The Medieval Review 16.06.04

Baloup, Daniel and Manuel Sánchez Martínez, eds. Partir en croisade à la fin du Moyen Âge: Financement et logistique. Méridiennes. Toulouse: Presses universitaires du Midi, 2015. pp. 441. €25.00 (hardback). ISBN: 978-2-8107-0384-5 (paperback).

Reviewed by:

William Chester Jordan
Princeton University

The book under review here is a collection of essays exploring, as its subtitle indicates, the financing and logistics of the later crusades and of contemporary and subsequent Christian expeditions that share some compelling features of crusading. For the sake of those readers who desire to know whether the war or campaign in which they are interested is treated in the volume, I shall list the expeditions covered here: the Crusade against Aragon of 1285, the failed attempts to retake Gibraltar (the War of the Estrecho) in the 1340s, the maritime campaigns against Islamic powers in the fourteenth and fifteenth centuries, the lead-up to and assault on Nicopolis from 1389 to 1396, the fifteenth-century Hussite Wars, the post-conquest (post-1453) military interventions meant to recover Constantinople and its hinterlands from the Ottomans, and a number of lesser known mid-fifteenth to mid-sixteenth century expeditions and aborted expeditions.

Besides being topically linked by the authors' concern with armies, supplies and money, another theme that runs through many of the articles in the volume is the centrality of ecclesiastical contributions in pulling off the expeditions. The opening article, written by Pascal Montaubin, very usefully chides generations of historians for failing (with a few notable exceptions) to look closely at the role of papal legates to mobilize support--in the widest sense of the term--for crusading. These men not only preached the crusade, they also monitored preparations. There is one article wholly devoted to the organization (logistics) of preaching: Pavel Soukup's "Preaching the Cross against the Hussites." Amandine Le Roux, in "Le recouvrement de la décime par les collecteurs pontificaux de 1316 à 1503," explores changing access (lay versus papal) to the tenths levied as a tax on the church for the holy wars, while Jordi Morelló Baget's "La contribución del clero de la Corona de Aragón" explores the church's fiscal contribution to the War of the Estrecho, which could take alternative forms besides the tenth.

Mounting maritime expeditions and fighting maritime warfare, especially but not exclusively against North African lands, constitute another theme (see the articles in the volume by Maria Teresa Ferrer i Mallol and Juan Luis Carriazo Rubio). Questions raised in the articles that treat this topic are not limited to financing and logistics but extend as well to the wider economic impact of the financing and of the warfare itself. Particularly impressive is Maria Elisa Soldani's article which focuses on the eastern rather than the western Mediterranean: "Combattre sur la frontière de la Méditerranée orientale."

A great deal of attention is paid to the Ottomans. It was difficult at times to get Europeans who lived at a distance from the front with Islam to imagine the Ottoman incursions as their problem, as Norman Housley indicates in his essay. But statesmen and churchmen tried, which perhaps helps to explain why there were so many plans for expeditions, many of which of course never materialized (see also the article by Franck Viltart, "Itinéraires, transport et logement des armées dans les projets de croisade de Philippe le Bon [1454-1464]"). Venetians and Central Europeans had no such illusions that the Ottoman challenge was temporary or should not be of pan-European concern. I refer the reader here to three excellent articles by Attila Barany, Alexandru Simon, and Matteo Provasi.

A final theme of the collection is the effect of so many military failures on financing and logistics, even if this is not the explicit focus of all the following articles. Failures led to reforms of the military establishment in Hungary (Barany's essay). Sophie Salviati's article on the Italian commercial world underscores the role of the Medicis in mobilizing stable financial backing for the holy wars. The almost permanent state of war in some regions was a constant stimulus to adaptive change, as Jorge Sáiz Serrano shows in his study of early fifteenth-century North African expeditions. And many other thoughtful reform programs were planned that sometimes turned out to be too radical or costly to undertake--one of the many useful conclusions I took from Emmanuelle Pujeau's article on early sixteenth-century crusade plans.

All in all, this is a splendid collection of articles. It will be an inspiration for those who wish to revise work they have published dealing with the classic crusades down to 1271 and for others who embark on new or augment old areas of research concerned with the later period. The authors are to be commended, and so too are the editors of this volume. A thoughtful summing up by Michel Balard also adds to the quality of this admirable collection of essays.

Copyright (c) 2016 William Chester Jordan

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