The papacy and the crusaders in the East, 1100-1160

Moleiro banner

The papacy and the crusaders in the East, 1100-1160

By John Gordon Rowe

PhD Dissertation, University of Toronto, 1955

Abstract: This dissertation attempts to illuminate papal policy towards the Crusaders in the East by an analysis of the relationships of: 1) the Byzantine Empire to the Papacy and the Crusaders; 2) the Papacy to the spiritual and temporal powers of the Latin Orient; 3) the Papacy to the crusade movement in Europe and to Christendom as a whole.

Urban II at Clermont summoned an expedition for the liberation of Jerusalem and the defence of the Eastern Churches through the erection of Latin temporal power and the introduction of the Latin Church into Syria-Palestine. The papal attitude towards the Byzantine Empire was one of friendly cooperation while preserving independence of action. Although Urban did not wish the Crusade to estrange further the Greek and Latin Churches, he did not have church union as a principal aim of the Crusade. The papal attitude is illustrated by the oath taken by the Crusaders to Alexius (which, however, did not make them mere tools of imperial policy), in the friendly relations of Adhemar with Simeon of Jerusalem and in the restoration of the Greek Patriarch John at Antioch. This last is balanced by the fact that Raymond of Toulouse, friend of Urban and intimate of Adhemar, took the first step in the introduction of the Latin episcopate into the East. The friendly papal policy towards the Greek Church was frustrated by the intensification of animosity between Greeks and Latins during the Crusade and by the ambition of Bohemund to possess Antioch.

It was not Urban ‘s intention to make the Kingdom of Jerusalem a church state. The vassalage of the temporal power to the Holy Sepulchre, shown by Godfrey’s title, illustrated the piety of the Crusaders, not the Church’s desire to be supreme. From the beginning, the temporal power was superior to the spiritual power in the establishment and organization of the Latin principalities in the East.




While this pattern proved in the long run to be dominant, it was disturbed for several years by Daimbert of Pisa. Although commissioned by Urban to lead a fleet to the East, Daimbert was no papa] legate. Once in the East, this ambitious churchman combined with Bohemund to capture the Jerusalem patriarchate for himself. He then invested Godfrey and Bohemund with their lands, establishing his spiritual suzerainty over the Latin East as well as giving Bohemund support in his illegal possession of Antioch. However, he was still not satisfied: from Godfrey he extorted full sovereignly over Jerusalem and Jaffa and even ceased to have regard for the primacy of Rome.

Daimbert’s ambition was checked from two sides. Baldwin I refused to allow him any suzerainty whatsoever over the kingdom. The papal legate Mauritius refused to sanction Daimbert’s theocratic notions and, realizing the dangers to which Daimbert’s ambitions had exposed the Latin Orient, eventually deposed him. With Daimbert and his successors, despite the difficulties in communication and in the administration of papal authority. Paschal II laboured to restore the original pattern in which the balance of power lay with the temporal authority as long as the canonical rights of the Church were respected. Hence, Baldwin took the initiative in the erection of the see of Bethlehem, as vassal of the Sepulchre, not of the Papacy. The papal objective was the harmony of the two powers for the sake of the Crusade and the exaltation, under a papal aegis, of the Jerusalem Church as a “model of Latin purity” in the East.

Over the Crusade movement proper, the Papacy’s influence declined. The Crusade of 1101 arose spontaneously, and although Paschal gave it his full support little papal influence was exercised upon it. In regard to the Greeks, Paschal did not have Urban’s sensitive concern. Mauritius did not protest the expulsion of John from Antioch, and Paschal probably did not give the leaders of the Crusade of 1101 any detailed instructions concerning the Greeks. Latin hale for the Greeks increased despite Alexius’ attempts to win Latin favour. When Bohemund was forced to seek assistance for his war against Alexius, Paschal gave him his blessing. However, when Bohemund returned from France, the Pope refused to be drawn further into the Norman’s plan for the conquest of the Byzantine Empire. Paschal had realized that this “tliird Crusade” was only a cloak for Bohemund’s ambition.

Bohemund, by the treaty of Devol in September 1108, recognized the Greek claim to Antioch and its patriarchal throne. The mutual suspicion existing between the heads of Latin and Greek Christendom was illustrated when in 1111 Alexius sought the imperial crown of the West. Alexius wished to unify the imperial crowns, detach the Papacy from the Normans, and prevent future papal approval of expeditions similar to Bohemund’s in 1107-1108. In reply, the Papacy insisted on a Greek alliance with the Normans and the submission of the Greek hierarchy to Rome. The two conceptions, Byzantine and papal, of the proper ordering of human society, which underlay these demands and counter-demands, helped to bring these negotiations to nothing.

Click here to read Volume 1 of this thesis from the University of Toronto

Click here to read Volume 2 of this thesis from the University of Toronto

Sharan Newman