- Purchase/rental options available:
The Catholic Historical Review 87.4 (2001) 729
[Access article in PDF]
How to Recover the Holy Land. The Crusade Proposals of the Late Thirteenth and Early Fourteenth Centuries
How to Recover the Holy Land. The Crusade Proposals of the Late Thirteenth and Early Fourteenth Centuries. By Antony Leopold. (Burlington, Vermont: Ashgate. 2000. Pp. x, 231. $79.95.)
By the third quarter of the thirteenth century it was becoming increasingly apparent that Jerusalem, lost by the crusaders in 1187 and reoccupied for just a few years after 1229, was not going to be won back easily. Indeed, the continued threat to the Christian presence in the Levant and the loss of territory, especially after 1260, convinced most western observers that only a major military effort could re-establish Christian rule in the Holy Land. It was against this background that a number of authors drew up proposals for how this might be done. Many of these texts have long been in print and have been considered by previous writers such as Atiya and Schein. Dr. Leopold's study, however, makes a significant advance. He rightly stresses that these texts do not form a homogeneous genre but vary considerably depending on the circumstances in which they were written. Several authors were responding to requests for advice from the popes, notably Nicholas IV and Clement V; others were writing unsolicited advice for particular rulers who were known to have been interested in planning a crusade. Only rarely were the treatises themselves written as crusade propaganda. The authors were men of differing backgrounds and had contrasting degrees of information and experience of conditions in the East. Accordingly some were more practical than others. Opinions varied on preparations and strategy, with some writers more attuned to the problems to finance and recruitment, while comparatively few seem to have given much thought to how their conquests should be governed and defended following a successful campaign. After the 1330's and the outbreak of the Hundred Years' War, the prospects for a major expedition receded and the proposals dwindled correspondingly, although it appears that the view of the late thirteenth- and early fourteenth-century writers were still of interest to the fifteenth-century dukes of Burgundy.
This study is well written and well researched, although I am surprised to find continued reliance on LaMonte and Runciman in preference to more recent scholars (e.g., at p. 181). I am not entirely sure that the crusades of the twelfth and thirteenth centuries had "demonstrated that legates had very little authority over the expeditions they accompanied" (p. 67). Certainly the role of legates on crusade and in the Latin East deserves further consideration. The claim that the initiative for later fourteenth-century expeditions "tended to come from the Christians of the eastern Mediterranean rather than the papacy or the courts of western Europe" (p. 189) similarly may not stand up to scrutiny. But these are peripheral points, and Dr.Leopold is to be congratulated on a fine piece of work.
Peter W. Edbury
Cardiff University, Wales