Fighting for Christendom: Holy War and the Crusades

FIGHTING FOR CHRISTENDOM: Holy War and the Crusades
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When the crusaders found themselves unpaid and locked out of the great city, they took a terrible revenge, sacking it and taking what they wanted: the treasury of St Mark's in Venice is still rich with the plunder they acquired. If the First Crusade and the fall of Jerusalem poisoned relations between Christians and Muslims, the sack of Constantinople had a similar effect on relations between Latin and Greek Orthodox Christians. True, things had not been all sweetness and light before But the sack of the great center of Eastern Christianity by the Westerners left a legacy of hate and distrust between the two largest branches of Christianity that is still with us.

That legacy only grew stronger after Moscow emerged as the heir to Eastern Rome. The story of that Crusade is complex, with an involved diplomatic and commercial background and a host of competing interests -- a story of idealism brought up short by realpolitik; men made so many compromises, each reasonable in itself, that they lost their original purpose.

In "The Fourth Crusade," Jonathan Phillips gives us the history with care, humanity and a scrupulous regard for the sources. If the book lacks some of the enthusiasm of Asbridge's, this is in part because what happened is more difficult to sort out. Like Asbridge, Phillips has produced a lively book that conveys the intricacies of the situation without getting lost in detail.

He is especially good on the history of warfare. Much of the military success of the crusaders against the massive walls of Constantinople and the Byzantine Army was due to the cult of the tournament. In the late 12th century, he stresses, that was not the mannered jousting of the later Middle Ages; it was "warfare lite," sometimes not very different from the real thing.

Knights of the crusading armies had a wealth of military experience and it counted; as a 12th-century English chronicler put it, "The science of war, if not practiced beforehand, cannot be gained when it becomes necessary. Christopher Tyerman's book is the shortest but also the most ambitious of the three. In little over pages of text, Tyerman attempts an overall account of the crusading movement, its origins and ideology and its role in later history.

His judgments are shrewd and forceful. He has no time for bogus links between crusaders and modern Muslim jihadists: "The idea that the modern political conflicts in the Near East or elsewhere derive from the legacy of the Crusades or are being conducted as neo-crusades. Then again I didn't feel that Tyerman took a side while doing his research and writin his book but if he showed such unbalanced opinions about certain things then that makes me wonder if I missed something. The last sentence concluded the book in a perfectly good way so I closed it with a positive impression.

Feb 16, Natalie Coffman rated it really liked it Shelves: school , favorites , religious-studies. Excellent though general overview of the crusades and the misconstrued interpretations that tend to permeate modern rhetoric. Gilbert rated it really liked it Mar 13, Joe rated it it was amazing Dec 22, Luiz Rens rated it it was amazing Mar 24, Bryn Geffert rated it it was ok Feb 18, Vladimir Gospodinoff rated it liked it Jul 16, Elena rated it it was ok Apr 25, Josh rated it really liked it Dec 30, Patrick Shrier rated it really liked it May 14, Cdkutusu rated it it was ok Feb 22, Ginu George rated it really liked it Sep 25, Kyle Dohlen rated it it was ok Feb 14, Rachael rated it liked it Apr 10, Brendan Hillyer rated it did not like it Sep 22, Sri Guru rated it it was amazing Oct 26, Mark Johnson rated it liked it Nov 14, Mark rated it liked it Jun 05, Emily rated it really liked it Dec 30, Aldo Torres rated it liked it Apr 08, Jenny Trower rated it really liked it Sep 06, Michael rated it really liked it Aug 28, Daniel rated it really liked it Jan 27, Billy rated it really liked it Nov 26, Fleur rated it liked it Jul 15, Jonny Moskowitz rated it liked it Jun 30, Victor Clark rated it really liked it Jan 02, There are no discussion topics on this book yet.

Although probably exagger- ated, this atrocity has rung down the centuries in infamy. Within weeks a Latin emperor, Baldwin of Flanders, had been appointed and the territorial annexation of the Greek Empire begun. A year later, hopes of continuing the crusade to Egypt were abandoned. The Latin empire of Constanti- nople lasted until ; western occupation of parts of Greece for centuries. The precarious state of parts of the Frankish conquests in Greece prompted crusades to be pro- claimed against the Greeks from until well into the fourteenth century.

The capture of Constantinople was not an accident; it had been considered by every major expedition since Successive popes had voiced disappointment at Greek fail- ure to contribute to the recovery of the Holy Land. In the circumstances of —3, conquest appeared viable; in the spring of necessary. However, it was never the ultim- ate object of the crusade, and for Venice marked a new departure into territorial instead of simply commercial imperialism.

The diversion was a result of policy not con- spiracy, its motives a mixture of pragmatism, idealism, and opportunism that characterized all other wars of the cross. In the context of a wider process of semi-permanent evangelization, crusading acted as one manifestation of Christian revivalism. The papal bull Quia Maior launching the new eastern enterprise extended access to the crusade remission of sins, the indul- gence, to those who sent a proxy or provided a proportion- ate sum of money in redemption of their vow.

In the Fourth Lateran Council of the western Church authorized universal clerical taxation to support the cause. The bulk of recruits came from Germany, central Europe, Italy, and the British Isles instead of France, the traditional heartland of crusade enlistment. After early contingents landed at Acre in — 18, including one led by King Andrew of Hungary —35 , the focus of military operations turned to Egypt when, in , the crusaders attacked Damietta, a port in the eastern Nile Delta.

Egyptian proposals to exchange Damietta for Jerusalem were rejected as improper and unworkable by a group led by the Cardinal Legate, Pelagius, whose control of the purse strings gave him con- siderable authority within the crusade army. Lack of leader- ship proved more damaging. Damietta was evacuated on 8 September Recruiting continued almost unabated despite the set- back in Egypt. Although Pope Gregory IX —41 , a veteran crusade recruiting agent, lost patience and excommunicated him, Frederick, undaunted, sailed to the Holy Land in Exploiting the rivalries between the rulers of Egypt and Syria, in February Frederick agreed a treaty with the sultan of Egypt that restored Jerusa- lem to the Franks.

The city was to be open to all and the Haram al-Sharif, the Temple Mount, to remain under the Islamic religious authorities not dissimilar to the arrange- ments in Jerusalem after However, unpopular for his high-handedness, when Frederick embarked for the west from Acre on 1 May he was pelted with offal. With a brief interruption in , Jerusalem remained in Christian hands until captured by Khwarazmian raiders, Turkish free- booters in the pay of the sultan of Egypt, in The city remained under Muslim control until The Thirteenth Century After , eastern crusades progressed from the pragmatic to the optimistic to the desperate.

Truces with feuding Mus- lim neighbours continued to sustain Frankish Outremer until the accession to power in Egypt of the militant Mam- luk sultans, members of a professional caste of Turkish slave warriors, who replaced the heirs of Saladin in the s. Successive western expeditions under a series of great nobles the Count of Champagne in ; the Earl of Cornwall in ; the Lord Edward, later Edward I of Eng- land, in achieved little other than temporary advan- tage or respite. It was also one of the most disastrous, its failure matching its ambition.

Taking the cross in December , over the next three years he assembled an army of about 15,, a treasury of over 1 million livres, and a stockpile of food and equipment stored in Cyprus, where Louis arrived in the late summer of The following spring, supported by the Outremer Franks, Louis invaded Egypt, capturing Damietta the day he landed 5 June The assault on the interior began on 20 November, only to get bogged down in the Nile Delta for more than two months.

Withdrawal in early April turned into a rout as the Christian army disintegrated through disease, fatigue, and a superior enemy. Louis himself, suffering badly from dysentery, was among those captured, being released in return for Damietta and a massive ransom. The best-laid crusade plan had failed dismally.

Following the defeat of the Mongols in , Baibars of Egypt and his successors Qalawun —90 and al-Ashraf Khalil —3 systematically dismembered the remaining Frankish holdings in Syria and Palestine. To en- sure the Franks would not again return, the sultans levelled the ports they captured. The west watched this collapse with alarm, concern, and impotence. Political rivalries, compet- ing domestic demands, and a more realistic assessment of the required scale of operation conspired in the failure to organize adequate military response. There Louis died on 25 August and most of his followers went home.

A series of penitential and revivalist processions in northern France, led by Stephen of Cloyes from the Vermandois, marched to St Denis near Paris voicing vague appeals for moral reform. Further east, at much the same time, large groups of young men and adolescents called in the sources pueri, meaning children but also anyone under full maturity as well as priests and adults, apparently led by a boy called Nicholas of Cologne, marched through the Rhineland proclaiming their desire to free the Holy Sepulchre. It seems some of these march- ers reached northern Italy seeking transport east but prob- ably getting no further.

Their holy war was of the spirit. Experience soon taught them otherwise. Once its leaders were exposed not as holy men but disorderly rabble-rousers, the movement was violently suppressed. However, there were similar expressions of social and pol- itical anxieties through support for the transcendent cause of the Holy Land in Italy in and France in These indulgences were seemingly granted without the attendant vows, preaching, or cross-taking.

One of the most notorious of all medieval wars, the Albigensian Crusades —29 , degenerated from a genu- ine attempt to cauterize widespread heresy, which many saw as a dangerously infectious wound bleeding all Christen- dom, into a brutal land seizure. The puritanical dualist Cathar heresy had grown in strength in parts of Languedoc controlled by the count of Toulouse. Six crusades were launched or planned against the Czech Hussite evangelicals of Bohemia between and Protestant Reformations in the sixteenth century stimulated a revival of crusade schemes against enemies of the Catholic Church, such as Henry VIII and Elizabeth I of England, and remained a traditional resort for devout and threatened Catholics in the new Wars of Religion, for example against the Huguenots in France in the s.

The main crusades against Christians were fought over papal security in its lands in Italy. From the s, popes were fearful of being surrounded by the Hohens- taufen dynasty, kings of Germany who were also rulers of southern Italy and Sicily. These Italian crusades scarcely pre- tended to conceal papal corporate or personal interest, to the disgust of critics such as Dante.

The failure of crusades launched by both contending parties to end the Great Papal Schism — led to the abandonment of this form of holy war, only occasionally to be revived by bellicose popes such as Julius II — The artist is at pains to show a probably exaggerated contrast in weapons, shields, and armour between the two sides.

Further authorization for crusades against the Moors came in —8, during the Second Crusade, and at intervals thereafter. A church coun- cil in Segovia in even offered Jerusalem indulgences to those who defended Castile from Christian attack. The later twelfth-century invasions of Iberia by the Muslim funda- mentalist Almohads from North Africa threatened Christian conquests and provoked a greater frequency in crusading appeals, culminating in the crusade of against them. Thereafter the cam- paigns of the Spanish Reconquista became more obviously national concerns, although still liable to elicit crusade sta- tus, as with the conquests of the Balearic Islands —31 and Valencia —5 by James I of Aragon — With the fall of Cordova and Seville to Ferdinand III of Castile —52 , formal or active crusad- ing against the Moors, now penned in the emirate of Granada until , became effectively redundant.

These wars directly served local political and ecclesiastical ambitions. The main areas of conquest after included Prussia, Livonia, Estonia, and Finland. In Prussia, the expansion of land-grabbing German princes in Pomerania gave way to the competing interests of Denmark and the Military Order of Teutonic Knights.

Finland became the target of Swedish expansion. By the s, control of war and settlement in Prussia, Livonia, and southern Estonia had been taken up by the Teutonic Knights, with whom the Sword Brothers were amalgamated in This gave the Teutonic Knights a unique status, not held even by the rulers of the kingdom of Jerusalem, of a sovereign government possessed of the automatic right of equating its foreign policy with the crusade. Their transformation into a secular German principality was completed in when the Master of the Teutonic Knights in Prussia embraced Lutheranism and secularization.

The Livonian branch followed suit in Jews Frontiers, medieval or modern, can be religious, ethnic, cul- tural, and social as well as geographic. In such cases, wars of the cross added a particular edge of hostility or intensity. The pogroms in the Rhineland in and —7 and in England in were not the sum of anti-Jewish violence, which spread widely in northern Europe. But the Jews were only ever collateral targets of crusading.

Local rulers reserved exploitation and expropriation to themselves; Richard I condemned the attacks on Jews in London in because he regarded their property as his. A cultural myopia on the part of Christians refused to see Jews as fully human, a dis- missive attitude prominently displayed by the great crusader Louis IX of France. Such discrimination could translate into persecution, although increasingly it led to expulsion from regions of the British Isles and France in the later thirteenth and fourteenth centuries.

Lacking civil rights or in most cases effective systems of autonomous rule or defence, Jews in medieval Europe suffered through Christian schizo- phrenia. Yet at the same time Christian teaching also saw them as malign and therefore a religious challenge to Christianity. Increasingly, blood libels, accusations of Jews murdering Christians, rather than crusades, provoked massacres.

Crusad- ing played a part, at times a gory one, in constructing a closed, intolerant society. However, to blame the excesses of anti-Semitism, medieval or modern, on the wars of the cross is facile and unconvincing. That well of hatred fed from many streams. The End of Crusading The traditional terminal date for the Crusades, the loss of Acre in , makes no sense.

People continued to take the cross, if in diminishing numbers. The attendant institutions of indulgences, legal obligations, and taxation persisted in use by rulers and popes for centuries. In the Mediterranean, attacks on piratical Turkish emirs and the Mamluks continued sporadically, such as the sack of Alexandria in by Peter I of Cyprus.

At Nicopolis on the Danube and Varna on the Black Sea western crusade armies sent to combat the Ottomans in the Balkans were crushed, on both occasions with the Turks receiving aid from Christian allies, respectively Serbs and Genoese. Cyprus remained in Christian hands until , Crete until ; both fruits of earlier crusades. After the Turkish capture of Constanti- nople in , crusading again seemed a vital necessity to the Renaissance papacy.

In response to the fall of the Greek imperial capital a new crusade was proclaimed. Belgrade was saved in by an unlikely crusading force gathered by John of Capistrano. Yet the appeal lingered. Men may have taken the cross and expected indul- gences in the anti-Turkish Holy League — Without the disinte- gration of the unity of the Muslim Near East in the late eleventh century and of Muslim Spain two generations earlier, wars of the cross against Islam would probably not have begun or would have rapidly stalled. The thirteenth-century failure of the Muslim powers of North Africa and southern Iberia and of the disparate tribes of the southern and eastern Baltic to maintain any concerted resistance to Christian expansion allowed crusades to prevail.

Typically, Jerusalem is shown at the centre, the navel of the world. East is at the top. The consequences of crusading activity varied hugely. In Spain, the Christian reconquest decisively reoriented the political and cultural direction of the region. Similarly, the frontier expansion in the Baltic and the integration into the polity of western Europe of powers such as Denmark and Sweden preceded their association with crusading ideology and practices.

In Spain, the Chris- tian reconquest, or Reconquista, predated its reinvention as a holy war. The wars would have occurred in any case. By contrast, the wars in the eastern Mediterranean can be seen only as the consequence of this new form of holy war.

Fighting for Christendom : Holy War and the Crusades

Perhaps the strangest aspect of crusading to the Holy Land lay precisely in its lack of connection with the domestic circum- stances of the territories whither the armies were directed. While the First Crusade answered the interests of the eastern Greek Christian empire of Byzantium, it was hardly portrayed as such and developed a momentum quite removed from Greek frontier policy.

There existed no strategic or material interest for the knights of the west to campaign in Judaea. For the land-hungry or polit- ically ambitious adventurer, other regions nearer home offered easier, richer pickings. With the partial exception of the Third Crusade —92 , currents of western enthusi- asm and policy, as in the Fourth and Fifth Crusades, deter- mined the timing and recruitment of eastern crusades rather than the immediate needs of the western settlements in the Levant.

More generally, while the presence of western war- riors and settlers on the immediate frontiers of Muslim Iberia or the pagan Baltic made some economic or political sense, this was not true for the Holy Land, where the motive for occupation depended on its status as a relic of Christ on earth, a fundamentally religious mission however material the methods employed to achieve it. Consequently, the Christian wars of the twelfth and thirteenth centuries in the Near East provide startling testimony to the power of ideas.

They certainly thrust westerners into geopolitical events other- wise far removed from their orbit of interest. A particular religious perception of world history led to western European involvement in fashioning the political destiny of Syria, Palestine, Egypt, and Iraq in a period of decisive re-alignment of Near Eastern power. Jerusalem had fallen to Arab rule in ; almost all the Biblical scenes familiar to the faithful lay under Muslim control. Further advances in the ninth cen- tury, including the capture of Sicily and bases in southern Italy, seemed to threaten Rome and convert the western Mediterranean into a Muslim lake.

The two most powerful regimes in the west, the Carolingian Empire of the eighth century or the German emperors of the tenth and eleventh, despite laying claims to an Italian kingdom, rarely engaged directly with the loss of southern Christian provinces. For the empire of Byzantium, with its long frontiers with Islamic states, the confrontation occupied a habitual rather than urgent element of foreign policy, especially after the stabilization of borders in eastern Anatolia from the eighth century. The hundred years before saw a transformation. Between and , Italian-Norman forces conquered Sicily.

The famed conqueror of Valencia in , the Castilian Roderigo Diaz d. Dyn- astic and ecclesiastical links drew recruits from Catalonia and north of the Pyrenees, although only with hindsight could they be equated with crusaders. In the eastern Mediterranean in the second half of the tenth century, Byzantine armies had re-established a foot- hold in northern Syria, capturing Antioch in , which remained in Greek hands until , only a decade and a half before the arrival of the First Crusade.

The tripartite balance of power in the region was based on the Byzantine Empire to the north and west; the ortho- dox Sunni Muslim Abbasid Caliphate of Baghdad in nominal control of Iran, Iraq, and Syria; with the Shia Muslim Caliphate of the Fatimids in Egypt since Establishing themselves in control of the Baghdad Caliphate in as sultans sultan is Arabic for power , the Seljuks pushed further west, by establish- ing their overlordship in most of Syria and Palestine, having in defeated a Byzantine army at Manzikert in north- eastern Anatolia.

Within twenty years, a Seljuk Sultanate had been consolidated in Anatolia with a capital at Nicaea close to Constantinople. However, despite the Seljuk con- quests, Muslim unity was a charade, especially after the out- break of civil war between the heirs of Sultan Malik Shah. The Seljuk empire in Iraq and Syria comprised a loose con- federation of city states, often controlled by Turkish military commanders atabegs and slave mercenaries Mamluks who owed allegiance to one or other rival Seljuk prince.

Throughout the region ethnic diversity and alienation of ruler from ruled prevailed. In parts of Syria, immigrant Turkish Sunnis ruled an indigenous Shia population or forced their protection on local Arab dynasts. Such complexity ensured a continuing political volatility that offered rich opportunities to the ambitious, the ruthless, the skilful, and the fortunate. The appearance of the western armies of the First Crusade in —8 merely added one more foreign military presence to an area already crowded with competing rulers from outside the region.

  1. Fighting for Christendom: Holy War and the Crusades;
  2. Universitas Helsingiensis | Winter issue | Fighting the Holy War;
  3. Article excerpt.

Mamluk warriors training. The Mamluks were professional Turkish mercenaries enlisted as warrior slaves in the armies of Egypt who took control of the country after and drove the Franks from the mainland of Syria and Palestine in Apart from a serious attempt to contest control of Egypt between and , the Christian rulers in Palestine, the Franks, observed the process as largely impo- tent bystanders. Only after he had secured the three inland Muslim capitals of Damascus, Aleppo, and Mosul did Saladin turn his armies on the Franks in the crushing campaign of —8 that gave rise to the Third Crusade.

Although Saladin, Zengi, and Nur al-Din all located their policies in the vanguard of a Muslim religious revival that swept westwards from Iran and Iraq, decking their wars with the language of jihad, most of their energies and vio- lence was directed both materially and ideologically against other Muslims.

Fighting for Christendom: Holy War and the Crusades

Third Crusade. Beyond temporary panics following their capture of Damietta and , the Ayyubid military system successfully resisted the two Christian attacks on Egypt —21 and —50 , although in the role in defending Egypt played by corps of Mamluk mercenaries precipitated their assumption of the Egyptian sultanate. The advent of the Mamluks, by origin Turks from the Eurasian steppes, conformed to the pattern of alien rule in the Near East, as did the chief challenge to their new empire, the Mongols, who by the late s had penetrated Iraq and Syria.

The defeat of a Mongol army by the Mamluks of Egypt in September at Ain Jalut in the valley of Jezreel helped determine which of the two domin- ant Near Eastern forces would rule in Syria and roughly where the frontier between them would fall in a political settlement that lasted until the Ottoman conquest of the Mamluk Empire in The Franks and their western allies could only watch.

The decisive verdicts of and crowned the Mam- luks as victors in the long struggle over which foreign group would rule in Egypt, Syria, and Palestine — Greeks, Kurds, Turks, Franks. Steven Runciman, the most read Anglophone historian of the Crusades, thought the Crusades proved to be a dis- aster for Christendom because the Byzantine Empire was weakened as a result of the Fourth Crusade.

Yet it may be worth considering that the victory of the Mamluks in the second half of the thirteenth century saved not only western Asia from the Mongols but southern and eastern Europe too. The failure of Byzantium to defend itself in —4 did not augur well for any putative role as a bastion against future Turkish attacks; the occupation of parts of the Greek Empire by Franks and Venetians at least ensured lasting western investment in the later resistance to the Ottomans.

Its disastrous failure to accommodate the crusaders before makes it hard to believe Byzantium left to itself would have coped any better with the Turks. While scarcely interested in the minutiae of local politics and religion, the Mongols might have proved even more dis- agreeable conquerors than the Ottomans. One legacy of the Crusades was the estrangement of Greek and Latin Christendom, but not the triumph of the Turk.

Crusading represented merely one expression of this warrior tradition.

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Urban II did not invent Christian holy wars in ; neither did they cease with the demise of the Crusades; nor were the Crusades the only manifestation of medieval religious violence. However, the Crusades have appeared almost uniquely disreputable because of the apparent diametric and exultant reversal of the teaching of Christ and the appropriation of the language of spiritual struggle and the doctrine of peace for the promotion of war, exquisitely demonstrated in the ubiquitous use of the image of the cross.

In the Epistle to the Ephesians Paul descants on this spiritual military theme: Put on the whole armour of God, that ye may be able to stand against the wiles of the devil. Stand therefore, having your loins girt about with truth, and having on the breastplate of righteousness, and your feet shod with the prep- aration of the gospel of peace.

Scripture and Classical Theory The ideology of crusading may thus appear casuistic in its interpretation of Scripture, if not downright mendacious. Yet the contradiction of holy war in pursuit of the doctrines of peace and forgiveness boasted long pedigrees. Although Biblical authority remained one of the cornerstones of belief, literalism proved intellectually and culturally untenable and Christianity evolved only indirectly as a Scriptural faith. The charity texts of the New Testament insisting on forgiveness were interpreted as applicable only to private persons not the behaviour of public authorities, to whom, both Gospel and Pauline texts could be marshalled to show, obedience was due.

For those justifying religious war, the Old Testament supplied rich pickings. Bible stories operated essentially on two levels although medieval exegetes distinguished as many as four : literal and divine truth. Warrior heroes adorn the Scriptural landscape — Joshua, Gideon, David. In the Books of the Maccabees, recording the battles of Jews against the rule of Hellenic Seleucids and their Jewish allies in the second century bc, butchery and mutilation are praised as the work of God through His followers, whose weapons are blessed and who meet their enemies with hymns and prayers.

The historical and emotional vision of the holy warrior encompassed the temporal and supernatural. To this idea of a just end, Roman law added the just cause consequent on one party breaking an agreement pax, peace, derived from the Latin pangere, meaning to enter into a contract or injuring the other. Just war could therefore be waged for defence, recovery of right- ful property, or punishment provided this was sanctioned by legitimate authority, that is the state.

For the Roman state, religious enemies joined temporal ones as legitimate targets for war: pagan barbarians and religious heretics within the empire who could be equated with traitors.

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This conundrum was resolved by Augustine of Hippo d. To the Helleno-Roman legal idea of right causes and ends, Augustine added a Christian interpretation of moral virtue to right intent and authority. Thus war, inherently sinful, could promote righteousness. These attributes form the basis of classic Christian just war theory, as presented, for example, by Thomas Aquinas — The language of the bellum justum became current while what was often described came closer to bellum sacrum.

This fusion of ideas might conveniently be called religious war, wars conducted for and by the church, sharing features of holy and just war, in a protean blend that allowed war to become valid as an expression of Christian vocation second only to monasticism itself. A just war was not necessarily a holy war, although all holy wars were, per se, just. The fusion of the two became characteristic of later Christian formulations. Where Rome survived, in Byzantium, the eastern empire of Constantinople, the coterminous relation of Church and State rendered all public war in some sense holy, in defence of religion, approved by the church.

How- ever, Byzantine warfare remained a secular activity, for all its Divine sanction, not, as it became in late eleventh-century western Europe, a penitential act of religious votaries. Their Gods were tribal deliverers of earthly victory and reward. It has been said that the early medieval army, the exercitus, assumed a role as the pivotal public institution in and through which operated justice, patronage, political discipline, diplomacy, and ceremonies of communal identity, usually with the imprimatur of religion, pagan or Christian. The effect of the conversion of these Germanic peoples worked in two directions: the Christianizing of their warrior ethic and the militarizing of the church.

Contemporary descriptions of the conversion and early Christian kings of the new political order are peppered with martial heroes in the style of Constantine himself, such as Clovis the Frank d. Unsurpris- ingly, Germanic warrior values infected the language of the faith being conveyed, even if only in the seedbed of meta- phor. The historical as well as literary type of the early medi- eval warrior was Charlemagne d.

Warfare came to be recognized as possessing positive moral as well as political value. This became even more apparent from the mid-ninth century when, with the disintegration of Carolingian power, west- ern Europe was beset by new external attacks from Muslims, Vikings, and Magyars which lent an urgent, dynamic quality to the practice as well as theory of Christian warfare. Polit- ical and religious survival became synonymous as a concept of a religious community, Christendom Christianitas , replaced the disintegrating political community of the Frankish Empire.

Monkish propagandists invariably called the Danish enemies of Alfred, king of Wessex — 99 , pagans; his commanders decorated their swords with Christian motifs and their battles were accompanied by prayers and alms. Even St Benedict d. This militarization of western Christian culture that long predated the Crusades should not be exaggerated. The late eleventh-century revolution lay particularly in the settled transformation of the actual violence, rather than its purpose, scale, or intent, into a penitential act.

Renewed attention to Augustinian theory from the late eleventh cen- tury came in response, not as an inspiration, to greater ecclesiastical militancy. Behind all of these lay the cultural identity between lay and clerical rulers who belonged to the same propertied aristocracy. Equally, many of the most vicious secular lords were patrons of monasteries, went on exhausting and dangerous pilgrimages, and died in monastic habits as associate members of religious orders.

Although less anarchic than once imagined, new social conditions by the end of the tenth century encouraged violence as a means of settling disputes as well as achieving more larcenous or territorial ambitions. In such circumstances, to secure protection and status, many churchmen deliberately promoted the responsibility of men of violence to protect the church. To achieve this, the activities of the warrior had to receive explicit praise not just on the level of public wars against pagans and heretics. The symbiotic relationship of church and local military aristocracies found concrete expression in formal proceed- ings organized by local or regional clergy to ensure the phys- ical protection and policing of their property.

From the late tenth century, across the duchy of Aquitaine and Burgundy, later spreading to northern France and the Rhineland, church councils were convened that proclaimed the Peace of God with arms bearers swearing, in public ceremonies, to protect those outside the military classes, effectively churchmen and their property. These local churchmen, often in concert with regional counts, were not simply condemn- ing illicit attacks on their interests but approving, indeed promoting, violence to prevent them.

From being called upon to bless wars for causes sacred and profane, the church now assumed the roles of author and director, its warriors that of religious votaries. This trend received strong impetus from the s through the concern of successive popes with the idea and practice of holy war as a weapon to establish the independ- ence of the church from lay control, contest the authority of the German emperor, ensure the political autonomy of the Roman see, and recover the lost lands of Christendom. The moral standing of those who fought for the papal agenda became an important aspect of the general policy, both in the need to attract support and to assert the uniqueness of the cause.

In , Leo IX —54 , leading an army in person against the Normans of southern Italy, offered Ger- man troops remission of penance and absolution for their sins, a tradition followed by his successors. War had become an act of penance. All that was missing were the vow, the cross, and the associated privileges. The perceived celestial clout of saints had long been a factor in their level of popu- larity, leading to the strenuous promotion of local shrines by their guardians and the reciprocal gifts of alms and property from the faithful. Penance emerged as a most urgent issue for laymen because the methods for laymen to attain remis- sion of the penalties of sin remained rudimentary.

The prob- lem may have appeared especially acute for lay arms bearers, paradoxically because their function had come under such close ecclesiastical scrutiny and acceptance. If monastic charters and chronicles can be believed, penitential war answered a genuine craving to expiate sin. On the one hand, armed pilgrim- ages to Jerusalem pre-dated ; at least one group of armed German pilgrims in also wore crosses.

Early responses, such as the Rhineland mas- sacres, indicated the centrality of violence in the enterprise. In addressing a violent society, Urban, a French aristocrat as well as a for- mer monk, did not compromise with its values: he and his ideology were part of it. Charters provide as much evidence for martial as for pious responses to the First Crusade.

Even the letters of crusaders on the march are sparing in their association with pilgrimage, although by and after the link became ubiquitous. As a holy war, transcendent, spirit- ual, emotive, the Jerusalem journey was rendered special by the plenary indulgences and the elevated goal of the Holy Sepulchre. Given its stated objective — Jerusalem — an armed pilgrimage may have seemed an appropriate analogy to cler- ical observers, as nervous of unashamed innovation as of unfettered violence.

Urban seemed to have conceived of the operation as unique and unrepeatable; he preached it openly as holy war not armed pilgrimage, a new vision of a very old idea. Western Christianity held no monopoly on holy war. While never interfering with practical diplomacy, Byzantine holy war rhetoric could adopt motifs familiar in the west, as in when John I Tzimisces —76 invaded Syria and north- ern Palestine and may have dangled the prospect, if only in his propaganda, of the reconquest of the holy sites of Jerusa- lem.

Byzantine holy war asserted an integral dimension of public policy, while never attracting the association of vio- lence as penance. It lacked the novelty or the political and spiritual autonomous dynamism of its western counterpart, hence the slightly jaded, condescending superiority expressed by Greek observers, such as Anna Comnena — , daughter and biographer of Emperor Alexius I, at the enthusiasm of the early crusaders.

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By contrast, the Muslim jihad, has regularly and lazily been compared with western Christian holy war and the crusade. Unlike the crusade, under Islamic law derived from the Koran, jihad, struggle, is enjoined on all members of the Muslim community. Both were obligatory on able-bodied Muslims, but while the former existed as a permanent individual obliga- tion, the lesser jihad could be interpreted as a communal activity.

Unlike the crusade and Christian holy war, to which the Islamic jihad appears to have owed nothing and vice versa , jihad was fundamental to the Muslim faith, a sixth pillar. The essence of jihad remained as a spiritual exercise. Its operation depended on context.

Pace modern sentimentalists and apologists, there existed little generosity in such tolerance, merely pragmatism.

The Crusades

Christopher Tyerman, one of the foremost historians of the crusades currently writing in English, has produced an excellent brief introduction to the crusades, firmly placing them in the context of the medieval societies that produced them while remaining attuned to the current concerns that have led scholars and the general public to take an interest in the crusades--and often to distort them. One may wonder why it matters. Thus betrayed by their Greek friends, in the Crusaders attacked, captured, and brutally sacked Constantinople, the greatest Christian city in the world. Jews perished during the Crusades, but the purpose of the Crusades was not to kill Jews. Gave me good information about the 4th crusade for my paper. Just a moment while we sign you in to your Goodreads account.

By contrast, beyond Islamic rule, in the Dar al-harb House of War , non-Muslim political struc- tures and individuals were open to attack as, in Koranic the- ory, the whole world must recognize or embrace Islam which means surrender, that is to God through conver- sion or subjugation. As with Christian holy war, circum- stances determined the mujahiddin nature and conduct of jihad as much as theory.

With the zeal of new converts, the Seljuk Turks gave the jihad a new impetus along the border with Byzantium, but for generations before the spiritual revival of the twelfth century there was little attention paid within the Muslim Near East to martial as opposed to spiritual jihad.

It remains a moot point whether the advent of the crusaders or funda- mentalist revivalism originating further east excited the new military fanaticism espoused by the twelfth-century Zengids and Ayyubids. In later periods, the dominance of the Ottomans and an uncertainty, which persists, about the existence of a genuine Dar al-Islam, complicated attitudes to jihad.

Holy War, Crusade, and Christian Society after In medieval Christendom the malleable contingency of the crusade in concept and practice ensured its popularity and longevity. The success of silenced most critics as well as establishing later conduct. To signal especial gravity or papal favour , a comparison with the Jerusalem war could be drawn. Its most profound and lasting innovation came with the twelfth- and thirteenth-century creations of mili- tary religious orders, embodiments of the oxymoronic nature of Christian holy war, whose members became, uniquely in Christian society, permanent, professional holy warriors.

For his employer Archbishop Absalom of Lund d. In this fashion, the crusade had become reintegrated into a characteristic western European concept of legitimate vio- lence, catching its inspiration from holy war and its legality, rules, and restraints, if any, from classical just war theory. Whatever its legal frame, crusading operated as the ultimate manifestation of conviction politics in medieval western Europe, entrenching a narrow cultural and religious exclusivity.

When crusaders sacked Lisbon in October , they murdered the local Mozarab Christian bishop alongside his fellow Arabic-speaking Muslim neigh- bours before happily installing an Englishman, Gilbert of Hastings, as the new bishop. The failure of the Latin Church hierarchy easily to cooperate or combine with higher ranks of the eastern churches in Outremer or, later, Greece was notorious.

Racism and intolerance of minorities were not caused by the Crusades. The medieval ideal of the crusader knight. An English illustration from a mid-thirteenth-century psalter; piety and power.