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Zacour, N. P.; Hazard, H. W. (ed.) / The impact of the Crusades on Europe
(1989)

I: The Legal and Political Theory of the Crusade,   pp. 3-38 PDF (14.2 MB)


Page 3

I 
THE LEGAL AND 
POLITICAL THEORY 
OF THE CRUSADE 
 he basic legal theory of the crusade is the moral theology of the just war.
The crusade was the perfect example of the just war, justissimum bellum,
and the idea of a just war was inevitably developed and refined in the course
of the crusading period. Before the crusades the just war was best defined
by its opposite, though a number of the fundamental concepts already existed
in church decretals. At all times, the notion was closely bound up with that
of martyrdom and of Christian ascesis. On many points the Christian system
as a whole approximated to the Moslem teaching onjih√£d. The only explicit
war aim was the "recovery" of the holy places and of Christian land. 
 The status of a man who is fighting against "the enemies of God" is the
crux of crusading law. If, even when he is killed, he is not a martyr, he
must be engaged simply in a good work, and the crusade became the highest
and most efficacious of good works, and so of penances. Penance has always
been important in canon law, and under the pressure of the crusade the related
theology of indulgences developed even faster than the theory of the just
war. 
A. Origins of the Concept of "Holy 11/ar" 
 The idea of holy war in the west takes shape early with the conversion of
the Arian Franks, and Merovingian history, at least as Gregory of Tours relates
it, reflects the idea that Catholic faith is rewarded by military and political
victory. The definition of martyrdom, inherited from the age before Constantine,
was much more precise. True martyrdom, like baptism, wipes out sin. The martyr
knows no pains, 
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