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  • Prêcher la croisade. XI–XIII siècle. Communication et propagande by Jean Flori
  • Valentin L. Portnykh
Prêcher la croisade. XI–XIII siècle. Communication et propagande. By Jean Flori. (Paris: Perrin. 2012. Pp. 526. €25,00 paperback. ISBN 978-2-262-02658-5.)

This book by Jean Flori on crusade preaching follows the book by Penny Cole (Cambridge, MA, 1991). It covers both centuries of the crusades to the Holy Land in chronological order, taking into account the main achievements of scholarship, including recent works by Christian Grasso on the preaching of crusades. A rich collection of sources on the history of crusade preaching in French translation accompany Flori’s text.

The author starts with an introduction on the prehistory of crusades; this is based on his previous research. He summarizes the many arguments of Pope Urban II and discusses the sources for what we know about the preaching of the First Crusade (p. 69). The chapters dedicated to the subsequent crusades do not contain a similar discussion—an unfortunate situation, as this would have been very useful for further scholarship about crusade preaching.

The author emphasizes that propaganda of the First Crusade as well as the Second Crusade is highly concentrated on Jerusalem (pp. 96–97, 120). Although the Second Crusade occurred because of the fall of Edessa, it was still concentrated on Palestine because of the danger of the latter’s possible loss.

In the thirteenth century, crusade preaching was transformed into preaching on the cross in general (p. 327). Flori also points out that the eschatological element is present practically in all of the expeditions (p. 384). He makes some interesting observations about indulgences. For example, he notes that in the 1198 encyclical Post Miserabile (p. 188) and the 1213 bull Quia maior (p. 235), Pope Innocent III declares that he promises a full indulgence to the crusaders (as was customary) as well as an “increase of eternal salvation as a retribution to the just people” (in retributione iustorum salutis eterne pollicemur augmentum).” This important aspect of the encyclical, although noted by Cole, has not been discussed at length. Since it is clear that all the crusaders had a plenary indulgence, Flori admits that here the pope meant that the surviving crusaders would have received a sort of “discount” in heaven for the sins committed after they returned from crusade—ones not covered by the indulgence (p. 189). This formula was repeated in the constitutions of the councils of Lateran IV (1215), Lyon I (1245), and Lyon II (1274).

Flori also points out that when someone took the cross, he was seeking not only his own salvation but also the salvation of his relatives who were detained in [End Page 590] purgatory (pp. 270, 285, 317, 388). This idea obviously appeared in tandem with the idea of the existence of purgatory itself. Furthermore, from the pontificate of Honorius III onward, popes granted partial indulgences to ordinary people who assisted at crusade sermons (pp. 281, 299, 308, 360, 388). Both innovations have been mentioned in preceding scholarship, but Flori provides further examples that demonstrate their presence in the crusade preaching of the thirteenth century.

One conclusion concerning indulgences seems not quite correct. Describing the indulgence accorded to the participants of the Second Crusade in the 1145 bull Quantum predecessores, the author states that it is identical to the indulgence of the First Crusade (p. 110). However, Flori misses an important detail. Only from the Second Crusade onward do papal letters specify clearly that the indulgence is granted for all participants of the crusades, whether or not they died during the expedition.

Valentin L. Portnykh
Novosibirsk State University, Russia


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