15.08.56, Baldwin, Pope Gregory X and the Crusades

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Cecilia Gaposchkin

The Medieval Review 15.08.56

Baldwin, Philip B. Pope Gregory X and the Crusades. Studies in the History of Medieval Religion. Woodbridge: Boydell Press, 2014. pp. 263. ISBN: 9781843839163 (hardback).

Reviewed by:
Cecilia Gaposchkin
Dartmouth College

Gregory X, pope from 1271 to 1276, never launched a major crusade. But he tried, and despite the fact that he died before it got off the ground, Philip Baldwin argues that Gregory X should be seen "as a great crusade leader" (221).

This book, as outlined in the introduction, examines in detail Gregory's crusade policy. Building on the work of Palmer Throop, Ludovico Gatto, and Sylvia Schein, Baldwin aims to reexamine Gregory's role in crusading, seeking to "move away from a dependence on the advice treatises to explain the reasons for a shift in crusade strategy" (9), and describe the ways in which papal crusading policy was developing in practice at this time of transition. Baldwin makes three principal arguments. The first is that Gregory was planning a crusade from the very beginning of his reign, and not only starting in 1275. Second, that he advocated a "dual crusade policy" in which he would install temporary garrisons of professional soldiers to shore up defenses in the Holy Land at the same time that he was planning a general passage. Third, that the failure of his general passage derived from his efforts to maintain tight control of the crusade (as opposed to relying on secular leadership as in previous decades).

The first chapter clarifies the dates and progression of "the early life of Pope Gregory X" (which is the chapter's title). Born Tedaldo sometime near the start of the thirteenth century in Piacenza to the influential Visconti family, he prepared for a life in the church, probably becoming a canon in one of the city's collegiate churches, San Antonino, sometime in the 1230s. There he became associated with Cardinal Bishop James of Palestrina, in whose entourage Tedaldo entered the world of ecclesiastical politics. Tedaldo travelled to Aix-en-Provence in 1239 and was made a canon at Lyon. He attended the First Council of Lyon in 1245. In 1246 he was named archdeacon of Li├Ęge, where he clashed with the bishop, Henry of Guelders. During his time, and despite rules against absentee archdeaconism, Tedaldo went to Paris to pursue his studies, and apparently during this stage met the likes of Louis IX of France as well as Bonaventure and probably Aquinas. In 1267 he participated in a diplomatic mission to England led by the future Hadrian V. He took the cross along with Louis IX, intending to participate in the king's second crusade to Tunis. When he learned about the king's death, he headed directly to the Levant to join the future Edward I of England in Acre. While there, he learned first-hand of the politics and military realities on the ground. And also while there, he learned that the papal conclave, stuck for three years in an attempt to elect the successor to Clement IV (d. 1268), had chosen him as a compromise candidate. Having never been ordained as a priest, he was still only an archdeacon. That he was himself a crusader was probably a part of his appeal. He returned to Italy immediately and was crowned in Rome on 27 March 1272, taking the name of Pope Gregory X.

The second chapter (entitled "'We saw with our eyes and felt with our very own hand': The Importance of Understanding the Conditions of the Holy Land") assesses the various types of information and knowledge Gregory was likely have had relied upon in this period. The first section argues that truce making on the ground in 1272 involving Baybars, Hugh of Cyprus, Charles of Anjou and Edward of England, did not constrain Gregory from beginning plans for a new crusade. The author moves then to consideration of Gregory's own sense of obligation and understanding of the situation in the Holy Land, and his appeal to his own experiences there. In that same year, Gregory issued the call for the Second Council at Lyon, which was to take up the matter of the crusade. The pope commissioned a series of advice treatises on crusade, and gathered further information from direct communications from the Holy Land itself. It was clear, then, by 1276, that what was left of the Latin East was in a desperate position, short on funds, threatened by Baybars, in need especially of renewed naval power, and in short, a new general passage.

The third chapter is titled "Interim Crusade Planning." From the very beginning of his papacy, Gregory began establishing his "dual" crusade policy. Even before his coronation, Gregory was looking to put things in place, seeking a loan from Philip III of France. Philip himself was eager to take the cross, though because Gregory sought to not repeat Louis IX's crusade and cede operations to secular leadership but rather to maintain tight control of crusading, Philip was discouraged from quick action (and in the end, never went to the Holy Land). In the meantime, the pope, with financial help from Philip III, installed a temporary paid (that is, mercenary, paid for by the crusade-tenth) garrison in the Holy Land to forestall Baybars' advances. The garrison was placed under veteran crusader, Oliver of Termes (d. 1274), succeeded by William of Roussillon. These mercenary crusaders received the indulgence, but not the usual papal protections. Baldwin argues that this was a successful strategy, which, notwithstanding the existing truce, forestalled Mamluk advances.

The fourth chapter is entitled "A Problem of Governance? Pope Gregory X, Charles of Anjou, and the Latin Kingdom of Jerusalem," and deals with the political and diplomatic issues arising from Charles' pitch for the crown of the Latin kingdom. Maria of Antioch sold her claim to the crown of Jerusalem (against Hugh of Lusignan) to Charles of Anjou in 1276 (after Gregory's death). Runciman and others have suggested that Gregory encouraged Charles in his Jerusalem ambitions. Baldwin, through examination of the material and military aid Charles sent East, argues that Charles' interest and influence in the Holy Land predates Gregory's pontificate. Gregory had nothing to do with Maria relationship and negotiations with Charles, and there is no evidence that he favored an Angevin claim to Jerusalem.

Chapter 5, "Political Exigencies and Gregory's Crusade," examines the relationship between Gregory and Alfonso X of Castile as a way of assessing Gregory's views of crusading in non-Levantine theaters. He argues that despite Gregory's evident commitment to Holy Land crusading, he favored equally Iberian and North African crusading as beneficial for the Holy Land and in and of itself. Gregory sought to obtain peace among European leaders in order to foster the passagium generale, and to this end he did not support Alfonso's claim to the Empire, favoring instead Rudolf of Hapsburg as King of the Romans during the election of 1273. The Maranid invasion of Iberia in 1275 forced Alfonso to forgo his imperial aims, thus aiding Gregory in his aim to settle affairs in Europe before mounting a Holy Land crusade.

The final chapter ("Imagining Gregory's Crusade") discusses the plans for the general passage that Gregory never, in the end, launched. Instead of a North African or Egyptian target, Gregory (probably) planned an overland passage through Turkey and Anatolia, on the model of the First Crusade. Gregory enlisted the support of most of Europe's major rulers. First, given recent history, was Philip III of France, who took the cross in 1275. Baldwin then reviews the negotiations with Charles of Anjou, Michael Palaeologus, Ottokar of Bohemia, Edward of England, Rudolph of Habsburg. But Gregory never made clear his goals for the secular leadership of the crusade, and he was wary of allowing Philip of France to take the lead. In the end, Baldwin argues that it was "too much papal control and influence on the crusade during Gregory's papacy that helped bring the crusade to nothing" (204), since the venture died with Gregory's own death in 1276.

Gregory X was thus a compelling figure with a complex agenda. Baldwin's study provides a close look at his goals. There are some odd omissions, such as the lack of a sustained discussion of the Second Council of Lyon. The work could have achieved wider appeal and greater importance by contextualizing some of its claims on a larger canvas. Specialists will find the analysis helpful in assessing crusading plans from the 1270s, and understand better the development of crusade policy, the transition from the strategy of the passagium generale to the passagium particular, and the European political contexts that hamstrung crusading at the end of the thirteenth century.

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