Compendium of Church History - Notre Dame

Twelfth Century
The Century of the Crusades

The Crusades were military expeditions undertaken for the deliverance of the Holy Land from Mohammedan oppression. The name is derived from the Cross which the warriors wore on their breast.

First Crusade (Knights' Crusade), 1097-1099.

Preached by Peter the Hermit.
Led by Godfrey de Bouillon.
Result: Jerusalem taken.

Peter the Hermit having gone on a pilgrimage to the Holy Land, in 1093, witnessed the sufferings of his fellow-Christians in the East, and on his return to Europe described what he had seen to Urban H. The Pope commissioned him to preach a Crusade.

The First Crusade started early in the year 1097, to the number of about 600,000 fighting men, under the lead of Godfrey de Bouillon, Duke of Lorraine. The army came in view of the Holy Land on June 6, 1099, and, after an obstinate siege of forty days, Jerusalem was taken on Friday, July 15, at 3 o'clock in the afternoon.

Second Crusade (St. Bernard's Crusade), 1147-1149.

Preached by St. Bernard.
Led by Emperor Conrad III, of Germany, and King Louis VII, of France.
Result: A failure.

The conquest of Edessa by the Mohammedans in 1144 gave rise to the second crusade. At the command of Pope Eugene III, this Crusade was preached by St. Bernard. It was a complete failure, owing partly to the treachery of the Greeks and partly to the dissensions among the leaders.

Third Crusade (Kings' Crusade), 1189-1192.

Preached by William of Tyre.
Led by Frederick Barbarossa, Philip Augustus, and Richard the Lion-hearted.
Result: Turkish advance stayed and the cities of Ascalon and Acre taken.

The taking of Jerusalem in 1187 by Saladin, a Kurdish chief, was the cause of the Third Crusade. Frederick Barbarossa started first by an overland route and took the city of Iconium, thus opening the way for the other armies. He was drowned while crossing the Cydnus.

Richard and Philip continued the Crusade against Saladin. Philip soon returned to France, but Richard signed a truce with Saladin, who agreed that Christians should have free access to the Holy Places. For a time at least the advance of Mohammedan conquests in the direction of Europe was arrested.

Fourth Crusade (Pseudo Crusade), 1202-1204.

Preached by Fulk, of Neuilly.
Led by Baldwin, of Flanders.
Result: Latin Empire of Constantinople founded.

Pope Innocent commissioned Fulk, pastor of Neuilly, to preach this Crusade in France. Led by Baldwin of Flanders, the Crusaders set out for the East early in the year 1202. Profiting by the disorders in Constantinople, they seized this city and set up a Latin Empire, with Baldwin of Flanders as Emperor. The Empire lasted fifty-seven years. The Crusaders did nothing for the Christians in the East.

Fifth Crusade (Hungarian Crusade), 1218-1220.

Preached by Pope Innocent III.
Led by Andrew II, of Hungary.
Result: A failure.

Innocent III appealed for a new Crusade. Frederick II, Emperor of Germany, promised to lead it, but broke his promise. Andrew II, King of Hungary, then took command, but, foiled in his first attempt, he returned disheartened to Europe. John of Brienne then took his place, entered Egypt, and captured Damietta. As the only means of securing a peaceable retreat for the Crusaders who were shut in by the rising of the Nile, Damietta had to be restored to the Saracens.

Sixth Crusade (German Crusade), 1228-1230.

Preached by Pope Honorius III.
Led by Frederick II.
Result: Jerusalem, Bethlehem, Nazareth, Tyre, and Sidon surrendered to Frederick on conditions which scandalized the Christian world.

During ten years Honorius vainly urged Frederick II, of Germany, to lead the Crusade, but it was only after he had been excommunicated that Frederick started for the Holy Land. It was said that he bribed the Sultan to a shameful peace, and Jerusalem, Bethlehem, Nazareth, Tyre, and Sidon surrendered to Frederick on condition that the Mohammedans should have liberty of worship there. The Holy City to this day remains in the hands of the Mohammedans.

Seventh and Eighth Crusades (Crusades of St. Louis), 1248—1250 and 1270—1274.

Preached by Popes Innocent IV and Clement IV.
Led by St. Louis, of France, and Charles, of Anjou.
Result: Damietta taken by St. Louis in the Seventh. Pestilence broke out in the Eighth. Death of St. Louis.

Pope Innocent preached a new Crusade, and Louis IX. of France was the only king to respond. After four years of preparation he set out and took Damietta. A prolonged delay here relaxed discipline, and an epidemic attacked the troops. Owing to the rashness of the Count of Artois, brother of the King, St. Louis was defeated and taken prisoner at Mansurah. On the surrender .of Damietta and the payment of a large ransom, St. Louis was released. The death of his mother, in 1254, obliged him to return to France.

Hearing that Antioch had been taken by the Sultan of Egypt, in 1268, St. Louis resolved to make a final effort for the redemption of the Holy Land. He set out at the head of 60,000 men, but adverse winds directed his course toward Tunis. He had scarcely landed when a plague broke out among the soldiers, and its noblest victim was the King of France himself.

Children's Crusade, 1212.

In the year 1212 thousands of children formed an army, and went singing and praying through Europe for the deliverance of the Holy Land. They perished on the route or fell into the hands of the Saracens.

Results of the Crusades:

  1. A great revival of religious fervor.
  2. Elevation of the standard of Christian Knighthood.
  3. Advancement of knowledge, science, and art.
  4. Development of commerce and navigation.
  5. Improvement of the lower and middle classes; increase of the spirit of liberty and public charity.
  6. Advance of Turks on Europe stayed.
[Illustration] from Compendium of Church History by Notre Dame

Military Orders

Knights Hospitallers, 1099.
The earliest religious order to combine military with monastic duties was that of the Hospitallers of St. John of Jerusalem. This institution dates back to Io48, when some merchants of Amalfi built a hospital for pilgrims in honor of St. John the Baptist. Many of the Crusaders entered among the Hospitallers, and gave the Order a military character. The religious were grouped into three ranks: Chaplains, Knights, and Brothers Servants-at-Arms. All served the sick and the poor in hospitals, and wonderful tales are told of their heroic charities.

When Jerusalem was evacuated they settled at Acre, where they remained for a hundred years, until the Seljukian Turks besieged that city. Only a boatful of the knights escaped and took refuge in Cyprus. Later the knights succeeded in gaining possession of the Island of Rhodes, where they ruled over a prosperous people for two hundred years. In 1523 the Turks forced the knights to capitulate, and they retired to Malta. Their record is one of unstained honor.

Knights Templars, 1118
The Knights Templars, founded in Jerusalem, were so called because their first dwelling stood on the site of Solomon's Temple. The Templars were governed by a grand master, and were exempt from episcopal control, being subject to the Pope alone. Their life was austere, their devotion to the sick tender and generous, but their valor was their grandest feature. They kept up their reputation as long as fighting was needed, but when the Crusades were over their distinctive work was finished, and their end was very sad.

Suppression of the Order.

  1. Their privileges, enormous riches, assumption of unequalled prowess, awakened jealousy.
  2. The charges brought against the Templars were apostasy, profligacy, and impiety.
  3. Their immense possessions excited the cupidity of Philip IV, of France. His hostility to the Templars was public, and he ordered their arrest.
  4. To protect the Order, Pope Clement V suspended the power of the French inquisitors and appointed his own. Under torture, the Grand Masters de Molay and de Charney acknowledged, retracted, then acknowledged again, then retracted, the accusation.
  5. Philip IV interfered and without awaiting for sentence had the two Grand Masters and fifty-four other knights burned to death.
  6. In 1312, at the Council of Vienna, Pope Clement V suppressed the Order of the Knights Templars as a matter of prudence.

Teutonic Knights, 1143.
The Order of Teutonic Knights was founded by merchants from Lubeck and Bremen. It was never as numerous as the other orders, and was at first confined to Acre, but later withdrew to Germany, where the members carried on a warfare against the pagan Russians and Poles. Thus they acquired large possessions and founded the Duchy of Prussia. The Order lost its territory when the last Grand Master, Albert of Brandenburg, became a Protestant, secularized its possessions, and made them hereditary in his family.

[Illustration] from Compendium of Church History by Notre Dame

Henry II and the Church

St. Thomas a Becket.
One of the bravest defenders of Church liberties against lay investitures was St. Thomas a Becket. Henry II, King of England, had promoted this gentle and cultured man to the dignity of lord chancellor in the hope of making him a tool for the furtherance of his designs. When, in 1164, Henry II promulgated the Constitutions of Clarendon, St. Thomas opposed him and fell a victim to the King's wrath. The Saint had been exiled, and on his return excommunicated some of the bishops who had violated ecclesiastical laws in obedience to Henry's command. "Will no one rid me of this turbulent priest? "said Henry II, when told of the excommunication. The words were caught up by a few of his knights; four of them immediately set out for Canterbury, found the archbishop assisting at Vespers, and murdered him at the foot of the altar, December 29, 1170.

Constitutions of Clarendon.
Sixteen propositions, falsely represented as customs, were presented by Henry II. at Clarendon, in 1164. The propositions may be reduced to the following:

  1. Revenues of the vacant sees to be held by the king, and bishops appointed by him.
  2. Clergy to be tried by secular judges in secular courts.
  3. No officer of the court to be excommunicated without the permission of the king.
  4. No archbishop or bishop to go outside the realm without the permission of the king. This was to prevent appeals to the Pope.

Religious Orders of the Twelfth Century

The Cistercians were founded by St. Robert, of Molesme, who began a reform in a monastery of Citeaux. The greatest glory of this Order is St. Bernard. He entered in 1113, at a time when the abbey was reduced to great distress. St. Bernard was accompanied by thirty young men of his family, four of his own brothers among the number. Two years later he was sent to found the monastery of Clairvaux. The fame of his disciples and his own preaching brought immense numbers to the cloister.

Pope Eugene III, formerly a monk of Clairvaux, commissioned St. Bernard to preach the Second Crusade. The undertaking was a failure, and St. Bernard was attacked as having been the cause of the loss of so many lives. He justified himself by pointing out that the conduct of the crusaders had drawn down on them the anger of God.

St. Bernard is classed among the greatest of mystical theologians. His hymns overflow with heartfelt devotion. Jesu Dulcis Memoria is the best known. He is ranked among the Fathers of the Church. The Reformation swept the Order of the Cistercians from Europe.

Rivaling the Cistercians in fervor were the Carthusians, founded in io86 by St. Bruno, of Cologne, in the desolate valley of La Chartreuse. These hermits lived more like angels than men, spending their time in work and prayer. They practised the strictest poverty.

St. Bruno had the happiness to see his new order spread over all Europe. When he felt his last end approaching, he called his disciples around him and made a profession of faith against Berengarius.

The spirit of the holy founder was kept up by his followers, and the Order of the Carthusians has never required reform.

Councils of the Twelfth Century

Ninth General Council.
The First Lateran Council, in the year 1123, declared the independence of the Church from the civil power of the emperor.

Tenth General Council.
The Second Lateran Council, in the year 1139, rejected and condemned the doctrines of Arnold of Brescia.

Eleventh General Council.
The Third Lateran Council, in the year I179, condemned the errors of the Albigenses and the Waldenses and issued many decrees for the reformation of morals. This reformation was taken up still more vigorously by the great Pope Innocent III, whose accession to the Papal throne was the closing event of the twelfth century.