558; 
O. Rinaldi ("Raynaldus"), Annales ecciesiastici, ad ann. 1218, no. 5 (vol.
XIII, Rome, 1646). 

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