Christian Society and the Crusades, 1198-1229

By Edward Peters | Go to book overview

Introduction

Beasts of many kinds are attempting to destroy the vineyard of the Lord of Sabaoth, and their onset has so far succeeded against it that over no small area thorns have sprung up instead of vines and (with grief we report it!) the vines themselves are variously infected and diseased, and instead of the grape they bring forth the wild grape. Therefore we invoke the testimony of Him, who is a faithful witness in the Heavens, that of all the desires of our heart we long chiefly for two in this life, namely that we may work successfully to recover the Holy Land and to reform the Universal Church, both of which call for attention so immediate as to preclude further apathy or delay unless at the risk of great and serious danger.1

Thus, in his letter of 1213 to the ecclesiastical officials of the province of Canterbury, did Pope Innocent III ( 1198-1216) depict the dangers to universal Christendom and the two most pressing tasks before it. To be sure, the first fifteen years of Innocent's pontificate had not neglected these problems, and the great Pope had sent thousands of letters concerning the threatened state of Christendom -- letters which had begged, cajoled, entreated, and thundered against the enemies of the Church, of peace, and of right action. In 1215 and 1216 Innocent was to take two major steps to achieve the goals which he desired most. In 1215 he convened the Fourth Lateran Council, in which the work of earlier Church Councils toward the definition of dogma and law was completed and the reform of the Universal Church was, at least so it appeared, at last begun. At the end of the Council, Innocent took up his second task. He proclaimed the Fifth Crusade, which was to get underway in 1217, thereby, he hoped, bring-

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1
Text in C. R. Cheney and W. H. Semple, eds., Selected Letters of Pope Innocent III concerning England (1198-1216) ( London, 1953), pp. 144- 145.

-ix-

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Christian Society and the Crusades, 1198-1229
Table of contents

Table of contents

  • Title Page iii
  • Contents v
  • Editor's Note vii
  • Introduction ix
  • I - The Fourth Crusade, 1202-1207 1
  • II - Crusade and Council, 1208-1215 25
  • III - The Fifth Crusade, 1217-1222 48
  • IV - The Emperor's Crusade, 1227-1229 146
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