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13.02.01, Balard, ed., La Papauté et les croisades/ The Papacy and the Crusades

13.02.01, Balard, ed., La Papauté et les croisades/ The Papacy and the Crusades

In August 2008, the Society for the Study of the Crusade and the Latin East sponsored its seventh conference at the University of Avignon, under the theme of "The Papacy and the Crusades." This volume comprises twenty essays originally presented at the conference. The essays are mostly written in English and French, with a single contribution (by Cipollone) in Italian. The editor, the eminent French crusade historian Michel Balard, introduces the volume (1-7), after presenting the rationale for the topic, with a rapid and masterly narrative overview of the papacy's involvement over more than four centuries in the history of the crusades.

The volume is divided into four thematic subsections, unequal in length: Words and Terminology, The West, The East, Northern and Eastern Europe. The following will summarize the contributions in each section.

Part I: Les Mots / Terminology:

1. Benjamin Weber, "Nouveau mot our novelle réalité? Le terme cruciate et son utilisations dans les textes pontificaux" ("A New Word or a New Reality? The Term cruciata and its Uses in Papal Texts"). The Latin word cruciata, -ae (noun, f.) appears for the first time in a papal document around 1300, but only becomes part of the regular vocabulary of crusading in papal texts in the second half of the fifteenth century. It has a range of different meanings, from an act of indulgence closely tied to spiritual recompense exchanged for fighting for the faith, to the papal administration responsible for the finances associated with papally sanctioned holy wars. Weber throughout engages the "nominalist" question of whether a new word designates a new reality or rather participates in constructing the interpretation and categorization of an existing reality. Looking at the multivalent uses of the word in the fifteenth century, Weber argues that the increasing use of the term was in fact a political act used to associate the holy wars against the Ottomans with the older and prestigious holy war to regain Jerusalem.

2. Giulio Cipollone, "Le varie ragioni per 'assumere la croce': Il senso di un arruolamento in più direzioni" ("The Various Reasons to 'Take Up the Cross': The Sense of Enlistment in Its Different Meanings"). Cipollone uses papal correspondence through to Boniface VIII to examine the question of what, over time, the popes meant by "taking the cross." Drawing out the papacy's increasing interest in underscoring their rolls as the vicars of Christ, he argues, the crusade had a variety of different meanings, and was, in the end, whatever the popes determined. Indeed, Jerusalem was wherever the popes sent you, and thus that particular "wherever" became the gateway to heaven.

3. Michel Balard, "The French Recent Historiography of the Holy War." Balard reviews the contribution of French historians to the debate over Holy War (rather than crusade specifically), summarizing the principal contributions of Etienne Delaruelle, Thomas Deswarte, (especially) Jean Flori, Alain Demurger, and (the perhaps not so recent) Paul Alphandéry and Alphonse Dupront. He makes the point that the French have contributed mostly to understanding the Christianization of western institutions that allowed for crusade, and the popular (read: lay, poor) element in the history of crusades. Balard is to be commended for publishing this essay in English, presumably to highlight French historiography to the English speaking and reading world.

Part II: L'Occident / The West:

4. Monique Amouroux, "Louis VII, Innocent II et la Seconde Croisade" ("Louis VII, Innocent II, and the Second Crusade"). This essay looks at the effects of the Second Crusade on Capetian-papal relations. Amouroux begins her contribution by narrating how the early stages of Louis VII's reign was characterized by a troubled and uneasy relationship with the Papacy of Innocent II, including the "church-state" conflict over the archbishopric of Bourges, and the marriage dispute involving his seneschal Raoul of Vermandois (climaxing in the massacre at Vitry, where 1500 faithful were burned to death in a church where they had taken refuge). Amouroux argues that the Second Crusade served to turn around royal-papal relations, beginning a period of political cooperation with the papacy, and turning Louis into a servant of the church. So much so that Louis VII then came to "prefigure the archetype of the pious king par excellence, incarnated in the person of his grandson, Louis IX, better known as Saint Louis" (65).

5. Marco Meschini, "'Smoking sword': le meurtre du légat Pierre de Castelnau et la première croisade albigeoise" ("'Smoking Sword': The Murder of the Legate Peter of Castelnau and the First Albigensian Crusade"). Meschini aims to isolate precisely the role of the murder of Peter of Castlenau (14 January 1208) played in the beginning of the Albigensian crusade as well as its propaganda. He sets this up by noting that Innocent III first requested military aid in Provence from the French king prior to this incendiary murder, in November of 1207, indicating that the pope was planning military action against heretics even prior to the murder; Meschini looks carefully at the rhetoric and reasoning found in Innocent's papal correspondence. He argues that the papal legate's murder was not the casus belli per se, but rather served to refine, or "clarify" (70) the goal of the crusade (from combatting heresy in general to a fight against the protectors of heretics), as well as providing the ideal conditions for the war propaganda that was now served by a legitimate canonical justification for just war. The murder was thus neither the cause of nor the pretext for the crusade, but rather the perfect "smoking sword" (75).

6. Karl Borchardt, "Casting Out Demons by Beelzebul: Did the Papal Preaching against the Albigensians Ruin the Crusades?" Borchardt seeks to refine the traditional argument that Innocent III's calling of the Albigensian Crusade served to undermine the core crusading mission in the long term. He argues that Innocent associated heresy in Occitania with the failures to reclaim Jerusalem in the East, thus associating the early argument for the Albigensian Crusade with more traditional forms of crusade justification. The need for Occitanian nobility--who had been crucial to the success of the First Crusade--to participate in the Eastern crusades was one reason the Albigensian Crusade was directed, not at the heretics themselves, but rather the noble "protectors" of heretics, in order to win them back over to mission in the Holy Land. The irony, however, was that the Capetian takeover of the Southern nobility essentially "helped to destroy the social basis for the traditional and successful crusades to the Holy Land" (89).

7. G.A. Loud, "The papal 'Crusade' against Frederick II in 1228-1230." In this dense and careful essay, Loud examines the earliest, least known, conflict between Pope Gregory IX and the Emperor Frederick II, which occurred between 1227 and 1229 and involved the a papal invasion of the Emperor's fief, Sicily. He argues that the tensions precipitating the crisis were more about issues of sovereignty and authority in Sicily than over Frederick's delays in fulfilling his crusading vow; that Gregory did not characterize the papal military advance into Sicily against Frederick as a crusade per se; that only in September 1229, as papal fortune was reversing, did Gregory begin to suggest that the endeavor might have the character of a crusade, promising, for one, spiritual rewards for fighting for the papacy; and finally, that it collapsed in November 1229 in the face of Frederick's challenge, and Gregory's inability to raise enough troops or enough money to support them. This was not envisioned or enacted as a crusade, unlike what would occur a decade later.

8. Sophia Menache, "When Ideology Met Reality: Clement V and the Crusade." Menache examines the character and success of Clement V's (1305–1314) crusading. Regardless of the criticism he received from contemporaries, Clement was sincerely committed to recovery of the Holy Land, and in 1308–1309 launched the first serious effort since the fall of Acre in 1291. Yet, the operation was relegated to the leadership of the Hospitallers, who were as interested in securing their own authority in Rhodes as reestablishing the security of Armenian Christians (the purported aim of the limited crusade), and the larger crusading enterprise that Clement envisioned was stymied by the competing interests of princes of Christendom. Indeed, Menache's larger point is that by 1300 the evolving conditions and priorities of "new states" impeded launching the traditional crusade supported by pan-Christendom.

9. David M. Perry, "1308 and 1177: Venice and the Papacy in Real and Imaginary Crusades." In 1177, Venice was the site for diplomatic negotiations to settle disputes between Frederick Barbarossa and Pope Alexander III. In the first quarter of the fourteenth century, this historical footnote was turned into a full-blown crusade epic, in which Venice comes to the rescue of the pope, who had traveled in disguise to the island as a monk, and fights Barbarossa in a naval battle which ends up saving the papacy and Italy. In this subtle essay, Perry reads the construction of this historical myth against the reality of the republic's complete capitulation to the papacy in 1308-1309, after Clement V had waged crusading-like actions against Venice in a dispute over Ferrara. Turning the events of 1177 into a crusade in which Venice fought victoriously for the papacy served to counter the ignominy engendered by the defeats of 1308-1309.

10. Alan Forey, "Papal Claims to Authority over Lands Gained from the Infidel in the Iberian Peninsula and Beyond the Straits of Gibraltar." From the eleventh through the fifteenth centuries, kings and princes from the Iberian peninsula might seek assistance or approval for planned or achieved conquests of territories in Muslim hands. At other times, the papacy might even initiate communication about the status of a conquered territory. There was no uniform policy, and papal responses varied throughout the period. Initially, however, the papacy did seem to claim temporal authority, or lordship, over conquered lands, a claim from which they increasingly desisted, particularly in the fifteenth century.

11. Luis Adao De Fonseca, Maria Cristina Pimenta, and Paula Pinto Costa, "The Papacy and the Crusade in XVth Century Portugal." Focusing on the later medieval period, this essay looks at how the ideology of crusade with respect to the territorial (and expansionary) interests of the Portuguese monarchy helped shaped later medieval and early modern concepts of Portuguese history. Crucial in this development was, in the first half of the fourteenth century, the extension of crusading credentials to conflicts at sea, and thus piracy. Thus defined, and bolstered by what the author describe as increasing "crusade messianism," the crusading ethic underlied strategic and expansionary efforts of the Portuguese army into the sixteenth century.

Part III: L'Orient / The East:

12. Aphrodite Papyianni, "The Papacy and the Fourth Crusade in the Correspondence of the Nicaean Emperors with the Popes." The essays explores the representation of the 1204 siege and sack of Constantinople during the Fourth Crusade in the correspondence of two of the Greek Emperors in exile in Nicea and two popes: Correspondence in 1208 between Innocent III and Theodore I Lascaris, and correspondence in 1237 between Iohannes III Vatatzes and Gregory IX. The correspondence dealt with the relationship between the Greek Empire in exile and the Latin Empire. Nicean emperors "did not associate the pope directly with the diversion of the Fourth Crusade or with the atrocities committed by the crusaders in the Byzatine capital" (163).

13. James M. Powell (†), "A Vacuum of Leadership: 1291 Revisited." The late Jim Powell takes a synthetic approach borne of a life-time of work on the crusades in this essay, which considers the specific and structural factors that led to the lack of response to the fall of Acre. In a "transitional" age in which crusades were driven more by secular leaders than the popes, individual popes such as Nicholas IV and Boniface VIII did try to mobilize some energy for a new crusade, but these faltered in the face of local impediments and European politics. At the same time, particularly after the move to Avignon, the papacy's agenda was increasingly to rehabilitate papal authority in Europe. In context, because of "internal developments that were sweeping cross the West" (171), 1291 was in effect a "minor affair," which did not, in the end, merit a new crusade.

14. Francesco Dall'Aglio, "Crusading in a Nearer East: The Balkan Politics of Honorius III and Gregory IX (1221-1241)." This strong essay broadly reviews the politics in and interrelations between the Balkan kingdoms (Bulgaria, Bosnia, and Serbia), and their relations with Hungary, the Latin Empire in Constantinople and the Greek Empire in exile in Nicea, with a particular view to papal policy towards these states and events between the years 1221 and 1241. Honorius III and Gregorgy IX nurtured relations that either helped directly or indirectly the Latin Empire or promoted catholic orthodoxy and allegiance to Rome in the Balkans. At times, this included giving the indulgence and granting crusade status to internal military initiatives, such a crusade into Bosnia and Slavonia in 1238 (against heretics). The papacy also asked for "crusading" help for the Latin Empire.

15. Isabelle Ortega, "La politique de soutien pontifical aux lignanges nobiliaires moréotes aux XIIIe et XIVe siècle" ("The Politics of Papal Support for the Noble Lineages of the Morea in the Thirteenth and Fifteenth Century"). In this highly documented essay, Ortega examines the ways in which the papacy favored and advantaged the Latin nobility established in the Morea following the Greek acquisitions of the Fourth Crusade. Among a variety of strategies, the papacy allowed marriages otherwise forbidden by canon law that favored the local Latin nobility, did not oppose unions with Greek orthodox partners for the same reason, and turned a blind eye to illegitimate conquests, all in the interest of strengthening the ruling elite. This strategy was used both during the Catalan threat in the thirteenth century as against the Turkish thread of the fifteenth.

16. Pierre Bonneaud, "La Papauté et les Hospitaliers de Rhodes aux lendemains de la chute de Constantinople (1453-1467)" ("The Papacy and the Hosptiallers of Rhodes in the Aftermath of the Fall of Constantinople (1453-1467)"). Bonneaud traces the relationship between the Hospitallers and the papacy during a period of increasing threats and challenges to both institutions, to see whether "the situation provoked a tightening of the ties or a change of register in the relations between the two" (202). The Hospitallers aided in military operations in new crusades called in the aftermath of 1453. Yet, a papacy distracted by Italian events did little help to the Hospitallers, who resorted to forms of piracy in the Eastern Mediterranean in efforts to safeguard their own territories against the Turks, causing problems in relations with Genoa and Venice. Meanwhile, the papacy continued to be engaged with the Hospitallers in internal matters, such as appointments and reform.

17. Isabelle Augé, "Papauté, Latins d'orient et Croisés sous le regard de l'archevêque de Tarse, Nersês Lambronatsi" ("Papacy, the Latins of the East, and Crusades in the Eyes of Nersês Lambronatsi, the Archbishop of Tarsus"). Drawing from his numerous writings, Augé examines the views of Nerses of Lambron--as a representative of Eastern Christians, even if an exceptional one--on the papacy and, especially, of Latin Christians. Indeed, he held Latin Christians (particularly monks) in high regard, particularly for their liturgy, their monastic regulation, and their asceticism.

18. Marie-Anna Chevalier, "Le rôle de la Papauté dans la politique arménienne de Hospitaliers au XIVe siècle" ("The Role of the Papacy in the Armenian Politics of the Hospitallers in the 14th century"). By the fourteenth century, Rhodes and Armenia were two of the remaining Christian outposts in the East. In this detailed contribution, Chevalier chronicles the ways in which the papacy deployed the Hospitallers of Rhodes diplomatically and militarily to effect Christian interests in the East, particularly in safeguarding the Christian power of Armenia. Despite concerns over the "doctrinal error" of the Armenian church, this included the reintroduction in the 1320s of the Hospitallers into Cicilia, and their defense of the region in the second half of the fourteenth century.

Part IV: L'Europe du Nord et de L'Est / Northern and Eastern Europe: 19. Darius von Güttner Sporzynski, "Poland and the Papacy Before the Second Crusade."

Although the christianization of Poland had occurred in the century before the First Crusade, links between the papacy and the Polish court of Boleslaw III were tightened in the early years of the twelfth century in ways that suggest the importance of crusading ideas and ideology at the Polish court and Polish wars against the (pagan) Pomeranians. Von Guttner draws attention to two papal delegations to Poland (in 1103, and then in 1123) as mechanisms by which crusading ideas were introduced at the court; and looks at the discourse of just war in the critical source, the Gesta Principum Polonorum to show how the ideology of crusade had been appropriated by Boleslaw and incorporated into the identity of Poland as a Christian kingdom that participated in the larger aims of Christendom.

20. Janus Møller Jensen, "Politics and Crusade: Scandinavia, the Avignon Papacy and the Crusade in the XIVth Century." Jensen takes seriously the idea of crusade in the political, financial, and ideological history of Scandinavia in the middle years of the fourteenth century, rather than it being merely an "ideological smoke-screen for an ambition to expand" (271). Concentrating on the political and territorial ambitions of Magnus II Eriksson of Sweden (1319-1374) and his rival Valdemar IV Atterdag of Denmark (1340-1375), Jensen examines how crusade (as well, as crusade tithes and financing, vows, and incentives, along with papal alliance and protection) factored in the political and military history of the region, in Magnus' crusade against the Russians (and the pagans among them) and Valdemar's efforts to regain control over Denmark. Although these accomplished comparatively little, Jensen argues it is a mistake to underestimate the role that the ideology, propaganda, and financing of crusade played in the political developments of the fourteenth century.

Final (minor) thoughts:

This volume comprises a series of localized studies which, to a greater or lesser degree, examines the role of the papacy in the crusades, with a marked (though, I expect, undesigned) concentration on the later, post 1291, period, thus underscoring the continued interest, if also the compromised vigor, of the papacy in the later crusades. Some of the essays may have benefited from somewhat more rigorous editing interventions, in particular some of the English-language essays that were written by non-native speakers. I, personally, would have appreciated the inclusions a few well designed maps to aid in my understanding and appreciation of some of the essays dealing with regions I am not so familiar. The volume lacks an index, which would also have increased its usefulness. That said, scholars will no doubt read essays that pertain to their own research interests, and will find much of use.