Crusade Charters, 1138-1270

Crusade Charters, 1138-1270

Crusade Charters, 1138-1270

Crusade Charters, 1138-1270

Excerpt

The common thread of this charter collection is imminent departure on crusade. The reader will notice that twenty-four of the thirty-one charters record gifts to Premonstratensian abbeys. The first houses of this order were founded after 1121 in northern France, and so none of the charters deals with the First Crusade (1095). The donors form a loose geographic unit: they are [new men,] from recently formed lordships in what was then a sort of no-man's land between the areas effectively controlled by the kings of France and by the counts of Flanders. Close reading of the charters and notes will reveal a network of family and political connections among the donors. There are some commoners and some leaders of expeditions, but the men represented are mostly members of the lower nobility, many of whose families grew in wealth and status during the twelfth century. It is my contention that the crusades helped them to achieve financial and political success.

Historians attribute the crusade movement to a wide variety of causes, from population surplus to the militarization of Europe. In the last twenty years or so it has become a common-place to discuss crusade motivation in the context of religious conviction, and particularly to discuss it in terms of the impact of the ideals of the apostolic life movement. Originally these charters were collected in an attempt to prove that the preaching of the Premonstratensian order in particular motivated many people to take crusade vows out of religious conviction. St. Norbert of Xanten, who founded the order, was an itinerant preacher, and his original foundation became popular immediately. Between 1121 and 1150 more than a hundred

Marcus Bull, [Origins,] in The Oxford Illustrated History of the Crusades (Oxford,
1995), 23, ed. Jonathan Riley-Smith, sums up many recent studies on this issue; François
Petit, La Spiritualité des Prémontrés aux XIIe et XIIIe sièles (Paris, 1947) puts the case for the
influence of the Premonstratensians in particular. Both offer bibliography. For a different
view see C. J. Tyerman, [Were there any Crusades in the Twelfth Century?,] English His
torical Review 110 (1995): 553–77.

Author Advanced search

Oops!

An unknown error has occurred. Please click the button below to reload the page. If the problem persists, please try again in a little while.