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)
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.
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