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The Leadership Of The First Crusade

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Chapter Summary

The historians of the First Crusade were struck by the fact that the expedition had no sole commander to lead it. For Guibert of Nogent and Baldric of Dol, this fact was turned into a source of religious pride. It was precisely because the crusaders were humble that they earned God's favour. With no one person able to assert overall leadership, in practice the crusade was directed by councils and assemblies. The councils did not reflect any kind of shared command. Rather, it was customary for those at the apex of the feudal structure to take advice from their vassals. By contrast, when assemblies took place for the sake of decisions affecting the entire crusade, they were meetings of people with more or less equal authority. The composition of their councils was constantly changing as prominent nobles died, or left the crusade and as other magnates emerged as important leaders.

Keywords:councils; First Crusade; leadership

10.1163/ej.9789004166653.i-324.29
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