'The Role of Pope Honorius III in the Fifth Crusade', in The Fifth Crusade in Context: The Crusading Movement in the Early Thirteenth Century, ed. E.J. Mylod, Guy Perry, Thomas W. Smith and Jan Vandeburie (London: Routledge, 2017), pp. 15-26

'The Role of Pope Honorius III in the Fifth Crusade', in The Fifth Crusade in Context: The Crusading Movement in the Early Thirteenth Century, ed. E.J. Mylod, Guy Perry, Thomas W. Smith and Jan Vandeburie (London: Routledge, 2017), pp. 15-26
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  1 The Role of Pope Honorius III in the Fifth Crusade 1   Thomas W. Smith   In the historiography on the Fifth Crusade, the idea that the expedition represented the epitome of a ‘papal crusade’  still looms large. Thomas Van Cleve wrote that in planning the Fifth Crusade, Pope Innocent III took ‘every precaution to insure that the plans did not miscarry through falling into the hands of others than the chosen agents of the church ... the Fifth Crusade was to be above all else a papal crusade’. 2  Helmut Roscher, writing contemporaneously with Van Cleve, argued the exact opposite. He forcefully made the case that Innocent did not attempt to keep the Fifth Crusade under exclusively papal direction, stating that ‘ the idea that Innocent wanted to exclude the kings from the crusade no longer holds up’. 3  Nonetheless it has endured. Hans Mayer maintained that Innocent III had deliberately sought to exclude the kings of Europe from the crusade and that he fought ‘to make the crusade an ecclesiastical and specifically a papal enterprise. ’ 4  Mayer concluded his account of the Fifth Crusade by asserting that it was ‘the Church’s final attempt to turn the crusade into an enterprise directed and led by her alone.’ 5  James Powell was influenced by the view of Roscher and cautiously sided with him over the topic of papal crusade leadership, making the astute point that, because of the sporadic departure of crusaders, ‘the role left for the pope  was that of a coordinator and at times a clearinghouse for information, rather than a director of operations.’ 6   Elsewhere in Powell’s work there are  nevertheless indicators that he considered Pope Honorius III to have had ‘contr  ol over the conduct of the war’, at least for a time. 7   Innocent III’s supposed desire for total control over the Fifth Crusade stemmed from an apparently broader aim for papal control of the crusade movement, and Donald Queller and Thomas Madden have argued that Innocent also meant the Fourth Crusade ‘to be wholly under papal control.’ 8  Christopher Tyerman suggested that the notion of the pope as willing director of the Fifth Crusade is flawed, but did not drive the point home. 9  While 1  I wish to thank Bernard Hamilton and Barbara Bombi for kindly commenting on this paper. 2   Thomas C. Van Cleve, ‘The Fifth Crusade’, in  HC  , vol. 2, p. 378. 3  Helmut Roscher, Papst Innocenz III. und die Kreuzzüge  (Göttingen, 1969), p. 154 : ‘ Die These, Innocenz habe die Könige vom Kreuzzug fernhalten wollen, ist nicht länger zu halten.’   4  Hans Eberhard Mayer, The Crusades , 2nd edn, trans. John Gillingham (Oxford, 1988), pp. 216  –  17, 218. 5  Ibid., p. 227. 6    Anatomy ,   pp. 111, 108. 7  Ibid., p. 172. 8  Donald E. Queller and Thomas F. Madden, The Fourth Crusade: The Conquest of Constantinople , 2nd edn (Philadelphia, 1997), p. 1. 9  Christopher Tyerman, God’s War: A New History of the Crusades  (London, 2006), p. 606.  2 Pierre-Vincent Claverie does not subscribe to the idea that the papacy purposely attempted to exclude the kings of Europe from the leadership of the crusade, he writes that Honorius ‘entrusted the direction of the crusade’ to  the legate Pelagius, Cardinal-Bishop of Albano , ‘who had already defended the interests of the Holy See in the East’ . 10  The problem is that insufficient distinction has been made between the decisions of Innocent III who planned the crusade and Honorius III who presided over its execution. Honorius’s role during the Fifth Crusade still requires unravelling. His undeniably important efforts in supporting the crusade by taxing the clergy, recruiting reinforcements, and communicating with the crusade’s legate have been confused with the direction of the military campaign itself. In this chapter I shall analyse the dispositio  clauses of Honorius’s letters to the crusade army (these sections contained the pope’s decisions and orders) to determine whether Honorius sought to direct the crusade from the curia. 11  This is something which has not previously been done. Honorius left the responsibility for leading and directing the Fifth Crusade up to the leadership council drawn from the crusade army  –   a loose amalgamation of the most powerful crusaders with the army at any point, among whom at different times were King John of Jerusalem, King Andrew II of Hungary, Duke Leopold VI of Austria, Duke Louis of Bavaria, and also the papal legate a latere , Pelagius. 12  The Fifth Crusade had no single undisputed leader and was characterized by relatively short periods of service. Most crusaders only campaigned for about a year rather than committing themselves to fight until the end, as had been the case on previous crusades. 13  Pelagius was undoubtedly influential in the direction of the Fifth Crusade, but a distinction must be made between the roles of the legate and the pope. The focus of this chapter is to assess the level of control that the pope exerted over the crusade from the curia, rather than the legate on the ground. Honorius’s registers (Vatican City, Archivio Segreto Vaticano, Registra Vaticana 9  –  13) prove that the pope was in close contact with the crusade. Between 1217 and 1221 he is recorded to have sent fifteen letters regarding the 10  Pierre-Vincent Claverie,  Honorius III et l’Orient (1216–  1227): Étude et publication de sources inédites des Archives vaticanes (ASV)  (Leiden, 2013),  p. 46: ‘Honorius confia la direction de la croisade durant l’ été au cardinal Pé lage d’Albano, qui avait d éjà défendu les intérêts du Saint-Siè ge en Orient.’   11  On dispositio  clauses, see: Reginald L. Poole,  Lectures on the History of the Papal Chancery down to the time of Innocent III   (Cambridge, 1915), pp. 43  –  4; Thomas Frenz, Papsturkunden des  Mittelalters und der Neuzeit  , 2nd edn (Stuttgart, 2000), p. 12. 12    Anatomy , p. 114; Guy Perry,  John of Brienne: King of Jerusalem, Emperor of Constantinople, c.1175  –   1237   (Cambridge, 2013), pp. 97  –  8. 13    Anatomy , p. 116.  3 expedition to the army and its leaders. 14  It appears that we possess the majority of the pope’s corresp ondence with the crusaders in the registers, despite the selective registration of letters that was practised at Honorius’s curia. 15  The papacy often chose to register letters that were in the curia’s interest, such as  those that concerned crusades and other political affairs, but this was by no means a mandatory procedure. 16  Many of Honorius’s  crusade letters can be matched with corresponding missives from recipients  –   especially Emperor Frederick II  –   through which references to the existence of a few lost papal crusade letters can be discovered and the tenor of their contents approximated. 17  References to now-lost documents in the narratio  clause of papal letters (which outlined the events leading up to their issue) are another means by which lost correspondence can be identified. 18  Despite the prospect that we may be missing other papal letters to the crusade army of which no such traces remain, the number, content, and topical range of those recorded in Honorius’s  registers represent more than enough evidence from which to draw firm conclusions on the nature of the pope’s  control over the Fifth Crusade. The first letters despatched by Honorius regarding the course of the crusade were issued as a pair on 24 July 1217. They are both concerned with the proposed meeting of the main crusade contingents from Europe on Cyprus, planned for 8 September 1217. Honorius despatched one to a number of Italian 14  The fifteen letters examined in this paper are those sent to the army and the legate on the subject of the crusade: Pressutti, vol 1, nos. 673, 1580, 1581, 1824, 2195, 2338, 2514, 2517, 2574, 2575, 2610, 2800, 2866, 2940, 3478. Honorius also sent ten letters to Pelagius concerning his other duties as legate in the Near East: ibid., nos. 1298, 1394, 1433, 1524, 1527, 1528, 1540, 2876, 3495, 3500. Similarly, one other letter was also despatched to King John of Jerusalem regarding his claim to the Armenian throne: ibid., no. 2320. These extra letters, however, do not directly impinge upon the question of Honorius’s control over the Fifth Crusade and therefore are not examined in this paper, although they do prove that Honorius was in very close contact with the crusade army and especially his legate. 15   For registration practice at Honorius’s curia , see Jane E. Sayers, Papal Government and England during the Pontificate of Honorius III (1216   –  1227)  (Cambridge, 1984), pp. 71  –  5. 16  There was no unequivocal pattern for the registration of curial letters, although letters of importance  –   such as those regarding the crusade  –   were often included: Paulus Rabikauskas,  Diplomatica pontificia , 6th edn (Rome, 1998), p. 82. Harry Bresslau warned that although the  papacy’s important outgoing political letters were frequently registered, this was not always the rule, and therefore the registers do not represent a complete record of papal political correspondence: Harry Bresslau,  Handbuch der Urkundenlehre für Deutschland und Italien , 3rd edn (3 vols, Berlin, 1958), vol. 1, p. 121. 17  For example, see below, p. ##, for the lost papal letter to the emperor-elect Frederick, issued around late November 1218. 18  For example, see below, p. ##, for the crusader report despatched to the curia immediately after arrival of the legate Pelagius in Egypt in autumn 1218. On narratio  clauses in papal letters, see: Poole,  Lectures , pp. 43  –  4; Frenz, Papsturkunden , p. 12.  4 clergy informing them that Andrew II, Leopold VI, and all the other crusaders were going to meet on Cyprus  –   presumably to decide on strategy  –   and ordered the clergy to preach the crusade. 19  A slight variation of this letter was addressed to King John of Jerusalem, the patriarch of Jerusalem, and the Templars and the Hospitallers in the kingdom of Jerusalem. 20  This letter informed the recipients of the planned meeting, and invited them to attend or send messages to Cyprus so that the crusaders might have their counsel. Although the meeting on Cyprus does not seem to have actually occurred (probably on account of coordination problems), it seems likely that it was conceived to allow the Western crusaders to muster and strategize before arriving in John’ s territory, presumably in an effort to prevent the king from assuming overall leadership of the crusade. Honorius’s at tempt to exclude John from a potentially decisive strategy meeting may represent a papal effort to manipulate the leadership and course of the crusade, but in an indirect manner. 21  These letters were a papal sleight of hand rather than an emphatic expression of authority, however, and probably derived more from the wishes of Andrew II himself than from the pope. Indeed, since Andrew had already written to John regarding the Cyprus muster (which Honorius referred to in his own letter to John), the pope was following the king of Hungary’s  lead. 22  Andrew and Honorius had exchanged a number of letters in 1217 in the run- up to the king’s crusade, and it is possible that Andrew may have expressed a desire to exclude John during this dialogue. 23  After the initial skirmishing of the Fifth Crusade in the Holy Land during the autumn of 1217, the master of the Knights Templar in the Holy Land, William of Chartres, composed and sent the first despatch from the crusade to Honorius, 19  Vatican City, Archivio Segreto Vaticano, Registra Vaticana 9, fol. 138r; Pressutti, vol. 1, no. 672;  Bullarium Cyprium , ed. Christopher Schabel, Charles Perrat, and Jean Richard, 3 vols (Nicosia, 2010  –  12), vol. 1, no. c-3, pp. 183  –  5. 20   Reg. Vat. 9, fol. 138r: ‘ut secundum tue discretionis consilium in negotio Christi ordinate procedant, sicut idem rex tue celsitudini per suas litteras dicitur intimare, serenitatem rem rogamus et monemus attentes quatinus sicut causam Christi zelaris, eis illuc per te vel sollempnes nuntios occurrere non omittas impensurus eisdem, prout tua noscitur specialiter interesse consilium et auxilium oportunum.’; Pressutti, vol. 1, no. 673;  Bullarium Cyprium , vol. 1, no. c-4, pp. 185  –  6. 21  For a more detailed discussion of this, as well as Honorius’s relations with John of Brienne and Frederick II, see: Thomas W. Smith, ‘Between Two Kings: Pope Honorius III and the Seizure of the Kingdom of Jerusalem by Frederick II in 1225’,  Journal of Medieval History , 41 (2015), pp. 41  –  59. 22   Reg. Vat. 9, fol. 138r: ‘sicut idem rex tue celsitudini per suas litteras dicitur intimare’ ; Pressutti, vol. 1, no. 673;  Bullarium Cyprium , vol. 1, no. c-4, p. 185. 23  Pressutti, vol. 1, nos. 291, 330, 371. For a more detailed analysis of the Cyprus meeting in particular, and Honorius’s relations with John as king of Jerusalem  in general, see: Smith, ‘Between Two Kings’ , esp. pp. 48  –  9.  5 which was received at the curia towards the end of November. 24  The report recounted the early activities of the crusaders, the state of their provisions, and their plan to besiege the Egyptian city of Damietta. There is no recorded response to William, but on 24 November Honorius did send letters to the archbishops of Oristano (Sardinia) and Reims which included a copy of Wil liam’s report, and  celebrated the successful launch of the crusade, demonstra ting one of the curia’s key functions of transferring information between the Near East and the West and vice versa. 25  It is unlikely that Honorius would have sent this letter to Oristano and Reims alone. Rather it is extremely plausible to suggest that the letter was sent to most, if not all, of the prelates of the West, and that the copies to Oristano and Reims were the only ones to survive. In August 1218 the curia received its second despatch from the crusade, now laying siege to Damietta. On 15 June the crusaders had written to the pope informing him of events and requesting reinforcements from Europe. 26  The receipt of this despatch at the curia led to a two-stage response. Honorius’s first action was to reply to the crusaders directly on 13 August, notifying them that the curia was continuing to raise support in Europe and was sending crusaders on to Damietta via the Italian port cities. 27   Honorius’s role  as a sponsor of the crusade is further emphasized in the letter’s dispositio  which only carried the order to stand firm and unified in vigorously carrying out the siege, whilst reassuring them that the curia was working tirelessly to support them. 28  The second part of the pope ’s response to the crusader   despatch was to issue another letter at around the same time to the French contingent assembling at Genoa, which included Count Hervé of Nevers, Count Hugh of La Marche, and 24   William of Chartres’ report has been d ated to the end of October 1217: Pierre-Vincent Claverie,  L’O rdre du Temple en Terre Sainte et à Chypre au XIIIe siècle , 3 vols (Nicosia, 2005), vol. 3, no. 499, pp. 432  –  3. 25  Reg. Vat. 9, fols 177r  –  78r; Pressutti, vol. 1, no. 885. The in eundem modum  copy sent to Reims is not recorded in the register, but is printed in  RHGF  , vol. 19, p. 639. The archbishop of Oristano in Sardinia (  Alboren ’ in the papal register)  proved troublesome to identify, and I gratefully acknowledge help from Anne Duggan and Jan Vandeburie which set me on the right path. For the identification of Oristano with the Latin title  Arboren ’, see:  Numerus et tituli cardinalium, archiepiscoporum, & episcoporum Christianorum , [editor unknown] (Paris, 1545), p. 24. 26  The crusader report is preserved as a copy in Honorius’s letter to the crusaders at Genoa: Reg. Vat. 10, fols 9v  –  10r; Pressutti, vol. 1, no. 1581. 27  Reg. Vat. 10, fol. 10; Pressutti, vol. 1, no. 1580;  Bullarium Cyprium , vol. 1, no. c-22, pp. 207  –  09. 28   Reg. Vat. 10, fol. 10: ‘Interim igitur vos sicut fideles servi et strenui milites Ihesu Christ i firmi et constantes estote, ac quod pernecessarium est unanimes et concordes quasi vir unius uno numero serviatis Domino Deo vestro, et quicquid oculos divine maiestatis offendit, quantum humana permittit fragilitas evitetis, ita ut supernum auxilium quod nostris et aliorum fidelium precibus vobis impetrare satagimus, debeatis merito expectare.’ ; Pressutti, vol. 1, no. 1580;  Bullarium Cyprium , vol. 1, no. c-22, pp. 208  –  09.
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