University of Wisconsin Digital Collections
Link to University of Wisconsin Digital Collections
Link to University of Wisconsin Digital Collections
The History Collection

Page View

Baldwin, M. W. (ed.) / Volume I: The first hundred years

Preface,   pp. xxi-xxiii ff. PDF (367.8 KB)

Page xxii

 xxii PREFACE 
have animated the great military emperors of Byzantium in the tenth century.
Notwithstanding, Constantinople generally regard ed the Moslem states much
as it had formerly regarded Persia. They were established powers with whom
it was necessary to deal. War was often mandatory as an instrument of policy.
But so also was diplomacy; and the latter waspreferable. Significantly it
was a western historian, William of Tyre, who commenced his narrative of
the crusade with Heraclius and the restoration of the Holy Cross, and a continuation
of William's story came to be known as L'Estoire de Eracles Empereur. 
 Perhaps western Europe with its inferior military and political organization
during the feudal age felt itself more endangered than did Byzantium. For
a long time it was vulnerable in Spain, in Sicily, even occasionally on the
southern Mediterranean littoral. But clearly there was something more to
the concept of holy war which developed in the west than a heightened sense
of urgency. Euro pean feudalism was an expansive thing. And it was belligerent.
Peace of God and Truce of God were of little avail. Equally futile were ecclesiastical
prohibitions of tournaments. As subsequent pages will demonstrate, Italian
merchants were not pacifists. Thus, it would appear that war gradually came
to be accepted as an honorable occupation. By the eleventh century war against
the infidel was already regarded as in some way religious. Pope and Italians
launched a "crusade" against North African ports. Norman expansion in Sicily
received ecclesiastical approbation as, of course, also did the Spanish reconquest.2
Therefore, when toward the end of the eleventh century a great pope spoke
to western knights urging them to a new war against Islam, the astonishing
response represented everything that western feudal civilization had come
to be, all its energy, its religious zeal, its belligerence. 
 When the goal had been achieved some warriors elected to remain in the east,
and they and their successors faced the mani fold tasks of a "colonial" administration.
Vastly inferior in num bers to the heterogeneous native population, they
created in an eastern environment a civilization which was fundamentally
west ern. Ties with Europe were close. Pilgrims, fighting men, and churchmen
travelled back and forth. Italian merchants were pro- 
 2 A significant discussion of the development of the holy war idea in western
Christendom is C. Erdmann, Die Entstebung des Kreuzzugsgedankens (Stuttgart,
1935). For a review of the equally significant subsequent discussion of "Erdmann's
thesis" see M. W. Baldwin, "Some Recent Interpretations of Pope Urban's Eastern
Policy," Catholic Historical Review, XXV (1940), 459—466, and A. C.
Krey, "Urban's Crusade, Success or Failure ?" American Historical Review,
LIII (1948), 235—250. The subject is also considered in chapter VII,

Go up to Top of Page