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

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

Page 6

accept trials with patience and to set a good example to non-Christians around
 Urban II introduced a clearer legal and political situation. Whatever the
confusion about Urban's exact words, all writers (some of whom were themselves
among the new "crucesignati") recognized that the crusade proper was a new
initiative. The initiative in crusading always remained with the papacy.
Whenever initiative appeared elsewhere (as later it would do in the case
of Frederick II), the papacy fought to regain it. The political theory therefore
began as, and remained, a characteristically clerical concept of Christendom,
and the theory common to all accounts of Urban's preaching is that of a defensive
war by the Christian commonwealth. This is part of the history of propaganda,
but it has major political and legal implications. From this date forward,
the crusade was justified by long accounts of Arab aggression against Asia,
Africa, and Europe in turn; the European reaction was now literally oriented
to the "recovery" of the Holy Land. This was clerical lore. The wars of the
Old Testament were thought to give further legal justification, in addition
to their propaganda value. Politically, all crusades would continue to be
regarded as defensive; legally, they were justified first as undertaken in
defense of Christendom. The papacy purported to act on behalf of the Christian
 The political concept amounted roughly to what would now be called "cultural
imperialism". It is not only that Urban was believed to have appealed to
a national sense, and especially to the French. 10 As soon as the "pilgrims"
left the Latin world, and long before they met a Moslem, they came into conflict
with cultures different from their own, and an inflexible "Latin" cultural
intolerance remained with most of them throughout the crusading period.11
Rejection of all but the Latin culture — and in Spain even the Latin,
though not Roman, Mozarab rite was largely replaced — ensured that
the crusade would never look like more than an alien colonization to Arab
Christians as well as to Moslems. From the beginning, it was implicit in
Urban's decision to preach the crusade at all, in his choice of Clermont,
and in the way he was understood in the west, that the crusade in the east
should be an expansion of western European society. 
 The key to both legal and political theory was the idea of "recovery". Guibert
of Nogent says that Urban expected God, through the 
 9. Caspar, Das Register Gregors VII., III, 20 (pp. 286—287), 21 (pp.
287—288); cf. I, 22 (pp. 36—39), and Iv, 28 (pp. 343—347).
 10. Robert of Rheims, Historia Hierosolymitana, I, 1—2 (RHC, 0cc.,
III, 728—730). 
 11. See Henry L. Savage, "Pilgrimages and Pilgrim Shrines in Palestine and
Syria after 1095," in volume IV of the present work, pp. 60-68. 

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