During the thirteenth century, the widespread conviction that
the Christian lands in Syria and Palestine were of utmost
importance to Christendom, and that their loss was a sure sign of
God's displeasure with Christian society, pervaded nearly all
levels of thought. Yet this same society faced other crises:
religious dissent and unorthodox beliefs were proliferating in
western Europe, and the powers exercised, or claimed, by the kings
of Europe were growing rapidly.
The sources presented here illustrate the rising criticism of the
changing Crusade idea. They reflect a sharpened awareness among
Europeans of themselves as a community of Christians and the slow
beginnings of the secular culture and political organization of
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