Ane Bysted

In Merit as Well as in Reward. Indulgences, Spiritual Merit, and the Theology of the Crusades, c. 1095-1216

One feature which defined the crusades particularly in distinction to other wars was the opportunity for the warriors to win a spiritual reward, the indulgence. This is why the grant of crusade indulgences has become intrinsic to the new, pluralist definition of crusades, which has gained wide acceptance among historians over the last 30 years, and according to which also e.g. the campaigns in the Baltic were crusades. The crusade indulgences were the institutionalization of the idea 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. This project aims to study the crusade indulgences both under the aspect of their evolution as an institution in the period c. 1095-1216, and under the aspect of the theology of the crusades. What was the grant of indulgences meant to signify, and what does that tell us about the ideas of those who proclaimed the crusades, and about the general ideology or theology of the crusades? The focus of the project is on the attitudes of the Church hierarchy and the learned theologians and how they argued that warfare could be meritorious.