John Tolan

title.none: Bull and Housley, eds., The Experience of Crusading (John Tolan)

identifier.other: baj9928.0501.023 05.01.23

identifier.issn: 1096-746X

description.statementofresponsibility: John Tolan, Universite de Nantes - Currently Research Fellow, Oregon State University,

publisher.none: .

date.issued: 2005

identifier.citation: Bull, Marcus, and Norman Housley, eds. The Experience of Crusading: Volume One: Western Approaches. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 2003. Pp. xvi, 307. $60.00 (hb). ISBN: 0-521-81168-6.

type.none: Review

relation.ispartof: The Medieval Review

The Medieval Review 05.01.23

Bull, Marcus, and Norman Housley, eds. The Experience of Crusading: Volume One: Western Approaches. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 2003. Pp. xvi, 307. $60.00 (hb). ISBN: 0-521-81168-6.

Reviewed by:

John Tolan
Universite de Nantes - Currently Research Fellow, Oregon State University

This book brings together seventeen essays in honor of Jonathan Riley-Smith on the occasion of his sixty-fifth birthday. The collection opens with a brief introduction in which Marcus Bull and Norman Housley trace Riley-Smith's career, assessing the importance of his major books on the crusades. The seventeen essays that follow (many of them by Riley-Smith's former students) are divided into four unequal sections: The Crusades and Crusading (seven articles); The Catholic Church and the Crusades (six articles); The Military Orders (two articles); and Retrospectives (two articles). As usual with such collections, the thematic ties are loose (essentially being crusading) and the quality variable, though on the whole quite high.

Marcus Bull argues that eleventh-century miracle stories provide an untapped source that help us understand the place of the Jerusalem pilgrimage in eleventh-century European mentalities, a key element to grasping the motivations of the crusaders. Narratives of pilgrimage show how Jerusalem was the "point of ultimate reference" in a matrix of pilgrimage sites, local, regional, and international. A number of stories relate the travails of western pilgrims traveling to or from Jerusalem: captivity, slavery, violence at the hands of "pagans." Could this provide a clue as to why Europeans took the cross in the years following 1095? Bull thinks so and finds confirmation in the fact that Guibert de Nogent has Pope Urban II evoke the sufferings of Western pilgrims to Jerusalem. This interesting article has the whiff of work in progress, and one can only encourage Bull to continue. He should familiarize himself with key scholarship on miracle stories, in particular Benedicta Ward's Miracles and the medieval mind (Philadelphia, 1982) and Pierre-André Sigal's L'homme et le miracle dans la France médiévale (Xie-XIIe siècle) (Paris, 1985).

Several other articles reassess little-known or commonly mis-interpreted sources: Giles Constable briefly presents three accounts of the translation of the relics of St. Vincent, which shed light on the conquest of Lisbon (1147). Jonathan Phillips reassesses Odo of Deuil's De profectione Ludovici VII in Orientem, showing that his information is on the whole reliable. Odo has frequently been dismissed in recent scholarship for being resolutely anti-Greek; Phillips shows that Odo's views are more complex than that. Odo is in the close entourage of French King Louis VII; since his text is the major source for the second crusade, historians have tended to follow Odo in overemphasizing the role of the French king at the expense of Conrad III, who was seen by contemporaries as the leader of the expedition.

A number of articles deal with issues of motivation and intentionality of the crusaders and of the princes and prelates who launched the crusades. Norman Housley's careful reconstruction of the budgeting of crusading activity in the fourteenth century shows how many of those who advocated crusading made quite realistic assessments of the various military possibilities at their disposal, often opting for relatively cost-efficient naval expeditions over major land armies, costly and difficult to assemble, transport and control. He concludes that "in this period, as earlier, few people contemplated crusading for the sake of their financial well-being" (59). True enough, and worth underlining; but it should be emphasized that this is from the point of view of he who pays, not he who is paid. The participation in crusades by the Italian maritime republics (Venice, Pisa, Genoa) has often been portrayed as motivated for mere financial reasons. Christopher Marshall shows that, while the republics indeed reap important financial benefits (access to markets, exemption from tariffs and taxes, ownership of neighborhoods in newly conquered towns), this does not mean that the Italians' religious motivations and their status as Crusaders were any less real than those of other crusaders. Marshall shows, reasonably enough, that chroniclers of the first crusade often referred to the Italians as "pilgrims" (the preferred term that historians often translate as "crusaders") and that Italians participated in the same religious devotions and pilgrimage rites as their European contemporaries. The weakest link in Marshall's argument is his analysis of Genoese chronicler Caffaro's De libertatione civitatum orientis. He presents Caffaro as an "eyewitness" (70) who "reports" various speeches (by the Norman knight Tancred or the Genoese Consul Caputmallus): Marshall analyzes these speeches as if they reflected what was actually said, without asking how or why Caffaro may have reworked them to fit his own ideological agenda.

James Powell and John Pryor explore aborted crusade plans during the pontificate of Innocent III. Powell presents correspondence between the pope and Byzantine emperor Alexius III (in 1199) about the possibility of the Emperor's leading a new crusade against Saladin. The negotiations failed, and the fourth crusade was of course to be turned against Constantinople, to the ire and frustration of Innocent. Powell's article underlines that there was nothing inevitable about this anti-Byzantine turn in crusading. The same conclusion is reached in John Pryor's study of the Venetian fleet for the fourth crusade. Did the Venetians plan all along to redirect the fourth crusade against Constantinople, away from their trading partner Ayyubid Egypt, as many have claimed (from the thirteenth century to the twenty-first)? Or was Egypt really the initial goal? Pryor argues convincingly for the latter, showing how, diplomatically and commercially, Venice at the turn of the thirteenth century had much to lose from an uncertain debacle in Byzantium, and much to gain from a crusader conquest of Egypt. The most innovative argument in Pryor's article comes his close attention to the composition of Venice's fleet: in particular to construction and arming, at considerable expense, of a large fleet of Uissiers, ships which he defines as "galleys for transporting cavalry built with stern ports for embarking and disembarking horses" (103). Such a fleet was not ideally adapted for an attack on Constantinople, but was well suited to the conquest of Egypt.

H. Cowdrey and John France explore the development of notions of just war and holy war before and during the period of the crusades; both articles travel well-trod ground, citing those who went before (among others, Carl Erdmann, Frederick Russell, and most recently, Jean Flori). It would have been helpful to this reviewer if Cowdrey and France had both spelled out more clearly how their work differs from that of their predecessors. Neither of course could benefit from the most recent treatment of the subject, Toma( Mastnak's Crusading Peace: Christendom, the Muslim World and Western Political Order (Berkeley, 2002). Cowdrey argues that by the thirteenth century, two largely separate notions of holy war and just war merge around the concept of crusade. John France, following Jean Flori, nuances Carl Erdmann's thesis that the first crusade marked a break in that Urban II transformed warfare from a sinful into a penitential activity. France shows, indeed, that various papal letters and saints' lives from before the year 1000 also present warfare in the service of God as a positive activity--in some cases when the sword is wielded by a bishop or other cleric. Yet the examples that France cites are pre-Gregorian reform: during the second half of the eleventh century, as "reformers" drove home the idea that shedding blood and having sex were two things that clerics should not do, it arguably became more difficult to present war as virtuous or holy.

Three articles deal with the history of the military orders. Helen Nicholson shows how the military orders (in particular the Hospitalers) became important players in the English crown's administration of Ireland--often to the detriment of service to the Holy Land. Anthony Luttrell examines the presence of Hospitalers in twelfth-century Constantinople, in particular in the entourage of emperor Manuel Comnenus. James Brundage gives us a fascinating glimpse at canon lawyers at work. The existence of military orders, of soldier-monks, presented a legal dilemma: monks could not bear arms, and laymen were not in orders. Canonists contrived a special category, neither cleric nor lay, of "ecclesiastical persons," in which they placed members of military orders along with other difficult half-breeds (such as Cistercian conversi).

Penny Cole presents the important and too little-known De predicatione crucis by Humbert of Romans (c. 1266). Humbert wrote his treatise for Dominicans who were to preach the crusade. Cole pays particular attention to Humbert's understanding of history, both in his treatise proper and in the marginal glosses: a vituperative vision of Muhammad and a presentation of the first crusade as a model meant to inspire thirteenth-century knights. Cole will soon publish an edition of this important text with Corpus Christianorum. Christoph Maier looks at three concrete and interesting examples of reference to crusade in the Vienna codex of the Bible moralisée, a manuscript probably produced for Blanche de Castille. In these three paired images, parallels are drawn between key events in Old Testament history and the exploits of crusaders, clearly inscribing in sacred history the efforts of crusaders, down to Blanche's husband (Louis VIII) and son (Louis IX).

This rich and important collection does honor to Jonathan Riley Smith and should be part of any serious library on the crusades.