The Crusade Indulgence

Spiritual Rewards and the Theology of the Crusades, c. 1095-1216


What defined the crusades in contrast to other wars was the opportunity for warriors to win a spiritual reward, the indulgence. In The Crusade Indulgence. Spiritual Rewards and the Theology of the Crusades, c. 1095-1216 Ane L. Bysted examines the theological and institutional development of the indulgence from the proclamation of the First Crusade to Pope Innocent III.
This first comprehensive study of crusade indulgences in more than a hundred years challenges some earlier interpretations and demonstrates how theologians, popes, and crusade preachers in the 12th century formed the concept of indulgences and argued that fighting for Christ and the Church was meritorious in the sight of God and thus worthy of a spiritual reward proclaimed by the Church

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Ane L. Bysted, Ph.D. (2004), University of Southern Denmark, is teaching medieval history at Aarhus University. She has written on crusade theology and the Baltic crusades, and is co-author of Jerusalem in the North. Denmark and the Baltic Crusades 1100-1522 (Brepols, 2012)
"[A] thoughtful and well-researched book… for anyone who desires to understand how the concept of the remission of penance became linked to the phenomenon of the crusades, this study provides a valuable analysis… [the author] manages to master a confusing and difficult story that ling has needed this type of patient and painstaking study."
Brian Patrick McGuire, Revue d'Histoire Ecclésiastique, Vol. 111, No. 1-2, 2016

"Ane Bysted’s meticulously researched book provides an outstanding contribution to the diversification of the study of the Crusades and is a most authoritative case study within the field of medieval theology. It is a challenging, yet essential read for any scholar in either of these disciplines."
Jan Vandeburie, The Journal of Religious History, Literature and Culture, Vol. 2, No. 1, 2016


1. Introduction
1.1. Definition of indulgences
1.1.1. Problems related to confessional disputes
1.2. Historiography of the crusade indulgences
1.2.1. The historiography within the history of theology and doctrine
1.2.2. The ‘Gottlob-thesis’ and the transcendental effect
1.2.3. The historiography within histories of the crusades
1.2.4. Conclusions

2. Origins
2.1.1. The reward granted at Clermont 1095
2.1.2. Spiritual rewards for warriors before the First Crusade
2.1.3. Pope Urban II and the spiritual merit for the First Crusade

3. Theological Development
3.1. The indulgences in the eleventh century
3.1.1. The emergence of indulgences
3.1.2. The penitential discipline
3.1.3. The meaning of penances in the late eleventh century
3.1.4. Conclusions
3.2. The theology of indulgences
3.2.1. Twelfth-century theology on penances
3.2.2. The discussion begins: Peter Abelard
3.2.3. The theology of indulgences until c. 1230
3.2.4. The Fourth Lateran Council 1215
3.2.5. The treasury of merit
3.2.6. The theologians on the crusade indulgences
3.2.7. The theologian crusaders
3.2.8. Conclusions

4. Institutional Development
4.1. The crusade indulgence as a privilege
4.2. The development of the spiritual privilege
4.2.1. The formation of the formula
4.2.2. The significance of the various formulas Remissions of sins Remissions of penances
4.2.3. Summary of the significance of the various formulas
4.2.4. The warrant of the effect
4.2.5. Conclusions

5. Earning Merit
5.1. Defence of Christ and Christendom
5.1.2. Theories of just war
5.1.3. The fifth commandment
5.2. Service of Christ and imitation of Christ
5.3. From sacrificium acceptabile to tempus acceptabile
5.4. Conclusions

6. Proclaiming The Message
6.1. Preachers and sermons

7. Conclusions

Appendix A: Decrees of spiritual rewards for crusades, 1095-1215
Appendix B: Tables


Specialists and students interested in the ideology of the crusades and the development of indulgences in 12th-century theology, and anyone interested in the preaching of the crusades.
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