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The Friars Go to War: Mendicant Military Chaplains, 1216-c.

1300
Author(s): David S. Bachrach
Source: The Catholic Historical Review, Vol. 90, No. 4 (Oct., 2004), pp. 617-633
Published by: Catholic University of America Press
Stable URL: http://www.jstor.org/stable/25026693
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The

Historical

Catholic
Review

OCTOBER, 2004 No. 4

VOL.XC

THE FRIARSGO TOWAR:


MENDICANT

MILITARY CHAPLAINS,

1216-C.

1300

BY
David

S. Bachrach*

The mendicant
the Franciscans
orders, particularly
have received enormous
scholarly attention, virtually
tion in 1210 and 1216, respectively,
regarding a wide
but particularly their activities as preachers, teachers,
sionaries.1 Somewhat
less attention has been paid
as confessors,

mendicants

confessors

particularly

and Dominicans,
from their incep
range of topics,
advisors, and mis
to the role of the
or

to non-aristocratic

in scholarship
regarding the mendicant
royal lay people.2
of Franciscan and Do
orders is particularly evident in the consideration
as
minican
friars
military chaplains. This study sheds light on an impor
This

*Dr. Bachrach

lacuna

is an assistant

professor

of medieval

history

in the University

of New

Hampshire.
'The literature
summarize
Dominican

is simply too vast to


the Franciscans
and Dominicans
dealing with
of Franciscan
Individual
studies dealing with
and
aspects
particular
are cited below.
service as military
chaplains
here.

to the topic of mendicant


few works
dedicated
service as con
2Among the relatively
of Hungary's Quoniam
circa confessiones
and
fessors, see F.N. M. Diekstra,"Paul
(1219-21)
a Middle
in This Noble
Re
the
10th
English tract on Confession,"
Craft, Proceedings
of
Teachers
search Symposium
and Belgian
of the Dutch
University
of Old and Middle
and Historical
ed. Erik Kooper
152-171;
1991), pp.
Studies,
(Amsterdam,
English
Pierre H. Payer,"Sex and Confession
in the Thirteenth
Century," in Sex in the Middle Ages.
A Book
ed. Joyce E. Salisbury
and Claude
(New York, 1991), pp. 126-142;
of Essays,
de la confession
chez les pr?cheurs
de la province
de Provence,"
in
Carozzi,"Le minist?re
en pays d'Oc au XIIIe si?cle, Cahiers
de Fanjeaux
8 (1973), 321-354.
to King
of describing
the many
services provided
by the Franciscans
IX of France, Lester K. Little, "Saint Louis' Involvement
with
the Friars," Church His

Les mendiants
Within
Louis

the context

also mentions
125-148,
tory, 33 (1964),
him with pastoral care.

that many

Franciscans

served

in Louis' crusades

providing

617
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THE FRIARSGO TOWAR: MENDICANT MILITARYCHAPLAINS, 1216-C. i300

618

tant yet insufficiently appreciated


aspect of mendicant
pastoral activity
orders.3
the first century of the Franciscan and Dominican

during

Background

to sol
Military pastoral care, that is, the religious support provided
in
role
the
conduct
diers by priests, played an exceptionally
important
in both Late Antiquity and the Middle Ages, particularly
for
of warfare
In the late Roman Empire
the maintenance
of morale and discipline.4
successor
and its western
states, pastoral duties largely fell to bishops
and a small cadre of priests who celebrated Mass, carried relics, inter
to the troops.5 By
ceded with God on behalf of the army, and preached
new
in the West
the mid-eighth
century, however,
religious practices
the need to recruit far larger num
imposed on military commanders
in their armies. The old rite of
bers of priests to serve as chaplains
penance, which permitted Christians to confess their sins only once in
a lifetime, gradually was superseded by the practice of repeatable con
in church teaching, which can be traced over
fession. This development
a three-century
in the wide acceptance
of repeat
period, culminated
as an acceptable
rite.6 The establishment
of this new in
able confession
ismarked first in the British
stitutionalized
interpretation of confession
Isles and then on the continent during the late seventh and early eighth
and diffusion of penitential manu
century by the extensive production
as tariff books. These handbooks
sometimes
described
scholars
als,
by
for priests, many of which were produced
expressly for parish clergy,
set out long lists of sins and appropriate penances
for each, thereby em
nature
rite."
of
the
the
renewable
phasizing
Itwas now possible
for soldiers to confess their sins before every
battle and thereby face the enemy with a clear conscience
and a clean
3It should

be

not provide,
dence from papal
does

available

from

mendicant

use of representative
that this article makes
material
and
emphasized
nor is it intended
a systematic
to provide,
overview
of all of the evi
sources
and the exceptionally
rich body of narrative
correspondence

the

work

chaplains.
4For an overview
of the Fourth
War

thirteenth

without

purpose
instance

here
inwhich

is to introduce

(Woodbridge,

facet of

as military

the celebration
the Conduct

of

2003).

of the development
in the Regnum
Francorum
54 (2003), 3-22,
History,

^Bachrach, "Confession,"

a new

the friars served

of the role of religion inmedieval warfare up through


in 1215, see David S. Bachrach,Religion
and

Wd.,
pp. 7-31.
'For a discussion
Ecclesiastical

every

Latern Council

c. 300-1215

"Confession

The

century.

describing

see ibid., and


of the rite of confession,
The Sources Revisited"Journal
(742-900):
here 3-7, with
the literature cited there.

idem,

passim.

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of

BY DAVID S.BACHRACH

619

it the
soul.8 But this new military pastoral responsibility
brought with
need to recruit far larger numbers of priests to serve in the army than
had been the case previously. A bishop and a few priests were sufficient
in the armies of the Late Empire and early Middle Ages to celebrate Mass,
of thousands, or even tens
preach, and even pray. To hear the confessions
of thousands of soldiers, however, was far beyond the capabilities of the
few clerics attached to the armies of the fourth through the early eighth
century. The necessity of recruiting far larger numbers of priests to serve
as military chaplains was enunciated clearly in 742 by Carloman, the Car
olingian Mayor of the Palace.At a synodal assembly, called the Conciiium
Germanum
by scholars, Carloman, acting in concert with Boniface, the
that every
papal legate to the Frankish court, instituted the requirement
in the army have on staff a capellanus
unit commander
capable of hear
From this point onward, in
and assigning penances.9
ing confessions
armies
in
the
Christian
West have recruited large
the
cluding up
present,
numbers of priests to serve as military chaplains.10
It is one of the noteworthy
aspects of medieval
religious history that
of requirements
for the
leading role in the establishment
the early and
throughout
provision of pastoral care was recapitulated
high Middle Ages by secular rather than ecclesiastical
figures. Even in

Carloman's

periods of papal strength, the bishops of Rome remained largely silent


about the need to provide soldiers with pastoral care, even in the con
text of the crusades.11 This changed, however, under Pope Innocent III
in the context of Ad liberandum,
the final
(1199-1216),
specifically
canon issued by the Fourth Lateran Council in 121512
Following
developed

the failure of the Fourth Crusade (1204), Pope Innocent


an exceptionally
detailed program for the organization
and

?Ibid.
vol. 1, part 1, ed. Albert Werminghoff,
Monumenta
Ger
Karolini,
vol. 2, part 1 (Hanover,
[MGH], Concilia,
1906), pp. 2-4; and MGH, Ca
um, vol. l,ed. Alfred Boretius
(Hanover,
1883), pp. 24-26.
pitular?a
regumfrancor
the collection
of studies in The Sword of the Lord: Military
10See, for example,
Chap
9See Concilia

maniae

Aevi

Hist?rica

lains from

the Roman

Era

to the Twenty-first

Century,

ed. Doris

L. Bergen

(Notre Dame,

Indiana, 2004).
"This is not

to say that individual popes, or their representatives,


failed to take an in
care. Adhemar
in pastoral
of Le Puy, the papal legate on the First Crusade,
for ex
care of the crusaders,
role in organizing
the pastoral
ample, played a major
particularly
See Bachrach, Religion,
(1097-1098).
pp. 108-128. Neverthe
during the siege of Antioch
terest

of the Fourth Lateran Council


in 1215, there is no evidence
the celebration
less, before
that any pope required
of pastoral care to soldiers or organized
the recruit
the provision
ment of chaplains
to provide
this care.
l2Conciliorum
edit. (Bologna,

Oecumenicorum

Decreta,

ed.

Istituo

per

le Scienze

Religiose,

third

1973), pp. 267 f.

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THE FRIARSGO TOWAR:MENDICANT MILITARYCHAPLAINS, 1216-C. 1300

620

conduct of a crusade that ultimately ended at the Egyptian city of Dami


etta (1218-1221).13
the final out
Following several years of preparation,
in the form of a canon, in
line for the planned crusade was presented
fact, the last canon approved by the assembled prelates of the Latin
so called from the first two
West in 1215. The text of Ad liberandum,
of the canon, deals with a congerie of issues ranging from indul
gences to recruitment of fighting men, and the financing of the crusade.
from a religious and administrative
What was new in Ad liberandum,
as
contrasted
with
earlier
crusading bulls, was the inclu
perspective
words

sion of a section

dealing with

the provision

of pastoral

care to the cru

saders.14

The text of Ad liberandum makes clear that Pope Innocent presumed


a need for the presence of military chaplains in the crusader army.With
serve in the crusader
out preamble,
the canon requires priests who
their pastoral duties in a thorough and diligent man
army to exercise
ner. The priests were required to act as preachers
and to exhort the
to behave as Christian soldiers.15 They were to teach the soldiers
the proper spirit of Chris
by example so that the latter would maintain
tian fear of and love for God. The text of Ad liberandum warns that to
run the risk of offending God and thereby under
do otherwise would

men

the success of the crusade.16 Just as importantly, the priests serv


to seek out those soldiers who had strayed from
in
the army were
ing
the moral path in order to bring them back to Gods grace through con

mine

and

fession

penance.17

on both sol
It should be emphasized
that the religious obligations
inAd liberandum were hardly novel since
diers and priests enunciated
confession
and penance had been central elements of military religious
more than four centuries. Nevertheless,^
for
liberandum
did
practice
the effect of drawing an explicit link between
the papacy and the
need to find priests to serve as military chaplains in those wars inwhich
it had a stake. Ironically, the papal government was not in a position
to

have

Carnes M. Powe\l,Anatomy
the most detailed
provides
sary for the Fifth Crusade.
^Conciliorum

1213-1221
of a Crusade
of the extensive
discussion

Oecumenicorum,p.

1986), pp.
(Philadelphia,
and organization

planning

15-122,
neces

267.

"Ibid.
l6Ibid.
11
Ibid. The
fuerint
canon

canon

in peccatum),

that if a soldier should


requires
the priests should be prepared

that soldiers
emphasized
tiam mox resurgant"

were

to confess

ever

fall into sin {aliquando


lapsi
to act on his behalf. In addition, the
their sins so that "per veram poeniten

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621

BY DAVID S.BACHRACH

ensure

through its own resources the provision of pastoral care to sol


in
diers
the very campaign authorized by the Fourth Lateran Council,
The appearance
of Francis of
namely, the Fifth Crusade (1218-1221).
Assisi at the siege of Damietta
in 1219 notwithstanding,
Pope Innocent
III and his successor, Pope Honorius
III, did not have available the per
sonnel necessary
for this purpose.18 But these two popes, who
recog
nized and supported the Franciscan and Dominican
orders in 1210 and
created the basis by which
future popes could re
1216 respectively,
chaplains to serve on crusade and in other campaigns cru
interests. The rapid growth of both orders over the next
the bishops of Rome with a large reservoir of
years
eighty
provided
set out
trained priests who could be called on to fulfill the obligations
inAd liberandum. This study sketches out the role that the Dominicans
cruit military
cial to papal

and Franciscans

played in fulfilling the papacy's vision of ensuring that


or sup
soldiers had available pastoral care inwars that were conducted
to
end
of
the
the
the
thirteenth
papacy up
century.
ported by
in the Wars of the Papacy

Mendicants

In his magnum
1267
opus, the Summa Tbeologiae, written between
and 1273, the great Dominican
scholar Thomas Aquinas addressed the
question of whether military service by priests was legitimate. Thomas
to carry arms, priests could go on
stressed that although not permitted
under
certain
circumstances.
insisted that
Indeed, Thomas
campaign
not only were priests permitted
to do such service, they were to be en
to support soldiers in a spiritual manner
couraged
through exhorta
care.
In justifying
and
other
similar
forms
of
tions, absolutions,
spiritual
his interpretation
of priests' spiritual duties, Thomas argued that the
to provide spiritual comfort to soldiers could be traced back
obligation
to the Old Testament requirement
that the priests of Israel should make
noise with

sacred horns during battle

18This is not
Rather,
serving

to say that the soldiers


the crusaders
received pastoral
their commanders.

(Josh. 6).t9

lacked pastoral care.


serving on the Fifth Crusade
care in the traditional manner
from the chaplains

Francis of Assisi's visit to the crusader


and his subse
camp at Damietta
Concerning
with
the Muslim
commander
of the city, see Benjamin Z. Kedar, Cru
quent conversation
sade and Mission:
toward the Muslims
(Princeton,
1984), p. 130;
European
Approaches
and Christoph
T. Maier,Preaching
the Crusades:Mendicant
Powell, op. cit., pp. 158-160;
Friars

and

the Cross

in the Thirteenth

Summa
19Thomas Aquinas,
dum dicendum
quodprelati
ut ipsi propria
lis, non quidem
suis exhortationibus
subveniant

Century

1994), pp. 9-17.


ad 2, uAd secun
2-2.40.2
interesse bel
possunt
superioris,

(Cambridge,

(Leonine
Theologiae
et clerici, ex auctoritate

Edition),

sed ut iuste pugnantibus


manupugnent,
et absolutionibus
et aliis huiusmodi

spiritualiter
spiritualibus

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THE FRIARSGO TOWAR:MENDICANT MHJTARYCHAPLAINS, 1216-C. 1300

622

Thomas of Aquinas' views in this regard are in accordance with al


most two full generations
of Dominican
and Franciscan service in the
field with soldiers.20 Not surprisingly, the bulk of the mendicant
effort
was exerted
in the context of papally supported
campaigns, particu
larly crusades. One of the earliest examples of the major mobilization
friars for service as military chaplains came
by the papacy of mendicant
in the context of Pope Gregory IX's effort to prop up the Latin empire
of Constantinople.
In 1237, John Asen, the ruler of Bulgaria, invaded the
Latin empire causing Pope Gregory
EX to declare a crusade against
him.21 In support of this planned military operation, Gregory authorized
the papal legate in the Balkans, Bishop Salvi of Perugia, to call upon
in the crusade. At first, Bela was
King Bela IV of Hungary to participate
reluctant to take part because John Asen was his brother-in-law
and his
actions

against the Latin empire did not affect Hungary. Nevertheless,


the Hungarian king finally was persuaded by Bishop Salvi that itwas in
his best interests to co-operate. Bela, however, drove a hard bargain,
that he receive all the territory which he conquered,
that
demanding
entire
crusade
the
remain under his direct command, and
army would
that Dominican
and Franciscan preachers would grant the same indul
to his men as those received by soldiers going to the Holy
gences
Land.22

to Bela's agreement, Pope Gregory


In response
issued bulls on Au
to
the
in Hungary as
of
the
Dominicans
gust 9,1238,
provincial prior
well as to the minister of the Franciscans hi the custody of Esztergom.23
He ordered both officials to provide friars to serve as crusade preachers

Sicut et in veteri lege mandabatur,


los. vi, quod sacerdotes
sacris tubis
the
that prelates
and clerics may, with
"Second, it should be noted
clangerent?
of their superiors, be involved inmilitary
affairs. They may not fight with
their
permission
own hands. However,
are fighting
those who
their ex
they may
justiy support
through
and other means of spiritual support. Just as itwas commanded
in
absolutions,
hortations,
subventionibus.
in bellis

sacred horns during battle."


law, Josh, vi, that the priests raised a noise with
20In this context,
it should be emphasized
that we are dealing here with
the provision
care to soldiers who
are already in the army rather than with
of pastoral
efforts by Do
the old

minican

to recruit soldiers for future service. The best work on


and Franciscan preachers
this latter topic isMaier, op. cit.
21See Z. J. Kosztolnyik,
in the Thirteenth
(New York,
1996),
Hungary
Century
pp. 125-127.
22Ibid., pp. 125-126.
2iBullarium
Franciscanum

Romanorum
Pontificum,
(Rome, 1759-1768),
I, 249. The same bull was
and the Dominicans.
I have not been able
Unfortunately,
Sbaraleae

4 vols., ed. Johanis Hyacinth


issued to both the Franciscans
to locate

the Dominican

copy.

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623

BY DAVID S. BACHRACH

to grant indulgences
the power
equal to those offered to cru
in addition to employing
fri
saders going to the Holy Land.24 However,
ars as crusade preachers, Pope Gregory also authorized
the prior and
to assign brothers
to serve as chaplains directly in the royal
minister
These mendicant
exercitus).25
Hungarian army (regalis
priests were to

with

hear confessions

(audire confessions),
assign penances
(paenitentias
and
administer
Ecclesi
the other sacraments (sacramenta
injunger?),
to
In
addition
these
Mass.
This
entailed
asticd).
very likely
celebrating
to
the
and
also
Dominicans
Franciscans
tasks, Pope Gregory
obliged
carry out
poner?

their normal function


verbum Dei).26
populis

by preaching

to the soldiers

(pro

In the end, the proposed


crusade against John Asen was never
ried out. Nevertheless,
his view
Pope Gregory's bull demonstrates
and Franciscans would make good chaplains for
the Dominicans
diers in papal service. In fact, this was part of the pope's policy of

car
that
sol
uti

lizing the friars in support of papal military actions. Already in 1233,


that is, five years before the proposed
crusade against John Asen, Greg
a
to
in Prussia, instructing
series
Dominicans
the
had
issued
of
bulls
ory
them to provide care to the crusaders operating there. The twofold task
ismade clear in a pair of bulls issued on October 7,
of the Dominicans
to
1233, at Anagni. Gregory wanted
their general efforts to promote
the
in order to
them to grant indulgences
a duty for which Dominican
preachers

ensure
crusade
obtain
were

that the friars continued


in Prussia and ordered
recruits.27 This was clearly

suited and one for which


in addition to utiliz
scholars.28
have
been
However,
they
recognized by
to
in
motivate
the
crusade, Gregory
ing the black friars
participation
also recognized a role for Dominicans
serving with the crusading forces

24Ibid., "Mandamus,
tandi vota in hujusmdoi
dictis
contra praedictos
expedir?

videritis,

indulgentiam
?Ibid.

universis
quatenus
subsidium
fac?ltate
et alios
Assanum,

verbum

largtentis,

crucis, illam
habent

quant

26Bullarium Franciscanum,
now Maier, op. cit.
"Les Registres
de Gr?goire
n. 1539, "Priores
et fratres

commu
regni Hungariae
vos,
concessa,per
vestrosprae
etfratres
et alia
totam Hungariam
loca, ubi
per
crucesignatis

iis, qui contra eos Signum cruets assumpserint


terrae sanctae"
laborantes
in subsidium

1,249. The basic work


IX, 3 vols., ?d. Lucien
Praedicatorum

on preaching

by mendicant

friars is

I, 848,
(Paris, 1896-1908),
contra perfidiam
praedicantes
suae praedicationi
commissos
Prutenorum
quatenus
rogat et obsecrat
fid?les populos
exercitui
in partibus
Prusciae
christiano
inducant
auxilium
constituto,
utpraestent
suorum
veniam pollicentes?
eis omnium
peccatorum
28SeeMaier,

Auvray

ordinis

op. cit., passim.

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THE FRIARSGO TOWAR: MENDICANT MILITARYCHAPLAINS, 1216-C. 1300

624

in a pastoral capacity. After warning


the Dominicans
about the false
of the Prussians, the pope instructed the friars to preach
conversions
the gospel for the purpose of inspiring those men already serving in the
crusading army to fight bravely against the enemy.29 In a similar bull is
sued on October
6, 1233, Pope Gregory had ordered the Dominicans
serving with the crusader army to exhort (exhortationibus
the men to work harder in building fortifications.30

inducere)

and Franciscans as mil


Pope Gregory's policy of utilizing Dominicans
of his successors.
itary chaplains was continued during the pontificates
of Emperor Frederick II at the First Council of
Following the deposition
Lyons in July, 1245, Pope Innocent IV actively sought to support an anti
king in Germany against the Staufen ruler. InMay, 1246, Frederick's Ger
man opponents
elected Landgraf Henry Raspe of Thuringia as king.31 By
of Mainz and
June, 1246, Pope Innocent issued a bull to the Archbishop
to the German pretender,
his suffragans to give all possible assistance
to recruits just like those of
including offering crusade indulgences
fered to crusaders going to the Holy Land.32 However, Henry Raspe died
just over half a year later in February, 1247, and papal efforts in Ger
suffered amajor setback. Pope Innocent IV and his agents worked
feverishly for almost half a year to recruit a new candidate to challenge
the Staufen king.33 During his negotiations with the papal government,
Count William of Holland agreed to fight this war against the emperor,
offer him the same privileges
but only if the pope would
enjoyed by
and
declare
William's
Henry Raspe
campaign to be a crusade.34

many

the crusade,
the papal government
maintained
very
Throughout
issued
close contact with Count William. Pope Innocent IV frequently
letters toWilliam's
chaplain, a Franciscan named John of Diest. On Feb
to this chaplain concerning
the
ruary 10, 1251, Pope Innocent wrote
recent death of Emperor Frederick II and the papal government's
deci
29Registres de Gr?goire
animent
vigiles existentes,
ad impiorum
constituios

IX, 1,848, no. 1538,"ceterum


christiani
exercitus
fid?les
cornua

in proponendo
in memoratis

crucis

evangelio

Prusciae

partibus

confringenda?

50/?Wi*.,p.847,n.l535.
Selectae
ilEpistolae

e Regestis
Saeculi XIII
II, 151, # 199.
(Berlin, 1893-1894),
onus istud assumpserint,
i2Ibid., "omnibus...
et ore confessi fuerint,
veraciter
corde contriti

Romanorum,

ed. Charles

Rodenberg,

3 vols.

immunitate
eaque
privilegio
gaudere
sunt concessa."
n?rait concilio
"Otto Hintze,

Das

K?nigtum

Wilhelms

volumus

illam

suorum

peccatorum

veniam

de quibus
in Mo

ipsosque
indulgemus
que Terre S?nete succurrentibus

von Holland

(Leipzig,

in g?

1885), p. 10.

"Ibid.

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625

BY DAVID S.BACHRACH

to prosecute
sion to continue
the war against King Conrad IV, the em
the text of the letter, Innocent referred to
peror's son and heir.35Within
the significant correspondence
his govern
that had passed between
ment and the count concerning
the conduct of the war and the support
army. Pope Innocent confirmed all
provided by the Church toWilliam's
of the privileges
that he had bestowed
soldiers for fight
upon William's
of indul
ing against Frederick. This support included a continuation
orders,
gences for the soldiers, continued preaching by the mendicant
and the continued service of these friars as chaplains inWilliam's army36
to put
friars had demonstrated
their willingness
Indeed, mendicant
on
as
in harm's way
themselves
soldiers
behalf of William's
early as
clear by Reinerus of Viterbo,
1249. This point was made exceptionally
the papal legate to Germany, in a report sent to Pope Innocent IV con
in northern Germany against the supporters of
cerning the campaign
the actions of
King Conrad and Emperor Frederick. Reinerus described
all of the priests serving inWilliam's
army including the friars, in heroic
terms. The legate noted that the chaplains moved
among the troops
during the battle in order to give last rites to the fallen. They continued
to do so even at the risk of their own lives because King Conrad had or
to be exe
dered that any mendicants
army were
serving inWilliam's
that some Franciscan
cuted if they were captured. Reinerus emphasized
friars did meet
these

losses

this fate during the battle.37 However, despite suffering


to aid William
the mendicants
continued
throughout his

struggle.38

of friars as
from the papal perspective,
successful participation,
II
in
the
Frederick
and
Conrad
IV would
against
struggle
chaplains
seem to be confirmed by their deployment
in the army of Charles of An
The

jou against the last of the Staufen rulers, namely Frederick IFs son Man
for Charles of
fred, who ruled southern Italy and Sicily.39 In preparation
a bull on Oc
invasion
of
southern
Clement
IV
issued
Italy, Pope
Anjou's
tober 15,1265, noting his intention to detach Dominican
and Francis
can friars from their other duties in order to help facilitate whatever
-sBullarium

Franciscanum,

p. 567.

"Ibid.
Matthaei
Luard, 7 vols.

Parisiensis,
(London,

monachi
1872-1883),

sancti Albani.

cbronica

majora,

ed. Henry

Richards

V, 66.

138-140.
*Hintze,qp.cif.,pp.
crusade
Charles's
''Concerning

to unseat Manfred,
the Staufen ruler of southern
Italy,
and the Crusades
The Italian
Crusades:
Alliance
Papal-Angevin
Housley,
Christian
1254-1343
(Oxford,
1982), p. 18.
Lay Powers

see Norman
against

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THE FRIARSGO TO WAR:MENDICANT MILITARYCHAPLAINS, 1216-C. 1300

626

actions the Angevin prince deemed necessary.* Given the pope's man
in just this period with
the question of Charles's immi
ifest concern
nent campaign, it is almost certainly the case that the projected duties
were
of the mendicants
related to the crusade against Manfred. Four
on
months
later,
just eight days before the decisive
February 18,1266,
battle between Charles and Manfred at Benevento,
issued a bull repeating his intention to reassign
serve the needs of the Angevin count.41

Pope Clement again


friars as required to

success in mobilizing
the friars and Charles of An
Both Clement's
jou's use of them as military chaplains are made clear in an account of
recorded by the chronicler Andreas of Hun
the battle at Benevento
to
the Angevin forces pitched camp a couple
Andreas,
According
gary.42
on the night of February 25. After the
of miles away from Benevento
is reported to have ordered every one
Charles
had
been
camp
arranged
in order to strengthen
them
soldiers to receive the eucharist
those aiding the dean of Meaux,
selves (mu?ir?)
for battle.43 Among
in preparing
the men to re
who was serving as Charles's chancellor,
ceive the host were a large group of Dominican
and Franciscan priests.
of his

to Andreas, these friars heard the soldiers' confessions


and
According
them
freed them from sin?that
is, gave
absolution,?before
they at
tended

Mass.44

As is clear from Andreas of Hungary's discussion of the religious rites


at Benevento,
inwhich
the celebration
the Angevin troops participated
of Mass and the reception of the eucharist played a central role in their
in the very rough
for battle.45 This practice, particularly
preparation
conditions
of life on campaign, was made possible only by the posses

ed. M. Edouard Jordan (Paris, 1893), p. 41,


^Les Registres
de Cl?ment TV (1265-1268),
n. l65,uquodpossitPredicatorum
etMinorum
acaliorum
adsuam
ordinumpersonas
convocare
sibi commissorum
que utilitati
presentiam,
eisque committere,
negotiorum
viderit expedir?"
"Ibid., p. 73, n.272.
a Karolo
Victoriae
Provinciae
Comit? Reportatae,
"Andreas of Hungary, Descriptio
26 (Hanover,
MGH, Scriptores
1882), p. 572.
*
sua ibi tentoria fixissent...
ut unusquisque
Ibid. "Cum castra regia...
precepisset,
se viatico
Dei et ecclesie servicio
insistens muniret
salutari...."
ac vite vene
vir magni
nominis
cancellarius,
4iIbid.,lldecanusMeldensis,
regniSicilie
non
etMinorum
associatis
Predicatorum
sibi de ordinibus fratrum
presbiteris

rabais,
paucis,
ratis,

eorum
et sic apeccatorum
auditisprius
confessionibus,
et sanguinem
Christi d?dit eis, . . ."

omnium

nexibus

libe

corpus

of the eucharist had been a crucial element


in the preparation
4,Reception
for battle since the tenth century. See Bachrach,Religion,
passim.

of soldiers

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627

BY DAVID S.BACHRACH

sion of portable altars. There was nothing novel about this in 1266.
Western
armies had been using portable altars in the field since the
the Great in the early fourth century.46
reign of Emperor Constantine
However, in amanner reminiscent of the papal response tomilitary pas
toral care more generally, before the early 1220's the papacy does not
of portable
the production
appear to have played any role in controlling
altars

or

authorizing

use.

their

the first papal bulls to address the right to possess and use
was Honorius
altars
Ill's grant on May 6,1221, of a license (//
portable
to
Dominican
order
the
centid)
permitting black friars to have and use
were
areas
in
them whenever
that lacked a church with a fixed,
they
or
consecrated
of local clerics.47
faced
the opposition
when
altar,
they
Among

to the bull, the impetus for the grant of the license came
According
a nobis). The Dominicans
from the Dominican
order itself (postulastis
were
concerned
about their ability to celebrate Mass because
they
were

the orbit of cities and villages where


frequently outside
could find and use the regular altars situated in churches.48 Pope
ory EX issued a similar bull on May 10,1230, to those Dominicans
to Poland to perform missionary work.49 Here too, the Dominicans
concerned
that the lack of an established
network of churches

they
Greg
going
were

with
altars would hinder them in the celebration
of Mass and
the consecration
of the eucharist. On September 4, 1243, Pope Inno
cent IV again confirmed the license of the Dominican
order to have and
were
to use portable
in
altars while
and
engaged
missionary
they
on
activities
and
reiterated
this
confirmation
preaching
April 5,1254.50
consecrated

The papal government


also granted licenses to the Franciscan order
to
use portable altars. However,
it appears that
these
friars
permitting
the first bull granting this privilege was not issued until 1250.51
These
minicans

grants of papal privileges


regarding portable altars to the Do
are significant because
and Franciscans
the
they highlight

view

shared by both the papacy and the mendicants


that friars should
be able to provide the full range of pastoral care to awide spectrum of
the population,
including soldiers, even under adverse conditions. As

46Joseph Braun, Der


Munich,
1924), 1,71-76.
47Bullarium Ordinis
iHIbid.,"cum

extra

christliche

Altar

in seiner

geschichtlichen

Entwicklung

FF. Praedicatorum,
vol. I, ed. A Bremond
et villas frequentius
civitates
existatis"

49Ibid.,p.32.
121 and A.N.L248
wIbid.,p.
-xBullarium Franciscanum

(Rome,

(2 vols.;

1729), p. 14.

n? 252.
vol.

1, ed. J.H. Sbarlea,

(Rome,

1759), pp. 537-538.

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THE FRIARSGO TOWAR:MENDICANT MILITARYCHAPLAINS, 1216-C. 1300

628

did not concern


the
itself with
above, the papal government
or
a
es
not
of
who
could
could
have
altar
before
the
question
portable
orders. It is only in the context of provid
tablishment of the mendicant
ing the tools of pastoral care to the friars that the papal government
the legitimate and illegitimate de
began to assert a claim to determine
of
of
this
element
sacred
ployment
impedimenta.52
noted

Mendicants

in Royal Wars

The material discussed


thus far has dealt with
the participation
of
as chaplains in armies authorized or supported directly by
the papacy. Given the central role that friars played in mobilizing
pub
lic support for crusades and recruiting men to serve in them, it is hardly
and Franciscan or
surprising that the papacy also saw the Dominican
ders as an important resource for fulfilling the implicit promise set out

mendicants

m Ad liberandum,
enacted at the Fourth Lateran Council in 1215. Nev
as
will be clear below, the papacy was not alone in seeing the
ertheless,
as potential military chaplains. Kings too rec
value of the mendicants
the potential military value of well-trained
ognized
preachers, who
could celebrate Mass and hear confessions, and who also were free from
the locally focused duties that bound parish priests to their churches.53
As early as 1229, just thirteen years after Pope Honorius
Ill's recogni
tion of the Dominican
in King James I of
order, black friars participated
Aragon 's (1213-1276)
recalled that during

invasion of Majorca. In his autobiography, James


the siege of Palma, the capital of Majorca, soldiers
from the Aragonese
the
army were digging shafts in order to undermine
walls of the city.54 In the course of their efforts, a Dominican
friar named
Michael approached
them and preached about the importance of their
work in an effort to encourage
them.55 The friar then heard the confes
sions of each of the sappers and absolved them of their sins. The Do
was Michael of Fabra, who was not
minican whom
James mentioned
a
to
was
to serve
confessor
also the first Dominican
but
only
King James
the use of portable
altars by the Dominicans,
"Concerning
The History
Order: Origins
and Growth
of the Dominican

see William
to 1500

A. Hinnebusch,
(2 vols.; New York,

1965),I,40and91.
3On this point,

see Maier, op. cit., p. 4.


ed. Jordi
S4James I of Aragon, Llibre dels Fets del Rei en Jaume,
1991), II, 82-83.
Barcelona,
actions here are similar to the efforts of the Dominican
"Michael's
served with Christian
above, who
to build fortifications
there.

forces

in Prussia

and encouraged

Bruguera

(2 vols.:

noted
chaplains,
them in their efforts

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629

BY DAVID S.BACHRACH

as a professor

of theology

for his fellow Dominicans

at the Dominican

in Paris.56

school

King James was very pleased with the service provided by the Do
to his forces in Majorca and rewarded them with extensive
minicans
on the island.57 Moreover, he continued
to employ Domini
properties
cans in his service as chaplains, not only in his own household
but also
in his garrisons.58 For example, the king noted in his autobiography
that
in the course of his campaign against Valencia
in 1237, he had estab
lished a garrison at the strategically important site of Puig. Serving with
the troops there were two Dominican
friars whom James had assigned
to the fortress for the purpose of preaching
to the men, hearing their
and

confessions,

assigning

But

penances.99

when

James

came

to make

an inspection

of the garrison, one of the friars, named P?re de Leyda, re


to leave his post. The king refused, claiming that the
quested permission
danger of the situation at Puig made it even more imperative for the fri
ars to remain because
to undertake
they were much better prepared
the pastoral care of soldiers than other
the men
and did not know as much
see Robert

%On this point,


Cambridge,

Massachusetts,

Ignatius
1967),

chaplains, who did not know


about assigning penances.60

Burns, The Crusader

Kingdom

of Valencia

(2 vols.;

1,203-204.

"Ibid.,p.2Qft.
the service

^Concerning

of mendicants

in King fames's

familia

and his army, see ibid.,

197-203.

pp.

I of Aragon, op. cit., II, 203, aE aviahi


.II.frares prehicadors
ajames
per penitencia
e per prehicar, per nom frare P?re de Leyda, e .1.altre e vengren-se'n
a nos."
donar
Pere que voliaparlar
ab nos a .?.part e dix-nos
mIbid.,"E dixfrare
que se'n volia ab
nos anar e que noy romandria...
E nos dixemli:
'Per que us en volets anar? Que molt
una, perprehicarclos,
l'altra, que si neg? hi venia a hora de mort,
vos dar penitencia
que .1.c?pela, que no y sobria re!"
in Majorca
and Valencia were
conducted
James Fs campaigns
against Mus
Although
lims, in both cases it is clear that the major
impetus for the wars was
royal rather than

hinc

sots necessari:

mils

los sabr?ets

in both cases the Dominicans


served King James directly
papal policy. Moreover,
ismade
clear by James himself
than as agents of the papacy This point
remarkably
to Majorca.
the preparations
for the campaign
discussing

rather
while

For some years before


1228, pirates
taking a heavy toll on Catalonian

been

before

from bases on the island of Majorca had


operating
In December,
1228, King James appeared
shipping.
Cortes
in Barcelona
and reported
that the negotiations
with Abu
the Catalonian
the king of Majorca, had failed. On this point, see Joseph F.O'Callaghan,^
History

Yahya,
of Medieval

to his own testi


(Ithaca, New York, 1975), pp. 341-342.
According
Spain
an appeal to the Cortes of Catalonia
in December,
1228, based upon
mony, James made
his own honor as a ruler and need to protect Catalonian
See Llibre dels Fets, I,
shipping.
64-66.

At no point

ruary 6,1229,

Pope

on Feb
In the meantime,
however,
legate in Spain, Cardinal Jean
to begin military
of the Iberian peninsula
operations

is there any discussion


IX issued
Gregory

to encourage
the kings
dAbbeville,
and
against their Muslim
neighbors

of a crusade.

instructions

to grant

to his

indulgences

to those who

participated

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in

THE FRIARSGO TO WAR:MENDICANT MILITARYCHAPLAINS, 1216-C. 1300

630

or not James's view regarding the relative value of Dominicans


Whether
as contrasted
to parish priests as military chaplains was accurate, this
account makes clear that black friars enjoyed a positive reputation for
their service in this role at an early date, not only in papal armies but in
secular

armies

as well.

In his autobiography,
James gives no indication that he sought the
of
the
papacy to recruit Dominican friars as military chap
permission
later when King
lains. The situation was rather different four decades
use
to
wanted
make
of
friars as chap
III
of
France
(1270-1285)
Philip
and for his troops. In 1272, Philip III
lains both in the royal household
from Pope Gregory X for the mendi
asked for and received permission
to
cants serving in his familia
for
the sacraments necessary
perform
the well-being
of the king's soldiers.61 The king's letter to Gregory has
not

that Philip had


survived, but it is clear from the pope's response
in French government
asked on behalf of his servientes, which
usage
to confess
refers both to servants and to soldiers, that they be permitted
their sins to the Dominicans
and Franciscans who were attached to the
to re
royal court.62 The king also asked that the servientes be permitted
and absolution
ceive both penances
also was granted by the pope.63

from

these

friars, a request

that

to all the soldiers serving


The cardinal dutifully granted an indulgence
campaigns.
into a crusade.
the royal expedition
the campaign
against Majorca,
thereby transforming
See Regesta
Potthast
ed.
(2
Graz, 1957),
Romanorum,
vols;
repr.
Augustus
Pontificum
these

#8336a.
61A.N. is J940 no. 26,"carissimo
in christo filio Phy. illustri regi Francie:
servientibus
ut presbyteris
et Mino
in ejus morantibus
concedit
Predicatorum
servitio
religiosis
rum ordinum
et ab ipsis penitentiam
licet ipsi confiteri
valeant
qui cum regefuerint,
eorum
vice pape
salutarem,
super peccatis
recipere
qui eisdem
confitentibus
benefi
cium

absolutionis

imp?ndante
letter makes
clear

that this privilege


extended
only to those friars who
rather than to lay brothers.
actually priests
(presbyteri)
likewise sought papal priv
6iIbid. Philip Ill's son and successor
Philip IV (1285-1314)
to confess
allow the soldiers serving in the royal household
their sins to
ileges that would
62The pope's

were

than their own priests. In 1288, Pope Nicholas


this privilege,
noting
granted
are frequently
in situations where
travel. Although
this privilege
they must
does not specifically mention
it seems likely that Dominicans
and Fran
the mendicants,
to provide pastoral care to his
ciscans would
be among those whom
Philip III recruited

priests other
that soldiers

in Christo filio Philippo


illustri:...
troops. A.N. J692 no. 148, ucarissimo
regi Francie
ut
servientibus
concedit
ad varia loca discurrere,
ipsos oporteat
ejus, cum frequenter
sua
IV
valeant?
Nicholas
peccata
quibusdamque
Pope
ydoneis
persbyteris
confiteri
to Philip IV's younger brother, Charles, the count of Anjou. A.N.
granted a similar privilege
.
eorum
ut capellani
L277 no. 63,"..
[Charles and his wife, Margaret] possint
indulget
eorum familiarum
audire
absolutionis
ipsisque pro peccatis
confessiones
beneficium
impertiri ac penitentiam
injungere."

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631

BY DAVID S.BACHRACH

too sought on occa


By the end of the thirteenth century, noblemen
as
sion to employ friars
military chaplains. A clear example of this prac
tice is evident in the efforts of Earl Henry Lacy of Lincoln to secure the
services of Franciscan friars to serve with his troops during one of Ed
of England's campaigns
in Scotland.64 A letter en
ward I (1272-1307)
rolled in the register of Archbishop Thomas Corbridge of York indicates
to recruit two friars to serve
that Henry de Lacy had sought permission
Cor
with this troops. The earl's letter does not survive, but Archbishop
issued on June 19,1300, makes clear what
the earl
bridge's response,
had inmind.65 Corbridge noted that de Lacy specifically sought the ser
of two Franciscans, named Michael of Merton and Reginald of
to serve in his military household.
The earl of Lincoln was
Kington,
most interested in their ability to hear the confessions
of his men and
them
assign
Corbridge granted the earl's re
penances.66 Archbishop
vices

quest, and presumably Michael


troops into Scotland.67

and Reginald

accompanied

the English

From a jurisdictional perspective,


the letter enrolled in the archi?pis
friars in secu
copal register makes clear that the service of mendicant
lar campaigns, that is, in campaigns not authorized or organized by the
pope, could be problematic. As noted above, the king of France sought
from the pope to have his men confess their sins to mendi
permission
cant friars. In this case, Henry de Lacy sought permission
not from the
of
from
the
the
ecclesiastical
official
but
York,
pope,
leading
archbishop
in northern England. The seeking of permission
in both cases implies
that the pope or the archbishop
could choose not to permit the em
as
mendicants
of
ployment
military chaplains in any particular conflict.
The granting of permission, however, permits the inference that the en
abling prelate judged the military conflict at issue to be "just."
The basic problem
that undergirded
the need to obtain permission
in
that
the
well-established
lay
lay people should confess their
principle
sins to their local parish priests. Canon 21 of the Fourth Lateran Coun
cil had required that each adult Christian confess his or her sins to his
or her local parish priest

at least once

a year at Easter.68 This canon had

"For a discussion

in the armies of Ed
of the provision
of pastoral care to the soldiers
of military
in the armies of King
"The organisation
I, see David S. Bachrach,
religion
Edward I of England (1272-1307),
29 (2003), 265-286.
Journal
History,
of Medieval
ed. James Raine (London,
the Northern
^Historical
Registers,
Papers and Letters from

ward

1973), p. 143.
^Ibid.^auditis
tentias
injungere
67Ibid.

conscientiarum

suarum

reatibus,

possint

absolvere,

ipsisquepoeni

salutares?

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THE FRIARSGO TOWAR: MENDICANT MILITARYCHAPLAINS. 1216-C. 1300

632

interpreted by some episcopal authorities to mean that lay people


could confess their sins only to their own parish priests, particularly
of the pope, or the archbishop,
during Lent. Gaining the permission
was
in many regions, the right of mendi
therefore,
important because
cants to hear confessions was limited.69 Indeed, in 1293, just seven years

been

before Henry de Lacy made his request of the archbishop, Thomas Cor
the
bridge's predecessor, Archbishop Romanus of York, had denounced
on a regular basis instead
idea that laymen could confess to mendicants
of going to their own priests.70
mConciliorum

245.
Oecumenicorum,p.
were
in the diocese
69In 1224, parishioners
of Winchester
for Lent. During
this period, when
any time of the year except
to confess
to sacerdoti proprio,
were
parishioners
required

free to visit Dominicans

at

lay people were


supposed
to obtain permission
from
and Synods with other Doc

their parish priests before going to the friars. See Councils


uments
to the English
ed. F.M. Powicke
and C. R.
Church, A.D. 1205-1313,
Relating
(2 vols.; Oxford
1964), 1,124. It is of some interest that the same set of episcopal
Cheney
statutes specifically
from other parishes
forbade parish priests from receiving parishioners
to an excommunicate.
out of concern
See I,
that they would
give comfort
unknowingly
sint damp
insuper ne sacerdotes parochias
regentes vicinis ecclesiis
earum
sacra
iniuste parochianos
ad penitentiam
vel ecclesiastica
The statutes of Exeter, issued in 1287, likewise granted mendicant
percipienda?
at any time of the year, including
friars free license to hear confessions
the Lenten season.
129,uProhibemus

nosi,
menta

recipiendo

were first required


to fulfill their obligations
to their
in this case parishioners
and Synods,
and Cheney, Councils
II, 995, "precipimus
parish priests. See Powicke
quod
cum fratres predicatores
et minores
tarn in Quadragesima
extra transitum fe
quant

However,

cerint per parochias,


confessiones
fidelium
sibi voluerint
sacerdotis
confiteri, proprii

libere audiant
licentia

requisita

et penitentias

qui
iniungant
et ecclesie parochiali
obla

et debitis prius
solutis?
of N?mes, issued in 1252, granted mendicants
the right to hear confessions
at any time during the year. However,
to maintain
of lay people
in an attempt
the parish
as the primary center of religious
and Fran
life, the bishop
required that the Dominicans
ciscans
inform the local parish priests of the names of parishioners
who had confessed
tionibus
The

consuetis

statutes

the parish priest remained


the final authority7 in
during the Lenten season. In this manner,
the religious status of individual parishioners.
statutes were
The episcopal
is
deterrnining
sued by Bishop Raymond Amaury of N?mes in 1252 and subsequently
issued by the other
French dioceses
of Arles, B?ziers, Lod?ve, Uz?s, Albi, and Carcassonne.
southern
See Les
Statuts Synodaux
du XIIIe Si?cle, Vol. II:Les Statuts de 1230 ? 1260, ed. Odette
Fran?ais
Pontal

(Paris, 1983), pp. 314-316.


In addition
to these episcopal
on January
IV
18, 1259, Pope Alexander
decisions,
to Dominicans
to preach, hear confessions,
to
the freedom
and assign penances
granted
the faithful if they had the permission
of the local bishop. They were not required to have
the permission
of the local priest. See Bullarium
Ordinis Fratrum
ed.
Praedicatorum,
Antonino
Bremonds
vel com
(8 vols; Rome,
I, $69, "quod vos de licentia,
1729-1740),
aut concessione
sedis apostolice,
vel ordinariorum
locorum,
missione,
legatorum
libere possitis predicare
et absolvere
ac peni
audire
populis,
confessiones,
confitentes,
tentias
aliorum
etrectorum
ecclesiarum
salutares,
praelatorum
injungere
inferiorum
ac sacerdotum

parochialium

assensu

minime

requisito?

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BY DAVID S.BACHRACH

633

Conclusion

and Franciscan orders carried out a wide


range of
to
the laity, operating schools, and mobilizing
tasks, including preaching
public opinion and resources on behalf of the papacy and papal initia
friars were an exception
tives, including the crusades. The mendicant
the brothers were both
ally valuable resource for the papacy because
The Dominican

trained and also available for extended periods of duty since they
free of the pastoral obligations
that tied parish priests and even
cathedral clergy in their home churches. Once the papal government
an official position
in Ad liberandum
that soldiers must be
established
on
was
care
it
while
with
campaign,
provided
pastoral
only amatter of

well
were

time before the Dominican


and Franciscan orders were
assigned the
task of finding brothers to serve as military chaplains. The obvious suc
cess of the mendicants
in this role clearly persuaded
secular rulers to
in their armies as
follow suit by recruiting friars to serve as chaplains
well.

and Ireland
to Great Britain
in the Papal Registers
of Entries
Relating
Romanus was
ed. W. H. Bliss (London,
However,
1305-1342,
1895), pp. 102-103.
In 1258, the bishop of Bath and Wells
out of step with his brother
somewhat
bishops.
to hear confessions
of lay people who were
for mendicants
gave permission
traveling out
70Calendar

AD

statutes of Winchester
issued 1262 and 1265 reiter
side of their parishes. The episcopal
ate this point. Powicke
and Cheney, Councils
and Synods,
1,593 and 706. The statutes of
name the mendicants
al
but nevertheless
issued in 1289, did not specifically
Chichester,
a papal license to hear confessions
to provide pastoral care within
the
lowed those with
diocese.

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