The Papacy and the Crusading Movement

From the third crusade onwards, Arabic-Islamic scholars became increasingly aware of the pope’s role in supporting and organizing crusading enterprises.^8 According to Ibn al-Athlr (d. 630/1233), the pope encouraged the crusaders besieging Acre in 586/1190, in a letter informing them that he had called upon all Frankish rulers to come to their aidTh9 Abu Shama (d. 665/1268) and al-Dhahabl

(d. 748/1348 or 753/1352) cite a letter written in 586/1190-91 by Saladin to the caliph in Baghdad. In this letter, Saladin comments:

The pope in Rome has ordered these people to abstain from drinking and eating. He has told them: “Whoever does not set out for the deliverance of Jerusalem shall be banned. He will be barred from marriage and commensality (la mankah lahu wa-la mat 'am).” This is why they come in masses and voluntarily curtail the length of their lives. He has said to them: “I will arrive in spring, having mustered a large host.” If this damned one (al-mahim/al-lain) sets out, nobody will want to stay behind. We will see all of them who ascribe a family and a son to God [i.e. the Christians] coming with their wives and children. This is what explains the behaviour of these people, their fanaticism in going astray (ta'assubihim fi dalalihim) and their obstinacy in holding on to error (lajajatihim fi ghawayatihim).u°

The pope also features in other letters exchanged by Muslim rulers. Ibn Shaddad (d. 632/1235) and Abu Shama (d. 665/1268) claim that the Seljuq ruler Qutb al-Din asked Saladin for help against the pope (al-baba) in 588/1192. Saladin, however, did not believe Qutb al-Din’s assertion that the pope was encamped with an army in Constantinople.111 According to Ibn Shaddad, the English king, Richard I, referred to the pope during his negotiations with Saladin in 587/1191_92, claiming that he needed the pope’s permission to marry his sister to a Muslim, in this case Saladin’s brother al-Malik al-'Adil. If the pope refused, he would give his niece in marriage since he did not need a papal permission to do this.m

Several sources report that a papal representative fell into Muslim hands during the crusader campaign directed against the Egyptian city of Damietta. When a group of Franks had been taken captive around the city in 618/1221, the Franks offered to hand over the city in exchange for a safe-conduct. As a guarantee, the Franks provided hostages, among others a papal deputy (naib al-baba) whose name is occasionally given as ‘al-Lukaf’ or ‘al-Lukan’.n3

ii° Abu Shama, al-rawdatayn, ed./trans. de Meynard (RHC hist. or. 4), p. 480: ‘wa-inna l-baba alladhi bi-Rumiyya qad harrama alayhim mata'imahum wa-masharibahum wa-qala man la yatawajjah ila l-Quds mustakhlisan fa-huwa indi muharram la mankah lahu wa-la mat'am fa-li-ajl hadha yatahafatuna ala l-wurud wa-yatahalakuna ala yawmihim al-maw'ud wa-qala lahum innani wasil fi l-rabi' jami' 'ala istinfar shamal al-jami' wa-idha nahada hadha al-mal'un fa-la yuq'ad 'anhu ahad wa-yasil ma'ahu bi-ahlihi wa-waldihi kull man yaqul li-llah ahl wa-walad fa-hadha sharh haula5 wa-ta'assubihim fi dalalatihim wa-lajajatihim fi ghawayatihim.’ Almost identical: al-Dhahabi, tarikh, ed. Tadmuri, vol. 41, AH 586, pp. 57—8. Cf. Beihammer, ‘Kirche’ (2013), p. 277.

  • 111 Ibn Shaddad, al-nawadir, ed. al-Shayyal, pp. 326—7; Abu Shama, al-rawdatayn, ed. de Meynard (RHC hist. or. 5), p. 64. On Qutb al-Din in the third crusade cf. Mayer, Geschichte (2000), p. 129.
  • 112 Ibn Shaddad, al-nawadir, ed. al-Shayyal, p. 203; cf. Mayer, Geschichte (2000), p. 135; Beihammer, ‘Kirche’ (2013), p. 277.
  • 113 Ibn al-Athir, al-kamil, ed. Tornberg, vol. 12, AH 614, p. 216 (Leiden), p. 330 (Beirut); Ibn Wasil, mufarrij, ed. Rabi' and Ashur, vol. 4, AH 618, p. 98 and n. 3 (al-Lukaf)'; Abu l-Fida, al-mukhtasar, ed. Zaynuhum 'Azab et al., vol. 3, AH 618, p. 162; Ibn Taghribirdl, nujim al-zahira, ed. Shams al-Din, vol. 6, AH 616, p. 213 (al-Likan). According to Mayer, Geschichte (2000), pp. 198—200, the pope sent two legates to Damietta in 1218, Robert de Courson and Pelagius of Albano. The former soon died while the latter was obliged to lead peace talks with al-Kamil. Thus, ‘al-Lukaf’/‘al-Lukan’ probably refers to Pelagius. Ibn Wasil, mufarrij, ed. Rabi' and Ashur, vol. 4, AH 618, p. 97, reproduces a (fictitious?) speech held by al-Malik al-Kamil in front of his advisors. Referring to weary soldiers, the sultan argues for the necessity of accepting the Frankish offer to end hostilities, which could continue for a long period in view of potential reinforcements sent by the Franks and the pope beyond the sea.

Ibn al-Athir (d. 630/1233) mentions the pope in connection with a conflict between the crusaders and the Armenians in 623/1226. The Armenians had revolted against Frankish rule and had taken the son of the ruler of Antioch captive. When the latter wrote to the pope asking for permission to attack the Armenians, the pope refused on the grounds that the Armenians were also Christians. This, however, did not prevent the ruler of Antioch from proceeding with his plans.[1] [2] [3] [4] [5]

  • [1] Ibn al-Athir, al-kamil, ed. Tornberg, vol. 12, AH 623, pp. 303^ (Leiden), p. 465 (Beirut).
  • [2] al-Dhahabi, tarikh, ed. al-Tadmuri, vol. 45, AH 625, p. 30; cf. Leder, ‘Kaiser’ (2008), p. 88.
  • [3] Ibn Wasil, mufarrij, ed. Rabf and Ashur, vol. 4, AH 626, pp. 250—1.
  • [4] Cf. Kennedy, Caliphate (1986), pp. 41—2, on Abbasid theories of political legitimacy.
  • [5] 118 Ibn Wasil, mufarrij, ed. Rabf and Ashur, vol. 4, AH 626, p. 251; cf. Gabrieli, Historians(1984), pp. 281—3; Hillenbrand, Crusades (2000), p. 320; Leder, ‘Kaiser’ (2008), p. 88.
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