Chapter 8

The Age of the Crusades

Contents:

The Islamic World in the Central Middle Ages

Egypt and Syria in the Tenth and Eleventh Centuries

The Coming of the Seljuk Turks

Byzantium in Crisis

The First Crusade

Bernard of Clairvaux and the Second Crusade

The Renaissance of the Twelfth Century

England in the Twelfth Century

The Empire under the Early Hohenstaufens

The Third Crusade

The Papal Monarchy of Innocent III

Frederick II

The Revival of Byzantium and the Sicilian Vespers

The Rise of France under Philip Augustus and of St. Louis

The Mongol Invasion and its Aftermath

 

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otakar4.gif (45902 bytes)  The Islamic World in the Central Middle Ages

BY the middle of the tenth century, the great Abbasid caliphate had hit the skids. After the death of al-Mutawakkil, the central regime in Baghdad was discredited, and real power lay in the hands of military commanders or powerful courtiers. One problem was the spread of the iqt' system, whereby people were given the tax revenues from a province or territory in return for providing a certain number of troops. This effectively robbed the central administration of control over the use of taxes. The recipients of the iqt' became powerful mercenary commanders. They raised troops through the ghulm system. The term ghulm (pl. ghilmn) simply means boy, but as with the Celtic gwas, it came to acquire a more specific meaning. In the tenth and eleventh century, it came to refer to a soldier, usually of Turkish origin. Unlike the Turkish slave-soldiers of the ninth century, the ghilmn were organized into bands and followed their commanders. They remained celibate, but a strongly homosexual sub-culture arose among their ranks. The conjuncture of these two systems, the iqt' and ghulm, led to the rise of a military caste independent of the central regime.

The reign of al-Muqtadir (908-932) was a period of unrelenting embarrassment for the caliphate. The raids of the Qarmita increased in both fury and audacity. In 923 they massacred a caravan making the Hajj to Mecca, and in 930 sacked the Ka'bah itself, carrying off the sacred Black Stone. The raiders also devastated the farmlands of Iraq, leading to an economic crisis. For his inability to resolve the Qarmita problem, al-Muqtadir was murdered in 932. His successor, al-Qahir (932-934) proved only capable of getting drunk and ordering the assassinations of his officials. After he was blinded, a host of yet lesser beasts mounted the caliphal throne. Between 932 and 946, four caliphs rose and fell in rapid succession. Real power lay in the hands of a series of military commanders holding the title amr al-umar', "commander of commanders." Three Turkish generals held power between 936 and 945. Meanwhile, `Ali ibn Bya, an Azerbayjani soldier of fortune, took advantage of the chaos to take control of Frs ("Persia") in southern Iran. In 945 `Ali's bother Ahmad occupied Baghdad and was proclaimed amr al-umar'.

From 945 until 1055 the Byids held power over the Caliphs in Baghdad. They were Sh'ites and fostered the growth of their faith in Baghdad and Iraq. Like the early `Abbasi, the Byids looked back to the splendor of the old Sassanian empire, and even tried to revive the old Persian title of Shhanshh, "King of Kings." Most of them were known by honorific titles, ending with the word dawla, "state." So `Ali ibn Bya became `Imd al-Dawla (support of the state), while Ahmad was known as Mu`izz al-Dawla (glorification of the state). The greatest Byid ruler was `Adud al-Dawla (978-983). He and his predecessors kept the caliphs imprisoned in their palace. After his death, the various members of the Byid clan began dividing up the caliphate among themselves. Raids by bedouins continued, until Baghdad became an urban island in a nomadic sea.

Caliph al-Qdir (991-1030) tried to break free Byid control. He condemned Sh`ism and other heresies and tried to provide a positive definition of Muslim orthodoxy. The Sunns, properly known as ahl al-sunnah wa-l-jam'ah, "the people of custom and the community," accepted the authority of the earliest caliphs and the continuity of the historical community of Islam. Al-Qdir proclaimed that the Qur'an had not been created, as many Sh'ites believed, but had existed from all eternity. Despite al-Qdir's best efforts, however, the Byids remained in control of key provinces, while others had drifted away and become independent states. His reforms were a case of too little too late.

During the ninth century, the more distant parts of the Caliphate had become independent. In Spain, refugees from the `Abbasid revolution set up an independent Ummayid caliphate. Under `Abd-al-Rahmn (912-961) the Caliphate of Cordoba reached its height. Muslim Spain became a great cultural center, and the Caliphal court employed Muslim, Jewish, and Christian scholars and artist. After 1010, however, Spain was divided up between a number of petty states, ruled by muluk al-taw'it, "party kings" (Sp. reyes de taifas). Despite the political disunity, the party kings, along with their Christian colleagues in northern Spain, grew rich off the burgeoning Mediterranean trade. After 1030 the Christian kings of Leon and Castile began pressing into Muslim territory, and, spurred on by Pope Gregory VII, by 1085 had retaken Toledo. Spanish Muslims called on the Berber princes of Morocco for assistance. The Almoravids, as they were called, did set up a power base in Seville, but proved more trouble than they were worth. Even Spanish Muslims began to see advantages to living under Christians.

In the far east, the Smn governors of Khurasn tried to set up an independent state in the early tenth century. They relied too heavily upon Turkic mercenaries, however, and in 999 Karluk Turks from across the border took control of most of Smn territory. Further east, in the mountains of Afghanistan, the Ghaznavs built up a powerful empire. They agreed to partition Khurasn with the Karluk Turks and then overran Byid dominions in western Iran. After 1000, the Ghaznav state took on an increasingly Persian character, and Arabic was replaced by Classical Persian as the literary language at court. Expansion to the east brought them into contact with India, and they recruited a large number of Hindu troops, and even some Hindu generals into their armies. At the same time, the Ghaznav empire was poor, with many frontiers to defend and too little revenue to support a large army.

 

otakar4.gif (45902 bytes)  Egypt and Syria in the Tenth and Eleventh Centuries

THE most successful successor state was in Egypt. Under the Tulinid governors in the ninth century, Egypt had briefly broken away from the `Abbasid caliphate. Although reconquered by Baghdad in 905, Egypt became the focus of attacks by Fatimids from the province of Ifrqiya, the old Byzantine province of Africa in modern Tunisia. The `Abbasids placed Egypt under the command of a military man from eastern Iran, Muhammad ibn Tughj in 933. He contained the Fatimid assaults, largely by recruiting large numbers of Turks and Black Africans into his army. After his death, the Fatimids used propaganda to convince the Berbers of Ifrqiya to band together against the `Abbasids. They seized control of Tunisia, and then infiltrated disgruntled groups in Egypt, provoking a general uprising in 968. In 973 the Fatimid Caliph, al-Mu`izz, arrived in Egypt. He built a new capital at al-Qhira ("the victorious" = Cairo), and then marched on Palestine. By 975, the Fatimids were in control of all the lands from Tripoli to Damascus.

The Fatimid rulers of Egypt were faced with a series of Byzantine offensives in Syria. Nicephoras Phocas (963-969) broke through Muslim border defenses in the Taurus mountains that had held for two hundred years. He overran Cilicia and invaded Cyprus in 965, and by 966 was before the walls of Antioch. A Russian invasion in the Balkans forced him to break off the offensive, but after reasserting Byzantine control over Bulgaria and making alliances against the Russians, he returned to Syria in 969. Only six weeks after taking Antioch, Nicephoras was murdered. His successor, John Tzimisces (969-976) renewed the offensive in the east. After crushing a Russian army under Svjatoslav and marrying off his niece Theophanu to the son of the western emperor Otto I, John led an army to Syria. The Fatimids had tried to retake Antioch in 971, but John Tzimisces led a strong counter-attack in 974 and 975, one that "breathed the veritable crusading spirit."[1]   He advanced into Lebanon, then took Damascus, Nazareth, and Caesarea. Although Jerusalem was within striking distance, John felt it necessary to secure the Lebanese ports of Sidon and Beirut. His sudden death in 976 was the only thing that prevented a complete Byzantine conquest of Palestine and Syria.

The new Fatimid caliph, al-`Azz (975-996) tried to maintain good relations with the Byzantines, but ultimately could not reconcile himself to their presence in Palestine and Lebanon. He commissioned a Turkish mercenary general named Alptakin to retake the lost territories. Damascus was reconquered quickly, and Sidon and Beirut followed. The Byzantines were, for the moment, otherwise occupied. John Tzimisces had been succeeded by the formidable Basil II, later to be known as the Bulgar-Slayer. His early encounters with the Bulgar Tsar Samuel did not inspire confidence, however, and Bardas Phocas, an important landowner, raised a rebellion in Asia Minor with the support of leading military men. Basil was only able to crush the rebellion in 989 with the timely assistance of a Russian army. The prince of Kiev was given the Emperor's sister as a reward, on the condition that he and his people convert to Christianity.

The rebellion of Bardas Phocas, and then the need to stabilize the situation in Greece and Bulgaria prevented Basil from tending to the Syrian frontier until 994. The Fatimid forces had advanced as far as Antioch, but all was not well on their side. Alptakin had tried to force al-`Azz into giving him personal control over the reconquered regions in 978. It took a Fatimid army to put Alptakin in his place. Thereafter, local rebellions, especially among the residents of Damascus, as well as suspicion of their Turkish ghilmn, hamstrung the Fatimid counter-offensive. Basil II relieved Antioch in 995 and pushed the Fatimids back to Damascus. He returned in 999, taking advantage of a rebellion against the Fatimids to consolidate his control over Syria. That year al-`Azz's successor, al-Hkim (996-1021) agreed to a ten-year truce with the Byzantine sovereign, arranged by the Patriarch of Jerusalem. Basil II then departed and went off to settle the Bulgar question once and for all.

Peace allowed al-Hkim to pursue his own esoteric ends, persecuting Christians and Jews and banning alcohol, watercress, and chess along with other such sinful things. He waffled back and forth between Sh`ism and the customs of the Ism`li, a puritanical reform directed against Sunn doctrine. The Ism`li rejected the more traditional dynastic theories of the Sh`ites in their search for the "true imm," or spiritual leader. Each change of mind produced an intensification of terror and persecution. In 1009 he destroyed the Church of the Holy Sepulcher in Jerusalem, and then began a widespread assault on Christian communities in Egypt. Despite his cruelty and inconstancy, al-Hkim had his devotees. Among his more curious legacies is the Druze religion of Lebanon. The Druze, following Ism`li doctrine, identified al-Hkim as the imm they had been searching for, but went beyond that to argue that he was god. Although he was murdered in 1021, the body was never found, and to this day the Druze believe that at the end of the world al-Hkim will return.

Al-Hkim was killed by a group of conspirators led by his sister, Sitt al-Mulk. Better known as al-Sayyida, "the lady," she ruled the caliphate until her death in 1024. Her son al-Zhir was able to put down the rebellions in Palestine and Syria with the help of his Turkish general Anushtakin. Anushtakin was named governor of Syria and maintained order in that turbulent region until his death in 1041. Over all, the years after the death of al-Hkim were peaceful and prosperous. Egypt was a rich land, and traded actively with Byzantium and the rising cities of Italy. Al-Mustansir (1036-1094) made Egypt the leading state of the Arab world, the mediator between the easterners (marhriqa, Iraqis and Turks) and the westerners (maghriba). But despite his success, al-Mustansir would live to see two invasions that would shatter the Islamic world.

 

otakar4.gif (45902 bytes)  The Coming of the Seljuk Turks

THE Turks are one of the most successful and remarkable people in world history. From their originally homeland near Mongolia, the expanded across central Asia throughout the Late Antiquity and the Middle Ages. Europe had already experienced several Turkish invasions, beginning with that of the Alans in the third century. The Huns of Attila were Turks, as were the Avars and Bulgars of the seventh century, and the Khazars and Petchnegs of the eighth and ninth centuries. Islam also had long maintained a frontier with the Turks. Turkistan became a major recruiting area for ghilmn, and by the eleventh century, Turkish mercenary soldiers formed the backbone of Islamic armies from Egypt to India. This pattern of recruitment drew Turks to the Islamic world. In return, Muslim missionaries had brought Islam to the Turks of central Asia.

In the eleventh century, nine tribes of nomadic Turks lived along the Khurasn frontier. One of their chief noble houses was that of the Seljuks, who had converted to Sunn Islam. In the 1020s the Seljuk chief Arslan Isr'l led a group of his people west into Azerbaijan. They briefly occupied Mosul, but were defeated by an Arab and Kurdish army in 1044. Arslan Isr'l's nephew, Tugrl Beg, led a second wave in the 1030s, this time directed against the Ghaznavd domains. He gained the support of many discontented nobles, as well as of several Khurasniyya towns, and in 1040 defeated the Ghaznav ruler Mas'd. Mas'd was forced to retire to the Afghani mountains, and ultimately to the Hindu Punjab. The Seljuks overran the eastern portions of the Ghaznav empire, and by 1050 were in control of most of Iran.

In 1051 Tughrl Beg opened negotiations with the caliph, al-Q'im (1031-1075). As a Sunn, Tughrl could not tolerate the fact that heretical Sh'ites -- the Byid clan, in other words -- were in control of the Caliphate. The caliph agreed, and allowed Tughrl to enter Baghdad in 1055. He replaced the Byid governors and assumed the post of amr al-umara. The Great Seljuks now were the leading power in the old caliphate.

Tughrl Beg soon found that he had his own problems. He was faced with an Ism'l rebellion in Iran in the 1050s. They drew support from the more radical Sh`ites who, after the fall of the Byids, now found themselves the persecuted minority. A new order arose, that of the Nizr Ism`l, better known in the west as the Assassins. Their technique was to eliminate one important man in order to avoid a bloody battle that might claim the lives of innocent Muslims. The assassinations were carried out in public, and were generally announced well in advance. Legend has it that young assassins were first given hashsh and then taken to a beautiful garden where they would be told of the delights that awaited them in paradise after the successful completion of their mission. While the Assassins ostensibly sought to reduce violence, their actions only created greater instability and chaos. Ultimately, they discredited the Sh`ite, and led to popular acceptance of Sunn Islam.

Tughrl's second problem concerned his own people. The Turkic nomads who had followed him had to be found a home. They were too dangerous too keep close to the agricultural lands of Iraq and Persia, so he directed them towards Anatolia. There, they began to cross the frontiers of Armenia and the Byzantine Empire. This naturally provoked the Byzantines, and a growing Byzantine presence in Anatolia threatened Seljuk plans to conquer Syria. Tughrl Beg's successor, Arp Arslan (1063-1072) was primarily concerned with driving the Fatimites out of Syria and obtain the tax revenues of Damascus and the Lebanese ports. He hoped that the nomads of Anatolia would protect his flank, but for fear of Byzantium made the fateful decision to lead the main body of his army towards the Byzantine frontier.

 

otakar4.gif (45902 bytes)  Byzantium in Crisis

THE Byzantine Empire was never stronger and more secure than at the death of Basil II in 1025. He had defeated the Bulgars, chastened the Arabs, and kept a firm hold on the nobility. He protected the lands akrites, the soldier-farmers of the frontiers who formed the foundation of the Empire's armed strength, from the magnates. His tax policies in the Slavic provinces were just, and the costs of the court and bureaucracy were kept to a minimum.

Unfortunately, Basil's heir, his aged brother Constantine VIII (1025-1028) proved incapable of governing. He sold out to the aristocracy and allowed them to swallow up the estates of the akrites. Constantine VIII had no sons, only three daughters. The eldest, Eudoxia, was badly disfigured from smallpox and had been shut up on a convent. The others, Zoe and Theodora were old spinsters. Nevertheless, Constantine decided that the fifty-year-old Zoe should marry the eparch (mayor) of Constantinople, Romanus Argyrus. Zoe's new husband succeeded her father as emperor Romanus III (1028-1034). Constantine's choice of husband for his daughter proved disastrous:

As a ruler {Romanus} had no ability whatsoever, and in the weakness and boundless vanity of a true decadent he tried to model himself on certain outstanding figures of the past, visions of whom were always swimming before his eyes. At one moment Marcus Aurelius was his ideal and he would embark on philosophical discourses, the next moment it was Justinian and he would launch a magnificent building programme. Then it was Trajan or Hadrian who inspired him and he visualized himself as a great general devoted to war, until a serious defeat in Syria brought him to his senses.[2]

Not surprisingly, Zoe soon tired of her foolish consort and sought a successor. An influential court eunuch, John the Orphanotrophus, introduced her to his brother Michael, with whom she fell in love. After Romanus conveniently died in his bath, she and Michael were married.

Michael IV (1034-1041) was not a bad emperor, and his brother John proved a competent manager of finance. But as members of the civil aristocracy of Constantinople, they had little idea of how their policies affected the provinces. The demand that the Slavs pay their taxes in cash instead of in kind, as Basil II had allowed, led to a serious rebellion. A pretender claimed to be the son of the Bulgar Tsar Samuel, and soon all of the Balkans were in revolt. Michael was able to quell the uprising in 1041, but returned from campaign exhausted and seriously ill. As he lay dying, he and John convinced Zoe to adopt their nephew as his heir. Michael V (1041-1042) proved to be an idiot, and had the temerity to banish Zoe and Theodora to a convent. The people of Constantinople rose up and blinded Michael. Zoe and her sister Theodora were set upon the throne as joint empresses.

Zoe and Theodora were about as different as two sisters could be. Theodora had few ambitions and does not appear to have been terribly fond of her older sister. Zoe was full of life, vivacious and a great lover of men. Even though she was now sixty-four, she immediately began trolling around for a husband. She decided to marry Constantine Monomachus, a leading member of the civil aristocracy. Constantine IX (1042-55) was, like his bride, a bon vivant. He had no shortage of mistresses, and Zoe even allowed him to sit his "official" mistress with she and Theodora in the throne room. The court became a focus for gaiety and excess, in stark contrast to the grim military regime of Basil II. The philosopher Michael Psellus restored the teaching of the classics at court. At the same time, the expenses of the court led to a fiscal crisis. Crown lands were doled out to noblemen as pronoia estates, while the coinage was progressively debased.

With the collapse of the akrites, the traditional recruiting base for the army had evaporated, and mercenaries had to be called in to fill the gap. Among these were the Varangians, recruited from Russia and Scandinavia. In the 1040s they formed the backbone of a force sent to retake Sicily from the Arabs. One of the Varangians who distinguished himself on this campaign was Harald the Stern, the Norwegian king who would later die invading England in 1066.

One of the dominant figures in the reign of Constantine IX Monomachus was Michael Keroulios, the Patriarch of Constantinople. His famous quarrel with Pope Leo IX and Humbert had led, in 1054 to a schism between Rome and Constantinople. After Constantine IX's death the following year, Keroulios and other members of the civil aristocracy restored Theodora to the throne, Zoe having died a few years before. They compelled her to chose as her successor someone who could be easily ruled. The patriarch's nephew, Michael VI (1056-1057), did not disappoint, but the military aristocracy in Asia Minor had grown tired of rule by effeminate courtiers. The generals rebelled, led by Isaac Comnenus. Michael IV abdicated and Isaac was officially crowned emperor in 1057.

The Comnenids were among the most powerful military dynasties of Asia Minor, and Isaac (1057-1059) enjoyed the army's support. But the civil party and the church, especially Michael Keroulias, detested Isaac. After he fell seriously ill, he decided to abdicate and enter a monastery. His successor, Constantine X Dukas (1059-1067) represented the leading family in the civil aristocracy of Constantinople. He neglected the army, instituted a disastrous tax policy, and inflated the bureaucracy. His reign saw the weakening of the Byzantine position abroad. Southern Italy fell to the Normans under Robert Guiscard, while the Hungarians took the important border fortress of Belgrade in 1064. The Patzinaks swept through southern Russia into the Balkans. The worst threat, however, came from Arp Arslan in Asia Minor. In 1065 he conquered Armenia, the main march protecting Byzantine Anatolia. Thereafter the Turks swept into Cilicia.

When Constantine X died his widow Eudoxia prudently chose as her husband Romanus IV Diogenes (1067-1071), a soldier of proven skill and reputation. He stabilized the Patzinak situation, then marched east to deal with the Seljuks. At Manzikert in 1071, however, his luck ran out. The Turks overwhelmed the Byzantine army, largely because of the treason of Andronicus Dukas, a son of Constantine X who was angered that he had been passed over for the succession. Romanus was captured. Arp Arslan agreed to release him on the condition that he pay a ransom and tribute to the Turks. Arp Arslan's main concern was with the Fatimids in Syria, and he merely wanted to ensure that the Byzantines would no longer threaten his frontiers. News of Romanus' defeat, however, led to a revolt in Constantinople. Eudoxia was shut away in a convent and her eldest son, Michael VII Dukas (1071-1078) was appointed by the civil party. When Romanus returned home bearing his treaty with the Turks, Michael had his eyes put out with red-hot irons. Arp Arslan was horrified. Michael then repudiated the terms of Romanus' treaty with the Seljuks. With the treaty gone, Arp Arslan wasted no time overrunning all of Anatolia.

Nearly every military commander in the empire now rose in rebellion against Michael VII. The Norman mercenaries declared Michael's brother John emperor, while the Anatolian army put forward Nicephorus Botaneiates. John was captured by a Turkish mercenary leader and sold to Alexius Comnenus, Isaac's nephew and the leading general in the Balkans. Nicephorus was luckier, and entered Constantinople in 1078 after a revolt in the city had driven Michael VII from the throne to a monastery. Nicephorus III (1078-1081) tried to legitimize his usurpation by marrying Michael's wife (despite that fact that Michael was still alive). He had withdrawn the armies from Anatolia and allowed the Turks to occupy all of the Byzantine provinces. They established the Sultanate of Rum ("Rome") in what had once been the heartland of the Byzantine empire.

Alexius Comnenus had watched all this carefully from the Balkans. Meanwhile he built up his strength. He either dispatched or coopted his rivals, and marrying into the Dukas family for good measure. In 1081 he marched on Constantinople. The aging and infirm Nicephorus III was convinced to abdicate.

Alexius I Comnenus (1081-1118) set upon the Byzantine throne one of the most successful dynasties in the empire's history. We know a good deal about his reign from his biography, the Alexiad composed by his daughter Anna Comnena. His first task was to minimize the Norman menace. After the fall of Bari in 1071, Guiscard had set his sights on Durazzo in the Balkans. Although the Normans, led by Guiscard's giant son Bohemund, took the city in 1081, Guiscard's death threw the Norman kingdom into chaos, temporarily removing the threat. Against the Patzinaks Alexius used an old Roman and Byzantine tool. He employed one group of barbarians, the Cumans, against another. In 1091 a combined Byzantine-Cuman army annihilated the Patzinaks. In the years that followed, Alexius suppressed rebellions in Serbia and then destroyed his erstwhile Cuman allies. As the century drew to a close, he began to contemplate the reconquest of Asia Minor. In this desire, however, he was not alone.

 

otakar4.gif (45902 bytes)  The First Crusade

FROM time to time, the Byzantines had looked west in their search for mercenaries. After Manzikert, Michael VII had opened negotiations with Robert Guiscard, hoping to enlist his former enemy in the war against the Turks. He promised Guiscard one of his daughters, but ultimately negotiations broke down. Gregory VII also got into the act, but Michael realized that there were too many strings attached to papal assistance than he felt comfortable with. So it was only normal when as Alexius I prepared for his campaign against the Patzinaks in 1089, he too sought aid from the west.

The recipient of Alexius's request was Pope Urban II (1088-1099). Urban came from a noble family in Champagne and had entered Cluny in 1067. In his monkish view of the world, he saw a Holy War against the Turks as providing the means for redirecting the violence of western society to a noble purpose. In reaction to Alexius' call, Urban proclaimed a crusade against the Turks at Piacenza in 1095. Note that this was not what Alexius had wanted: his enemy of the moment were the Patzinaks in the Balkans, not the Turks in Anatolia. Urban called a council of French bishops at Clermont, meeting with prominent noblemen along the way. At Clermont Urban called on the French nobility to liberate Jerusalem from the infidels. Bishops were ordered to preach the crusade, and soon knights and nobles from France and parts of Germany flocked to the cross.

There were three waves of crusaders involved in the first crusade. The first was led by a popular preacher called Peter the Hermit. Along with a small group of knights, Peter led a poorly organized force on a fool's errand. The army plundered its way through Greek territory and was annihilated in its first meeting with the Turks. The second wave was better led and better prepared. Among its leaders were Count Hugh of Vermandois, Godfrey of Boullion, Duke of Upper Lorraine, his brother Count Baldwin of Bologne, Bohemund of Tarento, the son of Robert Guiscard, Count Raymond of Toulouse, Duke Robert of Normandy, the son of William I, Count Robert of Flanders and Count Stephen of Blois. They were joined by an army of perhaps as many as 100,000 men. A third army only came after the crusaders had taken Jerusalem.

Alexius I was not entirely pleased to see the Crusading armies descend on his lands. Although the second group of crusaders was better disciplined than the first, it included men, like Bohemund, who were his enemies. In any event, to the officials of the Byzantine court, the Franks, as the westerners were called, were considered barbarians and "rustic bumpkins." In one notorious event, described by the Emperor's daughter Anna, one Frankish noble actually sat in the imperial throne and refused to give it up, in defiance of court protocol and modesty. Alexius made the nobles swear oaths of fidelity to him, stipulating that since all the lands occupied by the Turks were imperial territories, that any conquered land would be returned to the Eastern Empire. In the end, by the time the crusaders left Constantinople, both sides harbored deep suspicions about their Christian brothers.

The crusaders were aided by internal conflicts within Islam. Arp Arslan's son Malikshh (1072-1092) along with the grand wazr Nizmulmulk had begun to reorganize the administration of the caliphate, while continuing the war against the Fatimids in Egypt and Syria. Their actions made them wildly unpopular and both Malikshh and Nizmulmulk were murdered by the Assassins within a period of three weeks. The Seljuk empire began to fall apart at once. The commanders of the various Seljuk armies began fighting among themselves for control, and it was not until 1104 that anyone even made a serious attempt to restore order.

The crisis of the Seljuk state in the 1090s was the natural result of the military policy adopted by all Islamic states from the ninth century onward. That it coincided with the onset of the Crusades made the problem all the more serious. As a noted Islamicist has observed:

The worst results of the military system of the age lay in the continuous internecine warfare among the various sultans and atabegs and amirs, with its intermittent ravages. But it was in the defense of Dr al-Islm against an extern enemy that the weakness of the fragmentation of power in local military hands showed itself most dramatically.[3]

The local commanders would not cooperate with one another, allowing the Crusaders to overwhelm the border outposts with little concerted opposition. The civil-wars had also led to a collapse of Islamic naval power, and throughout the crusades, the westerners controlled the sea-lanes of the Mediterranean.

The Crusaders entered Asia Minor in the spring of 1097. The first Crusader victory came at the siege of Nicaea. Shortly thereafter, on July 4 1097, they crushed a large Turkish army, leaving open the road to Antioch. Antioch, the key to Syria, was taken in 1098 after the crusaders cut a deal with a group of Armenian defenders who opened the gates to them. A Turkish relief army soon arrived, however, and the crusaders found themselves outnumbered and besieged within the citadel of Antioch. The long march in the summer's heat had taken a toll on the army, and supplies were low. There were perhaps only a dozen horses fit for duty when the Turks arrived. At that moment, a young peasant named Peter Bartholomew had a dream in which the site of the Holy Lance that had pierced the side of Christ on the cross was revealed to him. He found it while digging in an abandoned church, and the princes saw the discovery of this relic as a sign. With the help of inept Turkish generalship, the crusaders broke out of the citadel and annihilated the Turkish forces. Bohemund established himself as prince of Antioch, ignoring the Byzantine emperor's claim of suzerainty.

Syria was practically in a state of anarchy when the crusaders arrived, and the Muslim princes of Aleppo and Damascus were too busy fighting each other to prevent the Franks from advancing on Jerusalem. Fatimid Egyptian troops had only just retaken the city from the Turks and had not had time to repair the fortifications before the crusaders arrived. Raymond of Toulouse, Robert of Normandy and Bohemund's nephew Tancred began the siege in early June, 1099. On July 15, 1099, troops of Godfrey of Bouillion breached the walls. The capture of the Holy City was followed by the bloody massacre of most of the inhabitants. A few days later, Godfrey was elected king of Jerusalem, just in time to organize the defenses of the city against an Egyptian counter-attack.

It is ironic that the architect of the first crusade, Urban II, died before hearing of the conquest of Jerusalem. As it turned out, he most likely would not have been pleased with the outcome. The crusaders carved up the Holy land into a number of independent states. Bohemund ruled the principality of Antioch, Baldwin of Boulogne had left the crusading army to create a state around the city of Edessa. The kingdom of Jerusalem soon became a feudal state, where the nobles chafed at any efforts by the elected monarch to exercise his authority. The claims of the Byzantine emperor were ignored, and Alexius was represented as a traitor to the cause. This led to continual conflicts between the crusaders and Constantinople. And although the crusades had been a military success, they had only succeeded at a terrible cost. Popular accounts of the crusades, such as those of Robert the Monk, Guibert of Nogent and Baldric of Bourguil, emphasized the theological side of triumph, presenting a wholly unrealistic picture of crusading warfare. Later crusaders, flocking to the Holy Land with idealistic visions of Christian warfare, were soon disillusioned by the realities of warfare in the wastelands of the Middle East.

 

otakar4.gif (45902 bytes)  Bernard of Clairvaux and the Second Crusade

THE Crusades were an outgrowth of the reform movement, beginning at Cluny and Gorze, and embraced by the papacy under Leo IX and his successors. During the period of the Investiture contest and Crusades, reform continued, following the ideas of Gregory VII. The goal of the Gregorian reform was to recreate the primitive church of the apostles. Gregory and his contemporaries saw the apostles as monastic archetypes, and saw in the book of Acts the origins of the monastic community. Although Gregory's view of the early church was flawed, the logic of his argument could not be doubted: "if the apostles were monks, then the clergy, who exercised the apostolic ministry, ought also to live like monks." Consequently, a variety of monastic movements arose in the wake of the Gregorian reform that went beyond Cluny in their search for the apostolic life.

Two sources for the new reform were the rediscovered works of the Desert Fathers of the second and third centuries, and the Rule for Monasteries composed by St. Augustine. The latter formed the basis for several new orders, including the canons regular and Augustinian Canons, organized by Hugh of St. Victor (1096-1141) and the Praemonstratensians. Among the reformers influenced by the eremitic tradition was Peter Damian, a close friend and associate of Henry III, Humbert, Hildebrand, and Leo IX. Damian laid the groundwork for the Italian tradition that would later produce the Franciscan reform. North of the Alps, Bruno of Cologne, the teacher of Pope Urban II, established the Carthusian order. Carthusian abbeys created the desert in stone, as each monk lived in a private cell where he ate his meals and worked. The abbey of Fontevrault in Maine became the center of a small order, one richly patronized by Eleanor of Aquitaine and King Henry II of England.

The most important of the new orders was founded by Robert of Molesme in the wilds near Cteaux in 1098. The Cistercians rejected the lavish style of Cluny in favor of greater asceticism. They hoped to restore the simplicity of the Benedictine rule, stripping away the accumulated pomp and ceremony that had come to typify Cluniac devotion. In this sense, they established or at least conformed to a trend that became ever more significant in the later Middle Ages, a veneration of simplicity and humility. Cistercians shunned classical learning as morally suspect, preferring a deeply contemplative and spiritual piety. From its origins at Cteaux the order spread, largely owing to the efforts of St. Bernard (1090-1153). Bernard left Cteaux with a handful of nobles to establish a daughter monastery at Clairvaux in 1115. He was renowned for his asceticism, and roundly criticized the Cluniacs. As he wrote to Peter the Venerable, abbot of Cluny, "How do they keep the [Benedictine] Rule who wear furs, who feed the healthy on meat and fat, who allow three or four dishes daily with their bread, who do not perform the manual labor the Rule commands?" Bernard of Clairvaux was also renowned as a powerful preacher and a supporter of the Crusading ideal. The height of his authority came in the 1130s when he prevented a schism in the church, supporting Pope Innocent II (1130-43) against his rival Anacletus.

St. Bernard played a leading role in preaching the second crusade, called by his former pupil pope Eugenius III (1145-53) following the Turkish conquest of Edessa on Christmas day 1144. The Seljuk governor (atabeg) of Mosul, Zengi, was able to build up a substantial following after assuming office in 1127. His conquest of Edessa was followed by the unification of Syria under his son Nr al-Dn. In the preceding years, the crusading ideal seemed to be dying a slow death. A small crusade in Spain in 1125/26 had achieved some small success, but a campaign directed against the Muslim stronghold of Damascus in 1128 never got beyond the planning stage. The fall of Edessa combined with renewed Muslim activity in Spain contributed to a revival of the crusade. In 1145, Eugenius, at Bernard's urging, declared a new crusade. Bernard preached throughout France and Germany, winning the support of both Louis VII of France (1137-1180) and the Emperor Conrad III (1138-1152). The scope of the crusade was immense. Three independent actions were planned. In knights from southern France, England, and Genoa were dispatched to fight the Moors in Spain. In Saxony, a campaign against the Slavs was planned. In both these cases, Bernard argued that the indigenous populations should not be converted or subjugated, but driven off the land, which then would be given to Christian settlers. The third and largest army would retake Edessa, and then perhaps continue to fight the Turks.

The Germans under Conrad III were the first group to leave for the Holy land. They arrived in Constantinople in 1148. Conrad III was on very good terms with the Byzantine emperor Manuel I Comnenus. They had a common enemy in Roger II of Sicily and cemented an alliance against the Normans before Conrad set out across Asia. His army was too large, however, and was routed by the Turks in a series of ambushes. The remnants retreated to Nicaea and waited for the French. Louis VII took his time getting there, as his piety far exceeded his military zeal. Although Louis's army was well supplied by the Hungarians and Greeks, it was not large enough to conduct a successful campaign. Unable to cross the interior of Asia, Louis tried to get to Antioch by sea. The Byzantines only provided a small number of ships that could only carry a fraction of the army. Although Louis was able to get to Antioch, once there he realized his army could never retake Edessa. He then traveled south to Acre where he met up with Conrad and some reinforcements. In July 1148, Louis, Conrad and Baldwin III of Jerusalem attempted to take Damascus, but failed owing to Conrad's ill health and Louis's inept generalship. Thereafter, the two armies departed in disgust. Louis was nearly captured on his return when the Sicilian ships he was traveling in were attacked by the Byzantine navy. His wife, Eleanor of Aquitaine, had accompanied him, and her scandalous behavior led to divorce.

Although it had ended in failure, the second crusade was revolutionary in several respects. The leadership of the crusades passed out of the hands of the papacy and into the those of the leading monarchs of Christendom. Moreover, by granting equal worth to the wars against the Moors, the Slavs and the Turks, St. Bernard redefined the crusades in terms of a general war against unbelievers. Bernard extended the indulgence to anyone who fought against enemies of the faith, allowing for future crusades against heretics within Europe, the Greeks, and even the western emperors. In his writings on the Crusades, Bernard also redefined the ideals of chivalry. His tract In Praise of the New Knighthood created new standards of nobility, emphasizing the duty of knights to serve God as warriors for Christ. Bernard's ideal derived from a consideration of the relationship between the words disciple and discipline. Through Christian, monastic or quasi-monastic spiritual discipline one becomes a true disciple of Christ. This involves emulating Christ's humility and selflessness in service to the greater glory of God. The Christian knight, no less than the monk, ought to embrace a standard of humility that, as Bernard put it, makes one worthless in one's own estimation. Only then can one take up the cross and serve God, willing to undergo any trial or hardship in order to further the salvific work of Christ.

Bernard's emphasis on the veneration of the Virgin Mary and her role of mediator contributed to the growth of a peculiarly Marian cult of knighthood. Bernard's writings also supported the growth of the military orders. The Templars, the Order of Hospitallers, Knights of St. John of Jerusalem were founded as monastic orders to run the hospitals during the crusades. They soon took up the sword for themselves, and once officially sanctioned, these fighting monks played a major role in the administration of the crusades. Other orders followed, such as the orders of Calatrava and Alvantara in Spain, and the Teutonic Knights and Knights of the Sword, organized to fight against the heathen in Prussia and Livonia.

St. Bernard may also be seen as partly responsible for the growth of the papacy in the later twelfth and thirteenth centuries. He impressed upon his student, Eugene III, that the pope was the "vicar of Christ" on earth, the representative of divine power in the secular world. His argument was based on the identification of Christ -- a title meaning "the anointed one" -- as "king before all ages." The kingship of Christ was, however, not merely a mystical phenomenon: "the historical character of his incarnation meant that the primary locus of his reign was human history ... By his guidance the entire arrangement of events and times in human history had been directed to the one end of the salvation of mankind."[4]   Christ's kingdom on earth was something tangible, and as king of the Church, Christ ruled over all bishops and priests, but also over all kings and secular rulers. In his dispute with Abelard, Bernard objected to those who portrayed Jesus merely as a teacher. Moses too was a teacher, but he was also a lawgiver. Therefore Christ "the teacher" was, as the new Moses, Christ "the lawgiver." The church, then, as the manifestation of Christ's kingdom on earth, was defined by laws and ordered in a hierarchical fashion according to laws. The historical development of the church, the priesthood, the episcopate, and ultimately the papacy, were reflections of Christ's work as "Lord of History." The institutional development of the church was part of God's plan of salvation. The creation of a monarchical papacy, with the pope acting as Christ's vicar, was the logical outcome of the organization of the world according to divine law and teaching in preparation for the return of the eternal King.

As the Cistercians established monasteries in the newly conquered lands of the east and in Spain, they carried with them this vision of a hierarchically ordered church with the pope as its sovereign. Hence it would not be too extreme to call the Cistercians the "storm troopers" of the Papacy, and assign them a role not unlike that of the Jesuits in the sixteenth and seventeenth centuries. Despite the original ideals of simplicity and humility, the Cistercians quickly assumed a political importance far greater than any previous monastic movement.

 

otakar4.gif (45902 bytes)  The Renaissance of the Twelfth Century

BY the end of the tenth century, the Isle de France had become the center of a vigorous intellectual revival. This first center was Rheins, where Gerbert (b. 972) began lecturing on logic around. Gerbert used the translations of Boethius, his Consolation, and the Topics of Cicero. Gerbert's program of study was primarily based on logic and rhetoric. Following Boethius, he had his students read certain classical authors, including Aristotle, Cicero, Vergil, Terence, Horace, and Lucan, among others. Gerbert's most gifted pupil was Fulbert of Chartres (1006-1028) who made the cathedral of Notre Dame at Chartres an important center for study. As chancellor of the cathedral, Fulbert turned the cathedral school into something akin to a university.

The school of Chartres was the center of the first phase of the literary revival. This movement reached its peak in the works of John of Salisbury, a close friend and confidant of Thomas Becket. Salisbury, like most of his generation, was steeped in Cicero and the great Latin poets. Consequently, their emphasis was on improving the quality of Latin letters. This marked the first phase of the Renaissance, and laid the foundations for works in logic and philosophy.

The path towards a philosophic or "scientific" approach to Theology was laid down by John Scotus Erigena (d. ca. 877) in the ninth century. Erigena applied the methods of dialectical reasoning to the problem of the Eucharist. Most churchmen had tended to follow the advise of Sirach 3:21, "Seek not what is too difficult for you, nor investigate what is beyond your power," seeing in these words an injunction against speculative theology. Erigena saw in these words, however, a justification for probing the mysteries of God as far as one was able. And although Erigena highly praised the works of Plato, "the greatest of those who philosophized about the world," and Aristotle, "the shrewdest among the Greeks," he also emphasized the absolute authority of scripture: "what we cannot prove by the authority of Holy Scripture and of the holy fathers ... we ought not accept."[5] Scripture contained the truth of history, and could not be contravened. Nonetheless, Erigena tended to treat theology as a sort of poetry, in which the teachings of scripture and the rules of the fathers could be reduced to symbols and manipulated by reason, just as the poet manipulates words. His critics saw much of his speculation as being silly, if not bordering on heresy. Nonetheless, he opened the door to dialectic as a tool of theology.

The first great logician of the eleventh century was St. Anselm (1033-1109), Abbot of Bec from 1079 to 1092, and thereafter Archbishop of Canterbury. St. Anselm is called the last church father and the first scholastic. He applied logic to theological questions, seeking to prove the validity of church doctrine. His greatest work was a treatise entitled Why God Became Man. Here Anselm intended to prove by logical means, without any reference to Christ, why it would be necessary for God to become man in order to achieve the salvation of mankind. His point that Christ, the incarnation of God on earth, was the only plausible means to human salvation. The emphasis on Christ was crucial, and it has been said that twelfth century piety was fundamentally christocentric.

All of the leading intellectuals of the period from Gerbert to St. Anselm were Cluniac Benedictines. The Cluniacs stressed scholarship, and until the death of Peter the Venerable, the last great abbot of Cluny, in 1156. The christocentric patterns of high medieval theology owe something to the teachings of Abbot Odo of Cluny (d. 942) who wrote on the ideals of discipleship. Christ presented the pattern of the contemplative life, based on humility, simplicity, and genuine obedience to God. The model for such a life was Mary, who humbled herself before God and then brought forth the savior. But even then, she did not claim greatness on account of this, but continued in a life of perfect obedience to God. The growth of Marian piety, then, was in large part the veneration of one who most seemed to represent the way of life that a Christian could reasonably strive towards. The source of teaching on this subject were the words of Christ, found in scripture. But the study of scripture required great linguistic and reasoning skill. The work of St. Anselm and others began to push beyond scripture, in order to show how the basic doctrines contained therein were rational.

Ultimately it was the first Crusade which demanded a discussion of doctrine outside of scripture based on logic. Muslims and Jews could not or would not accept arguments drawn from scripture. The only means of converting the infidels, then, was by convincing them logically of the fallacies of their own view and the fundamental truth of Christianity. As Alan of Lille (d. 1202) put it, "the catholic faith is based not only on the foundations of divine reasons, but also on that of human reasons ... it stands invincible because of its irrefutable theological authorities."[6]   Of course the task would be for scholars to define the "irrefutable theological" truths of Christianity, and this could only be done through a careful and thoroughgoing examination of Christian scripture and doctrine.

The Cathedrals were the natural site for this sort of scholarship. Although monasteries had been the primary centers for learning the in early Middle Ages, monastic scholars had a rather limited agenda. The episcopal administration, however, operating out of the great cathedrals, needed trained bureaucrats was well as priests. Consequently, the cathedral schools addressed a wider variety of issues. In the middle of the twelfth century, an important change occurred. As statecraft became more refined, the kings and princes needed trained officials as well. Consequently, the centers of learning moved from cathedrals to the towns. The result was the founding of universities, the first being established in Paris at the Sorbonne before 1150.

Universities were granted privileges by the crown and were largely self-governing, becoming towns within the town. Each university was headed by a chancellor, whose duties corresponded with the office of cathedral chancellor. The university was divided into faculties or colleges, organized along the same lines as trade guilds. In the north, guilds of masters formed the faculty. In the south, guilds of students made up the colleges. Like the urban trade guilds, the colleges and faculties laid down regulations for the students, devised the course of study, examined the students, and gave them a license to teach (licendia docendi) when they had completed their studies. Just as guild masters required their apprentices to produce a "master work" to show they were capable of plying their trade, professors demanded a work of original scholarship from their students. The result was the thesis or dissertation (dissertatio, disputatio). Throughout the Middle Ages, these took the form of an oral examination, a debate where the candidate was expected to defend his thesis before the general faculty.

By the end of the century, universities had become specialized. The Sorbonne was the center of theological study. Oxford was formed by students who left Paris, and provided an alternative for dissident theologians. Bologna was a center for the study of canon law. Palermo was the first great medical school. In all fields of study, universities became great factories for scholarly works. One measure of this was the size of libraries. In the early tenth century, the Abbey of Fulda was considered to have a large collection with eighty-five volumes. By 1200, Durham's collection included 546 titles, and was merely adequate. A century later, the library of the Sorbonne had at least three times that many books, most of them produced in the intervening years.

Abelard (1079-1142) was the first great professor in Paris. Although he preceded the founding of the University, that is merely a technicality. The University of Paris arose from his circle of students and friends. Abelard taught in Paris from 1108 to 1118, and in 1113 was given a chair in theology. His most famous work was Sic et Non (Yes and No), a compilation of positions by the church fathers on scripture. Such compilations were not all that unusual and had traditionally been assemble in order to point out the harmony of patristic authorities on the meaning of scripture. Abelard, however, endeavored to point out the extent to which the fathers disagreed on the interpretation of scripture. His goal was to set into motion a dialectical discussion that would find a hidden consensus that lay behind the surface disagreements.

The work was almost immediately censured by the church -- his suggestion that the most venerated authorities in the church might have been in error was unacceptable. In 1124, however, Abbot Suger came to Abelard's defense. He was also defended by Peter the Venerable, "who ensured that Abelard did not pass into the memory of posterity as an outcast but as a repentant heretic and unfortunate man of genius."[7]    In the last years of his life Abelard again ran into problems with the authorities, in particular St. Bernard. In 1140, Abelard's writings were condemned as heretical. For most theologians, it was dangerous to require students to doubt any aspect of scripture. Moreover, few wished to be confronted with the internal contradictions inherent in most Christian doctrine.

Despite his condemnation, Abelard left behind him a number of students. Some twenty-one disciples are known, and an additional anonymous fourteen works of theology were written by under his influence. His works were also copied and preserved by his critics, including those at the influential school of Anselm of Laon. A major setting for the study of Abelard and his critics was the school of St. Victor in Paris, founded in 1108 as a house for Augustinian Canons. The greatest product of this school was Hugh of St. Victor (d. 1142). He was an opponent of Abelard, but condemned him less for his methods and doctrines than for his attitude -- Hugh found Abelard condescending and conceited in his approach to the church fathers. But in an anonymous work produced at St. Victor, the Summa Sententiarum, a synthesis of Hugh's more conservative approach and that of Abelard can be noted.

This synthesis of Abelard and his critics, worked out by his disciples and their students, was completed by Peter Lombard (d. 1160). Lombard was educated in canon law at Bologna and theology at Paris. He was influenced by the canon lawyer Gratian, whose Concordance of Discordant Canons (c. 1140) was a work very similar to Sic et Non. Gratian used many of Abelard's terms and categories, and seems to have echoed some of his theological opinions. Gratian's method, however, was more conciliatory and consequently this work not only avoided censure, but became the legal textbook for the rest of the Middle Ages.

Lombard synthesized the methods of Gratian, St. Bernard, and Abelard. The result was the Sentences, published between 1150 and 1157. Lombard's Sentences comprised a list of topics for theological discussion. It is not a very engaging book -- "the Lombard was a cautious, sober and apparently dull expositor" -- and ranks as "one of the least read of the world's great books."[8]   It raised the many of the same questions as had Abelard's work, but without actually exposing any significant problems with Christian doctrine. It soon became the textbook for theology and the inspiration for most subsequent works. By 1338, the library of the Sorbonne contained fifty copies of the Sentences plus an additional 118 volumes of commentary.

After Lombard, the tenor of theological inquiry turned away from speculation and onto more practical matters of doctrine and church government. But the same general ideal prevailed: reason and faith were not contradictory, philosophy and theology were joined at the hip. The structure of the church, its teachings and doctrines, were all grounded in logic, and that logic had been worked out over the centuries by numerous scholars whose work was authoritative. The apparent contradictions were just that -- apparent. Behind them lay a fundamental consensus that could be ferreted out through the careful application of dialectical reasoning. All this seemed to hold out the promise of extending the divine ordo over the earth through the application of science.

 

otakar4.gif (45902 bytes)  England in the Twelfth Century

THE Norman rulers of England in the late eleventh and twelfth centuries brought about a number of changes in law and government based on both English and Norman customs. William the Conqueror introduced new institutions, importing continental feudalism into England. The revolts in Normandy between 1047 and 1053 had allowed William to confiscate and redistribute benefices, forcing the new tenants to become his vassals. By 1066 all of the greater barons, bishops, and the older monasteries of Normandy held their lands in fee from the duke. In return, they were required to provide a certain number of knights. This institution, referred to by historians as the knight's fee, was a Norman innovation, one that allowed the king to use the wealth of great nobles and ecclesiastical estates to support his army. According to his own reckoning, William believed that England could provided him with 6,000 knights. William also intervened into the affairs of his nobles, and by the time of the conquest prohibited any noble from building a castle without his approval, a step that no previous duke had even contemplated. Within Normandy, the duke had a near monopoly of bannum. The English crown allowed William to convert this to true sovereignty.

In England, William drew heavily on the traditions of the Anglo-Saxon kingdom. Perhaps no kingdom in Europe was as centralized or had a more sophisticated system of administration than England under Cnut and Edward the Confessor. The only significant change in the chancery was that after 1070 Latin replaced English as the language for charters and writs. The old English assembly, the witana gemot, became the royal court, the curia regis. Although the name changed, the institution remained the same. The core of William's power, however, was the great respect and fear he evoked from his subjects. His writ ran in every shire and no private transactions of land were final until approved by the crown or its agents. Prior to 1069, most of the earldoms remained in the hands of Englishmen, but this changed after the revolts in that year. By 1086, only two English barons remained. The sheriffs, on the other hand, remained Englishmen throughout William's time,

The sheriffs were the backbone of English government under the Norman kings. Under Edward, they were essentially reeves of the shire, royal estate managers with limited administrative competence. After the abolition of the great earldoms, however, the sheriffs became the immediate representatives of royal authority in the shires. Moreover, whereas Edward's sheriffs had tended to be men of low birth, William chose his sheriffs from among the leading landed families of the shire. They were thus able to check the power of local magnates.

The problems of land transfer and conflicting claims to estates, a necessary consequence of the conquest, led to a variety of important legal reforms. In 1075, conflicts arose over the lands claimed by the bishop of Kent and the archbishop of Canterbury. A formal inquest was held which had the unforeseen result of raising questions about the kings juridical authority in those regions. A three day shire court was held to decide the matter, and a grand jury was assembled to hear the claims. This inquest provided a model for a series of judicial reforms that revolutionized the English system of justice. In the following years the Anglo-Saxon institution of the jury was used in a variety of inquests, leading up to the Domesday survey of 1086. In every shire, the sheriffs gathered the king's tenants-in-chief, their tenants, the court of every hundred, and the priest, reeve, and six freeholders from every village. The disposition of all estates was recorded and preserved in two volumes of the Domesday book. Although the survey was notable for giving William a clear picture of his holdings, it also spread the new system of jury inquest throughout England.

William the Bastard ruled England until 1087. After his death, his holdings were divided among his three sons: the eldest, Robert Curthose, became Duke of Normandy, William Rufus inherited the English crown, and the youngest son, Henry, received a handful of estates and some money. The result was a series of wars between the brothers. After William II (1087-1100) died in a hunting accident, Henry became king, and in 1106 reconquered Normandy in a stunning reversal of his father's conquest.

Henry I (1100-35) married an Anglo-Saxon princess and carried out extensive reforms of the English exchequer. Henry decreed that every Easter and Michaelmas (September 27) each shire had to present its accounts for a royal audit. These were collected and written down in the series of Pipe-Rolls. The series of Pipe-Rolls date from 1130/31 and continue throughout the Middle Ages. He also enacted a series of judicial reforms, codified in the leges henrici primi, which was composed during his reign.

One of Henry I's major concerns was the succession. Although he had no less than twenty bastard sons, he produced only one legitimate male heir. In 1120, prince William drowned when his ship foundered in the channel. The wreck of the White Ship left Henry with only one legitimate heir, his daughter Mathilde, the wife of the Holy Roman Emperor Henry V (1106-25). After the Emperor's death, Mathilde remarried, this time to Geoffrey Plantagenet, Count of Anjou. The marriage was wildly unpopular, as the house of Anjou were traditional enemies of the Normans. Consequently, Mathilde and Geoffrey separated in 1133 after the birth of their son, named Henry after his grandfather. Old Henry I hoped that his grandson would succeed him, but after his death, a civil war ensued. Stephen of Blois, a cousin of Henry I, was given the throne. Throughout his reign (1135-54) England was consumed in a war between barons loyal to Stephen and those loyal to Mathilde and her young son. As a result, this period is generally known as "The Anarchy."

Geoffrey Plantagenet led the resistance to Stephen, and staged several invasions of Normandy. Initially, these were unsuccessful, owing to the hatred of the Norman people and dysentery which, according to one chronicler sent the Angevins running, leaving behind a trail of filth. Mathilde then staged her own campaign, invading England in 1039. After the capture of Stephen by barons loyal to Mathilde in 1141, however, the Normans surrendered in droves. By 1144, Geoffrey had taken Normandy and was recognized as duke. After Geoffrey's death in 1151, his son Henry Fitzempress inherited Anjou and Normandy and renewed the conflict with Stephen. In 1153 Henry defeated Stephen and forced the King to recognize him as heir. Shortly before 1152 Henry had married Eleanor, the only daughter and heir of the Duke of Aquitaine who had divorced Louis VII of France. Eleanor brought with her the whole of the vast duchy of Aquitaine. When Henry II became king at the tender age of 22 he ruled an empire which stretched from the borders of Scotland to the Pyrenees.

The Angevin Empire of Henry II (1154-89) was as much an accident of birth as the result of design. It was a collection of separate feudal sovereignties held by different titles. The English king, moreover, owed fealty to the king of France for all these possessions. Only England was held by the Angevins free and clear. Still, the Plantagenets, as Henry II and his heirs were known, spoke French, considered themselves French and were all, with the exception of John, buried on French soil. The "English" monarchy during the high Middle Ages was at least as French as the "French" monarchy. Nonetheless, Henry II must be considered the greatest of the Anglo-Norman rulers. He was the first fully literate king since the conquest, and like Alfred the Great could combine statesmanship with cultural sensitivity. He is chiefly remembered for restoring order to a land racked by civil war -- after Stephen's death he ordered the destruction of over 1200 castles -- and restoring the "good laws" of his grandfather.

Henry II initially enjoyed good relations with the church. Old Archbishop Theobald of Canterbury had been one of his supporters. After Theobald died, Henry appointed his old friend Thomas Becket, chancellor since 1155, to the archiepiscopacy. Although Henry thought Becket would aid in his efforts to increase royal control over the church, Thomas resisted. In 1164, Henry promulgated a series of laws or constitutions at a synod of bishops at Clarendon. The Constitutions of Clarendon marked an attempt to formalize the customs regulating relations between the crown and the church. It largely reaffirmed old procedures, but placed clerics under civil law in civil cases. Initially Becket submitted, but then repented. He fled to the continent in 1166, staying in the French court and traveling to Rome. Pope Alexander III (1159-1161) was a skilled canon lawyer and diplomat, and heard Becket's case with some sympathy. Unfortunately, Becket had come to Rome in the middle of a schism, and the pope needed Henry's support. A series of events in 1170, however, led the pope to grant support to Becket. Henry desired to have his eldest son, Henry "the young king" crowned. Since Becket was in exile, the archbishop of York performed the ceremony, in violation of law and custom. Becket received permission from the pope to excommunicate the bishops who had taken part in the coronation, and threatened Henry with the interdict. Were England to be placed under the interdict, all religious observances -- masses, baptisms, burials -- would be suspended,. Henry submitted, and by the end of 1170 Thomas Becket was back in Canterbury. Shortly after his return, however, Henry is said to have remarked to a group of his knights "will no-one rid me of this meddlesome priest?" The knights went up to Canterbury and killed Becket as he stood at the altar in the Cathedral on December 29, 1170. The King had to do public penance and Becket was canonized. The site of Becket's martyrdom became the focus of pilgrimages from throughout England. Despite this setback, however, the Plantagenet monarchs gradually increased their control over the English church with far greater success than their French or German colleagues.

Henry II continued to increase the authority of the monarchy in England. A major reform of legal procedure was accomplished through the assizes of Clarendon (1166) and Northampton (1176). These decrees also stated that only royal justices could hear criminal cases. Sheriffs were directed to arrest malefactors and hold them until trial at royal castles. Local magnates were not to hinder sheriffs in the performance of their duties. For their part, sheriffs were not permitted to interfere with juries. In 1173 Henry established a central royal court for which he built, in 1178, a court building at Westminster. After the time of Henry III (1216-72) this became known as the King's Bench. Henry II effectively established a monopoly over justice for the crown through these measures and made his local officials, the Sheriffs and Justices of the Peace, powerful executors of his policies.

 

otakar4.gif (45902 bytes)  The Empire under the Early Hohenstaufens

HENRY V was the last emperor of the Salian dynasty. He died without an heir, and on his deathbed nominated his nephew, Frederick II of Hohenstaufen, Duke of Swabia, as his successor. The Hohenstaufen candidature was opposed, however, by a number of churchmen, led by the Welfs of Saxony. With the support of the Welfs, Lothar of Supplinburg, a noble from the eastern marches, was elected king. Lothar III (1125-38) worked closely with Bernard of Clairvaux to resolve the Anacletan schism, supporting Pope Innocent II. He also provided an impetus for further colonization east of the Elbe. Several dynasties were able to build fairly independent territorial states in the marches. The Askianer dynasty, led by Albrecht "The Bear" (d. 1170), acquired the northern march in 1123. The Wettin family of Saxony were established in the march of Miessen. As for the Welfs, they solidified their position in Saxony when Henry the Proud married Lothar's daughter. When Lothar died, the Welfs inherited both Lothar's lands and the ducal title in Saxony.

After Lothar died, Henry the Proud seemed the obvious candidate for the imperial throne. He was duke of Saxony and Bavaria, margrave of Tuscany, and the most powerful prince in the Empire. Pope Innocent II, however, opposed his election, and gave confidence to his opponents. Consequently, when the election was held at Koblenz, the Hohenstaufen prince Conrad, the younger brother of Frederick II of Swabia, was elected king. Only a few days after the election, the papal legate crowned Conrad III (1138-52) emperor. He was immediately recognized by most of the nobles in the Empire, including Henry the Proud. As soon as Henry turned over the imperial insignia, however, the emperor declared him an outlaw and confiscated his lands. Albrecht the Bear received the duchy of Saxony, while Bavaria was given to Leopold IV of Babenberg. The result of this action was an outbreak of war between the Welfs and Staufer over Saxony. The sudden death of Henry the Proud in 1139 led to a rapprochement between his son Henry "the Lion" and Conrad III. According to the treaty of Frankfurt (1142) Henry the Lion was named duke of Saxony. Albrecht the Bear received the mark of Brandenburg as compensation, extending his domain in the marches. Bavaria stayed with the Babenbergers, now represented by Leopold's son, Henry Jasomirgott. After securing the peace, Conrad took the cross and went on the second crusade. He died in Bamberg in 1152 while planning an expedition to Italy. Since his only surviving son, Frederick of Rothenburg, was only six years old, he nominated his nephew Frederick III of Swabia as his successor.

The Hohenstaufen emperor Frederick I (1153-1190) is best known by his surname, Barbarossa, a reference to his red beard. Frederick Barbarossa used the principles of feudalism to create bonds between himself and the leading nobles of the Empire. Frederick elevated the concept of knighthood in the context of the crusades, and invited leading nobles to become milites christiani, Christian knights in the service of the Christian Emperor. The Emperor was identified as the leader of Christendom in its struggle with the infidels of the east, as both defender of the West and its chieftain in missionary offensives. Under Barbarossa, the Empire in the west became known as the Holy Roman Empire, the secular and military arm of Christendom.

Frederick Barbarossa brought about a compromise between the Welfs and his own dynasty. This should not be surprising insofar as his mother was a sister of Henry the Proud. Henry the Lion, Frederick's cousin and close friend, received the duchy of Bavaria in addition to Saxony. His uncle Welf VI was made duke of Spoleto and margrave of Tuscany. Henry Jasomirgott was compensated with Austria, which was separated from Bavaria and made into an independent archduchy. The agreement over Austria, the priviligio minus, was unique in that it made the title to Austria heritable through both the male and female lines, contrary to Salic law. The priviligio minus was also an important step in the dissolution of the stem duchies and creation of territorial states in the empire.

In 1153 Frederick made an alliance with pope Eugene III against their common enemies, namely the Roman rebel Arnold of Brescia, who had tried to proclaim himself Roman Emperor, and the Normans. In 1154 Frederick set out for Italy, accompanied by Henry the Lion. By the time Frederick got to Rome Eugene III had died. Hadrian IV, the only Englishman to hold the papal see, had been elected, but was unable to enter Rome because of an uprising. Frederick fought his way into the city and received its submission. But while Hadrian IV was placing the imperial crown on Frederick's head the city rose up again, this time under the leadership of Arnold of Brescia. Henry the Lion played a leading role in suppressing the revolt, and Arnold was executed.

In 1157, a relations between the Empire and the papacy took a bad turn. At the Diet of Besanon, the papal legate delivered a letter to the Emperor, requesting his aid in restoring the Bishop of Lund, who had been kidnaped in Burgundy. However, while the Chancellor was reading the papal letter, he mistranslated the word beneficium, hence a passage which should have read "I have given you at your coronation a great honor" came out "I have given you...a great benefice." Frederick was incensed and demanded clarification from the papal legate. The latter only made matters worse by declaring "to whom does the Emperor owe his office if not to his lord the Pope?" The result was a long and bitter conflict between Frederick and the Papacy. Barbarossa led another army to Italy to secure his position there. At the Diet of Roncaglia, Frederick demanded that free cities of northern Italy return Imperial lands and offices taken over during the investiture contest. The terminology of the Roncaglia decree was couched in the language of Roman law, and emphasized the position of the emperor as sovereign lord. Barbarossa denied the papacy any power over the emperors, and claimed for himself the powers over the church held by the early Christian emperors, such as Constantine, Theodosius the Great, and Justinian.

Barbarossa benefited at this point from the outbreak of schism. Hadrian IV died in 1159, and the College of Cardinals was split between supporters and opponents of the emperor. Consequently, one group of cardinals elected Alexander III, while the minority raised another pope, Victor IV. Frederick adopted a policy of neutrality, but secretly supported Victor. When Henry II of England found himself at odds with the papacy over the Constitutions of Clarendon and his treatment of Becket, this paved the way for an alliance between Henry and Barbarossa, the two most power monarchs in the west. To cement the deal, Henry's eldest daughter Mathilde married Henry the Lion, while Barbarossa's one-year-old son was betrothed to Eleanor, the youngest daughter of the English king. Feeling secure in his alliances, Barbarossa set off for Italy in 1165 to resolve the schism to his benefit.

To secure himself, Alexander III formed an alliance with the Norman king of Sicily, William II (1166-1189). Alexander then opened negotiations with the Byzantine Emperor, Manuel Comnenus. Manuel correctly divined the real purpose behind the Crusades: the extension of the West's power in the East. After Frederick's army was decimated by plague beneath the walls of Rome in 1167, the Italian cities rose up. Under the leadership of Milan, and with the support of the pope and the Byzantine emperor, the sixteen cities formed the Lombard league. By supporting the Italian cities against Frederick and the Norman barons of Sicily against their king, the Byzantine Emperor sought to restore Constantinople's political power in Italy, lost in the years following the death of Justinian. Manuel's policy of divide and conquer failed, however. Frederick's defeat at the hands of the league at Legnano in 1176 sped the reconciliation between Pope and Emperor. Barbarossa realized that he could better achieve his aims through diplomacy and compromise than war. In this new spirit, Frederick Barbarossa and William II of Sicily overcame their differences and formed an alliance. William pledged to marry his niece to Frederick's son Henry. Hence, in spite of the military failure in northern Italy, the Hohenstaufen were able to extend their influence to Sicily, placing all of Italy, save the Papal State, under the hegemony of the Western Empire.

Henry the Lion had refused to accompany the emperor on this last Italian campaign, leading to bad blood between the old friends. Since 1165, when Henry the Lion was involved in forging the alliance between England and the Empire, relations between Barbarossa and the Welf dynasty had changed. In 1171, Welf VI sold his lands in Italy to the emperor. This meant that Henry the Lion was the only major landholder in the family. In 1177 he was faced with a rebellion by his own vassals in Saxony. When he refused to return lands he had seized from the bishop of Halberstadt, Henry was excommunicated. The Archbishop of Cologne now entered the struggle and with the bishop of Halberstadt came to the emperor for assistance. Frederick ordered Henry to appear for judgement, but the Welf prince refused. Consequently, in 1179, he was declared an outlaw. After a year had passed and he showed no intention of submitting to judgement, the pronouncement was made permanent. In 1180, at the Diet of Gelnhausen, Henry the Lion was condemned in absentia and all his lands confiscated. The duchy of Saxony was broken up. The western portion, the duchy of Westfalen, was given to the Archbishop of Cologne. The bishops of Halberstadt and Paderborn also received lands. The city of Lbeck, founded by Henry as a trading center, became a free city. Bernhard of Anhalt, the youngest son of Albrecht the Bear, received what remained of the duchy. Bavaria was likewise divided, and the rump of the duchy given to Otto of Wittelsbach, whose descendants would rule Bavaria until 1918. The fall of Henry the Lion marked the death of the stem duchies. In the next century, they would completely disappear from the political map of Germany, being replaced by a number of small ecclesiastical and princely states and free cities.

Partly out of piety, partly as part of a deal with Pope Clement III (1187-1191) and partly for purposes of revenge against Constantinople, Frederick decided to go on the third crusade. His army wreaked havoc all across the Balkans, where Barbarossa made alliances with the princes of Serbia and Bulgaria against the Byzantines. Once he got to Constantinople, Frederick patched up his differences with the new emperor Isaac II. Although his armies were victorious in their first engagements, the emperor never made it to the Holy Land. On June 10, 1190, he drowned while swimming a river in Asia Minor.

Frederick Barbarossa left his empire to his twenty-three year old son. Henry VI (1190-98) had married the heiress to Sicily, giving the Hohenstaufen a powerful kingdom outside of the Empire. With both Italy and Germany at peace, the new Emperor formed more ambitious plans. He led a German crusade to Antioch, securing his control over the old Norman principality founded by Bohemund of Taranto a century earlier. Henry VI then began to arrange for a crusade against Constantinople and planned to oust the Byzantine rulers, uniting the two halves of the Roman Empire once more. He had captured the Princess Irene, widow of a rebel Sicilian noble and the sister of the Byzantine Emperor, and married her to his brother, Philip of Swabia. He then assembled his army. In the end, however, Henry VI realized that the direct conquest of Byzantium would be no easy task. Instead, he was satisfied to extort a tribute of 5,000 pounds of gold from Constantinople. Hence Byzantium became a tributary state of the western Emperor.

Through these actions, Henry VI brought the Hohenstaufen to the height of their power, but in 1197 he died suddenly, leaving his infant son Frederick II as heir. The result was a disputed imperial election in 1197 that left two rival claimants: Otto IV (Welf), the son of Henry the Lion and grandson of Henry II of England, and Philip of Swabia (Hohenstaufen). The young Frederick II was left in Palermo with the Pope, Innocent III (1190-1216), as his guardian. Byzantium and England supported Otto while France entered into an alliance with the Hohenstaufen. The Italian states became divided into two camps, the Guelf (Welf) and Ghibelline (Hohenstaufen) factions. The interplay between these two parties would provide the basis for Italian politics for the next century and a half.

 

otakar4.gif (45902 bytes)  The Third Crusade

IN the years following the failure of the second crusade, the Christian rulers in the Holy Land continued to struggle with the Egyptians for control of Jerusalem. Most of the fighting was concentrated in the Gaza strip where neither side could maintain an advantage. The situation changed drastically when a Kurdish general consolidated the Islamic states in the east. Salh-al-dn, better known to the world as Saladin, was the youngest son of Nr-al-dn. He was a rather bookish youth, and played no role in his father's campaigns in Syria or in his conquest of Egypt in 1169. After his father's death in 1174, however, Saladin obtained the support of pious Syrians who convinced him to continue the fight against the infidel.

Although the Christians had made a truce with Saladin in 1185, a succession crisis in the kingdom of Jerusalem gave him an excuse to invade in 1187. The Christians assembled an impressive army, but at Hattim, they were cut off from water and defeated. The losses were so great that Saladin was then able to overrun the kingdom of Jerusalem, and seize the Holy City itself on October 2, 1187. Only the coastal city of Tyre remained in Christian hands, thanks to William II of Sicily, who dispatched a fleet and supplies to aid the garrison. The fall of Jerusalem sent shock waves through the Christian world and caused Pope Gregory VIII to call for a new crusade.

The first rulers to take the cross were Henry II of England and Philip II of France (1180-1223). Philip II, surnamed Augustus, had set out to retake the English possessions on the continent. His struggle with England began soon after his accession and was aided by fraternal rivalries among the heirs to the English throne. Henry II of England had four sons, Henry, Richard, Geoffrey, and John. Prince Henry, the eldest son, died in 1183. In the years that followed, the succession became a serious problem. Philip Augustus used the quarrels between Henry and his sons to further his own career. He skillfully played Henry II against Richard, receiving homage for Aquitaine from the latter. Henry hoped to use the Crusade to bring the wars to an end, but before he and Philip could agree on a strategy, the English king died. His son Richard I (1189-1199) now took over the enterprise, and in the spring of 1190, Philip Augustus and Richard "the Lion-hearted" set off for the Holy Land. Frederick Barbarossa had already left, and his early departure made the French and English look very bad.

Richard the Lionhearted stopped in Sicily on his way to the Holy Land. There he tried to reorganize the government after the death of William II, the last Norman king. This only led to deep enmity between Richard and the emperor Henry VI who claimed the crown of Sicily. Richard and Philip arrived in Acre, a coastal city taken by the Muslims, and besieged the city. After it capitulated Philip left the Holy Land. He was sick, and the quarrels between the French and English troops removed any romance from the adventure. Richard was angered by this, but remained in the Holy Land.

Richard the Lionhearted's campaigns were marked by certain successes and horrid brutality. At Jaffa, he executed 2,700 Muslim prisoners when he felt that Saladin was not living up to all the terms for the surrender of Acre. Although Richard was able to secure the coastline for the Christians, his forces were not strong enough to retake Jerusalem. By August, 1192, Richard was ill, and decided to return home. His enemies were waiting for him. His brother John was plotting with Philip Augustus to prevent his return. Consequently, Richard tried to bypass France by traveling through Germany. But, as stated earlier, his actions in Sicily had angered the Emperor. Richard was discovered and captured by another old enemy, the duke of Austria, who, as a dutiful vassal, turned Richard over to the emperor. Henry VI demanded a ransom of 100,000 and forced Richard to swear an oath of homage to him. Richard returned to England and turned his attention to taking revenge on Philip Augustus. From 1194 until 1199, Richard fought a series of campaigns intended to seize the rest of France. Although he had some successes, Richard the Lionhearted was killed besieging the castle of a minor noble in 1199. Throughout his reign, Richard I spent a total of five months in England.

For his success against the Franks, Saladin became the hero that Dar-al-Islam had long been seeking. After his death in 1193, his brother al-`Adil (1193-1218) and his son al-Kmil (1218-1238) continued to press against the Christian Crusader kingdoms. The dynasty of Saladin remained the dominant power in Syria throughout the Crusades, and only after the last Crusader outposts fell in 1291 did his kingdom fall apart.

 

otakar4.gif (45902 bytes)  The Papal Monarchy of Innocent III

IN 1198, the Roman nobleman Lothario dei Conti di Segni was elected pope, taking the name Innocent III. Innocent III (1198-1216) was only thirty-seven years old, young, dynamic and well educated. He had been educated at the University of Paris, and had written several works on theology. Among his schoolmates were two Englishmen, Stephen Langton, whom he would later appoint to the See of Canterbury, and Robert of Courson, who in 1215 composed the first statutes for the University of Paris. Innocent also studied canon law at Bologna under Huguccio of Pisa, one of the disciples of Gratian. Indeed, his predilection for learning led some critics to call him "Solomon III." Above all, Innocent intended to revive the authority of the papal see. During his school days in Paris he had visited the shrine of Thomas Becket. This apparently had a profound impact on the thirteen-year old student, and the image of Becket persecuted by secular power informed much of Innocent's attitude about the freedom and authority of the church. He argued that the pope was the true head of Christendom using the figure of Melchizidek, the old Testament prophet who was both king and priest, as his model. Earlier, the Carolingians and Ottonians had represented Melchizidek as a king who was also a priest (rex et sacrados). Innocent turned this around, emphasizing the role of priest as king. He forced the submission of kingdoms by reference to canon law and use of the ban. By the end of his reign, the kings of England, Aragon, and Sicily had recognized Innocent as their feudal overlord. Innocent was the first pope to publicly refer to himself as "Vicar of Christ," and he endeavored to make that title a reality.

Innocent III was elected on January 8, 1198. His predecessor, Celestine III, had been over ninety-years old at his death; the new candidate was only thirty seven. This may have provoked concerns about his candidacy. Since the third Lateran Council of 1179, a two-thirds majority was required for election to the papal see, and Innocent failed to achieve this on the first ballot. Nonetheless, he wasted no time in making himself master of the papal curia. He ran the chancery personally and with an iron hand. He gathered around himself in the College of Cardinals highly educated priests and bishops. In short, he infused life into the papacy after the rather colorless reigns of his predecessors.

Two major concerns during Innocent's reign were heresy and the crusades. The growth of heresy had its origins in the official reform movements of the tenth and eleventh centuries. Beginning with Cluny and Gorze and through the Gregorian reforms, the control and influence over the church had been gradually taken away from the laity and given over to the abbots, bishops, and the pope. Lay investiture was banned, and as the clergy received more extensive education and training, they developed a particular esprit de corps that set them apart from the laity. But the elevation of the priest necessitated a devaluation of the laymen.

One central theological theme, deriving from the extreme christocentrism of Odo of Cluny and Anselm of Bec, was the centrality of the Eucharist and the development of the doctrine of the real presence. As Christ was fully present in the Eucharist, this allowed the communicant to participate fully in the passion, suffering, death, and resurrection of Christ. In other words, the sacrament became the means by which the salvific grace of God was communicated to the faithful; the sacrament allowed one to live in Christ, who was the only way to the Father. As the doctrine was developed more fully, the one sacrament was divided into seven -- Eucharist, Baptism, Confirmation, Extreme Unction (last rites), Marriage, Holy Orders, and Penance. Each one communicated a particular aspect of grace. Moreover, only a priest would administer the sacraments.

This of course led to questions about the validity of sacraments received from sinful priests. This was particularly problematic with the sacrament of penance. How could a sinful priest absolve others from their sin? To the laymen, this seemed improbable: "rejection of the catholic doctrine of penance was one of the things on which all heretics agreed. They repudiated the absolution pronounced by priests, on the grounds that 'the priests of our own time do not have the power to bind and loose [sins], for they have been deprived of that power by their own sins.'"[9]

A second problem had to do with the growth of the church. As power was centralized in the hands of the bishops and the papacy, so too were finances, and this provoked serious criticisms about the worldliness of popes and prelates. To be fair, it must be noted that while many owed money to the church, few paid it, and throughout the reign of Innocent III the real income of the papacy fell far below what it should have received on paper. This led the fiscal officers of the church to appear grasping and mendacious as they used every method at their disposal to collect the monies due them. Such actions did not appear in concert with the ideals of simplicity and humility preached by St. Bernard and others.

Finally, in an effort to reform the mores and religious habits of the laity, and as a means of broadcasting the goals of the Gregorian reforms, the church had sponsored wandering preachers during the late eleventh and early twelfth centuries. Naturally, such preachers often ran into difficulties with local clergy who resented their meddling. In response, the preachers turned to violent attacks on the habits of rural clerics, pointing out their worldliness and venality. Such condemnations began to emphasize ever more vividly the contrast between the desires of the flesh and spirituality. Ultimately, several preachers began to edge towards dualism, depicting all things of this world as the work of the devil. By the middle of the twelfth century, some of the wandering preachers were disseminating ideas that were downright heretical. In this way, preachers who had originally been commissioned to consolidate the official program of the church turned to laying the groundwork for the spread of heresy.

One of the most extreme groups were the Cathars. Their name comes from the Greek word for "pure" and the movement appears to have derived from a heretical Bulgarian sect, the Bogomils. First identified in the west at Cologne in the early twelfth century, the Cathars were dualists, believing that the physical world had been created by the devil and was inherently evil. The sect was divided into two orders. The perfecti lived a life of extreme asceticism, not eating meat and refraining from sexual contact. The credentes listened to their preaching and on their deathbed received absolutions from the perfecti. The largest concentrations of Cathars were in Languedoc in southern France and Lombardy.

There were a variety of reactions to their preaching. In 1174 a rich merchant from Lyons, Valdes or Peter Waldo, gave up all his possessions and began to preach against the Cathars. Although Valdes initially had the favor of Pope Alexander III, his demands for vernacular bibles and liturgy led the church to condemn him. After their rejection by the third Lateran Council in 1179, the Waldensians became a fringe group and adopted more radical tenants. Another related group were the Humiliati, who appeared in Lombardy. They also wished to live a life of apostolic poverty, but had a more conciliatory attitude towards the church. Innocent III tried to deal with both groups by offering to bring them into the church. The Humiliati agreed to the pope's conditions, and were organized as an order in 1202. Innocent's actions provoked a split among the Waldensians as after a disputation between Durandus of Huesca, a follower of Valdes, and Bishop Diego of Osma, Durandus was reconciled to the church along with some of his flock. Innocent's policy was simple. He was willing to accept the desire of some sectarians to live a life of apostolic poverty, but only if they would accept the established doctrines of the church and the authority of the papacy. Sects that refused to recognize the authority of the church would be persecuted relentlessly.

The Cathars of Albi were the first to feel the sting of Innocent's policy. A crusade was declared against them in 1208 after the murder of the papal legate Peter of Castelnau at Toulouse. For his refusal to act against the heretics, Count Raymond of Toulouse was excommunicated, and a French crusading force under the English knight Simon de Montfort was sent to chastise the heretics. The Albigensian crusade was the first time that a crusade had been called against western Christians, and one of its legacies was the Inquisition, initially led by the fanatical papal legate Arnauld Amaury. Arnauld is best remembered for the quote attributed to him, "burn them all and let God sort them out." Under his guidance hundreds perished in mass executions between 1209 and 1211. A general inquisition, administered by the Dominican order, was set up in 1233. The last Cathar perfect was burned in 1321.

Towards the end of his reign, in large part because of the problem of heresy, Innocent convened the Fourth Lateran Council, the largest church council ever convened in the west. Over 400 bishops and 800 abbots attended the council, intended to establish new standards of orthodoxy. The council codified the teachings of the theologians of Paris and canon lawyers of Bologna establishing the foundations of Catholic doctrine which have remained fundamentally unchanged to this day. The conclusion of the council in 1215 marked the greatest success of Innocent's career.

Innocent attempted to regain papal control over the crusading movement, and it is notable that the Fourth Crusade (1204) preached by Innocent in 1198 included no kings or emperors. In the end, the Fourth Crusade failed in its mission. Venetians sidetracked the crusades to Constantinople in order to force the emperor to restore their trading privileges, revoked some years before. The result was the sack of the city and the creation of a "Latin Empire" ruled by western princes. The Byzantine emperors took refuge in Nicaea.

More successful were crusades that Innocent directed in Spain and the Baltic. French knights aided Alfonse VIII of Castile in an offensive against the Moors, and in 1212 the crusading army set out from Toledo. They drove the moors south and recaptured much of the peninsula for the Christians. In the Baltic, German knights were allowed to fulfill their crusading vows by fighting against the pagan Prussians and Lithuanians. This led to a general crusade in 1204 that resulted in the establishment of the bishopric of Riga and a crusader state in Livonia. Innocent hoped that he might use the crusade as a way of winning over orthodox Russia to the Catholic faith, but such plans proved elusive. The chief result of the Baltic crusades was the immigration of thousands of Germans into eastern Europe, so that by the middle of the thirteenth century, the Baltic was ringed with German cities and trading colonies.

Innocent III also became directly involved in the politics of western Europe. He first intervened in the disputed imperial election of 1198. Fearing the spread of Hohenstaufen power in Italy, Innocent supported the Welf candidate, Otto IV against Philip of Swabia. After twenty-eight imperial bishops protested, Innocent composed his response, the Deliberatio super facto imperii de tribus electis, in 1199. Therein he argued that the pope had the right to decide since the empire "principaliter et finaliter" derived from the pope. When Pope Leo crowned Charlemagne emperor, he transferred imperial authority from Byzantium back to Rome (translatio imperii). The imperium was then a creation of the pope and under his power. Despite these arguments, thirty princes, half of them bishops, supported Philip of Swabia, including the powerful ruler of Bohemia P emysl Otakar I (1197-1230). Consequently, by 1203, Innocent III was rethinking his position. Philip and Innocent opened discussions for a transferal of the crown, and by 1208 had determined that Otto should abdicate. Before anything could be done, however, Philip of Swabia was murdered in Bamberg. The "junge seze man," as the poet Walther von der Vogelweide called him, was barely thirty. Against the advice of most cardinals, Innocent decided to crown Otto IV emperor in 1209. No sooner had he done so than he regretted his actions. By 1210, Otto had been excommunicated. A year later, Innocent reversed his entire policy and, on the advise of Philip Augustus of France, arranged for the election of Henry VI's son, Frederick II, as king and emperor.

Innocent was also drawn into the conflicts between England and France. When John (1199-1216) became king of England, he inherited a war with France and a pro-Welf German policy. In 1202, Philip Augustus required John to do homage, and when John balked, seized all English holdings north of the Loire. John then ran into trouble with Innocent III over the election of a new archbishop of Canterbury and John's support for his nephew Otto IV. The pope appointed his old school chum Stephen Langton as archbishop, but without the approval of the English king. John protested and refused to recognize Langton, appointing his own candidate in defense of what he believed to be his prerogatives as king. Innocent excommunicated John in 1209, returning his kingdom in 1213 as a fief of the papacy.

Frederick II of Hohenstaufen and Philip Augustus made an alliance in 1212 against the English-Welf alliance. In 1214, John and Otto planned a combined operation to defeat Philip. John was to attack Paris from Guyenne and Otto was to attack from the north through Flanders, which was sympathetic to their cause. But the plans backfired when Otto decided to come to battle alone against Philip Augustus. At the battle of Bouvines (1214) Otto was soundly defeated.

The battle of Bouvines decided the fate of three kingdoms. In France, Philip Augustus was now supreme. After defeating Otto, he was able to drive John out of France and seize nearly all the English holdings on the continent. For his part, John returned home to a revolt of the barons who on June 15, 1215 forced him to affix his seal to the Magna Carta. This charter granted the Barons greater liberty, forced the king to submit to law, and provided that taxes could only be levied pending an assembly of the peers of the realm (Parliament). Otto lost his throne, and until his death in 1218, lived in internal exile, while Frederick II increased his power in Germany.

 

otakar4.gif (45902 bytes)  Frederick II

IN 1215 Frederick II, the grandson of Barbarossa, was crowned emperor at Aachen. The victory of his ally Philip Augustus over Otto IV ensured that Frederick could claim his inheritance. Nonetheless, Frederick was certainly the least German of emperors. He had been born in Palermo, the daughter of a Sicilian Norman princess. In the chaos that followed his father's death, Frederick was for a time thrown out of the palace by the regent, Markward of Anweiler, who hoped to claim the throne for himself. Frederick learned to survive in the streets of Palermo, and came to be feared and respected by his enemies. He was learned, wrote a book on falconry, kept a harem and a Saracen guard, and so amazed his contemporaries with his vision, actions, and conduct that he was known as Stupor Mundi, the wonder of the world.

Among the last acts of Innocent III was to convince Frederick, his former ward, to promise never to unify Sicily with the Empire. Frederick agreed and named his son Henry as king of Sicily. No sooner was Innocent dead than Frederick brought his son north of the alps and had him elected as king of Germany and heir apparent to the imperial throne. The new pope, Honorius III (1216-1227) protested feebly, but for the moment could do nothing about it since he needed the emperor's support for a planned crusade. In 1220, the pope crowned Frederick emperor. Although Frederick promised again not to unite Sicily with the Empire, at his coronation he argued that his sovereignty was based on Roman law. He reorganized the government of Sicily in 1220 through the Assizes of Capua, modelled on the legislative reforms of Henry II of England. The legal reforms led to the foundation of the University of Naples, a law school created to train lawyers for the Sicilian kingdom. As for the crusade, in 1221, Frederick sent some troops to Acre, but showed little inclination to go himself. Only after 1222 did he begin to actively plan to go to the Holy Land, and then for his own purposes. After the death of his first wife, he was betrothed to Isabella of Brienne, the fourteen-year-old heiress to the kingdom of Jerusalem. As soon as she was old enough to marry, Frederick II would go to Jerusalem and claim the crown.

Events in the Holy Land gave Honorius a chance to call Frederick to task for his disobedience. The Fourth Lateran Council had proclaimed the fifth crusade, directed against Egypt, the strongest Muslim state. Although he had promised to go on Crusade, Frederick II hesitated. When the crusading army was defeated in 1221, Honorius and many Christians blamed Frederick for its failure. Honorius declared that Frederick had until the end of 1227 to go to Jerusalem. In order to avoid a conflict, Frederick agreed. Isabella was old enough to marry and the situation in Germany and Sicily was secure. But while the army of 60,000 knights was preparing to leave Brindisi, a plague struck. One of the leading knights, Landgrave Ludwig of Thuringia, died, and the emperor himself was deathly ill. Frederick protested that he now could not depart, but his pleas did not fall on sympathetic ears. Honorius III had died, and his successor, Gregory IX (1227-1241), thought that the illness was just a ploy. In October 1227, Gregory IX excommunicated the emperor.

Excommunication did not stop Frederick II from embarking on his crusade. He left in June 1228 and in early 1229 entered Jerusalem. He had not taken the city by storm, but through diplomacy, securing a treaty with the Muslims turning Jerusalem, Nazareth and Bethlehem over to the Christians for ten years. On March 18, 1229, Frederick II crowned himself king of Jerusalem. But so long as he was excommunicate, his position was far from secure. The pope and the patriarch of Jerusalem placed the Holy City under interdict, and Frederick was forced to leave. The news that Isabella had died giving birth to a son hastened Frederick's return to Sicily.

That Frederick II had gone on crusade despite the papal ban now put Gregory IX in an unfavorable light. Through the mediation of the Grand Master of the Teutonic Knights, Gregory and Frederick agreed to a peace treaty in 1230. According to the terms of the peace of Ceprano, Frederick agreed to withdraw from lands claimed by the papacy in return for having the ban lifted.

After the peace of Ceprano, Frederick turned his attention to continuing the legal reforms in Sicily. The Constitutions of Melfi (1231) represented the first modern codification of law in the West and established a centralized state, with paid officials and an organized bureaucracy. In Germany, however, Frederick opted for a very different policy. In 1220 he had issued the confoederatio cum principibus ecclesasticis giving ecclesiastical states in the Empire rights over tolls, mints, fortifications, and local criminal jurisdiction. In 1231 the Statutum in favorem principum extended these rights to a number of the secular princes. These decrees gave official recognition to a developing situation - the division of the Empire into a number of semi-autonomous states, bound together in a confederation under the leadership of the emperor.

The statutes granting powers to the ecclesiastical and lay princes of the Empire were intended to secure their loyalty to the emperor. The cities of the Empire, however, found their rights severely curtailed. Like in Italy, the burghers and ministeriales in the cities wanted to govern for themselves, rather they be ruled by imperial officials. In 1226, in reaction to Frederick's actions, six Rhenish cities formed a league, similar to the Lombard league, and allied themselves with Frederick's son Henry. The result was a civil war which broke out in 1234 and pitted Frederick II and the princes against Henry and the cities. Frederick secured papal support by claiming that the war was taken to extirpate heresy. He then gained the support of the Welf dynasty by creating a new duchy for them in Braunschweig (Brunswick). When Frederick II marched into Germany in 1235, prince Henry submitted without a struggle. He received no mercy from his father, and after a show trial was sent to prison where, after may perils, he died in 1241. Conrad IV, the son of Frederick II and Isabella of Brienne, was now elected king and heir.

Frederick now determined to subdue the Lombard cities. At the battle of Cortenuova in 1237, the Lombard league, led by Milan, was defeated. For the moment, it appeared that the emperor was unbeatable. His failure to take the insignificant town of Brescia, however, gave comfort to his enemies. On Palm Sunday, 1239, Gregory IX excommunicated Frederick yet again, this time declaring that he would never grant him absolution. When Gregory died in 1241, Frederick decided not to take any action. Rather, he waited for the college of cardinals to elect a successor who might absolve him. Their first choice, Coelestine IV died after only two weeks. The cardinals could not decide on a new candidate, and so for a year and a half, the papal throne remained empty. In the end, Innocent IV (1243-1254), a canon lawyer and close associate of Innocent III, was elevated to the throne of St. Peter. Frederick II at first thought he had a sympathetic friend in Rome. Initially Frederick agreed to remove his troops from papal lands, but when he asked Innocent IV to abandon support for the Lombard league, the talks stalled. Innocent and a few cardinals fled to Lyon. There they held a council which, on July 17, 1245, deposed Frederick II.

In Germany, civil war broke out as rebellious bishops, strengthened in their political position owing to the privileges granted them by Frederick II, raised anti-kings against the Emperor. First Henry Raspe of Thuringia (1246-1247), then William of Holland (1247-57) were elected. In Italy, the pope preached a Holy War against the emperor. But Frederick could not be brought down by force. His troops scored a number of victories, and by 1250 he was planning to march on Lyon and give Innocent IV his due. At that point, Frederick contracted a fever and, in December, 1250, died at a castle in Apulia. Frederick's son Conrad (1250-54) succeeded his father and continued the war in Italy, but died shortly after retaking Naples. From 1250 to 1273 Germany experienced a great Interregnum, an "Emperor-less time" (Schiller). William of Holland was only able to hold power in the Rhineland with the help of the Rhenish league, an alliance of 70 cities established in 1254 to keep the peace. Throughout Germany, however, the princes, granted the right of self government during the reign of Frederick II, set out to build strong independent states. Particularly in the east, great states arose, the most powerful of these being the kingdom of Bohemia under P emysl Otakar II (1253-78). The old Hohenstaufen royal fortresses became free cities, and the bishops and archbishops built up sovereign states of their own. By the end of the century, Germany was a loose confederation of semi-independent states. The imperial office had become an elected presidency with limited executive powers.

 

otakar4.gif (45902 bytes)  The Revival of Byzantium and the Sicilian Vespers.

WHILE the defeat of Frederick II might at first have seemed to constitute a victory for the papacy, this victory was short lived. In Italy, the heirs of Frederick II continued to fight to maintain Sicily. Conrad IV had regained Naples in 1253 but died shortly thereafter. His son Conradin was a minor, so Manfred, Conrad's younger brother, served as regent. A major player in the struggles which followed was the Byzantine Emperor Michael Palaelogus. Michael saw the divisions within western Christendom as an opportunity to oust the Latin Empire and reconquer Constantinople. Although the old Byzantine rulers had been driven out of Constantinople in 1204, by 1208 several successor states vied with the Latins for power in Greece. The Greek states of Nicaea and Epirus both attempted to regain control over the Latin Empire, sometimes with the assistance of the Bulgarian Tsars. Theodore of Epirus has come close to reconquering the Latin empire, but died at the battle of Klokotnica in 1230. Thereafter it was the rulers of Nicaea who came to the front. Michael Paleologus was able to regain large parts of Greece and Epirus for the empire, largely through his association with the Genoans. In 1261 he was able to reconquer Constantinople on account of Frankish mistakes. The Latin Empire was overthrown without so much as a battle.

As Michael's biographer has noted, "with the fall of Constantinople, the papacy suffered not only a loss of political prestige but severe damage to its spiritual authority as well."[10]    In the following years, Michael found that he could actively influence western politics by manipulating the papacy, its enemies and supporters. Pope Urban IV hoped to arrange a crusade against Michael, but was unable to because of his preoccupation with the Hohenstaufen in Sicily. Michael was able to play the various parties against one another to great effect. By the summer of 1262, the pope was addressing his letters to "Michael Palaeologus, Illustrious Emperor of the Greeks (Paleologo imperatori Graecorum illustri)" rather than calling Michael "the usurper" as the Latins had done previously.

In 1265, the Curia offered the crown of Naples and Sicily to Charles of Anjou, the brother of St. Louis. Charles of Anjou invaded and at the battle of Benevento in 1266 defeated and killed Manfred. Conradin attempted to repulse the Angevins, but he too was defeated at the battle of Tagliacozzo in 1268. With papal blessing, Charles of Anjou had Conradin beheaded in the market in Naples. According to legend, an eagle swept down and dipped its wings in Conradin's blood, then soared up to heaven. With the death of Conradin, the popes and their executioners had succeeded in extinguishing the house of Hohenstaufen.

The French success in Sicily, however, was short lived. Despite that fact that Charles of Anjou owed much of his success to Michael Palaelogus, the Angevin began an offensive in Greece in 1270. He gained the support of Achaia, Epirus, Albania, Bulgaria, and Serbia in his quest to extend Sicilian influence. Despite Michael's numerous attempts to find a diplomatic solution, primarily through treaties with Genoa, Venice and the Angevins, Pope Nicholas called for a renewed Angevin offensive in 1280. Michael now found an ally in King Peter III of Aragon. While the Angevins began to prepare for the final assault on Constantinople, Aragonese agents in Sicily fomented a rebellion of the nobles against the crown. In the Sicilian Vespers (1282), the Angevins were forcibly expelled from Sicily. Peter III of Aragon (1276-85) was hailed a king. While this moment marks the beginnings of the Aragonese empire, it also saved Byzantium:

A campaign against Byzantium was now out of the questions; the kingdom of southern Italy had disintegrated, Charles of Anjou abandoned the struggle after this unparalleled disaster, the pope was heavily involved in the catastrophe, the titular Latin Emperor Philip was ignored by all and Venice made advances to the Byzantine Emperor and the king of Aragon. The avalanche which for twenty years had threatened to overwhelm the restored Byzantine Empire had thus been arrested by the diplomatic genius of Michael Palaeologus.[11]

 

otakar4.gif (45902 bytes)  The Rise of France under Philip Augustus and of St. Louis

THROUGHOUT most of the eleventh and twelfth centuries, the authority of the French kings was limited to the small area around Paris, the Isle de France. The rise of the Capetians to real sovereignty began during the reign of Philip I (1068-1108). Although condemned by pope Gregory VII as "a tyrant possessed by the devil" and excommunicated by Urban II for adultery, Philip secured the royal domain, providing future kings with the foundation for their power. He also made good use of the quarrels between the sons of William the Conqueror to limit the growth of the Anglo-Norman monarchy. His son Louis VI (1108-1137), often known as Louis "the Fat," was not an imposing king, and was rather overshadowed by his chief advisor, Abbot Suger of St. Denis. Suger cemented close relations between the French kings and the church, sparing France from the horrific conflicts that sprang up between the papacy and the German emperors. Abbot Suger was also instrumental in creating the idea of French nationalism and has been credited with single handedly inventing Gothic architecture. With Suger's guidance, Louis VI successfully intervened in the affairs of Flanders in 1127. After the murder of count Charles the Good, Louis made his case that as supreme feudal overlord he had the right to adjudicate between rival claimants. Louis VII (1108-1180) has been described as both "scrupulously just" and a fool of the first order. He was frequently humiliated by his rival, Henry II of England, who even stole his wife away from him. While the reign of Louis VI suggested the potential for power, the reign of his son exposed the limits of Capetian power.

Upon his succession, Philip Augustus (1180-1223) was overshadowed by his great vassals. The counts of Flanders and Champagne had greater resources than the king, but even they looked like paupers compared with the house of Anjou. Henry II of England ruled Anjou, Normandy, Maine, Touraine, Brittany and Aquitaine, and was recognized by the counts of Toulouse as lord. Philip Augustus set his mind on driving the English out of France. His first attempts to fight the Angevins in the 1180's only brought further humiliation. At Gisors, Henry II and his advisors stood under an Elm tree while Philip and his entourage suffered in the full heat of the sun. After the meeting, Philip ordered the tree cut down and hacked to pieces, sending the message that he would offer no quarter to the English.

The death of Henry II in 1189 and the death or Richard I in 1190 were fortuitous accidents that prevented a French defeat. Philip's victory over John in 1214, however, was no accident, and doubled the size of the royal domains. With the acquisition of Normandy, Philip Augustus was able to draw on the experience of one of the best administrations in Europe and adapted Norman models to create a centralized government in France. Richard of Ilchester, the bishop of Winchester, had only recently reorganized the Norman chancery in 1176, and following on his practice, Philip reformed the local administration of the kingdom. Previously, the royal domain was administered by Prevts, local judicial officials who held their offices a fiefs. After the conquest of Normandy, Philip created new officials, called Baillis . The Baillis heard pleas of justice throughout the realm, called juries, and conducted assizes much as did the English justices of Henry II. They were gradually assigned to districts, called Bailliages. In the south, similar officials were called seneschals, following the practice in Aquitaine.

Following the conquest of Normandy, Philip Augustus undertook to realign the relationship of the great fiefs to the crown. Abbot Suger had suggested to both Louis VI and Louis VII that they ought to establish a hierarchy of fiefs, to emphasize that the king was ex officio at the summit of the political order. The royal register of 1213 listed 215 nobles in descending ranks, divided broadly into four categories. At the top were the counts and dukes, below them barons, along with viscomtes, then castellans, and at the bottom vavassores, knights and ministeriales.

In the later years of his reign, Philip turned his attention to subduing the south of France. Innocent III had proclaimed a crusade against the Albigensian Cathars in 1208. This crusade became a political matter when count Raymond VI of Toulouse openly supported the heretics, even ordering the murder of the papal legate. Although a Crusading army led by Simon de Montfort, Earl of Leicester, defeated Raymond and his Aragonese allies, after Montfort's death count Raymond was able to reconquer his lands. After the death of Philip Augustus, his son Louis VIII (1223-1226) renewed the efforts to subdue the south. He took Poitou from the English and established his power in Languedoc before dying of dysentery while on campaign.

St. Louis IX (1226-1270) succeeded to the throne at the age of twelve. His mother, Blanche of Castile, was appointed regent by Louis VIII, but met with resistance from the southern barons, led by Raymond VII of Toulouse. Although the two sides agreed to a peace treaty in 1229, Raymond rose in revolt again in 1242, this time in alliance with the English. Louis IX led a campaign against Poitou and Toulouse and in 1243 made peace with the English king Henry III (1215-1272). Raymond of Toulouse was forced to perform penance. After his death in 1249, his lands returned to the crown. The campaign of 1243 ensured the stability of France and allowed Louis to pursue other goals.

In 1244 St. Louis had fallen gravely ill and promised to go on crusade if he survived. In 1247 he began planning to make good on his vow, and in the fall of 1248 set out for the Holy Land. His plan was to attack Egypt, the most powerful part of the Muslim state established by Nr-al-dn and Saladin. His army arrived at Damietta, a coastal city, in June, 1249. They attacked the city and took it after only two days. From there they planned to march on Cairo, the Egyptian capital. The problem was that the French had only a foggy notion of geography, and did not realize that between Damietta and Cairo was a maze of channels in the Nile delta. His forces advanced slowly, and at Mansourah fought a three day battle in February 1250 that brought their advance to a halt. Louis encamped at Mansourah rather than retreat to Damietta. Throughout Lent, his army sat, allowing the Egyptians to bring up reinforcements. Only on April 5 did Louis begin to plan to return to Damietta, but by then it was too late. His army was surrounded and he surrendered. Louis and his chief nobles were imprisoned and a massacre of common soldiers followed.

The Sultan of Cairo demanded that the French abandon Damietta and pay a ransom of 500,000 livre tournois. While Louis's queen scrambled to find the money, the Mamluks, members of the Sultan's elite guard, rose in revolt and killed their ruler. In the confusion that followed, the French were able to negotiate with the Mamluks to lower the ransom to 200,000 livres, and official records indicate that in the end only 167,000 was actually paid. After his release, Louis traveled to Acre, where he remained until 1254.

The sixth crusade was a miserable failure, but it had led to some notable reforms at home. Prior to leaving on crusade, Louis realized that he needed to appoint officials to oversee the kingdom in his absence. New officials, called enquteurs, were appointed to report on the actions of the Baillis and seneschals. According to their commission, the enquteurs were required

To hear and to write and to inquire simply and openly concerning the injuries and exactions, services unjustly received and other burdens, if they were made by others or caused by our Baillis, Prevts, foresters, sergeants, or families of the same, in the time of our rule and to enjoin the aforesaid or their heirs that they restore those things to the restitution of which through their confessions or through proofs the aforesaid friars shall see them to be held following God.[12]

In a reform similar to those enacted by Henry II and Henry III of England, a central court was established for the realm, the parlement of Paris. The first reference to the parlement appears in 1239, and continuous records of their actions, the register (Olim) date from 1254. The parlement served as a supreme court, hearing cases of the greatest concern to royal authority. Following the lead of Frederick II, Louis IX abolished trial by combat, much to the dislike of more bellicose nobles. After the failed sixth crusade, fiscal reform was needed. Louis established a new coinage based on the silver coin of Tours. The livres Tournois became the stable money of account and greatly simplified accounting practices at a time when nearly every count and duke was issuing his own coin.

In his later years, Louis again wished to go on crusade. After the invasion of the Mongols in 1256, the Holy Land was in disarray. Baghdad had been sacked in 1258, 80,000 of its inhabitants being slaughtered. The Muslim cities of Damascus and Aleppo fell as well. After the defeat of the Mongols by an Egyptian army in 1260, the Muslims turned their attention to the crusader states. Louis promised to lead a crusade to aid the city of Acre, but was unable to depart until 1270. In the end, he only got as far as Tunis. Plague decimated the army, claiming St. Louis among its victims on August 25, 1270. After his death, the crusaders returned home, carrying his bones for interment at the Abbey of St. Denis. Louis was canonized by Pope Boniface VIII in 1297, only a few years after the final surrender of Acre to the Muslims.

Philip Augustus and St. Louis IX were responsible for making France the leading nation of Europe. Philip was the "great king" of the dynasty, and represented the military power of the monarchy. St. Louis adopted a different idea of kingship, but one no less profound. For him, the responsibility of the king was to ensure the spiritual welfare of his people and their salvation. The best way to do this was through the creation of an absolute monarchy. The crusades helped Louis by identifying him with the cause of defending the people of Christendom from their enemies. In this, he was able to eclipse the emperors. As Matthew Paris wrote "we believe that our lord the king of France, whom the line of royal blood has brought to the scepter of France to rule, is more excellent than any emperor who is only promoted by voluntary election." Through his sanctity, St. Louis reclaimed for France the legacy of Charlemagne, who now was considered not the first king of Germany, but the first king of France.

 

otakar4.gif (45902 bytes)  The Mongol Invasion and its Aftermath

THE end of the crusading era was marked by the invasions of the Mongols. The Mongols were a group of nomadic peoples in east-central Asia. Periodically, the individual Mongol tribes might group together into larger confederations under a single leader. Traditionally, the Chinese government had maintained a policy of interfering in Mongol affairs to prevent such confederations from forming and breaking them up when they did. In the twelfth century, however, internal problems in Sung China prevented her from carrying through on this policy, and by 1206 Chingiz Khan (d. 1227) had become the leader of an extensive alliance of Mongol tribes.

About the same time Muhammad, the ruler of one of the eastern marches of the Seljuk sultanate, was attempting to build up his own independent "empire" in the Oxus basin. In 1217 he threatened Baghdad. Three years later he thumbed his nose at the Mongol nomads just across the frontier. Unlike the timorous courtiers of Baghdad, the Mongols would brook no insult, and in 1220 swept down on Muhammad petty kingdom with unprecedented fury. They destroyed everything in there path. The leveled every city they found, and few were ever rebuilt. The terror continued unabated under Chingiz Khan's son, getey (1227-1241).

The Mongol penchant for destruction was more than simple barbarism.

It was a reflection of their adept use of psychological warfare. The areas under Mongol dominion remained quiet out of fear of their wrath, while the mere threat of Mongol invasion made their potential targets submit without a fight. Under Meng (1251-1257) the Mongols embarked on two major projects. In the east, Meng's son Kubilay Khan set off to conquer the remains of Sung China, which he did in 1279. In the west, Hgel crossed the frontier into Iran. Sunn ambassadors came to his court, seeking to convert him. Indeed Hgel Khan did embrace Sunn Islam, and loosed his Mongol hordes on the Ism`ls in 1256. While Orthodox Muslim cheered at first, they soon realized that calling on the Mongols against their enemies had been a mistake. In 1258 they marched on Baghdad. After annihilating the caliphal army sent to stop them, the Mongols sacked the city to the bare walls.

Three major Mongol states now stood on the wreckage of the Muslim world. Hleg's descendants continued to rule in Iraq and Anatolia. They were known as the Il-khans (viceroys) of the Great Khan of China, Kubilay. In Iran and Turkistan, various Mongol khans hostile to Kubilay formed a powerful confederation. To the north, the khans of the Golden Horde held sway over Russia. All of them gradually converted from Buddhism to Islam, although some, especially in China, clung to a bizarre variety of Nestorian Christianity.

The only major Islamic state not to fall to the Mongols had been Mamluk Egypt. The Mamluks had been slave-soldiers, and ruled Egypt as a sort of military republic. Succession to the Sultanate was limited to freed slaves, and the resources were devoted primarily to military matters. Under Kalwn (1280-1290), the Mamluks invaded Palestine and began to systematically reduce the Crusader ports. Part of their success they owed to the Venetians who, when offered the opportunity for a monopoly on trade with Alexandria, agreed to cut off supplies to the Crusaders. Acre, the last Christian outpost, fell in 1291.

The Il-Khans tried to overwhelm the Mamluks following their victories over the Crusaders, but were crushed in 1303. Thereafter, the Khanates gradually weakened, divided, and collapsed as the fourteenth century drew to a close. The coming of the Black Death in the 1340s proved their death knell. In Anatolia and the Middle East the Ottoman Turks arose as the successors to the Il-Khans, and maintained control over the Islamic heartland until 1918. The Mamluks continued to hold Egypt until the sixteenth century. Although they prized their skill as horse soldiers, their brand of chivalry proved of little use against Ottoman artillery. In 1517 Mamluk Egypt came under the dominion of the Ottoman Turks, the last of the great Turkish empires of the Middle Ages.

 

 

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