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19.09.10 Tamminen, Crusade Preaching and the Ideal Crusader

19.09.10 Tamminen, Crusade Preaching and the Ideal Crusader

In Crusade Preaching and the Ideal Crusader, Miikka Tamminen explores how preachers attempted to create the ideal crusader through sermon literature. The focus does not include the audiences or the intentions of the crusades themselves, but rather it compares and contextualizes crusading ideals as presented in his selected sources. The criteria for including the sermons used in this investigation are that they were "intended for the crusaders or intending ones, or were preached to promote or explain crusading...during preparations or during campaigns between 1216-1277" (26). Tamminen argues that, for these preachers, "conduct, attitude, and frame of mind of the participants were not inessential side issues, but significant questions, which had both practical and ideological dimensions" (4). Tamminen draws together a body of sources that have not been examined collectively before in order to offer a new interpretation of thirteenth-century crusading ideology.

Organized thematically, the book opens with an overview of the historiography on the meaning of crusading and the shape of crusade preaching. Building on the work of Penny Cole, Christoph Maier, Nicole Bériou, Jessalynn Bird, and Alexis Charansonnet, Tamminen focuses on 36 model sermons, together with two preaching manuals, the anonymous Brevis ordinacio de predictione sancte crucis and Humbert de Romans' De eruditione predicatorum. Tamminen then provides brief biographical sketches for the identified authors, who include: Philippe de Chancelier, Jacques de Vitry, Roger of Salisbury, Eudes de Châteauroux, Federico Visconti, Guibert of Tournai, and Humbert de Romans. Although unified by their education at the University of Paris and their engagement in the pastoral reform movement, these men's careers represented a diversity of ecclesiastical positions--bishops, chaplains, scholars, and mendicants. The sermons themselves are equally varied. Composed for a range of occasions, including Feast Days, Lent, and as part of ad statuscollections, the sermons address a range of crusading needs, such as recruitment, conduct, and remembrance for the dead. This diverse source base allows Tamminen to compare the range of applications of the concept of the "ideal crusader" in changing contexts. Those described as "enemies of the cross" could be Albigensians, Muslims, or Mongols. Context, however, is necessarily flexible. Model sermons were intended for didactic purposes, rather than representing previous live performance. As such, Tamminen attempts to contextualize the possible occasions and audiences for these sermons, while acknowledging to the limits of these sources.

In the second chapter ("The Crusader and the Bible"), Tamminen focuses on three central biblical themes: the deeds of Joshua, the Maccabaean Wars, and prophetic or apocalyptic images. For each theme, the author first looks back to the legacy of the First Crusade, before showing how the theme was used in various thirteenth-century sermons, often drawing on other sources, such as Jean de Joinville's account of Louis IX's crusading activities. For example, Tamminen details how, although not a king himself, the biblical figure of Joshua came to be associated with good kingship, which in turn could cast later monarchies like the Capetians as playing an important role in salvation history. By drawing together visual evidence from Sainte Chapelle and Eudes de Châteauroux's sermon on its relics, Tamminen shows how the visual program worked together with the sermons to interpret the deeds of Joshua as typological precedents to Louis IX's own crusading endeavors. But different contexts and changing enemies called for new applications of the same biblical themes; therefore, Tamminen shows how some preachers compared the Albigensians to the city of Ai in Joshua 7, and elsewhere cast Charles of Anjou's treaty with the Lucera Muslims as akin to the greedy sins of Achor. The insight offered on the situational use of biblical themes in crusading sermons, shifting from historical to moral readings, provides some of the most thought-provoking material in this book.

The next chapter tackles an enormous topic, "The Crusader and God," and is itself suitably enormous (pp. 91-202). As the author notes, God was central to the crusading message. Some of this chapter covers familiar ground, addressing how this corpus of crusade sermons and preaching manuals showcase just war, vassalage, and questions of indulgences, partial indulgences, as well as their general reticence on exactly how crusading vows were to be made and redeemed. Tamminen presents some significant interventions within these sections, for example, he shows detailed evidence proving that the Imitatio Christiremained a consistent concept for proscribing crusaders' behavior, and how humility and suffering lead to spiritual rewards. Likewise, the sections that examine the presentation of death, purgatory, and martyrdom reveal a fascinating balance between crusade model sermons that, on one hand, insinuate the promise of salvation, but, on the other, were unable to guarantee it explicitly to anyone. It can be difficult, however, for readers to draw connections across such an expansive historiographical map.

The final chapter, "The Crusader and the World," examines what these sermons and preaching manuals say about temporal concerns, with special attention paid to finances and family. Not surprisingly, these preachers characterized "the world" as made up of competing loyalties, which distracted men from their righteous crusading obligations. In this chapter Tamminen also analyzes the preachers' view on non-combatants and how they envisioned the proper participation of those tasked with auxiliary roles. Tamminen asserts that preachers continued to rely on the theme of pilgrimage, in contrast to Caroline Smith and Christoph Maier's conclusions that this approach waned as the crusades were directed to locations other than Jerusalem. In fact, Tamminen notes, five out of eight of the authors in his study preached crusade using the ideology of pilgrimage. He does, however, agree with Smith that the meaning of the concept of a pilgrim changed over time as concern with the crusaders' inner disposition became central. He suggests that authors like Humbert of Romans and Jacques de Vitry perhaps found the ideology of pilgrimage especially useful for mixed audiences, since it emphasized crusade as a communal enterprise in which all members would strive toward a common goal. In this chapter, Tamminen also incorporates Turner and Gennep's anthropological theory of liminality and communitas as a way to understand crusading rituals, legal protections, and ideology as an attempt to unify crusaders of varying ranks, geographies, and economic means, to create a vision of social harmony. Acknowledging the shortcommings of this theory, the author states that crusading was not a rite of passage, and participants would not, in practice, be freed from their social structures.

For all the book's manifold virtues, the scope of the sources and the thematic organization of the material are at times problematic. The reader is tasked with tracking eight authors' unique political, religious, and social circumstances during a multifaceted crusading period, which suggests the work would be best suited to scholars who are already grounded in the details of crusading history. The repetition of overlapping themes within the chapters makes the numerous subsections appear at times disjointed. For example, in chapter four, Tamminen cites the well-known exemplum of Jacques de Vitry in which a meddlesome wife attempts to stop her husband from hearing a crusading sermon as key evidence that preachers cast familial attachments, especially women, as hinderances to crusading. Later in the chapter, however, the author returns to the role of women in crusading, and provides a more nuanced assessment that balances the sermons' tropes of women simply as obstacles on a true crusader's path, and evidence of the preachers' concern over women's "pastoral care and reform" (261). Drawing these perspectives together could have offered some interpretative clarity. Also throughout the book, Tamminen rightly acknowledges that model sermons offer an idealistic portrayal which did not map onto reality, but there are occasions where he presents the preachers and crusaders in an idealistic light, especially when inferring their intentions. For example, he suggests that "preachers did not mean to deceive their audiences with broad promises of full pardon for their sins," (180) and that "crusaders made the decision to go crusade out of the love of God" (99). Tamminen's own research, however, undermines such statements. For instance, he cites evidence that unscrupulous preachers did in fact embezzle crusade funds and indiscriminately sign people with the cross.

The fact that such varied themes do not hold completely together is less remarkable than is Tamminen's admirable effort to synthesize them. Crusading Preaching invites scholars of history of crusade, religion, and medieval sermons to reconsider the vital role preachers and ecclesiastics had in crafting the identity of crusaders. It also provides a valuable basis for further research on the connections between the University of Paris and Rome, propaganda and policy, and the larger influence that the concept of the "ideal crusader" had on the perception of defeat and the memorialization of the dead.