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Anatomy of a Crusade, 1213-1221

By James M. Powell

Publication Year: 2011

James M. Powell here offers a new interpretation of the Fifth Crusade's historical and social impact, and a richly rewarding view of life in the thirteenth century. Powell addresses such questions as the degree of popular interest in the crusades, the religious climate of the period, the social structure of the membership of the crusade, and the effects of the recruitment effort on the outcome.

Published by: University of Pennsylvania Press

List of Figures and Tables

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pp. xi-xii


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pp. xiii-xiv


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pp. xv

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pp. 1-11

The Fifth Crusade had its beginnings in 1213, when Pope Innocent III announced his intention to summon a council of the church to meet in 1215 to discuss reform of the church and the promotion of the crusade. It ended in Egypt in 1221 on the Nile road between Damietta and al-Mansurah with...


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I: Planning for the Crusade

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pp. 15-32

In April 1213, Innocent III summoned the Fourth Lateran Council and, in preparation, initiated a two-year period of planning for the reform of the church and the promotion of the crusade. He described the process in this way: Because it is not possible to convene the council for two years, we have decided in the meantime, with the help of prudent...

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II: The Testing Ground

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pp. 33-50

The first major testing ground for the crusade program of Innocent III lay in France in the period between 1213 and the opening of the Fourth Lateran Council in 1215. As we have seen, Innocent placed considerable emphasis on the support of the French monarchy to ensure the success of the crusade, but the situation in that country was far from favorable. Not only was...

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III: The Vocation of the Cross

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pp. 51-65

The task of tracing the direct influence of Innocent Ill's crusade plan in the sermons of the preachers of the Fifth Crusade is rendered difficult by the nature of the available sources. Alone among the existing collections, the Rommersdorf letter book, which was designed to serve the needs of the abbot of Rommersdorf in his preaching of the crusade, reveals a conscious...

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IV: Recruitment for the Crusade

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pp. 66-87

The words of the preachers throw light on only one aspect of the making of a crusader. They give us some idea why an individual would leave home and family on a pilgrimage that might easily end in death, but they tell us very little about the actual process of recruitment.1 A narrow focus on preaching as the means of recruitment has led scholars to emphasize the importance of individual decisions to take the cross. In the case of the Fifth...

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V: Financing the Crusade

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pp. 89-106

The question of finance was crucial to the success of the crusade.1 Already in 1213 the pope had initiated efforts to collect money, and at die Fourdi Lateran Council he launched his tax on the clergy. The reasons for these initiatives are not difficult to find. In the late twelfth and early thirteenth centuries, secular rulers were hard put to raise money for their wars.

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VI: The Leadership Question

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pp. 107-120

For Sir Steven Runciman, the most important factor behind the ultimate failure of the Fifth Crusade was "the absence of one wise and respected leader."1' Others have been more specific in attributing the disaster to the pigheadedness of the papal legate, Pelagius.2 But the result is the same. The interpretation of the Fifth Crusade has come down to the question of the capability, character, and personality of one man, or at most a small group...


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VII: The First Phase

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pp. 123-136

The Rhenish and Frisian fleet, some three hundred ships, departed from Vlerdingen in the Netherlands on May 29, 1217. This was the first contingent of the Fifth Crusade to actually get underway. It would not be the first to arrive in the East. The army led by King Andrew of Hungary and Duke Leopold...

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VIII: Invasion and Stalemate

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pp. 137-155

The arrival of the German and Frisian crusaders in Acre in the spring of 1218 marked a new phase of the Fifth Crusade, with Egypt its objective. Oliver Scholasticus probably gives the most accurate account of this decision when he says that the plan had been decided at the Fourth Lateran Council.1 We can fill...

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IX: The Conquest of Damietta

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pp. 157-173

The stalemate lasted through the summer and into the fall of 1219. Given the small number of reinforcements that arrived from the West in the spring passage of 1219, the army could do little but maintain its defenses and await the arrival of the fall passage. The crusaders had already learned that Frederick II...

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X: The Failure of the Crusade

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pp. 175-193

The margin between victory and defeat in Egypt was always narrow. The terrible loss suffered by the crusaders on August 29, 1219, was the prelude to the capture of Damietta, but that victory was itself no guarantee of success. On the one hand, the crusaders had gained control of a key port and base of operations that enabled them to dominate the northeastern...

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Epilogue and Conclusions

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pp. 195-204

In the immediate aftermath of the defeat at Baramun and the surrender of Damietta, the universal concern was to fix the blame for the disaster. Popular opinion was divided. The apologia of Oliver Scholasticus probably represents as well as any the feelings of the clerical leaders of the Fifth Crusade. Carefully adding up...


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pp. 205-258


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pp. 259-278


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pp. 279-287

E-ISBN-13: 9780812200829
Print-ISBN-13: 9780812213232

Page Count: 312
Publication Year: 2011