Page:A History of the Inquisition of the Middle Ages-Volume I .pdf/167

From Wikisource
Jump to navigation Jump to search
This page has been proofread, but needs to be validated.
147
CRUSADE UNDERTAKEN AT LAST.

vassals were released, from their oaths of allegiance, and his lands were declared the prey of any Catholic who might assail them, while, if he applied for pardon, his first sign of repentance must be the extermination of heresy throughout his dominions. These letters were likewise sent to Philip Augustus and his chief barons, with eloquent adjurations to assume the cross, and rescue the imperilled Church from the assaults of the emboldened heretics; commissioners were sent to negotiate and enforce a truce for two years between France and England, that nothing might interfere with the projected crusade, and every effort was made to transmute into warlike zeal the horror which the sacrilegious murder was so well fitted to arouse. Arnaud of Citeaux hastened to call a general chapter of his Order, where it was unanimously resolved to devote all its energies to preaching the crusade, and soon multitudes of fiery monks were inflaming the passions of the people, and offering redemption in every church and on every marketplace in Europe.[1]

The flame which had been so long kindling burst forth at last. To estimate fully the force of these popular ebullitions in the Middle Ages, we must bear in mind the susceptibility of the people to contagious emotions and enthusiasms of which we know little in our colder day. A trifle might start a movement which the wisest could not explain nor the most powerful restrain. It was during the preaching of this crusade that villages and towns in Germany were filled with women who, unable to expend their religious ardor in taking the cross, stripped themselves naked and ran silently through the roads and streets. Still more symptomatic of the diseased spirituality of the time was the Crusade of the Children, which desolated thousands of homes. From vast districts of territory, incited apparently by a simultaneous and spontaneous impulse, crowds of children set forth, without leaders or guides, in search of the Holy Land ; and their only answer, when questioned as to their object, was that they were going to Jerusalem. Vainly did parents lock their children up; they would break loose and disappear; and the few who eventually found their way home again could give no reason for the overmastering longing which had car-


  1. Regest. XI. 26, 29, 30, 31, 32, 33.— Archives Nationales de France J, 430, No. 2.— Hist, du C. de Toul. (Vaissette, III. Pr. 4).