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

By Norman Housley | Go to book overview

13
Catholic Society and the Crusade 1274-1580

WE have now looked at all the chief areas in which crusading occurred between 1274 and 1580, and are in a position to investigate more fully the relationship between the crusading movement and contemporary society and government. What place did the crusade hold in Catholic society between the Second Council of Lyons and the Habsburg-Ottoman truce of 1580? Historians have long ceased to believe that such a question can be answered easily, or with conviction. Indeed, one of the most important advances of recent years has been the realization that enthusiasm for the crusade varied enormously from country to country, and that instead of forming a straightforward pattern of growth followed by decline, it waxed and waned over the generations. For example, Dr Christopher Tyerman has recently shown that English enthusiasm remained strong until the disaster of Nicopolis, then declined sharply. By contrast, we have seen that the pulse of Castilian enthusiasm was almost at its weakest at the time of Nicopolis, but a century later it had undergone a revival which carried it into fresh enterprises beyond the peninsula. Again, the crusade itself changed in nature during these centuries, so that for most people enthusiasm ceased to result in personal participation. It was expressed instead in their readiness to contribute financially to a crusade, and in other displays of approval which do not lend themselves readily to analysis, let alone comparative quantification. There is the additional problem, familiar to all medievalists, that the bulk of the surviving sources emanated from, and relate to, the ruling élite and the educated minority; the opinions of the majority of the population can often only be surmised. Faced with these difficulties, it is tempting to abandon as impracticable any analysis of popular feeling and to concentrate, as so

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