Crusade planning in the late thirteenth century


After the fall of Acre in 1291, Crusader forces had no remaining outposts in the Holy Land.  The various Military Orders and other Crusaders began to make plans for a return almost immediately.  In the following text, the Provincial Council of Canterbury met in February 1292, and came out with these proposals for a new Crusade.  From Councils and Synods of the English church, II part 2, ed. F. M. Powicke and C. R. Cheney (1964); translation by Helen Nicholson.


…The common assertion is that the following revenues will suffice to recover the Holy Land and preserve it against the enemy’s attack without the imposition of a new burden or tax, as long as Christ’s knights are humble and devoted to God:

The properties of the Templars and Hospitallers, which were originally conferred on them by the generosity of kings and princes and others in pious devotion for the defence of the said Holy Land. It is truly believed that many thousands of strong men could be suitably supported from these as a permanent garrison in the Holy Land; and also the profits of the empire which are similarly devoted to the defence of the state;together with a tithe for six years of ecclesiastical benefices which has already been collected from the whole church; together with the means of many noble knights and others who have taken the cross or who are going to do so, who would set out at their own expense; with the lands and supplies which will be acquired if the Knights of Christ win victory over the enemy.

….To prevent the damages and dangers which are said to have too frequently arisen from some people’s division and dissent, it seems very much expedient that the Templars and Hospitallers and all the other orders of knighthood who are bound by their profession to guard the Patrimony of the Crucified One with armed force should be combined into one unified order or union of religious observance as quickly as possible. And when they have been assessed on the true value of their revenues and profits they should be forced to maintain forever for the conquest and defence of the Holy Land as many armed warriors, as was said above, as can reasonably be supported from their means. And equally all should be forced to be humbly subject to and to obey the mandates of the duke, the captain of the Christian army, and also of the king of Jerusalem when the holy city has been won.


This text was translated by Helen J. Nicholson. We thank Professor Nicholson for her permission to republish this item.


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