To Follow in Their Footsteps

To Follow in Their Footsteps: The Crusades and Family Memory in the High Middle Ages

Nicholas L. Paul
Copyright Date: 2012
Edition: 1
Published by: Cornell University Press
Pages: 336
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  • Book Info
    To Follow in Their Footsteps
    Book Description:

    When the First Crusade ended with the conquest of Jerusalem in 1099, jubilant crusaders returned home to Europe bringing with them stories, sacred relics, and other memorabilia, including banners, jewelry, and weapons. In the ensuing decades, the memory of the crusaders' bravery and pious sacrifice was invoked widely among the noble families of western Christendom. Popes preaching future crusades would count on these very same families for financing, leadership, and for the willing warriors who would lay down their lives on the battlefield. Despite the great risks and financial hardships associated with crusading, descendants of those who suffered and died on crusade would continue to take the cross, in some cases over several generations. Indeed, as Nicholas L. Paul reveals in To Follow in Their Footsteps, crusading was very much a family affair.

    Scholars of the crusades have long pointed to the importance of dynastic tradition and ties of kinship in the crusading movement but have failed to address more fundamental questions about the operation of these social processes. What is a "family tradition"? How are such traditions constructed and maintained, and by whom? How did crusading families confront the loss of their kin in distant lands? Making creative use of Latin dynastic narratives as well as vernacular literature, personal possessions and art objects, and architecture from across western Europe, Paul shows how traditions of crusading were established and reinforced in the collective memories of noble families throughout the twelfth and thirteenth centuries. Even rulers who never fulfilled crusading vows found their political lives dominated and, in some ways, directed by the memory of their crusading ancestors. Filled with unique insights and careful analysis, To Follow in Their Footsteps reveals the lasting impact of the crusades, beyond the expeditions themselves, on the formation of dynastic identity and the culture of the medieval European nobility.

    eISBN: 978-0-8014-6598-7
    Subjects: History

Table of Contents

  1. Front Matter
    (pp. i-vi)
  2. Table of Contents
    (pp. vii-viii)
  3. List of Illustrations
    (pp. ix-x)
  4. Acknowledgments
    (pp. xi-xii)
  5. List of Abbreviations
    (pp. xiii-xvi)
  6. Introduction
    (pp. 1-18)

    Although the vow by which a medieval Christian assumed the legal and spiritual status of a crusader was, at least in theory, a contract of a highly personal nature between that individual and his God, in practice crusading was always a family affair. Husbands and wives debated the merits of taking the cross in the marital chamber; departing crusaders enacted charters for the well-being of their spouses and children and hired ships with their cousins. Crusaders traveled, fought, and died in the company of their kin, while other relatives cared for their property and prayed for their success and safe...

  7. Part I. Family Memory:: Form and Function

    • Chapter 1 Ancestor, Avatar, Crusader
      (pp. 21-54)

      In the year 1096, twenty-eight years after seizing control of the county of Anjou from his elder brother, Geoffrey III the Bearded, Count Fulk IV le Réchin of Anjou initiated the creation of a brief written memorandum regarding his family.¹ Dictating his work to a scribe who was probably a cleric of his household or one of the religious communities of his principality, Fulk indicated that the first part of his work would encompass “how my ancestors had acquired their honor [a term that denoted the lands and rights that were the basis of princely power] and how they held...

    • Chapter 2 Relations
      (pp. 55-89)

      It was probably with the encouragement of the English king Henry II that, in 1160, a self-styled “reading cleric” (clerc lisant) of the town of Caen in Normandy who called himself Master Wace started work on a rough draft of his second great vernacular historical poem, the Roman de Rou.¹ As a romancier, a writer who could transform Latin histories into vernacular verse, Wace was already renowned for his Roman de Brut—a retelling of Geoffrey of Monmouth’s popular Latin chronicle of the kings of Britain—which he completed in 1155, the first year of Henry’s reign. Five years later,...

    • Chapter 3 The Fabric of Victory
      (pp. 90-133)

      In the early months of 1183, Geoffrey, the prior of the Benedictine house of Vigeois, near Limoges, was in the process of finishing his chronicle of the churches, monasteries, and noble families of his region when the narrative of deeds and power he had been so carefully recording suddenly overtook him.¹ Having described with obvious apprehension the recent return of sinister groups of armed men in the region, who were called, among other vulgar names, Brabansons, Geoffrey abruptly abandoned the course of his narrative and began instead to take short notes on the events that were happening around him. That...

    • Chapter 4 Missing Men
      (pp. 134-170)

      The fixed point at the center of the crusading imaginary, the site that crusaders sought to recover and protect, was the sepulchre of Jesus Christ in Jerusalem, an empty tomb. The Holy Sepulchre was, for the crusaders, the symbol of their Lord’s triumph over suffering and death. Illustrating the importance of the site to the memory of the First Crusade is the fact that the anonymous Gesta Francorum et aliorum Hierosolymitanorum, perhaps the earliest surviving narrative of the First Crusade, is found copied in an early twelfth-century manuscript together with materials for a liturgical celebration of the Sepulchre. Visual schematics—...

    • Chapter 5 Opening the Gates
      (pp. 171-199)

      The numerous, well-publicized pilgrimages undertaken by members of European princely dynasties in the century before the First Crusade have not escaped the attention of modern historians.¹ For those interested in the motivations of the earliest crusaders, these even earlier journeys are seen as a part of the pattern of behavior, along with support for movements of religious reform and for local monastic institutions, that demonstrates a strong belief on the part of the arms-bearing classes in the promise of penitential reward.² Logistically, the experience of pilgrims in the eleventh century probably dictated the roads that the crusaders would follow and...

    • Conclusions
      (pp. 200-204)

      The three eldest sons of the Count of Hainaut were in their late teens when, one September day in 1190, they traveled with their parents to Ghent, where their uncle, their mother’s brother Count Philip of Flanders, was about to depart on the Third Crusade.¹ In Ghent, the family watched as Philip, already marked with the sign of the cross, received the purse and the staff, the symbols of pilgrimage presented to crusaders upon their departure. Producing fifty silver marks, Philip gave forty to his wife, Mathilda, ceremonially entrusting to her the governance and protection of Flanders. For Philip, the...

  8. Part II. Two Count-Kings and the Crusading Past

    • Chapter 6 The Fire at Marmoutier
      (pp. 207-250)

      In January 1153 a twenty-year-old prince named Henry sailed to England from the port of Barfleur in the duchy of Normandy to press his claim to the English crown.¹ By November that year he had forced his rival Stephen, son of the Count of Blois and a daughter of William the Conqueror, who had ruled of much of England for the previous nineteen years, to acknowledge him as the successor to the kingdom. At Westminster Abbey a treaty was drawn up to this effect, and at about the same time the prior of that house, Osbert de Clare, composed a...

    • Chapter 7 Triumph at Ripoll
      (pp. 251-294)

      Stopping at the city of Perpignan in December 1194, the ruler known through his intitulature as “Alfonso, king of Aragón, count of Barcelona, and marquis of Provence” prepared his testament.¹ Declaring himself to be of sound mind, he named his executors, elected his place of burial, and then proceeded to establish his temporal and spiritual legacies, dividing the lands he ruled among his heirs and making dozens of gifts to shrines, churches, and religious communities in his own dominions and beyond. Alfonso was only forty years old, and although he died two years later, there is no reason to believe...

    • Epilogue
      (pp. 295-298)

      Henry II of England and Alfonso II of Aragón had a great deal in common. Both men were born with the hopes of accession to royal crowns, a dignity claimed, in both cases, by right of their maternal ancestry. Even when both did accede to these weighty honors, however, they could not ignore the legacies of their fathers, through whom both traced their lineage back to adventurers of the Carolingian age. But in neither case was the nobility of paternal ancestry associated wholly with the distant past. Of increasing significance during the course of their reigns was the fact that...

  9. Appendix 1: Dynastic Narratives and Crusading Memory
    (pp. 299-302)
  10. Appendix 2: Dynastic Narratives in Local and Monastic Chronicles
    (pp. 303-303)
  11. Appendix 3: Description of Paris, BNF, MS Lat. 5132
    (pp. 304-307)
  12. Appendix 4: Letter of “Clement” in Paris, BNF, MS Lat. 5132, f. 106
    (pp. 308-308)
  13. Bibliography
    (pp. 309-336)
  14. Index
    (pp. 337-350)