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

II: Crusade Propaganda,   pp. 39-97 PDF (23.6 MB)


Page 41

Ch. II CRUSADE PROPAGANDA 41 
ideas, it could appeal simultaneously at all levels; on the one hand there
was the reasoned catalogue of alleged history; on the other the simple image
of a raping and murdering Turk. 
 William of Malmesbury, an admirable historian, is the first to state (ventriloquizing
Urban) the historical argument fully: the enemies of God (or persecutors)
inhabit one third of the world, Asia, as natives, and have come to inhabit
another third, Africa; in the last third, Europe, the Christians are oppressed,
and have now for three hundred years been subjugated in Spain and the Baleares.
He also attributed to Urban the theory of national character determined by
physique, and physique determined by climate.5 This was supposed not only
to inspire and reassure the Frenchmen of the temperate zone, but also to
explain why the Turks fired their arrows from a distance, refusing to close
with their enemy. It was written, of course, a generation after the event,
and knowledge of Turkish tactics is clearly anticipated. Its historical perspective
and historical geography probably represent long reflection upon the original
propaganda, but the essence of the argument, the destiny of the Europeans
to oppose the alien attack, is contained in other versions. 
 Guibert of Nogent's version, written like Malmesbury's after long reflection,
also like Malmesbury's contains its historical disquisition, but is more
scripturalized (the kings of Egypt, North Africa, and Ethiopia cut off from
the Christian world); it reflects the liturgical theme of the restoration
of Christian land, and even the Roman concept of an age-old struggle between
east and west. Christianity was sown in the east, but the westerners, who
received it last, were destined to recover Jerusalem.6 
 Robert of Rheims contrasts the French, "beloved and elect by God", phrase
by phrase with the "nation of the kingdom of the Persians, a cursed nation,
a foreign nation absolutely alien to God".7 The praise of the French seems
to be one of the most primitive elements in the crusading movement. Robert
appeals also to the example of Charlemagne and Louis the Pious. We can class
these arguments under the heading of the historical vocation of the west,
which merges naturally with the theme of repelling persecution. These are
two aspects of a single line of appeal, and they are reinforced by Old Testament
references which tend to assimilate the crusade to biblical situations. 
 The religious motivation, whether to bring sin and struggle in the 
5. De gestis regum, ed. William Stubbs (Rolls Series, 90), II, 393 if. 
6. Gesta Dei per Francos, II, 4 (RHC, 0cc., IV, 139). 
7. Historia Hierosolimitana, I, 1 (RHC, 0cc., III, 727). 


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