University of Wisconsin Digital Collections
Link to University of Wisconsin Digital Collections
Link to University of Wisconsin Digital Collections
The History Collection

Page View

Wolff, R. L.; Hazard, H. W. (ed.) / Volume II: The later Crusades, 1189-1311
(1969)

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


Page 384

384 A HISTORY OF THE CRUSADES II 
Since John was himself engaged in a conflict with the kings of Armenia and
Cyprus, Innocent peremptorily ordered him to keep the peace.2' 
 Despite his efforts, Innocent achieved but partial success. The preaching,
the systematic agitation, the efforts to secure temporary peace in the Christian
world unquestionably produced a profound impression upon western Europe,
but the movement won its chief support among the lowly. Chivalrous society
no longer responded with enthusiasm to the call for a holy war, and did not
provide the necessary leadership. Mercenary motives persisted among those
who took the cross. It was the tragedy of Innocent III that the dominant
aim of his pontificate could not be realized within his lifetime. Perhaps,
indeed, a crusade undertaken in the spirit in which Innocent conceived it
was no longer a possibility. When, in the summer of 12 16, he himself set
out in an effort to compose, by his own presence, the perennial conflicts
of the northern Italian cities, death overtook him at Perugia on July 16,
1216.22 
 His successor, the aged but vigorous Honorius III, devoted him self unsparingly
to the realization of Innocent's plans. Despite infirmities, Honorius believed
implicitly, according to a con temporary, that it was to be his God-given
destiny to free the Holy Land.23 But the many difficulties of which Innocent
III was so keenly aware quickly reappeared and were often accentuated as
a result of his death. 
 Young Frederick II, for example, in a moment of enthusiasm had taken the
cross and had appealed to the nobility of Germany to follow his example.24
But as long as his Welf foe, Otto IV, remained to contest his claim to the
throne, Frederick was helpless to embark upon a project which must necessarily
remove him so long from Germany. The bitter feuds among the English nobility
did not abate with the death of king John on October 16, 1216. Nor were conditions
hopeful in France or Spain. Honorius III could not hope for the leadership
of the kings and barons of the chief countries of Europe. At best, he could
expect immediate assistance only from disparate and ill organized pilgrim
groups. 
 Two significant letters of the Premonstratensian abbot, Gervase, one addressed
to Innocent III and the other to Honorius III, reveal the problems facing
the promoters of the crusade.25 Many 
 21 Röhricht, Funft. Kreuz., p. 7. 22 Ibid. 
23 Burchard, Urspergensium chronicon (MGH, SS., XXIII), pp. 378—379.
24 See below, chapter XII, pp. 430-431. 
25 These two letters, analyzed here in some detail, are in RHGF, XIX, 604—605,
618-620. 


Go up to Top of Page