Monday, 27 April 2015

The Fourth Crusade, The Shroud and the Grail

"Thus it was that Constantine's fair city, the common delight and boast of all nations, was laid waste by fire and blackened by soot, taken and emptied of all wealth, public and private, as well as that which was consecrated to God ..." - Nicetas Choniates, 13th century Historia.

In 1095, Pope Urban II proclaimed the First Crusade with the objective of restoring Christian access to the holy places in and around Jerusalem. During the following 200-year struggle for control of the Holy Land perhaps the most perplexing event is the notorious Fourth Crusade in the early 13th Century. The leaders of the Christian army from Western Europe had planned an assault on Egypt, but with their Venetian allies, attacked and laid waste the Byzantine city of Constantinople, the single most bloody and destructive episode of the Crusades against fellow Christians.

The mystery of this self-inflicted slaughter of fellow Christians is made even more confusing by the knowledge that the Pope had expressly forbidden the Crusaders' attack on the Greek Metropolis. What prompted the Latin army to change the target of their crusade and defy the Pope?

The Call to Arms
The Third Crusade (1189–1192) had effectively come to an end with the two great military leaders, Richard I, The Lionheart, of England and Saladin, fighting each other to a standstill. The Lionheart had reclaimed much territory for the Latin Kingdom of Jerusalem, including the key coastal cities of Acre and Jaffa, and territories of the Crusader kingdom conceded in the aftermath of the Battle of Hattin were restored, yet he had failed to recover the ancient city of Jerusalem. An uneasy truce was negotiated with unarmed Christians pilgrims permitted access to visit the Holy Sepulchre in the Holy city. Essentially the Third Crusade had failed in its prime objective to retake Jerusalem and recover the True Cross, last seen tied upside down to a lance and heading for Damascus following the massacre of the Crusader army at the Horns of Hattin in July 1187. There had been a tradition that the True Cross was carried into battle as a talisman; it was used at the battle of Ramleh in 1103 and in almost every major engagement in the decades thereafter.

By October 1192 The Lionheart had departed the Holy Land for France, vowing to one day return; six months later Saladin had fallen ill with fever and never recovered, dying in March 1993. It seemed the Holy Land was to enter a new era. However, the Lionheart's reluctance to pursue the recapture of Jerusalem would lead to the call for the Fourth Crusade six years later. Pope Innocent III had probably hoped that The Lionheart would make good on his vow to return to the Holy Land and join the Fourth Crusade but in March 1199 he was killed after being hit in the shoulder by a crossbow bolt during a siege at Châlus.

The call for a Fourth Crusade did not initially receive an enthusiastic response. However, by February 1200 Thibaut (Theobald) Count of Champagne and Count Baldwin of Flanders, along with his wife, Marie of Champagne, had taken the cross. At a meeting in Soissons in March the French nobles planned the crusade with a preference to travel by sea to the Holy Land and launch an invasion via Egypt. With the death of Thibaut in May 1201 the north Italian nobleman Boniface of Montferrat was appointed leader of the crusade. Boniface was of good crusading stock, as it were; his father William V of Montferrat took part in the Second Crusade and fought at the Battle of Hattin in 1187. He was a younger brother of William "Longsword", Count of Jaffa and Ascalon, and of Conrad I of Jerusalem, with his nephew Baldwin V crowned co-ruler of Jerusalem in 1183.

After some negotiations, The Treaty of Venice, (1201) was finally agreed in which the Venetians, led by the elderly 'Doge' Enrico Dandolo, providing a fleet and provisions for 33,500 men and 4,500 horses for one year for 85,000 silver marks. In addition, the Venetians agreed to join the crusade themselves providing fifty well-armed war galleys. All booty would be split evenly between the Venetians and the crusaders. The fleet would be ready to sail by June 1202.

The Venetians suspended all overseas trade and put enormous resources into the project to construct one of the largest fleets assembled in the period, purchasing thousands of tons of provisions, and building and fitting out war vessels at an amazing rate. Venice met its obligations to the letter; unfortunately, the crusaders did not. By the summer only around 13,000 men arrived in Venice, a much reduced number, with far fewer Franks than predicted, possibly influenced by the loss  of Thibaut of Champagne and some of the Flemish contingent finding their own way to the Holy Land, sailing direct from Marseilles. This lower numbers of crusaders led to a massive financial shortfall with the Crusade in debt to the Venetians by some 34,000 marks.

In a compromise the crusaders agreed to assist the Venetians in restoring the port of Zara on the Dalmatian coast, their political and economic rival, to their control. The fleet finally sailed in October 1202. When Pope Innocent III learnt of the Crusade's plan to attack Zara rather than relieve Jerusalem, he warned Boniface and his Venetian allies that they would face excommunication if they went ahead with the assault. The Crusade attacked Zara regardless which by November was under the control of the Venetian-Crusade alliance.

The Pope, having forbidden the attack, published an official decree excommunicating the entire crusade as he had threatened. The crusaders requested absolution, but the Venetians did not. With most of their provisions now consumed and little left of the year’s lease on the vessels, the crusade was in desperate straits. With the plunder from Zara being insufficient to pay off the Venetians, an opportunity for a “just cause” presented a solution for the crusaders.

In 1201 the young Alexius Angelus travelled to the west claiming he was the legitimate heir to Byzantium and requested the Crusade stopped off in Constantinople and overthrow the usurper and restore his father to the throne. Alexius’s father, Isaac II, had been deposed and blinded by his own brother, who was then crowned Alexius III in 1195. In return for the crusader's assistance Alexius offered 200,000 silver marks, to provide the crusade with 10,000 men for one year and establish a permanent garrison of 500 knights in the Holy Land. Prior to this he had visited the Pope promising to re-unite the Greek and Latin churches separated since the great schism of 1054. Innocent III declined to get get involved with internal dynastic struggles; his interest was the  re-conquest of Jerusalem.

However, the Venetians had their own agenda and were eager to direct the crusader's attention toward Constantinople; the Greeks had stifled their ambitions to dominate Mediterranean trade for decades. In June 1203 news reached Innocent III that the crusade was to divert to Constantinople. He wrote to the Crusade leaders explicitly forbidding any attack on the Christian city. The Pope's letter, when it did arrive, forced the crusaders to choose between obedience to the pope and fulfilling their obligations to the Venetians. However the letter arrived too late and for a second time the crusade disobeyed the Pope. The crusaders seemed to have lost sight of their original objective to recapture Jerusalem and set sail for Constantinople.

A crusader siege
Devastatio Constantinopolita
The Fourth Crusade arrived at the walls of Constantinople in June 1203. In July they attacked the northern walls of the city with the Venetians starting many fires in that area. Alexius III fled during the night, Isaac II was released from his prison and restored to the throne. His son, Alexius, was crowned co-emperor Alexius IV (1203-4) but was unable to pay the crusade what had been promised. Relations between the Latins and Byzantines quickly soured.

Tired of waiting, the crusaders demanded payment in November. Hostilities erupted as the crusaders began to collect their own payment and starting looting the city. Isaac II died and Alexius IV was unable to stop the crusader attacks. A palace official, Mourtzouphlus (heavy-brow), arranged a coup in February 1204 and had Alexius IV strangled to death. Mourtzouphlus was crowned Alexius V. This appalled the crusaders who saw Mourtzouphlus as a tyrannical usurper who must be removed from office. The crusader's clergy made a ruling that the murder of Alexius IV and the Byzantine failure to accept the primacy of Rome made Constantinople a legitimate target of the Crusade and the Latins prepared for a full scale assault on the city.

However, in defiance of Innocent III, who had forbidden any attack on Christians and especially on Constantinople, the assault began on 8th April 1204, when the Crusade attacked the northern harbour walls. Four days later On 12th April 1204, the crusaders made a second attack at the same location. Because of the efforts of a small group of knights, and an armed priest named Alleumes de Clari, the crusaders gained entry into the city. Thousands of western knights streamed in to the Byzantine capital setting it ablaze devastating one-sixth of the city, and regardless of their crusading vows, subjected it's Christian citizens to a gruesome three-day ordeal of violence, rape and plunder in which the city was stripped of its treasures; enormous amounts of gold, silver, precious gems, and holy relics were taken to be transported back to Europe. Perhaps the best known is the gilt bronze horses from the Hippodrome of Constantinople, which were placed above the entrance to the cathedral of Venice, St Mark's Basilica. One of the crusaders recorded the scene:

“When the city was captured [...] and the palaces were taken over, [...] they found in them
riches more than a great deal. [...] And the palace of Bukoleon was very rich [...] and in it
there were fully thirty chapels, great and small, and there was one of them which was called
the Holy Chapel, which was so rich and noble that there was not a hinge nor a band nor
any other part [...] that was not all of silver, and there was no column that was not of jasper
or porphyry or some other rich precious stone. [And] within this chapel were found many
rich relics: [...] two pieces of the True Cross as large as the leg of a man [...], and the iron
of the lance with which Our Lord had his side pierced, and two of the nails which were
driven through his hands and feet; and one found there in a crystal phial quite a little of
his blood and [...] the tunic which he wore [...] when they led him to Mount Calvary. And
one found there also the blessed crown with which he was crowned [...] and the robe of
Our Lady and so many other rich relics that I could not recount them to you [...].” - Robert de Clari on the Latin conquest of Constantinople, 1204.

The Fourth Crusade never did sail for the Holy Land. The crusaders remained in Constantinople building a new Latin Empire with Baldwin of Flanders elected its first Emperor on 16 May 1204 in the Hagia Sophia, the great church built by the emperor Justinian in the 6th century. Following the ceremony, Constantinople and the Empire were then divided up, with one-quarter (two-eighths) going directly to the Emperor, three-eighths to the Franks, and three-eighths to the Venetians, who also bought the island of Crete from Boniface. The crusaders then set out in all directions to seize Greek lands.

In November 1204 Baldwin wrote to Innocent III advising of the capture of the Byzantine capital, evidently omitting much of the gruesome detail. The Pope is said to have initially reacted with jubilation, even though the crusade had disobeyed him, with the prospect of the unification of the Eastern and Western churches. Only later when he had heard of the three days of carnage did Innocent III react with disgust and condemn the crusade.

However, the Pope recognised the authority of the new Latin Empire in order to end the schism and unite the churches of east and west. He ordered the new Emperor to ensure the Latin rite took root throughout the newly acquired territories and installed three of his most trusted Orders in the area: the Templars; the Hospitallers; and the Cistercians. The two military orders took possession of various Byzantine territories at the disdain of the Emperor and his vassals who did not consider the Templars or the Hospitallers had any rights to the land as they did not participate in the overthrow of Constantinople.

The Fourth Crusade is typically characterized as some great fiasco; although it quickly fell out of Papal control one is forced to question how this Crusade ended up so far from its intended destination – was there always a hidden agenda?

A Theory of Accidents?
The slaughter of the Christians of Constantinople has been described as the result of a festering distrust due to declining Crusader-Byzantine relations during the 12th century. The Second Crusade had considered attacking the Greek capital and Richard the Lionheart had taken Cyprus, a Byzantine protectorate, during the Third Crusade, before selling it on to the Templars. Was the failure of the Fourth Crusade manipulated by the Venetians as an anti-Greek conspiracy?

From the many views that have emerged, the finger of suspicion often points firmly toward the Venetians to whom the crusaders owed a large sum of money, and may have been involved in a secret conspiracy to divert the crusade to Constantinople since it was to their economic advantage; the Venetians now had control of the trade routes from the Adriatic to the Black Sea.

The Doge, Enrico Dandolo, is typically cast as the villain of the piece, the man who sparked the flames of  the sack of Constantinople in 1204; he was certainly the architect of the diversion of the Fourth Crusade to Zara in 1203. A man said to be driven by greed and hatred which stemmed from the seizure of Venetian residents at Constantinople and their goods in 1171. Although Venetian merchants had been allowed back in to Constantinople, they had never been fully compensated for their losses. The Massacre of the Latins at Constantinople in 1182 in which the bulk of the Latin community, estimated at over 60,000 at the time, was either wiped out or forced to flee, was an event which Venice had never forgotten or forgiven. The Venetians certainly had the motive and the powerful army of the Fourth Crusade presented the opportunity.

The Massacre of the Latins
However, modern scholars tend to accept Queller's theory that the Fourth Crusade was directed largely by incident and circumstance rather than planned decision. The Fourth crusade has been described as “a thousand or more decisions, often at cross-purposes” made by the leadership of the crusade on the spur of the moment and on the basis of little useful information. As the historian Riley-Smith writes, “The capture of Constantinople seems to have been the result of a series of accidents . . . There is no need even to explain the crusade in terms of the long history of bad relations between crusaders and Greeks; it was a response to a request from a Byzantine prince, made when the crusaders were heavily in debt because of an error of judgement on the part of the six delegates who had negotiated on their behalf with Venice.

This may be true in so much as the sack of Constantinople achieved two goals for the Latins; it installed the rightful heir to the throne of Byzantium; and, secondly, it freed the Fourth Crusade from their debt to the Venetians. Yet the leaders of the Fourth Crusade may have had their own, secret agenda from the very beginning.

The Grail Quest and Relics of the Passion
The city of Constantinople was a wealthy place and within its walls were the riches of an empire.
Immense booty was gained from Constantinople described as “every choicest thing found upon the earth” most of which was sent back to the crusader's homelands. Geoffrey of Villehardouin, the marshal of Champagne, claimed that never had so much booty been won in any city. Material riches were not the only loot; the Greek Metropolis housed many relics of the crucifixion – the recovery of relics of Christ's Passion had been amongst the objectives of previous crusades. So rich was the assemblage of relics at Constantinople it was considered the second Jerusalem.

In the Middle Ages relics were immensely powerful objects, considered to retain the spiritual power of martyrs and saints, in particular early Christian martyrs were the most revered.  Although, from a medieval perspective, relic theft was not necessarily wrong, since it was generally believed that relics could only be stolen if the holy figure wished them to be and would subsequently show approval by performing miraculous deeds at their new home. Many of Europe's most famous relics were looted from Constantinople in 1204: the supposed head of John the Baptist; pieces of the True Cross; hair of the Virgin; and innumerable body parts of various saints all went westward. The list seems endless.

The Imperial Palace of Boucoleon in Constantinople was to the south of the city. Inside this
Imperial complex was the Pharos Chapel. At that time, the chapel kept the most famous collection of relics of Christ, including the cross, the nails, the lance, the sponge, the cane, the crown of thorns, the sandals, the tunic, the stone from the tomb, the sudarium (face cloth) and burial cloths from the tomb. In his eyewitness account of the Fourth Crusade, Robert de Clari, who's brother Alleumes was one of the first through the city walls in the sack of 1204, notes the presence of many of the aforementioned relics, including the Virgin’s veil and John the Baptist’s head.

It would appear the relics of the Passion that were kept in the Pharos Chapel were very quickly taken under Latin control and protected from looting. But later a group of 22 relics of the Pharos collection were sold by the Latin Emperor of Constantinople, Baldwin II, to his relative King Louis IX of France between 1239 and 1242 who built the Sainte-Chapelle in Paris to house them. This was normal practice; the majority of crusaders who obtained relics during the Crusades sent them back to their local churches.

The city had been a repository for holy relics at least since it became capital of the Roman Empire in 324 AD under Constantine I. Needless to say, relics of Christ's Passion would be the most valued. Helena, the mother of Constantine, the first Christian emperor, is said to have travelled to the Holy Land c.326-28 in search of relics of the Passion. She is attributed as having discovered the True Cross and other Passion relics that were brought back to Constantinople.

The Image of Edessa, recorded since at least the 6th century, a square or rectangle of cloth upon which a miraculous image of the face of Jesus was imprinted, the first icon or image of Christ, known as the Mandylion, was brought to Constantinople in 944. The Mandylion has been identified as the burial linen known today as the Shroud of Turin, a 14 foot length of linen cloth bearing the image of a man who appears to have suffered the physical trauma consistent with crucifixion, (folded in four so that only the face was visible), however this identification is disputed by other Sindologists. Whether we accept the Mandylion is the Shroud of Turin or not, it seems certain there was a burial cloth at Constantinople bearing a full figure image as Robert de Clari attests.

The First Crusade had recovered the Lance of Longinus, the Roman soldier who pierced Christ's side while he hung on the cross, discovered in 1099 during the Siege of Antioch. The Lance of Longinus became identified with the Bleeding Lance of the Grail procession by authors of the Continuations to Chretien de Troyes Story of the Grail in the early 12th century.

Regardless of claims of pagan origins, the Grail Romances were clearly focused on Relics of Christ's Passion as items of the Grail procession; the Holy Lance that drips blood; the chalice of the last supper. Further, the key Grail texts were written under the patronage of powerful Crusader lords. As such, the Grail appears linked to the Holy Land and Jerusalem and certainly to the Relics of the Holy Passion.

The patron of the first story of the Grail was Philip of Alsace, count of Flanders from 1168 to 1191, cousin to King Baldwin IV of Jerusalem, the leper king, and participated in a crusade in 1177 and departed again for the Holy Land with a Flemish contingent in 1190 where he died a year later from an epidemic at the Siege of Acre. In the prologue to Perceval, or Conte du Graal, Chrètien de Troyes pays homage to his patron for providing the source for the best tale ever told in a royal court. Although he never fully developed the objects of  his 'graal procession', general opinion agrees that if Chretien had finished his Story of the Grail then he would have described them as relics of the Passion; he hints at this by saying 'un graal' (a grail) contained a single mass wafer that sustained the Fisher King.

Philip's father was Thierry of Alsace, Count of Flanders from 1128 to 1168, who participated in four pilgrimages to the Holy Land, including the Second Crusade in 1147 AD. According to tradition, Thierry returned to his capital Bruges on 7th April, 1150 AD, with the relic of the “Precious Blood” a cloth that Joseph of Arimathea had used to wipe blood from the body of Christ after the Crucifixion. The Basilica of the Holy Blood was built under the direction of the Count of Flanders to house the venerated relic of the Holy Blood.

Following Chretien, Robert de Boron Christianised the Grail even further; Chretien's simple serving dish, un graal, had now developed into The Holy Grail, a Christian relic of the Passion brought back from the Holy Land as used by Joseph of Arimathea to collect the blood of Christ at the deposition. At the end of his 'Joseph d'Arimathe' de Boron states he is in the service of Gautier of "Mont Belyal", identified as Gautier de Montbéliard who departed on the Fourth Crusade in 1202 and died in the Holy Land. Robert is said to have been originally from the village of Boron in the district of Montbéliard.

Originally written in Old French, in the first decade of the 13th century, the Perlesvaus, or the High History of the Holy Grail, is a continuation of Chrétien De Troyes' unfinished Story of the Grail, in a rather more mystical tone drawing on archaic Celtic legends. The author of Perlesvaus remains anonymous but has been suggested as a Glastonbury monk or a Templar knight. The prologue outlines the guardianship of the Grail through Joseph of Arimathea's family down to Arthur's times in much the same vein as Robert de Boron's story. Perlesvaus also boasts crusader patronage. Jean de Nesle, like Gautier de Montbeliard, Robert de Boron's patron, was one of the small group of Flemish crusaders who sailed directly from Marseilles during the Fourth Crusade.

The fourth major grail text is Wolfram von Eschenbach's Parzival, the first treatment of the Holy Grail theme in German, which is associated with Hermann I, the Landgrave of Thuringia, a Crusader veteran, who accompanied the Holy Roman Emperor on crusade in 1197. Wolfram’s poem features a band of Grail guardians whom he calls 'templeisen', generally considered to be a reference to the military order of Knights Templar.

The Blachernae Shroud
The other church in Constantinople concerned with housing relics of the Hoy Passion was at the other side of the town, to the north, the church of Saint Mary of Blachernae, where Robert de Clari saw a burial linen with the figure of Christ raised up every Friday. Notably, his brother Alleumes was first to breach the wall in the northern quarter by the church of the Virgin which was said to have housed the burial linen. Other funeral linens were kept in the imperial chapel of Pharos as noted above, yet the shroud with the whole figure of Christ was very much related to the church of Saint Mary of Blachernae.

There are very few previous references to this cloth and its arrival in Constantinople. However, as we have seen above, it has been identified with the Mandylion brought to Constantinople in the 10th century. There is also a reference by Antoine de Novgorod who, in the year 1200, wrote about the image of the face in the Boucoleon Palace and of the Image of the Saviour in Blachernae. Robert de Clari uses the word 'sydoine' (Syndone, or Sindon) to describe the Blachernae cloth and clearly distinguishes it from other burial clothes without an image. The description of the image of the whole body suggests the cloth of Blachernae was what we know today as the Shroud of Turin, the very cloth that Joseph of Arimathea used to cover Christ’s body after the crucifixion.

The publicity surrounding the weekly exhibition every Friday made it a perfect target for looting during the sacking of the city in 1204. As Alleumes de Clari was first through the city walls in the northern sector near to the church of Saint Mary of Blachernae, where the Shroud was housed, it seems a small group of crusaders had deliberately targeted Christ's burial Shroud when they entered Constantinople in 1204. Robert de Clari testifies to its disappearance; “No one, either Greek or French, ever knew what became of this Shroud when the city was taken.”

In 1205, a year after the Crusader sacking of Constantinople, Theodore Angelus Comnenus, nephew of Isaac II, wrote to Pope Innocent III protesting of the looting; “The Venetians partitioned the treasures of gold, silver and ivory while the French did the same with the relics and the most sacred of all, the linen in which our Lord Jesus Christ was wrapped after his death and before his resurrection...the sacred linen [is] in Athens.

This linen was in the territory of Otho de la Roche who became Duke of Athens, in the Greek Latin Empire, in repayment for his actions during the sack of Constantinople in 1204. La Roche was a Burgundian knight and counsellor to Boniface of Montferrat, the leader of the Fourth Crusade. If this is assumed to be the same burial linen that de Clari saw bearing the full figure image, the Blachernae Shroud, then there is no further reference to the Shroud in the East after this letter.

The Shroud then disappears for some one hundred and fifty years before reappearing in the 14th century. There are numerous theories as to the whereabouts of the Shroud during those missing years. One such is the family tradition that claims the Shroud, after disappearing from Constantinople, was kept in Ray-sur-Saône castle by the de la Roche family.

The Shroud reappeared at Lirey in the 14th century when it was shown by Geoffroi I de Charny, considered the first owner of the Shroud, in the 1350's, following his marriage to Jeanne de Vergy, a descendant of Otho de la Roche, where the Holy relic was kept in a collegiate church in the Diocese of Troyes not far from Ray-sur-Saône castle. The Bishop of Troyes was not impressed and declared the relic nothing more than a painting, and opposed its exposition.

There are those who argue there is no evidence for the Shroud's existence before 1356, which very conveniently corresponds with the medieval date obtained through carbon dating carried out in the 1980's. And, equally, there are those that claim the Shroud was the same burial linen that Robert de Clari saw bearing a full figure image that was raised up every Friday at Constantinople,  the Blachernae Shroud, which was used to wrap Christ's body after the crucifixion. de Clari adds that after the sack of the city no one knew what happened to it. The missing years of the Shroud, from 1204 to the 1350's, have been the subject of much debate amongst Sindologists. Some claim that it was held by the Templars and the image of the face, or head, on the cloth was the secret idol they worshipped.

As a relic of the Passion, the Shroud must surely rank as the most sacred relic of all, and the Templars were said to be guardians of the Holy Grail. However, there is no public record of the Templars involvement in the Fourth Crusade, yet Innocent III placed them in the newly acquired Byzantine lands shortly after the sack of Constantinople. That the Shroud should end up in their hands is perhaps not so surprising.

It seems a rather fitting conclusion that the most sacred Holy relic of them all was first shown at Lirey, in the Diocese of Troyes, near to where the first Grail romance was written some two centuries earlier. We have seen that the patrons of the four key Grail texts were crusader lords, though not necessarily Templars; however, these writers certainly knew of the Templars achievements in the Holy Land. Thus, the Grail Quest ends as it begins; in Troyes.

Did the nobles of north-eastern France, the leaders of the Fourth Crusade, have one objective in mind from the very beginning; a series of accidents or a quest for relics?

Copyright © 2015 Edward Watson

Notes & References
Michael Angold, The Fourth Crusade: Event and Context, Routledge, 2003.
Thomas Asbridge, The Crusades, Simon & Schuster, 2012.
Malcolm Barber, The Impact Of The Fourth Crusade In The West: The Distribution Of Relics After 1204, in AE Laiou, ed. Urbs capta: the Fourth Crusade and its consequences, Realités Byzantines (10). Lethielleux, Paris, France, 2005, pp. 325-334.
Richard W. Barber, The Holy Grail: Imagination and Belief, Harvard University Press, 2004.
Noel Currer-Briggs, The Shroud and the Grail, Weidenfeld and Nicolson, 1987.
Barbara Frale, The Templars, Maverick House, 2009.
Barbara Frale, The Templars and The Shroud of Christ, Maverick House, 2011
Charles Freeman, Holy Bones, Holy Dust: How Relics Shaped the History of Medieval Europe, Yale University Press, 2012.
Patrick J. Geary, Furta Sacra: Thefts of Relics in the Central Middle Ages, Princeton University Press, 2011.
Michael Haag, The Templars: History and Myth, Profile Books, 2011.
Christopher Knight and Robert Lomas, The Second Messiah: Templars, the Turin Shroud and the Great Secret of Freemasonry, Century, 1997.
Dhira Mahoney, ed. The Grail: A Casebook, Garland, 2000.
William A. Nitze, On The Chronology of the Grail Romances. I The Date of the "Perlesvaus"-(Concluded), Modern Philology, Vol. 17, No. 11 (Mar., 1920), pp. 605-618.
Jonathan Phillips, The Fourth Crusade: And the Sack of Constantinople, Pimlico, 2005.
Donald E. Queller and Thomas F. Madden, The Fourth Crusade: The Conquest of Constantinople, University of Pennsylvania Press; 2 edition, 1999.
Jonathan Riley-Smith, The Crusades: A Short History, Yale University Press, 1990.
Jonathan Riley-Smith, ed. The Atlas of the Crusades, Guild Publishing, 1991.
Ian Wilson, The Shroud, Bantam Press, 2010.

The Shroud of Turin
The first public exhibition of the Shroud of Turin in five years opened on 19 April 2015 in the Cathedral of St. John the Baptist in Turin, Italy, where the famous relic has been kept since 1578.
The exhibition will end on 24 June 2015.

For further information see:

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