Financing the Crusades - saving, selling and plundering

Crusading was nog a cheap thing. How could the individual crusader finance his journey?

"He might look first to his current income, but it will be shown later in this chapter that few crusaders had sufficient cash income both to pay their obligations at home and to support themselves decently on a crusade. If one was wealthy enough to support himself from current income, then he had to arrange to resupply himself with money as he needed it. The Holy Land lay beyond a long and dangerous passage by land or sea, and the receipt of money from home was correspondingly uncertain. (...) From the middle of the twelfth century, it is true, the Templars provided facilities for the transfer of crusaders' funds, and merchants came to provide similar services by lending money in the east to be repaid in the west. (...)

Many crusaders, however, may have hoped to support themselves with plunder. (...) On the First Crusade the booty of the Moslem armies defeated at Dorylaeum and at Antioch, as well as the tribute and ransom of those who had the misfortune to dwell in the path of the crusaders from Antioch to Jerusalem, all enriched the Christians. Stephen of Blois wrote home from Antioch that he had more silver and gold than when he left France. (...) it has been suggested that count Robert II of Flanders may have financed his participation in the First Crusade from his treasury. Stephen of Blois went on two crusades without paying any heed to his financial arrangements, and he may have had sufficient savings. (...)

A large expenditure, such as a crusade, had to be made from his capital, whether chattels or lands. From the First Crusade to the last the alienation of property by crusaders reveals the failure of booty, current income, and savings to support their expeditions.... For the First Crusade Godfrey of Bouillon sold his county of Verdun and other lands to bishop Richer, while for the Crusade of 1101 viscount Odo Arpin of Bourges sold his city and county to king Philip I of France. (...)

Crusaders preferred not to sell their property outright. Count John of Macon sold his fief subject to the provision of a life pension for himself and his wife Alix. A lesser English crusader made a gift of land to a religious house in return for which the canons promised to make regular payments to his wife while he was gone on the crusade. For the First Crusade duke Godfrey of Lower Lorraine sold his castle of Bouillon to bishop Otbert of Liege for 1,500 pounds with the right to redeem it if he returned, and duke Robert II of Normandy pawned his duchy to his brother king William Rufus of England for 10,000 marks which William took from the churchmen of England."

This blog quotes from Zacour, N. P.; Hazard, H. W. (ed.) The impact of the Crusades on Europe  (1989), Chapter IV, "Financing the Crusades". The quotes presented here focus on the situation in the first half of the 12th century. Illustration: Crusader Coins 11th - 12th century, source.

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