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That eastward adventure of united Christendom which we call the Crusades, the common endeavor of all Europe to recapture the home of its religion and to subdue the rival faith of Mahomet, has naturally exercised a strong fascination over the minds of later ages. With the rediscovery of the Middle Ages in the nineteenth century, with the realization that, after all, what the rationalism of the eighteenth century had been inclined to regard as a period of static misery was in fact a time of steady and fruitful growth, the crusading movement began to be studied with renewed interest, and the marked development of European civilization during the two centuries from AD 1100 to 1300 was, on the principle of “post hoc, ergo propter hoc”, assigned to its influence. So Michelet and Heeren attribute to it all those changes in Western Europe which make its condition in 1300 so marked a contrast to that of two hundred years before. The rise of the French monarchy, the growth of towns all over Europe, the great increase in international trade, the development of the Universities, the decline of feudalism, the opening up of Asia, the thirteenth-century Renaissance in literature, philosophy, and art—all this was regarded as due to the stir and movement introduced by the Crusades into a sleeping Europe. If such a view is too facile and enthusiastic, it is perhaps no less difficult to accept the more cynical estimate of the Crusades which would regard them as marauding ex­peditions disguised by a profession of piety, momentarily successful, but incapable, by their very nature, of leaving a permanent mark upon the West.

The Crusades were initiated by the Papacy, and from the moment of Urban II’s appeal to the Council of Clermont down to the fall of Acre—and indeed for long after—they remained one of the first preoccupations of every Pope. Describing the policy of the Curia of so late a date as the middle of the fourteenth century, Viollet remarks that Rome ne cessait guère, dans l’intérêt général de la chrétienté, d'entretenir de grands mais stériles projets de Croisade; c'est pour elle un impérissable honneur. And what was true of the French Papacy of Avignon was far more true of the Popes of the twelfth and thirteenth centuries at the height of their power. It were strange if this continuous direction for two hundred years of the armed forces of Europe in the campaign against the infidel should have left no mark upon the Papacy itself.

When Nicholas II, in 1059, issued the decree regulating the election of future Popes, the great effort of the Church to emancipate itself from the secularization involved in its acceptance of a feudal constitution began. The long struggle with the Empire, which opens between Hildebrand and Henry IV, and which continued relentlessly throughout the period of the Crusades, was an attempt—successful in the main—to organize the Church as a “societas perfecta”, to use a phrase of later controversy, independent of the secular power within its own sphere, and only dependent upon that power in so far as it needed the sword of material force to carry out the sentences of spiritual judgment. In all other respects the Divine Society was to be as superior to the secular as its very nature demanded. The attempt to attain this ideal, with all its tremendous implications, involved the Popes not only in continual warfare with successive Emperors but also in decisive conflict with the Kings of England and France, and, in an increasing degree, it involved the secularization of the Papacy itself. To be successful its occupants must be statesmen first and men of God second; to carry on war they must raise men and money, and resort to shifts of all kinds to do so; to seize every advantage, to shape policy to fit every change of circumstance, they must be prepared to use diplomatic dissimulation and, if necessary, to lie with hardihood. That this process of degradation, from the lofty heights of spiritual control to the lowest levels of political expediency, set in, is not difficult of proof; it suffices to compare Gregory VII with Innocent IV, or the enthusiastic response with which the call to the First Crusade was met, with the indifference and even hostility which greeted such appeals in the later thirteenth century. The wheel had gone full circle, and the attempt to free the members of the Church from secular control ended in a more subtle secularization of its very heart—the Papacy itself.

In that process the Crusades played an important part. They were one of the main sources of papal strength throughout the twelfth century, for they provided the Popes with the moral support of Europe, and placed the Papacy in a position of acknowledged leadership which was of the greatest value in the struggle with the secular powers. The literal mind of the Middle Ages found it more easy to understand the task of succoring the earthly Jerusalem by force of arms than that of gaining the heavenly Jerusalem by the practice of the Christian virtues, and in this case the natural man could at once find an outlet for his martial energies and also, by virtue of the indulgence attached to the Crusade, make certain of attaining the heavenly reward. Every motive of self-sacrifice or self-interest, every desire for glory or for gain, was appealed to by the call to the Crusade. The noble could hope to carve out a principality in the East; the merchant to make gain by transporting the crusading armies and supplying their necessities; the peasant to escape from the crushing burdens of his servile status. But foremost in the minds of all, at least in the early days, was the unselfish desire to regain for Christ the city made sacred by His life and death, and, inspired by this common aim, men of every class and country of Europe flocked to take the Cross at the instigation of the one authority acknowledged by them all—Christ’s earthly Vicar. Here for the first time Christian Europe gave expression to a common mind and will, and it is of the highest significance that this mind and will had been formed and edu­cated by the Church and was now placed at the service of the Church’s head.

There can be little doubt that this moral enthusiasm of Europe proved in the twelfth century an almost incalculable assistance to the Papacy in its struggle with the Empire. To this force of a united Christendom behind them the successors of that Gregory VII who died in exile owed much of the great advance which they were able to make in the century after his death. For the Crusades were a living parable of the doctrine of the superiority of the spiritual sword. They were organized by the Popes and directed by their legates, and, what was more, all those who took the Cross became by that act the subjects of the Papacy in a new and special sense. Their goods during their absence, themselves before they departed and until they returned with their vows fulfilled, were removed from secular and placed under ecclesiastical jurisdiction. The Kings of France or England, of Hungary or Naples, the very Emperors themselves were, as crusaders, at the orders of the Pope, and the value of the moral compulsion of public opinion upon which the Popes could rely in forcing reluctant monarchs to take the Cross is clearly evidenced by the example of Henry II in his extreme old age, or of Philip Augustus, or of Frederick II. It is difficult indeed, except by this explanation, to account for the amazing difference between the position of the Papacy at the accession of Urban II, staggering under the defeat of Gregory VII and the schism which followed, faced too with a Church as yet but half-hearted in support of the reforming policy, and the position of almost undisputed supremacy occupied by Innocent III. After making all allowances for the ability of Alexander III and the persistence with which the Hildebrandine policy was pursued, after taking into account all the circumstances which were favorable to Innocent III’s own assertion of his claims—the folly of John, the death of Henry VI, and the youth of Frederick II—there remains the fact that in an age when emotional religion was becoming steadily more powerful, the Pope, as leader of the conflict with the infidel, was enabled to command to an unprecedented degree the devotion of the faithful.

Yet, in the thirteenth century, much of this prestige and much of this popular devotion were lost. It was not merely that the Holy Land little by little fell into the hands of the Saracen and that the respect given to success was withdrawn when failure followed. The Papacy might have retained undiminished reverence had it failed, as St Louis failed, with clean hands and for no lack of high courage. But the very success which had attended the crusading appeal proved too strong a temptation to the Popes, and the appeal to take the Cross not only ceased to attract but definitely alienated the faithful when it was used as a weapon in the struggle against the Hohenstaufen. The list of so-called crusades in the thirteenth century, not directed against the Saracen, makes sad reading. No good Christian, indeed, was likely to be shocked by an appeal to take the Cross against the infidels of Provence, though a full Holy Land indulgence for forty days’ service might seem almost too easily won when “the greater part of the faithful returned home after the forty days were over”; but since the expedition of Prince Louis against the English king was announced as a crusade, since the papal feud with the Hohenstaufen, so obviously maintained to safeguard the Papal States from danger, was provided with religious sanctions, it is not improbable that Matthew Paris represents a genuine popular reaction, and not merely his own opinion, when he writes of the “crusade” of 1255: “When the faithful heard this, they marveled that he should promise them reward for shedding the blood of Christian men that was in former time pro­mised for the shedding of infidel blood”.

But, apart from the direct effect upon public opinion of this misuse of the Crusade for party ends, there emerged from the crusading movement two financial weapons of lasting importance to the papal armory—the indulgence and the tithe.

It would, indeed, be untrue to assert that indulgences originated in the Crusades, but there can be no doubt that the indulgence as a financial expedient is a direct outcome of them. More than this, the practice had been instituted by Gregory VII of granting absolution from their sins to those who, in particular localities, fought on the Pope’s side in a holy cause. Urban II applied this to the whole of Christendom by his assurance that “those who die there in true penitence will without doubt receive indulgence of their sins and the fruits of the reward hereafter”. The plenary indulgence to crusaders marks an epoch in the development of the system.

It is not, however, till the end of the twelfth century and the begin­ning of the thirteenth that the indulgence began to be used as a source of revenue. In 1184 those who cannot themselves take the Cross are bidden to give alms to support the Crusade and, in return for these contributions and for a threefold repetition of the Paternoster, are promised a partial indulgence. In 1195 Celestine III writes to Hubert of Canterbury as his English legate that “those who send of their goods in aid of the Holy Land shall receive pardon of their sins from their bishop on the terms that he shall prescribe”. In 1215 the Fourth Lateran Council goes a step farther and promises a plenary indulgence to those who shall contribute to the crusading funds in proportion to their means. With that step the downward path was begun, and in the thirteenth century the process of degeneration went steadily on. The demand for exemptions from actual service—at first the pretext for a monetary transaction—ceased to be more than a form, and the oratory of the mendicants stirred the ignorant to buy what they at least thought to be a certificate of admittance to Paradise. The Pardoner became a characteristic figure of medieval life, and the abuse of indulgences, after rousing the protests of Wycliffe and of Hus, increased steadily till it provoked the avenging wrath of Luther.

If the Crusading Indulgence formed a lucrative and welcome addition to the papal revenues, the Clerical Tithe, another crusading device, proved even more profitable. Before the Crusades papal taxation in the strict sense did not exist. Romescot was a gift and not a tribute, and the Popes had not yet developed the system of annates and first-fruits which later provided them with a large part of their revenues. In 1146, however, the necessities of the Second Crusade led Louis VII of France to impose a tax upon all clerics under his jurisdiction of a tithe of their moveables, and this innovation was taken over by Richard I and Philip Augustus in the “Saladin Tithe” of 1188. The secular princes had here taken the initiative, and the tithe may be regarded as of first-rate importance in the general history of taxation as almost the first recorded step in the substitution of national taxes based on property values for the ruder and less profitable feudal taxation. But, important as the tithe may be in the history of secular, it is still more important in the history of ecclesiastical taxation. The Popes could not afford to allow ecclesiastical property to become the basis of national revenues. A tithe for a crusade might soon become a tax for foreign aggression, and when Louis VII in 1163 repeated his fruitful experiment, the Council of Tours of that year forbade bishops to pay tithe under penalty of deposition. The position was further defined by the Third Lateran Council of 1179, which allowed tithes to be levied by princes, subject to the consent of the clergy; but Innocent III thought this concession too great, and desired to monopolize the new invention as far as clerical property was concerned. The Fourth Lateran Council of 1215 decreed, therefore, that bishops should never pay tithe without first applying to Rome for the Pope’s consent, whilst Innocent at the same time definitely adopted the system of tithe as a source of papal revenue by imposing a half-tithe on all the clergy of Christendom for the Crusade. From that year onwards the new weapon was constantly in use, and the list of tithes imposed during the thirteenth century is too long to reproduce. But that the Crusades provided first a reason and later an ever-ready excuse for the enormous extension in the thirteenth century of papal control over all ecclesiastical revenues is certain, and but for the Crusades the position adopted by Boniface VIII might never have been reached. “The Apostolic See has the absolute power of administering (the ecclesiastical property). It can dispose of it without the consent of anyone. It can exact, as it sees fit, the hundredth, the tenth, or any other part of this property”. The absolutist theory of Hildebrand may have contained this doctrine implicitly; it was the needs of the Crusades which made possible its practical application.


Peaceful crusaders: missionary work 


One further result of the crusading movement on the life of the Western Church was more obviously consonant with its Founder’s teaching than those already mentioned. Before the date at which our period closes—the fall of Acre—the most truly religious minds of the West had begun to turn from the propagation of the Kingdom of Heaven by force to the project of converting the heathen by persuasion, from militant Crusades to peaceful Missions. St Francis of Assisi, after two unsuccessful attempts, reached Egypt in 1219 and preached before the Sultan; and his followers, as well as those of St Dominic, continued during the first half of the thirteenth century their attempts to convert the Muslim world. St Louis, for whom the Crusade in every form was the passion of his life, gave a new turn to missionary effort when in 1252 he sent the Franciscan William of Rubruquis to the Great Khan in Central Asia, in the hope that the new Mongolian Empire, once converted to Christianity, might descend upon the rear of the Turks and render the recovery of Palestine easy of accomplishment. At his instance, too, Innocent IV formed in 1253 the first “Missionary Society” since the conversion of the West—the “Peregrinantes propter Christum”—who were, for the most part, Franciscans and Dominicans. But the foremost figure in the development of the policy of the peaceful “Crusade” of persuasion was Raymond Lull, who devoted his life to the organization of missionary work, and found a martyr's death in attempting to execute his projects. A Spaniard himself, the conversion of the Arab invader was his first concern, and in 1276 he persuaded the King of Majorca to found the College of the Holy Trinity of Miramar. Here Lull, who had learnt Arabic himself, trained the brothers for their work as true followers of Christ and His apostles, whose only weapons for conquest of the heathen had been “love, prayers, and the outpouring of tears”. After ten years of this work of preparation, he began a career of incessant activity amongst the Tartars and Armenians of the East and the Muslims of North Africa, only interrupted by his efforts, constantly renewed, to persuade Popes and kings to engage their energies in missionary enterprise. To his efforts the decision of the Council of Vienne in 1311 to establish six schools of oriental languages in Europe must be attributed, and only his death by martyrdom, in 1314, put an end to his strenuous attempts to persuade Western Europe that the way to recover the Holy Places was to convert the heathen into whose hands they had fallen.

The missionary effort thus begun as a reaction from the methods of the Crusades, as well as a result of the interest in the East created by them, continued throughout the Middle Ages. In particular it was successful in Asia. Here Buddhism was an enemy less energetic and less directly hostile to Christianity than the faith of the Prophet. Political conditions, too, were favorable during the thirteenth and fourteenth centuries, and bishoprics were set up not only in Armenia, Persia, and the Kipchak in Western Asia, but right across China to the Pacific coast. The twenty-six years journey of Orderic of Pordenone between the years 1304 and 1330 shows that at that time there was Christian missionary work in active progress in Persia, India, China, and Tibet; and for a time, in the fourteenth century, it must have seemed possible that the dreams of Raymond Lull were about to be fulfilled, and that the West, having converted the Mongol Empire to the faith of Christ, would be able to recover the Holy Land by a concerted movement of West and East upon the centre of Christian devotion. But Asia was not yet to be converted. The slackening of the activities of the Western Church produced by the Babylonish Captivity and the Great Schism was felt in the failure to give adequate support to the eastern missions; in the latter half of the fourteenth century the constituent portions of the Mongol Empire were rapidly converted to Islam, and with the rise of Timur and his dreams of a reconstitution of the Caliphate the opportunity of converting Asia had definitely passed.

But if ultimate failure descended upon the missionary side of crusading activity, as it had fallen earlier upon the Christian states set up and maintained by force of arms in Syria, the effort was not all lost. Both from the Crusades proper and from the missionary activity which resulted from and succeeded them the peoples of Europe learned much of the world which they had not known before. One of the first-fruits of the Crusades is to be seen in the numberless itineraries written by those who had taken part in them for the benefit of future crusaders or pilgrims. Such writings appeared, indeed, before the Crusades began, but their number very greatly increased afterwards and, as Dr Barker says, “there were medieval Baedekers in abundance for the use of the annual flow of tourists who were carried every Easter by the vessels of the Italian towns or of the Orders to visit the Holy Land”. Naturally these “Itineraria” are mainly concerned with Europe and Syria; the different routes to and from the Holy Sepulchre are their obvious subject, and in the latter half of the thirteenth century so intelligent a man as de Joinville could exhibit the grossest ignorance about the countries beyond the crusading area, could speak of the Nile as rising in the earthly paradise from which “ginger, rhubarb, wood of aloes, and cinnamon” floated down the stream to enrich the happy fishermen who cast their nets in its upper waters. Of the route from India to Egypt, indeed of the existence of India, he plainly had no conception. Such a combination of knowledge and ignorance is characteristic of the Middle Ages, and it would be easy to exaggerate the number of those who shared the new knowledge of the world which was brought back to the West by crusaders. For example, the traders of the Italian cities undoubtedly increased their knowledge of Mediterranean geography enormously during the crusading period, and examples of accurate and detailed charts for the use of their navigators can be found dating from the late thirteenth century at least. But that such knowledge was very far from being universally shared is shown plainly enough by a monastic map like the famous Mappa Mundi of Hereford, to which the date 1280 is assigned, and in which even Europe appears as an almost incomprehensible maze. Further knowledge of the East was provided by the story in which William de Rubruquis narrated the adventures of his mission for the benefit of his royal patron St Louis. But it was not until the fourteenth century, when the book of Marco Polo began to be widely read, and when the Christian missions had spread throughout the vast Mongol Empire, that the conception of the vastness of Asia began to take hold upon the consciousness of the West. Moreover it is at least doubtful whether this new knowledge can be regarded as directly a fruit of the Crusades. The Polos were traders not crusaders, and it was Marco Polo's story far more than any other which captured the imagination and attention of Europe. Even so it was Mediterranean Europe, and in particular the seafarers of the Italian towns, who were interested. Europe north of the Alps had other things to think of in the fourteenth and fifteenth centuries when England and France were at grips in the Hundred Years’ War. Even the Church lost its interest in the East after the overthrow of the missions in the late fourteenth century, and was more absorbed in the struggles of the Schism and in the settlement of its internal difficulties in the Councils than in the affairs of Asia. The knowledge of the East accumulated by its missionaries lay unused in the papal archives, and it was left to the discoverers and merchant adventurers of Portugal and Spain in the fifteenth and six­teenth centuries to prove the value of Marco Polo’s stories, and to renew the direct contact of the West with the riches of India and China.


Development of the towns


The effects of the Crusades on the economic and social life of Western Europe are, in the nature of the case, almost impossible to disentangle from the general process of growth of which these effects are but a part. To attribute to the Crusades the rise of the cities of Italy in particular, or of Western Europe as a whole, is to ignore the fact that the towns of the West had been steadily recovering for centuries before the Crusades began, and, even if that movement had never taken place, there is good reason to suppose that they would still have won their emancipation from feudalism, have created their organs of local self-government, and developed their trade with its system of internal organization. Gibbon writes: “The estates of the barons were dissipated and their race often extinguished in these costly and perilous expeditions. Their poverty extorted from their pride those charters of freedom which unlocked the fetters of the slave, secured the farm of the peasant and the shop of the artificer, and gradually restored a substance and soul to the most numerous and useful part of the community. The conflagration which destroyed the tall and barren trees of the forest gave air and scope to the vegetation of the smaller and nutritive plants of the soil”. The rhetorical method of writing history is a pleasant one, but we are no longer permitted the untroubled serenity of the classical historian.

It is, indeed, impossible to set down any general effects which the Crusades had upon feudal society as a whole. Many of the “tall and barren trees of the forest” were destroyed in the East, and much of the martial energies of the nobles of the West found an outlet in crusading less destructive of civil peace than they could have found at home. By so much the task of kingship, especially in France, was lightened, the growth of the central power at the expense of feudalism made easier. The Counts of Toulouse, of whom four in less than fifty years died in the East, provide an example of the failure of a house to consolidate its fiefs because of a too passionate love of crusading. So also the lands of the house of Bouillon passed into the female line for a similar reason, to be absorbed by marriage into other fiefs. Yet the total extinction of a noble house was not a common event, and the most striking example of the union of a great fief with the royal demesne in twelfth-century France—a union which, in the event, was only temporary—was solely due to the failure of male heirs to the house of Aquitaine and had nothing to do with the Crusades. The charters of liberties obtained by the French and English towns cannot, for the most part, be attributed to the Crusades, though exception should be made for Richard Coeur-de-Lion’s great auction of liberties before his departure to the Holy Land. Yet, at the most, such charters were only ante-dated by the necessities of their grantors. They could not exist had not towns been quietly growing during the eleventh and twelfth centuries, had not groups of merchants, or of tenants acquiring a mercantile character, formed themselves to purchase exemption from feudal dues. The Crusades in some cases certainly provided opportunities for the towns; they did not create the civic demand for liberties.


The conquests of Venice, Genoa, and Pisa


So too, in the general question of the relation of the Crusades to the development of European commerce, it is impossible to make the progress of the twelfth and thirteenth centuries depend upon them. The case is best illustrated with reference to the Italian cities, in particular to Venice, Genoa, and Pisa. It has been very clearly shown, as for example by Heyd, that before the Crusades began the products of the East, silk, sugar, and spices especially, were reaching Europe not only by land from what is now Russia but even more by way of Italy. Here, before the First Crusade, Amalfi and Venice were the two chief agents in supplying Western Europe with the Eastern luxuries which her developing civilization led her to desire. Amalfi fell out of the race with the Norman Conquest of South Italy and the attempt of the Norman rulers to regulate commerce too rigidly in the interests of politics. Venice therefore was left, at the period when the Crusades began, as the chief agent of the Levantine trade in Italy, and her position was rendered the more advantageous by the large concessions in Constantinople and the Eastern Empire granted in 1082 by Alexius Comnenus when Amalfi had fallen under the power of Robert Guiscard. But this position was not to remain unchallenged. The crusaders, as they poured into Italy for the journey to Palestine, sought transport and maritime assistance not only from Venice but from Genoa and Pisa as well, while these two cities were not slow to perceive in the needs of the crusading hosts a source of profit to themselves, and in the conquests that might be made in Syria a means to obtain secure access to the trade between East and West. In the first three Crusades, and in the intervening years between them, Venice, Genoa, and Pisa all took an active part, not merely in trans-shipping crusaders but in the actual work of conquest. The Genoese were largely responsible for the capture of Arsuf, Caesarea, and Acre, the Pisans for that of Laodicea, the Venetians for that of Sidon and Tyre. Moreover, the diversion of the crusading effort to capture these towns, strategically sound as it was for defensive purposes, was dictated mainly by trading interests. All three cities received wide privileges—both in the seaports and inland towns of all the crusading states of Syria, and they all benefited equally in one respect—that they had for almost a hundred years secure markets for their Eastern trade. Further the crusaders who had settled in Palestine depended upon the West for vital necessities, for armor, for horses and ships, for wine and woolen goods, and, above all, for reinforcements to maintain their position. Pilgrims flocked to see in security the newly-recovered Holy City, and a very large proportion of all the carrying-trade for this flow of people to and from Palestine was in the hands of the Italian cities. More shipping was required and was built; every year Venice sent two fleets to Syria: Genoa and Pisa did the same. The rivalry of the Eastern Empire, the necessity for dependence upon Constantinople as a market, was almost removed, and there can be no question but that the Crusades brought to all three cities in the twelfth century a steady increase of prosperity and wealth. Statistics, unhappily, do not exist by which this increase can be measured, but one event stands out as evidence of the height of power and success to which the events of the twelfth century had brought Venice.

The Fourth Crusade could not have been planned by the Venetians of 1100 with any hope of success. Yet in 1204 they were able to provide the naval equipment for a force consisting of “4500 horses, 9000 squires, 4500 knights, and 20,000 sergeants on foot”, to pay the expenses of the whole, and to overturn the Empire which it had been the primary object of the First, as it was professedly the object of the Fourth, Crusade to protect. In the division of the spoils which followed the capture of Constantinople Venice received her reward. One-third of the great city itself fell beneath her sovereignty, and all the ports and islands of the Eastern Empire were secured for her commerce to the exclusion of her rivals. It is true that Venice was unable to retain her monopoly intact, for the Genoese and Pisans intrigued with the representatives of the deposed Emperors at Nicaea and received concessions in the ports which remained under their control; but this did not prevent the Venetians from reaping a rich harvest from their new dominions during the thirteenth century. Venice took then a position of superiority over the other Italian cities which she never lost, even when the Latin Empire had fallen and the kingdom of Jerusalem had perished with the fall of Acre. And, as the prosperity of Venice depended on the development in north-western Europe of markets for the products of the East which she supplied, the Crusades must be regarded as an important cause of the development of the chain of commercial republics along the Rhine Valley into Flanders, as also of the increased prosperity of Marseilles and the towns of southern France. Undoubtedly the more constant intercourse with the East aroused a new demand for the luxuries which it alone could supply, and the silks, sugar, and spices which flowed through Damascus and Egypt became the indispensable necessities of the nobles and their ladies, to say nothing of the rich bourgeois, of France, Germany, and England. On the other hand it is impossible to claim that the Crusades introduced these Eastern products to the West; nor must it be forgotten that the development of creative manufacture in the towns of Western Europe had begun before the Crusades started, and that, without the wealth produced in steadily increasing quantities by the gildsmen of the West, Europe would have had no means of purchasing the Eastern wares to satisfy the craving which the experience of crusades and pilgrims taught.

If an indeterminate answer must be given to the question “What effects had the Crusades on the economic life of Western Europe?” it is equally difficult to define their relation either to the growth of a sense of nationality in the Western nations or to the great development of Western thought which took place during the twelfth and thirteenth centuries. The term “nationality” is not easy to define, but, by the end of the period with which this volume deals, “Frenchmen” had a feeling of their difference from “Englishmen”, “Germans”, or “Italians”, more acute than at the beginning of the Crusades. That, like other international movements, the Crusades accentuated the sense of national unity and even of a natural hostility between nations is, à priori, likely enough and, so early as 1146, evidence of this can be found in the account of the Second Crusade written by Odo of Deuil, who certainly nourished a hearty dislike for both Greeks and Germans as such. His dislike for the Greeks may have been stimulated by their heretical opinions, though it is rather their excessive flattery and their guile that appear to have aroused him; at any rate no such explanation will account for his hard sayings about the Germans. “Nostris etiam erant importabiles Alemanni”, he says, and goes on to give instances of the trouble created by King Conrad’s host for the French who followed after, and of the direct affronts offered to the French by German soldiers, finishing his complaint by saying: “Thus the Germans, going before us, disturbed everything; so that the Greeks fled from our peaceful army”. Further evidence tending in the same direction may be seen in the national name and character of the Teutonic Order, founded in 1190, which are in striking contrast to those of the older international Orders of the Hospitallers or Templars. Yet it is not often that this note of national separateness and rivalry is sounded in the chronicles of the Crusades, and the development of “nationality” can only be in part attributed to the rivalries which arose in the mixed hosts of Christendom travelling towards or engaged in the Holy War.

The coincidence of the thirteenth-century Renaissance with the period of the Crusades is striking, and it would be rash to deny any share in the outburst of intellectual energy which marks the thirteenth century to the new ideas and broadened outlook of those who, having gone on crusade, had seen the world of men and things in a way to which the society of the tenth and eleventh centuries was unaccustomed. But it must be admitted that a man may travel much and yet see little, may preserve intact the narrowness of vision with which he set out. St Louis, as Joinville shows him to us, or Joinville himself, was not intellectually changed by his crusading. And when we examine the great motive force of the thirteenth century “Revival of Learning” it is Aristotle from whom the impulse proceeded, and Aristotle first brought back to the West by way of Spain and the Moorish versions of his works. It is true that, so early as 1128, James of Venice translated into Latin some of the works of Aristotle, but the greater impulse to the absorption of Greek philosophy by the Western Church came from the study and translation of the Arabic versions of the Aristotelian writings and the commentaries upon those writings made by the scholars of Musulman Spain, in particular by Avicenna and Averroes. In the thirteenth century, however, the conquest of the Eastern Empire by the crusaders of 1204, and the discontent felt by Western scholars with the versions of Aristotle which had come to them at second hand, led to the direct translation of Aristotle’s works from the Greek, as well as to Latin versions of other Greek writings. Thus Robert Grosseteste translated the Analytica Posteriora and is said to have written a commentary upon the Nicomachean Ethics, while later in the century St Thomas Aquinas, refusing to rely upon the faulty Arabic versions, was able to find in William of Moerbeke, Archbishop of Corinth from 1275 to 1286, a Greek scholar capable of translating the whole of Aristotle’s writings from the original Greek into tortured Latin. In this task William of Moerbeke may have received some assistance from another member of the Dominican order, Henry of Brabant, and, in view of the enormous influence exerted by the theological writings of St Thomas, it is at least interesting to be able to point to these translations as the source upon which he relied in the task of incorporating the thought of Aristotle in his great Summa Theologica. Yet in general the course of the great movement of medieval thought which began soon after the year 1000 gives little evidence of having been affected by the Crusades. To them indeed we owe the work of the greatest medieval historian, William of Tyre, and, on the purely literary side with which we cannot here deal, their influence was profound in the development of vernacular romances. But the growth of an articulated system of philosophy, theology, and politics began before the Crusades, and went on steadily throughout their course with no more assistance from that movement than was given by such improvements in the Aristotelian texts as we have already mentioned.


Military results: check to Turkish advance


It remains to consider the military results of the Crusades upon the West. Their influence on the improvement of the art of war and military architecture must be left to be described in special chapters in a future volume. With regard, however, to the ever-wavering frontier of East and West, it is clear that the foundation of the Latin States of Syria during the First Crusade and the course of the twelfth century checked for the moment the Muslim advance upon Constantinople which had threatened its very existence. But against the assistance rendered to the Eastern Empire in the First Crusade must be set its overthrow in the Fourth—a blow from which, despite its revival at the end of the thirteenth century, it never wholly recovered. Whether therefore it is fair to attribute to the Crusades the delay of nearly three hundred years in the Turkish advance into the Balkan lands is a problem perhaps incapable of decision, though the diversion of Muslim effort to the Holy Land probably outweighs by much the disintegrating effect of the Fourth Crusade and the foundation and fall of the Latin Empire. And on this view the Crusades must be given credit for providing Western Europe with time to consolidate itself into centralized national States, far better able than those of the eleventh century to defend themselves against the renewed Muslim advance when it came in the sixteenth century. Nor, in that renewed struggle between East and West, must the gallant defense of Rhodes and Cyprus, and later of Malta, by the crusading Knights of St John, be forgotten.

It was however another and younger order of crusading Knights which left the deepest mark upon the history of Europe. Founded in 1190, during the Third Crusade, by certain citizens of Bremen and Lübeck as a hospital, and raised in 1198 to the rank of an order of Knights, the Teutonic Order under its great Master, Hermann von Salza, transferred its energies from the Holy Land to the forcible conversion of infidels nearer home. Already in East Prussia the Knights of the Sword of Livonia were engaged in the difficult task of converting the mixed heathen population of Letts, Slavs, and Wends to Christianity, and the Teutonic Knights, after absorbing this order in 1237, carried on the same work with great energy and striking success for the next eighty years. They founded Thorn, Konigsberg, Marienberg—to which in 1309 they transferred their headquarters—and finally, in 1311, they captured Dantzig. They allied themselves with the Hanseatic League, and sought by every means to develop trade in the dominions won by their swords. To their activities in the thirteenth and early fourteenth centuries is due the Germanization of East Prussia, as to their weakness in the fifteenth century, to their defeat at Tannenberg and the recovery of Dantzig and the mouth of the Vistula by the Polish kingdom, is due the problem of giving Poland access to the sea which has cost so much anxiety since the Treaty of Versailles. The junction of the lands of the Teutonic Order with those of the Hohenzollern house at the Reformation brought Prussia into the affairs of Western Europe.

Yet, despite the tangible conquests of the Teutonic Order in north­eastern Germany and, what should not be forgotten, the assistance given by such Orders as those of Calatrava, Santiago, and Alcantara to the Christian monarchs who reconquered Spain from the Moors, it is perhaps in the realm of ideas that we must seek for the most permanent influence of the crusading movement. Just as it was itself the product of a Christendom that at the outset of the struggle felt itself morally united, so it has in turn been the exemplar in later times of many movements undertaken on a smaller scale indeed, and using the weapons of reason rather than of war. Never since the fall of Acre has “Christendom” acted as a united whole; for never since has it enjoyed unity. Yet the memory of the failure in which the Crusades ended has only served to heighten the value of the ideal which created them and won, especially in the First Crusade, all their success. Our modern use of the word “Crusade” is in fact a testimony of our belief in the effectiveness of action possible where large groups of men share a common ideal, and the grounds of that belief are to be found in the events narrated in this volume.




GERMANY, 1125-1152.