The Crusading State: The Expedition for the Cruzada Indulgence from Trent to Lepanto

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The Sixteenth Century Journal


It was during the Middle Ages that Iberian monarchs first gained access to the papal crusading indulgence that became known as the bula de la cruzada.1 Medieval preachers used early versions to tempt members of the knightly caste to take up arms in the defense of the faith, but from the late fifteenth century the bull of crusade underwent a radical transformation. From that point and for centuries thereafter, the primary task of those who preached the indulgence became persuading the populace to contribute alms to fund large professional armies. This transition was not without controversy. In particular, Pope Pius V (r. 1566-72) attempted to reform abuses associated with the indulgence and assert papal authority by returning to an older model of crusading that privileged arms bearing over almsgiving. Pius's inability to maintain this corrective in his inter actions with the Spanish crown in the early 1570s signaled the co-opting of the medieval crusading tradition by the early modern state.

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