Larry J. Simon

title.none: Ma}er, Preaching the Crusades (Simon)

identifier.other: baj9928.9703.003 97.03.03

identifier.issn: 1096-746X

description.statementofresponsibility: Larry J. Simon, Western Michigan University,

publisher.none: .

date.issued: 1997

identifier.citation: Maier, Christopher T. Preaching the Crusades: Mendicant Friars and the Cross in the Thirteenth Century. Cambridge Studies in Medieval Life and Thought, 4th ser., no. 28. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1994. Pp. x, 202. $44.95. ISBN: ISBN 0-521-45246-5.

type.none: Review

relation.ispartof: Bryn Mawr Medieval Review

The Medieval Review 97.03.03

Maier, Christopher T. Preaching the Crusades: Mendicant Friars and the Cross in the Thirteenth Century. Cambridge Studies in Medieval Life and Thought, 4th ser., no. 28. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1994. Pp. x, 202. $44.95. ISBN: ISBN 0-521-45246-5.

Reviewed by:

Larry J. Simon
Western Michigan University

The stated purpose of this interesting and instructive volume is to investigate "the preaching of ~he cross by members of the two major orders of mendicant friars, the Dominicans and the Franciscans, throughout Europe between the pontificates of Gregory IX and Nicholas IV" (p. 7). Maier believes that the role of the friars as "crusade propagandists has never been fully acknowledged," and this well-written, carefully- constructed volume certainly gives the fullest account to date of this particular mendicant apostolate. Maier makes extensive use of the published papal registers of the thi{teenth century, surviving copies of letters not registered, and various published chronicles and annals, as well as a wide range of secondary sources. Because most of Maier's evidence comes from papal correspondence, much of the present volume is concerned with the manner in which the papacy utilized the mendicant friars as part of their crusade propaganda machine.

In chapter 1 Maier argues that any view of Dominic and Francis as anti-crusade in their respective outlooks is erroneous. Maier rightly dismisses any attempt to impute disapproval of the crusade in Francis's alleged offer, reported in Bonaventure's Legenda Major (c.1260), to undergo ordeal by fire if the sultan al-Kamil would then convert, though Maier attaches great significance to the traditional acceptance of the crusades found in two exempla dating from between 1256 and 1273 which previous historians have approached cautiously. Maier argues that although Dominic continued to preach to the Cathars after the launching of the Albigensian crusade, his close ties to Simon of Montfort and his contact with the crusading army demonstate that he was certainly not opposed to the crusade. Chapter 2 argues that it was Gregory IX's use of the mendicants in the papal-imperial struggle in Italy of 1228-30 which demonstrated to him their utility.

Chapter 3, "Papal Crusade Propaganda and the Friars" (pp. 32- 95), is the lengthiest and perhaps the least original, at least for readers familiar with the direction of crusades in the thirteenth century, of Maier's chapters. Both Gregory IX and Innocent IV were quick to recognize the friars' mobility, popularity, and ubiquity, though critics such as Matthew Paris were more apt to attribute the friars' successes to their lavish dispensation of indulgences. Maier gives a detailed account of mendicant, especially Dominican, activity in the Baltic crusades, where they aided the Teutonic Knights, and in crusades launched against German and Hungarian heretics. Chapter 4, "The Organization of the Preaching of the Cross in the Provinces of the Mendicant Orders" (pp. 96-110), indicates that linguistic boundaries were a key factor in the selection of preachers, that preachers were not to recruit in areas where other preachers had recently worked, and that local bishops, usually so jealous and suspicious of mendicant preaching, seemed to have played a supportive role. Lesser indulgences were often offered as an inducement to crusade sermon attendance, and communal pressure, at least according to Jacques de Vitry and Gilbert of Tournai, seemed to be the dominant factor in determining the success of crusade preaching. Maier acknowledges the limitations of his evidence and notes that there is "relatively little evidence for the way in which a papal commission for the preaching of the cross was dealt with once it had reached the head of a province or an individual convent of one of the mendicant orders" (p. 100).

Chapter 5, "Friars, Crusade Sermons, and Preaching Aids," is fascinating but short (pp. 111-122), and suffers from a lack of evidence, by now a recurrent theme of the volume. Although there is, Maier writes, "ample evidence to illustrate that the friars preached the cross, it has not been recorded what they actually said in their sermons." Maier nevertheless is able to reason from general studies of mendicant preaching (for example, D.L. D'Avray, The Preaching of the Friars: Sermons Diffused from Paris before 1300 [Oxford: Clarendon Press, 1985]) and crusade preaching by secular clerics and members of religious orders (for example, Penny J. Cole, The Preaching of the Crusades to the Holy Land, 1095-1270 [Cambridge, MA: Medieval Academy of America, 1991]) when formulating conclusions. In this chapter he analyzes perhaps too briefly Humbert of Romans' De praedicatione sanctae crucis contra saracenos (c. 1266- 68) and model sermons, and gathers together scattered references in chronicles to give at least some sense of the style and substance of mendicant preaching. Lent was apparently a favored season for crusade preaching, and in sermons a putative crusader's wife was usually portrayed as one of the major impediments to the taking of the cross.

Chapter 6, "The Friars and the Financing of the Crusades," indicates that the task of preaching the cross included from the very beginning the collection of financial subsidies and that the friars also collected money for the redemption of crusade vows, though "there is next to no information about how exactly such payments were made, nor is there sufficient evidence to say how much money was forthcoming generally or by whom it was most commonly paid" (p. 124). Innocent IV utilized the friars especially in his war against Frederick II, authorized them to seek out money for the Latin Empire "acquired by usury, theft, or by any unlawful means," later felt compelled to restrain the friars' zeal in seeking out testaments and usuries, and by the end of his reign acquiesced in the desire of some mendicants to refuse, though only with papal approval, papal commissions which entailed the collection of money. Nevertheless, "throughout the second half of the thirteenth century the friars still collected donations and vow redemptions whenever they preached the cross, and they did not apparently mind storing money from taxes collected by others at their convents" (p. 133).

The seventh and final chapter, "The Friars and the Redemption of Crusade Vows," is a brilliant analysis of the practice of redeeming crusade vows through cash payments, and after the First Council of Lyons in 1245 by testamentary bequest as well. Maier indicates that this was an effective way of raising money, though he hastens to explain that a particular case in Languedoc shows that the business was "handled in a responsible and regular manner" (p. 143), that even Matthew Paris, a harsh critic of the friars' role in crusade vow redemption, nevertheless acknowledged that their actions were taken "in strict compliance with the privileges and indulgences of the papal bulls" (p. 149), and that the papacy made "every attempt to avoid abuse" (p. 152) and "was trying hard to ensure that vow redemptions were administered in a meticulous and responsible manner and to deal firmly with cases of abuse" (p. 160). Vow redemptions remained popular throughout the thirteenth century, but more perhaps out of loyalty and support of crusading than out of individual desire to avoid crusading. If anything, as Maier perceptively points out, many would-be crusaders were reluctant to redeem their vows, and although vow redemption permitted the aged and infirm to contribute to the crusades, the whole practice "excluded wide parts of society from any form of serious participation in the crusade" (p. 155). The mendicants, as crusade preachers, undoubtedly played a role in vow redemption, though there is little evidence in this chapter detailing what this was, for "little is known about how and by whom the majority of vow redemptions was handled" (p. 137).

Maier closes the book with a valuable six-page summary, two appendices, sixteen pages of bibliography, and index. The volume is well-organized, clearly written, and of enormous value to those interested in the crusades, the mendicants, and papal politics. The subtitle may be more indicative of the volume contents than the title, but one hopes that Maier will turn his attention to, or perhaps inspire others to explore, possible undiscovered manuscript sources that would allow for a glimpse of what may have been a distinctive approach or approaches to mendicant crusade preaching. The second appendix (pp. 172-174) lists at least twenty-two crusade sermons and another 46 crusade exempla which could form the starting point for such research. For those of us who work with archival collections occasionally proceeding from the mendicants themselves, a reading of Maier's volume offers a whole host of important topics likely to be further illuminated by what we find.

One criticism I have is with Maier's treatment of Portugal, Castile, and the lands of the Crown of Aragon. I appreciate Maier's accuracy in including Iberia, a central theatre of crusade and mendicant activity, in his volume, but his coverage is rather cursory and misleading. The reconquest was not so much a "slow, continual process" (p. 82), but the product of three waves of convulsive enthusiasm: one from a couple decades before to a couple decades after the first crusade, a second from Las Navas de Tolosa (1212) and the breakup of Almohad power through the conquest of Seville (1248), and a third surrounding the conquest of Granada in 1492. It is not completely clear, moreover, that mendicant preaching was confined to overseas Iberian crusades while enthusiasm for mainland crusading made unnecessary any mendicant preaching. Iberian, especially Catalan, mendicants were also at the forefront of missionary activity to Muslims and Jews, and it would be instructive to learn of their relationship to and/or participation in crusading activity. Dominic Guzman (p. 8) and the city of Cordoba (pp. 10, 11, and throughout) appear with an accent grave over the final a, while there is no such accent in Castilian and the final syllable of Cordoba does not take an accent in any case. In writing of Raymond or Ramon de Penyafort (not "Penyaforte"), the Bologna doctor of law, member of the legation which organized the Majorcan crusade of 1229-32, compiler of Gregory IX's Decretales, and short-term (1238 to 1240) Master General of the Dominicans, Maier writes that after he was called to Rome by Gregory he became a "papal chaplain and penitentiary, a position he held until his death in 1275" (p. 33). Penyafort, I believe, resigned all papal offices save that of penitentiary in 1236 when he returned to Barcelona, and he resigned as penitentiary when he was elected Master General. More significant than this minor quibble, however, is that little mention is made of Penyafort's systematic promotion in the years 1240-75 of schools for the training of missionaries, his encouragement given thinkers such as Thomas Aquinas, Ramon Marti, and Ramon Llull, and his devotion to the missionizing of Muslims and Jews.

The commission to review Maier's volume arrived on my desk almost two years after it was published, and my own desultory progress in writing the review has resulted in my having already used the volume in a graduate seminar on the mendicants and having offered the volume to undergraduate students as a possible book for extra-credit review. Scholars and both advanced and novice students would benefit enormously from the press's issuing a paperback edition of this well-written and useful volume.