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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 16

 16 A HISTORY OF THE CRUSADES 
contrast between the careful provision for practical steps leading to military
action, and the loose terms of the indulgence, illustrates at least the greater
worldly than spiritual wisdom of the church. 
C. The Full Theory of Holy IVar 
 We can best evaluate the theory by considering the case as it was argued
by the distinguished Dominican scholar Humbert of Romans. He genuinely disliked
war but understood the need to make a case to justify it. The case he made,
while wholly circumscribed by the ordinary terms of his thinking and the
contemporary commitment to the crusade, betrays from time to time an awareness
of some of the real difficulties. He had the same clear picture of the unjust
war that Urban stimulated in those who reported him. Instead of starting
from a conception of the just war, he began by considering what makes war
unjust. He said that there are three things: attacking the innocent —
killing poor men and nameless farmers, ransacking hospitals and even leprosaria;
fighting without reason; and fighting without authority. The war against
Islam, on the contrary, was "just". The Moslems were not innocent; they were
"culpable in the highest degree against the whole of Christendom"; he elaborated
this no further, and to Moslem "guilt" 
— no nameless farmers, no hospitals — we must come back. The
war was reasonable because undertaken not out of pride, avarice, or vainglory,
but in defense of the faith; and defense of mere property or persons would
have been justification enough. Finally, it was undertaken on the authority
of the church. It was therefore justissimum bellum, undertaken against the
most culpable of enemies, for the highest reason, and on the highest authority.
 Yet Humbert knew that crusaders were by no means all penitent; there were
those who carried their cross like the bad thief, as well as those who did
so like the penitent thief. Moreover, Humbert was well aware that Christian
practice was once very different, and that the change needed to be justified.
Jesus told Peter to put up his sword, and the teaching of all the apostles
and the fathers is against the use of force; he recalled the example of Maurice
and his legion, who were beheaded rather than obey an unjust command, and
of the innumerable martyrs. He developed a remarkable historical theory of
the development of Christian practice to explain the change: "For the vine
planted by the head of the household is brought to its proper growth by favor


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