Were There Any Crusades in the Twelfth Century?
By Christopher Tyerman
English Historical Review, Vol.110 No.427 (1995)
Introduction: Guibert of Nogent, in a famous phrase, described the First Crusade as a new path of salvation which allowed laymen to earn redemption without changing their status and becoming monks. This theme was taken up by later apologists and recruiters of further military expeditions to the Holy Land, notably St Bernard in his praise of the Templars in the late 1120s and his preaching of the Second Crusade in the 1140s, where the new opportunity was restyled as a unique bargain which God was offering his faithful. This identification of a fresh means of grace, a new form of holy war, has been generally accepted by modern historians. Even Carl Erdmann, for all his painstaking excavation of the roots of crusading, insisted on the novelty of the First Crusade. The events of 1095-9 have been commonly regarded as marking an epoch in the Church’s acceptance of secular militarism; in the development of theories of holy war; and in opportunities for the legitimate expression of lay military and chivalric ambitions. Yet the evidence from the eighty years after the capture of Jerusalem hardly supports such categorical assumptions.