Although some monarchs did go on crusade, they did not finance the crusades for all their subjects. The First Crusade was not financed by governments; it was financed by the individuals who went. No kings went on the First Crusade. The leaders included the Count of Flanders, the Duke of Normandy, the Count of Saint-Gilles, the Duke of Lower Lorraine, and the nephew of the ruler of Sicily. They would have paid the expenses of their own household knights, but all those who accompanied them had to pay for themselves. It is true that many non-nobles (‘peasants’) joined the First Crusade, but the crusade was organised by the noble and knightly warriors.

Monarchs had more input into later crusades. For the Third Crusade, King Richard of England sold everything he could to raise money to hire ships, and paid for his own household’s travelling expenses, but the majority of the crusaders had to finance their own journey. Richard’s capture of Messina in Sicily and his capture of the island of Cyprus helped to finance his expedition and enabled him to take into his employment warriors who ran out of money during the course of the crusade. But Richard was not the only ruler on the Third Crusade, and other leaders – such as King Philip of France and Duke Leopold of Austria – then resented the way that he seemed to be taking over the crusade by financing so many of the warriors.

From the Third Crusade onwards, it was possible for those who had taken a vow of crusade to pay money instead of going on the expedition in person. This money was used to pay the expenses of warriors who went on the crusade. The kings of England and France also levied a tax, known as the ‘Saladin tithe’, to help pay for warriors to defend the Holy Land – or rather, the states set up by the crusaders in the Middle East. But although they helped to finance the crusade they were not the only source of finance, and no one king controlled the crusade.

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