Book Review: God’s Battalions – Chapter 5: Enlisting Crusaders

March 13, 2011

This is part of a multi-part review of God’s Battalions by Rodney Stark. The summary is here. You can use the table of contents found there.

One of the typical complaints against the Crusades is that they were done for the wrong motives. They were done, so it is said, for money. In Chapter 5, Stark argues that this is not at all true. He points out that there was no financial incentive and in many cases there was a great and substantial cost to going to war. Instead, Stark argues that Crusaders went to war for two central reasons:

1) To liberate the Holy Land

2) To serve penance and receive forgiveness of sins

My Protestant mind has theological problems with the second reason (Jesus paid it all) but one must confess that neither motive involves financial or status improvement. The Crusaders were not going to war to get rich.

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