James W Brodman (1986)
Ransoming Captives in Crusader Spain: The Order of Merced on the Christian-Islamic Frontier
University of Pennsylvania Press Philadelphia. (ISBN: 0-8122-8001-6).
From the author’s introduction: “The Order of Merced (or the Mercedarians) was one of the hundreds of caritative associations that sprang up in Europe during the twelfth and thirteenth centuries. These institutions consisted of hospitals, hospices, and houses of charity of various sizes and varieties. ... The overwhelming majority of such caritative associations, because of their local interests and sometimes transitory character, have altogether escaped the notice of historians. ... The present study is an examination of one such caritative order during the tumultuous years of its foundational era. It is obvious that the Mercedarian Order, given its work of ransoming captive Christians, has a unique character imparted by its origin along medieval Catalonia’s frontier with Muslim Spain. This redemptionist order, however, in its discipline, organization, spiritual values, and religious appeal, also had much in common with other contemporary caritative movements. Consequently, an investigation of this particular exemplar should reveal something of the broader phenomenon of organized religious charity. ”