Crusading for God and gold

The crusades were driven by religious zeal. But, as the writings of a crusader from the merchant city of Genoa reveal, profit was also a powerful motive. Jonathan Phillips tells his story

A painting of the Pillage of Jerusalem by Antiochus

This article was first published in the January 2014 issue of BBC History Magazine

The Canons of the Council of Clermont, the official record of Pope Urban II’s pronouncement of the First Crusade, in November 1095, stated: “Whoever for devotion alone, not to gain honour or money, goes to Jerusalem to liberate the church of God can substitute this journey for all penance.” Compare this with the confident eyewitness assertions of Caffaro of Genoa as he described the division of spoils after the crusader capture of Caesarea in 1101:

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