(Bullarium Romanum, editio Taurinensis, vol iii, p. 300.)
Aspiring with ardent desire to liberate the Holy Land from the hands of the ungodly, by the counssel of prudent men Who fully know he circumstances of times and places the holy council approving: we decree that the Crusaders shall so prepare themselves that, at the Calends of the June following the next one, all who have arranged to cross by sea shall come together in the kingdom of Sicily; some, as shall be convenient and fitting, at Brindisi, and others at Messina and the places adjoining on both sides where we also have arranged then to be present in person if God wills it, in order that by our counsel and aid the Christian army may be healthfully arranged, about to start with the divine and apostolic benediction.
1. Against the same term, also, those who have decided to go by land shall endeavour to make themselves ready; announcing to us, in the meantime, this determination, so that We may grant them, for counsel and aid, a suitable legate from our side.
2. Priests, moreover, and other clergy who shall be in the Christian army, subordinates as well as prelates, shall diligently insist with prayer and exhortation, reaching the crusaders by word and example alike that they should always have the divine fear and love before their eves, and that they should not say or do anything which might offend the divine majesty. Although at times they may lapse into sin, through true penitence they shall soon arise again; showing humility of heart and body, and observing moderation as well in their living as in their apparel; altogether avoiding dissensions and emulations; rancour and spleen being entirely removed from them. So that, thus armed with spiritual and material weapons, they may fight the more securely against the enemies of the faith; not presuming in their own power, but hoping in the divine virtue.
3. To the clergy themselves, moreover, we grant that they may retain their benefices intact for three years, as if they were residing in their churches; and, if it shall be necessary, they may be allowed to place them in pledge for that time.
4. Lest therefore this holy undertaking should happen to be impeded or retarded, we distinctly enjoin on all the prelates of the churches, that, separately, throughout their districts, they diligently move and induce to fulfil their vows to God those who have arranged to resume the sign of the cross; and besides these, the others who are signed who have hitherto been signed; and with the cross, and that, if it shall be necessary, through sentences of excommunication against their persons and of interdict against their lands, all backsliding being put an end to, they compel them to fulfil their vows: those only being excepted who shall meet with some impediment on account of which, according to the ordinance of the apostolic chair, their vow may rightly be commuted or deferred.
5. Besides this, lest anything which pertains to the work of Jesus Christ be omitted, we will and command that the patriarchs, archbishops, bishops, abbots and others who - obtain the care of Souls shall studiously propound to those committed to them the word of the cross, exhorting through the Father and the Son and the Holy Spirit-the one sole true eternal God,-the kings, dukes, princes, margraves, counts and barons and other magnates, also the communities of the cities towns and burghs, that those who do not in person go to the aid of the Holy Land, shall donate a suitable number of warriors, with the necessary expenses for three years, according to their own wealth, for the remission of their sins,-as has been expressed in our general letters, and as, for the greater safety, we shall also express below. Of this remission we wish to be partakers not only those who furnish their own ships, but also those who on account of this work have striven to build new ships.
6. To those that refuse, moreover, if any by chance shall be so ungrateful to our Lord God, they (the clergy) shall firmly protest on behalf of the apostolic see, that they shall know that for this they are about to answer to us, at the final day of a strict investigation, before the tremendous Judgment. First considering, however, with what conscience, or with what security they will be able to confess in the presence of Jesus Christ the only begotten Son of God, into whose hands the Father gave all things, if they shall refuse in this matter, as if it were properly their own, to serve Him who was crucified for sinners; by whose gift they live, by whose benefit they are sustained, nay, more, by whose blood they are redeemed.
7. Lest, however, we seem to impose upon the shoulders of men heavy and unbearable burdens which we are unwilling to put a finger to, like those who only say, and do not do; behold we, from what we have been able to spare beyond our necessary and moderate expenses, do grant and give thirty thousand pounds to this work; and, besides the transport from Rome and the neighbouring places that we have granted, we assign in addition, for this same purpose, three thousand marks of silver which have remained over to us from the alms of some of the faithful ; the rest having been faithfully distributed for the needs and uses of the aforesaid Land, through the hand of the abbot of blessed memory, the patriarch of Jerusalem, and the masters of the Templars and Hospitallers.
8. Desiring, moreover, to have the other prelates of the churches, as well as the whole clergy, as participators and sharers both in the merit and in the reward, we have decreed with the general approbation of the council, that absolutely the entire clergy, subordinates as well as prelates, shall give the twentieth part of their ecclesiastical revenues for three ears in aid of the Holy Land, through the hands of those who shall by the care of the pope be appointed for this purpose; certain monks alone being excepted, who are rightly to be exempted from this taxation; likewise those who, having assumed or being about to assume the cross, are on the point of making the expedition.
9. We, also, and our brothers the cardinals of the holy Roman Church, shall pay fully one tenth; and they shall all know that they are all bound to faithfully observe this under penalty of excommunication; so that those who in this matter shall knowingly commit fraud shall incur sentence of excommunication.
10. Since, indeed, those who with right judgment remain in the service of the divine Commander ought to rejoice in a special privilege: when the time of the expedition exceeds one year in length, the crusaders shall be free from taxes and talliages and other burdens. Upon their assuming the cross we take their persons and goods under the protection of the blessed Peter and of ourselves, so that they shall remain under the care of the archbishops, bishops and other prelates of the church. Special protectors, nevertheless, being deputed for this purpose, so that, until most certain news shall have been obtained either of their death or of their return, their possessions shall remain intact and unassailed. And if any one presume to the contrary he shall be restrained by ecclesiastical censure.
11. But if any of those proceeding thither are bound by an oath to pay interest, we command, under the same penalty, that their creditors be compelled to remit the oath and to desist from claiming interest. But if any one of their creditors shall compel them to pay interest, we command that, by a similar process, they shall be compelled to restore it. But we command that Jews shall be compelled by the secular power to remit their interest; and until they remit it, all intercourse with them on the part of followers of Christ shall be denied, under pain of excommunication. For those, moreover, who are unable at present to pay their debts to the Jews, the secular princes shall so provide, with useful delay, that, from the time when they started on their journey until most certain news is obtained of their death return, they shall -not incur the inconvenience of interest. The Jews being compelled to count the income which they in the meantime received the lands pledged to them, towards the principal of the sum loaned, the necessary expenses being deducted; for such a benefice does not suffer much loss, when it so delays the payment that it is not itself absorbed by the debt. The prelates of the churches, indeed, who shall be found negligent in rendering shall justice to the Crusaders and their families, shall know that they shall be severely punished.
12. Furthermore since corsair and pirates excessively impede the aiding of the Holy Land, taking and despoiling those who go to and return from it, we bind with the chain of the anathema their especial aiders and favourers. Forbidding, under threat of the anathema, that any one making common cause with them through any contract of buying or selling; and enjoining on the rectors of their cities and districts to recall and restrain them from this iniquity. Otherwise, since to be unwilling to disturb the wicked is nothing else than to foster them, and since he is not without suspicion of secret collusion who desists from opposing a manifest crime: we will and command that, against their persons and lands, ecclesiastical severity shall be exercised by the prelates of the churches.
13. Moreover we excommunicate and anathematize those false and impious Christians who, against Christ Himself and the Christian people, carry arms, iron, and wood for ships to the Saracens. Those also who sell to them galleys or ships and who, in the pirate ships of the Saracens, keep watch or do the steering, or give them any aid, counsel or favour with regard to their war machines or to anything else, to the harm of the Holy Land; - we decree shall be punished with the loss of their own possessions and shall be the slaves of those who capture them. And we command that on Sundays and feast days, throughout all the maritime cities, this sentence shall be renewed; and to such the lap of the church shall not be opened unless they shall send all that they have received from such damnable gains, and as much more of their own as aid to the afore. said Land; so that. they may be punished with a penalty equal to the amount of their original fault. But if by chance they be insolvent, those guilty of such things shall be otherwise punished; that through their punishment others may be prevented from having the audacity to presume to act similarly.
14. We prohibit, moreover, all Christians, and under pain of anathema, interdict them from sending across or taking across their ships to the lands of the Saracens who inhabit the oriental districts, until four years are past; so that, in this way, greater means of transport may be prepared for those wishing to cross to the aid of the Holy Land, and the aforesaid Saracens may be deprived of the by no means small advantage which has, as a rule, accrued to them from this.
15. Although, indeed, in different councils, tournaments have been generally forbidden under penalty: inasmuch as at this time the matter of the crusade is very much impeded by them, we, under pain of excommunication, do firmly forbid them to be carried on for the next three years.
16. Since, moreover., in order to carry on this matter it is most necessary that the princes and the People of Christ should mutually observe peace, the holy universal synod us: we do establish that, at least for four years, throughout the whole Christian world, a general peace shall be observed; so that, through the prelates of the churches, the contending parties may be brought back to inviolably observe a full peace or a firm truce. . And those who by chance, shall scorn to acquiesce, shall be most sternly compelled to do so through excommunication against their persons and interdict against their land; unless the maliciousness of the injuries shall be so great, that the persons themselves ought not to have the benefit of such peace. But if by chance they despise the ecclesiastical censure, not without reason shall they fear lest, through the authority of the church, the secular power may be brought to bear against them as against disturbers of what pertains to the Crucified One.
17. We therefore, trusting in the mercy of almighty God and in the authority of the blessed apostles Peter and Paul, from that power of binding and loosing which God conferred on us, although unworthy, do grant to all who shall undergo this labour in their own persons and at their own expense, full pardon of their sins of which in their heart they shall have freely repented, and which they shall have confessed; and , at the retribution of the just, we promise them an increase of eternal salvation. To those, moreover, who do not go hither in their own persons, but who only at their own expense, according to their wealth quality, send suitable men; and to those likewise, although at another's expense, go, nevertheless, in own persons: we grant full pardon of their sins. Of this remission, we will and grant that, according to the quality of their aid and the depth of their devotion, all shall be partakers, who shall suitably minister from their goods towards the aid of that same Land, or who shall give timely counsel and aid. To all, moreover, who piously proceed in this work the general synod imparts in common the aid of all its benefits, that it may help them to salvation.
Given at the Lateran, on the nineteenth day before the Calends of January (Dec 14th) in the eighteenth year of out pontificate.
Trans in Ernest F. Henderson, Select Historical Documents of the Middle Ages, (London: George Bell and Sons, 1910), pp. 337-344
and the Latin Empire of Constantinople
(a) Innocent III to the Illustrious Emperor of Constantinople
(Lateran Palace, 16th November 1202).
This letter, written a week before the fall of Zara, is a key piece of evidence for the diversion of the Fourth Crusade, as well as important testimony to the Pope’s view of the disputed imperial succession in Germany..
Translated from Die Register Innocenz’ III. 5 Pontifikatsjahr 1202/3, ed. O. Hageneder et alii (Vienna 1993), 239-43 no. 121.
‘We have received your letter and envoys with the courtesy which befits your imperial authority, and we have diligently examined those matters which these same envoys wished to put before us, as well as what was contained in the letters themselves. Your envoys indeed suggested (and these ideas are detailed in your letters) that since the Christian army which was coming to the aid of the Holy Land preferred to invade your highness’s territory and take up arms against Christians, it was fitting to our office that we should recall them from such a purpose, lest by defiling their hands with the blood of Christians they should by this incur the displeasure of God, and being weakened in no small measure would be to some extent anyway unable to attack the enemies of Christ.
Moreover, on your excellency’s behalf they added that we should show no favour at all to Alexius, son of Isaac Angelos the former emperor, who approached Philip, Duke of Swabia, in order to obtain with his help the empire in your place. This was because there is no reason for the empire to be given to him [Alexius], since the empire is conferred by election, not by succession, unless by chance he had been born after his father had acceded to the exalted rank of imperial authority. Alexius certainly cannot claim this, when he was born before his father was elevated to imperial rule. Since his father was then a private person he cannot claim for himself any right to the empire.
In addition, your highness has suggested to us that since the Emperor Frederick gravely offended the Roman Church, and persecuted it with great hatred, and his sons, following in the footsteps of their father, have caused it no little damage, we should not grant help or favour to the said Duke of Swabia, that he could by any means whatsoever obtain the kingdom [of Germany]. We were easily persuaded to follow this policy since this same Philip had publicly received clerical status, and persons of this sort cannot abandon this, nor be decorated with the belt of knighthood, nor obtain any [secular] dignity from the people, since they are bound by the chain of excommunication.
Furthermore we can inform your imperial prudence as follows: that the said Alexius some time ago came to us, and in our presence and that of our brothers – with many noble Romans standing by – made a grave charge; asserting that you had unjustly arrested his father, that you had also wickedly had the latter blinded, and had kept him bound and in prison for a long time. Since he could have recourse to no one superior to us, and we, according to the Apostle, ‘were debtors both to the wise and the unwise’; it was our responsibility to provide justice for him. And when we replied that we would see what might be done, he left us and travelled in haste to the said Philip, his brother-in-law. After discussion it was decided that Philip would send messengers to the leaders of the Christian army without delay, requesting and begging them that since he [Alexius] and his father had been wickedly deprived of their rights and of the empire, they should go with him to the kingdom of Constantinople and lend him counsel and assistance to recover it. He has promised them that he will pay them back generously, both with aid for the Holy Land and in money and gifts, and also that he is prepared to obey our instructions in everything and about everything, and that he wishes to honour the most holy Roman Church in every possible way, to the best of his ability, and to fulfil what shall be pleasing to our wishes. However, after some discussion these said leaders replied that they could not nor ought to proceed further in such a difficult matter without our instructions and authority – they wished to consult us on the issue and then to do what was pleasing to us. They instructed our beloved son Peter, Cardinal Priest of S. Marcello, who was supposed to sail with them, to return to our presence and to find out our wish on all these matters above. This cardinal did indeed come to see us and took great pains to explain everything to us.
When your envoys have arrived at our court, we shall consult with our brothers about these issues, and we shall make a decision which will be properly pleasing to you; even though various people have suggested that we should look with kindness and favour upon a plan of this sort, because the Church of the Greeks has not been obedient and faithful to the Apostolic See. And with regard to the advice which your highness wants to give us, that we should assist in obtaining the Roman empire [only] a person who must love the Roman Church and be obedient to our instructions; you should know that, although the said Philip is powerful and wealthy, King Otto is however raised by the grace of God, with the assistance of our support and striving. Up to now he [Philip] has been unable to prevail against him. What will happen hereafter will depend on how much you help us, for although many promises have been made to us, your imperial majesty will not be unaware that you ought to have our favour [only] insofar as you actually provide us with assistance, not merely with promises. For if this same Philip should have obtained the empire, much harm would have come to you from his rule, since he would have been able very easily to mount an attack upon your empire through the land of our dearest son in Christ Frederick, the illustrious King of Sicily, his nephew, just as the former emperor Henry, his brother, planned to occupy your empire from Sicily.
Although in the time of your predecessor Manuel of famous memory the Constantinopolitan empire did not indeed deserve that we should do this, since he always replied favourably to ourselves and our predecessors but actually did nothing, we have acted in a spirit of gentleness and kindness, believing that once you have seen the grace with which we have treated you, you must speedily correct those things which up to now you and your predecessors have failed to do. You ought to work for this as thoroughly as human endeavour can do, to put out the fire in distant parts, not to feed it, lest it spread to your area. We therefore ask your imperial majesty, [indeed] we advise, suggest to you and exhort you that, however you act in these matters, you take care to respond to us with deeds and not merely with words, since we have been at pains to demonstrate the love which we have for you in our actions as well as our speech. However, we propose to send [to you] our envoy about this matter; [even] if perhaps he is rather slow, do not you delay in letting us know your response to this as quickly as possible.
Dated at the Lateran, 16th November.
(b) Innocent III to the Marquis of Montferrat and the Counts of Flanders, Blois and St. Pol.
(Ferentino, summer 1203, c. 20th June?).
The Pope expresses his disappointment with the leaders of the Crusade after the attack on Zara, and orders them to proceed directly to the Holy Land, forbidding any attack upon the Byzantine Empire.
Die Register Innocenz’ III. 6 Pontifikatsjahr 1203/4, ed. O. Hageneder, J.C. Moore & A. Sommerlechner (Vienna 1995), pp. 163-5 no. 101.
Since you have departed from Egypt ‘through a mighty hand and a stretched out arm’ to offer yourselves as a sacrifice to the Lord, we have lamented not a little and we do lament that Pharaoh still pursues you, or rather that you follow Pharaoh who strives to reduce you to servitude under the yoke of ancient sin through a specious excuse of necessity and a veil of piety. As we have already informed you, we have lamented and we still lament both for ourself and for you, and for all the Christian people. [We lament] on our own behalf because we have with our tears sown seed, not without bitterness of heart and with no little bodily exertion, often preaching the word of God to you and others, and exhorting those who worship the name of Christ through our envoys and letters, to avenge the injury done to Jesus Christ. We believed that the crop which would result from this would benefit the people. But unforeseen the Enemy of Man has sown weeds in this our harvest, and has so ruined the crop that the wheat seems to have degenerated into tares. For you, however, [we lament] because though you have purged the old yeast, and we believe have with your actions now more or less driven out the old [sinful] man, even just a tiny bit of yeast may infect the whole crop. For only if you do not serve in your white garment just as though you were wearing your old clothes, if you do not take your hand once again from the plough and look behind you like Lot’s wife, will you now seem to me to be, as the Apostle says, ‘ fit for the Kingdom of God’.
We have also lamented and we still lament for the Christian people, since they are being further brought low where it was hoped that they would instead benefit. For when many who had gone before you to help the Holy Land heard that you had not gone there, they lost heart and returned to their homes by the next passage. Knowing of their departure and doubting whether you would ever come, the Saracens have taken heart [in their struggle] against the Christians, and although we are reluctant to say for certain that they have prevailed as a consequence of sin, this is what is being said nearly everywhere. Still, we rejoice that after receiving our letter and realising your grave fault, you devoutly and humbly followed the apostolic command. Since you, my sons, the counts, and two French barons, have acknowledged and affirmed on oath and pledged yourselves in a sealed letter to make satisfaction in accordance with our instructions for what happened at Zara that led you to incur the sentence of excommunication, you have [now] received the blessing of absolution. I trust that your repentance is genuine, so that, because you are penitent for what you have done, you will be careful to avoid doing anything similar in future. A person who goes on to commit once again the sins for which he has been sorry is not a penitent but a trickster. The penitent committing the same sin again is like ‘a dog returning to his vomit’. A person who sins once, and then returns to commit the same sin again, is indeed irresponsible. None of you should therefore dare to assume that it is permissible for you to seize or to plunder the land of the Greeks, even though the latter may be disobedient to the Apostolic See, or on the grounds that the Emperor of Constantinople has deposed and even blinded his brother and usurped the imperial throne. For though this same emperor and the men entrusted to his rule may have sinned, both in these and in other matters, it is not for you to judge their faults, nor have you assumed the sign of the cross to punish this injury; rather you specifically pledged your self to the duty of avenging the insult to the cross.
Therefore we advise and strongly urge you noblemen, and by this Apostolic letter we command you, that you neither deceive yourselves nor allow yourselves to be deceived by others that you are behaving in some pious way, for this will result in harm to your souls, which God forbid! But rather you should abandon these frivolous and unnecessary commitments and sail to aid the Holy Land and avenge the injury to the cross; there you will gain booty from the enemy which, if you make a delay in Romania, you may perhaps be forced to extort from [your] brothers. For otherwise we shall be unable, and nor ought we, to promise you the grace of remission [from your sins]. We want you to be clearly mindful of the terms of our prohibition: that we forbid you, under threat of excommunication, to invade or dare to harm the lands of Christians, unless these should wilfully hinder your journey or because some other just or necessary reason should occur. If you should pursue any other course of action, you should take care to follow the advice of our legate, but we warn you not to act lightly against these instructions. However, to prevent the guilt of the doge and people of Venice bringing harm to you, we order your to fulfil our wishes by delivering to them the letters which we have directed to them, and to make these publicly known among you. Any delay in this will lead to sin. Dated at Ferentino.
(c) Innocent III to the Archbishops and other Prelates in France
(Rome, 26th May 1205).
The Pope requests them to send both monks and religious books to the new Latin Empire of Constantinople.
Innocent’s Register, Book VIII, ep. 70, Patrologia Latina, 215 cols. 636-7.
Divine clemency moves us in many different ways, that we may wake from the sleep of death to life and be relieved from the lake of misery into hope of Eternal glory. We rejoice therefore, and the whole Church of the saints ought rightly to rejoice, that the East has looked forth and visited us from on high, so that a great part of the eastern Church, namely almost all of Greece, which for a long time past has refused to follow in the footsteps of its mother, the Holy Roman Church, has in our time been transformed from disobedience to obedience, and from contempt to devotion.
To increase this joy still further, it appears that our dearest son in Christ Baldwin, the illustrious Emperor of Constantinople, is devoting all his energies to this end, and intends to spread the Christian religion in every way he can and should; and he is working with burning zeal and diligent care that the building which is now very largely completed does not collapse. For indeed he is spreading abroad the devotion planted in his breast into fruitful good works, and he has humbly requested us to arrange for the despatch to the Constantinople region of devout and prudent men from the Cistercians, the Cluniacs, canons regular and other religious orders, to implant the truth of the Catholic faith and to strengthen it in perpetuity, and [for us] to provide what is needful for its prelates that they may come there. He has asked that we have missals, breviaries and other books containing church services according to the teaching of the Holy Roman Church sent to those parts, at the very least as examples [to be copied].
Since we wish to give these requests of the Emperor a gracious assent, one commensurate with the extent to which we are so often impressed with the sincerity of his faith, we fervently ask and exhort you all, and instruct you through this Apostolic Letter that you aid his pious wish as much as you can, choosing men from each of these orders who are distinguished for their learning and good behaviour and strong in their faith to send to these parts. Through them that new plantation will be well instructed in the teaching of the Lord and will yield an appropriate harvest, that the enterprise which has in these times been so amazingly begun may be even more miraculously fulfilled to the praise and glory of the Redeemer. Take care to send the books, with which we know you are provided not just in abundance but even to excess, at the very least as examples, so that your abundance may relieve their need and that the Church in the East may not say the Divine service differently from that in the West, but – just as there is one God and one Faith – so East and West may praise and glorify Him in the same way.
Dated at Rome, 26th May, in the eighth year [of our Pontificate].
(d) Innocent III to the [Latin] Patriarch of Constantinople [Tommasso Morosini]
(Lateran Palace, 7th December 1210).
The Pope writes to the Patriarch to prevent Latins from taking service with the Despot Michael of Epiros and the Emperor of Nicea, Theodore Lascaris. This letter is important evidence for the parlous military and financial situation of the Latin Empire, even in its early years. Innocent’s Register, Book XIII, ep. 184, Patrologia Latina 216 cols. 353-4.
From the letters of our dearest son in Christ the illustrious Emperor Henry of Constantinople it has become known to our see that Michael [Dukas] has acted in contempt of the fealty which he had pledged to the emperor, holding his men for naught, and not least breaking the oath which he had taken to this same emperor and his brother Eustace, to whom Michael had given his eldest daughter as wife. Capturing through treachery Amadeus, the imperial constable, with about a hundred knights and other men, he has had some of them flogged, shut up others in prison and wickedly killed certain of them; and, what is horrible to say, he has crucified the constable, his chaplain and three other men. Now Michael is bent on further mischief, and strengthened by the power of certain Latins, who have been blinded by cupidity and fled to him, he has besieged the emperor’s castles, burned his villages, and had all the Latin priests whom he has been able to capture, along with a bishop-elect - who had been confirmed in office - beheaded. Meanwhile Lascaris, who claims to be the emperor, has furnished himself with Latin troops. These men have abandoned fear of God and respect for man. They despise the wages which were all that this same emperor could afford to pay them, preferring to receive larger payments from his enemies than those that he can afford to give them. Lascaris has also captured one of his principal men and, so it is alleged, had him flayed.
If the Greeks should recover the empire of Romania, this will more or less completely prevent aid going to the Holy Land, and lacking this help that place and its people may once again be lost. Before imperial rule was transferred from the Greeks to the Latins, the former were never willing to aid the Holy Land, even though they were often advised and requested by us [to do this]. Indeed the Emperor Isaac had a mosque built in Constantinople at Saladin’s request. If they could destroy the Latins, they would be reinforced in their sinful apostasy, and their hatred of the Latins, to whom even now they refer as dogs, would continue; and thus their modern day deviation would be made worse than before. For they grumble incessantly that the army of the Latins was diverted to capture Constantinople through the deliberate plan of the Apostolic See.
We instruct you, our brother, by this Apostolic letter that you diligently warn and persuade the Latins, and admonish them on pain of excommunication not to give help or comfort to the Greeks against the aforesaid emperor and those faithful to him, and especially not to the aforesaid Michael, who by killing priests has incurred the bond of excommunication. Nonetheless, you should advise the emperor to furnish adequate wages for his men, so that they are not forced by poverty to go over to the Greeks. Do not hesitate, however, to restrain those who ignore your instructions and dare to side with the Greeks against the emperor and his men through ecclesiastical censure, without right of appeal. Nobody shall dare to set aside the sentences which you have imposed upon them because of this except from on the express instructions of the Apostolic See.
Dated at the Lateran, 7th December, in the thirteenth year [of our Pontificate].
In 1146, the Crusader principality of Edessa fell to the resurgent Muslims. As a result, Pope Eugene II called for a new Crusade - the Second. He was enthusiastically supported in this call by his mentor, St. Bernard of Clairvaux.
Bishop Eugene, servant of the servants of God, to his most beloved son in Christ, Louis, the illustrious king of the French, and to his beloved sons, the princes, and to all the faithful ones of God who are established throughout Gaul,-greeting and apostolic benediction.
How much our predecessors the Roman Pontiffs did labour for the deliverance of the oriental Church, we have learned from the accounts of the ancients and have found it written in their acts. For our predecessor of blessed memory, Pope Urban, did sound, as it were, a celestial trump and did take care to arouse for its deliverance the sons of the holy Roman church from the different parts of the earth. At his voice, indeed, those beyond the mountain and especially the bravest and strongest warriors of the French kingdom, and also those of Italy, inflamed by the ardour of love did come together, and, congregating a very great army, not without much shedding of their own blood, the divine aid being with them, did free from the filth of the pagans that city where our Saviour willed to suffer for us, and where He left His glorious sepulchre to us as a memorial of His passion, - and many others which, avoiding prolixity, we refrain from mentioning.
Which, by the grace of God, and the zeal of your fathers, who at intervals of time have striven to the extent of their power to defend them and to spread the name of Christ in those parts, have been retained by the Christians up to this day; and other cities of the infidels have by them been manfully stormed. But now, our sins and those of the people themselves requiring it, a thing which we can not relate without great grief and wailing, the city of Edessa which in our tongue is called Rohais,-which also, as is said, once when the whole land in the east was held by the pagans, alone by herself served God under the power of the Christians-has been taken and many, of the castles of the Christians occupied by them (the pagans). The archbishop, moreover, of this same city, together with his clergy and many other Christians, have there been slain, and the relics of the saints have been given over to the trampling under foot of the infidels, and dispersed. Whereby how great a danger threatens the church of God and the whole of Christianity, we both know ourselves and do not believe it to be hid from your prudence. For it is known that it will be the greatest proof of nobility and probity, if those things which the bravery of your fathers acquired be bravely defended by you the sons. But if it should happen otherwise, which God forbid, the valour of the fathers will be found to have diminished in the case the of the sons.
We exhort therefore all of you in God, we ask and command, and, for the remission of sins enjoin: that those who are of God, and, above all, the greater men and the nobles do manfully gird themselves; and that you strive so to oppose the multitude of the infidels, who rejoice at the time in a victory gained over us, and so to defend the oriental church -freed from their tyranny by so great an outpouring of the blood of your fathers, as we have said, - and to snatch many thousands of your captive brothers from their hands,- that the dignity of the Christian name may be increased in your time, and that your valour which is praised throughout the whole world, may remain intact and unshaken. May that good Matthias be an example to you, who, to preserve the laws of his fathers, did not in the least doubt to expose himself with his sons and relations to death, and to leave whatever he possessed in the world; and who at length, by the help of the divine aid, after many labours however, did, as well as his progeny, manfully triumph over his enemies.
We, moreover, providing with paternal solicitude for your tranquillity and for the destitution of that same church, do grant and confirm by the authority conceded to us of God, to those who by the promptings of devotion do decide to undertake and to carry through so holy and so necessary a work and labour, that remission of sins which our aforesaid predecessor pope Urban did institute; and do decree that their wives and sons, their goods also and possessions shall remain under the protection of our selves and of the archbishops, bishops and other prelates of the church of God. By the apostolic authority, moreover, we forbid that, in the case of any thing, which they possessed in peace, when they took the cross, any suit be brought hereafter until most certain news has been obtained concerning their return or their death. Moreover since those who war for the Lord should by no means prepare themselves with precious garments, nor with provision for their personal appearance, nor with dogs or hawks , other things which portend licentiousness: we exhort your prudence in the Lord that those who have decided to undertake so holy a work shall not strive after these things, but shall show zeal and diligence with all their strength in the matter of arms, horses and other things with which they may fight the infidels. But those who are oppressed by debt and begin so holy a journey with a pure heart, shall not pay interest for the time past, and if they or n t others for them are bound by an oath or pledge i ' he matter of interest, we absolve them by apostolic authority. It is allowed to them also when their relations, being warned, or the lords to whose fee they belong, are either unwilling or unable to advance them the money, to freely pledge without any reclamation, their lands or other possessions to churches, or ecclesiastical persons, or to any other of the faithful. According to the institution of our aforesaid predecessor, by the authority of almighty God and by that of St. Peter the chief of the apostles, conceded to us by God, we grant such remission and absolution of sins, that he who shall devoutly begin so sacred a journey and shall accomplish it, or shall die during it, shall obtain absolution for all his sins which with a humble and contrite heart he shall confess, and shall receive the fruit of eternal retribution from the Remunerator of all.
Given at Vetralle on the Calends of December.
from Doeberl, Monumenta Germania Selecta, Vol 4, p. 40,
trans in Ernest F. Henderson, Select Historical Documents of the Middle Ages, (London: George Bell and Sons, 1910), pp. 333-336
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