The Later Crusades, 1274-1580: From Lyons to Alcazar

By Norman Housley | Go to book overview

11
The Crusade in North-Eastern Europe 1274-1382

AMONGST the memoirs written in response to Pope Gregory X's plea of 1272 for advice on the crusade, one originated in Moravia. Its author, Bishop Bruno of Olmütz ( Olomouc), was anxious to point out that it was just as important to defend the Church in eastern Europe from attack by pagans and schismatics, as it was to recover the Holy Land; otherwise, wishing to avoid Charybdis, the Christians would fall prey to Scylla. Bruno knew that the Curia had accepted, since the time of the Second Crusade, that crusades should be preached to further the Christian cause in eastern Europe. He also knew that while, in practice, nearly all these crusades had been associated with conquest, the Curia preferred to place crusading of all kinds within a just war framework, and that it was advisable to adopt a defensive stance; this was particularly true in the early 1270s, when the question was one of the relative needs facing the Holy Land and eastern Europe. Bruno therefore took care to enumerate the dangers to the Church in the East: the Cumans who raided Hungary, the Orthodox Russians and their Tatar lords, and the Prussians and Lithuanians who threatened the dioceses of Poland. We shall see that the relations between at least some of these peoples and their Latin Christian neighbours did indeed keep the crusading movement alive in the Baltic region for many decades to come. But viewed objectively, and over a long perspective, Bruno's attempt to portray eastern Europe as a region just as embattled as the Holy Land was tendentious in the extreme. The Bishop's lord, King Ottokar of Bohemia, was angling for the imperial crown, and a plausible argument to deploy at the Curia was that if he was granted it, he would be in a better position to help his beleagured fellowChristians to the East. In reality the gains made by Christendom in this

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