Baldwin, M. W. (ed.) / Volume I: The first hundred years
Preface, pp. xxi-xxiii ff. PDF (367.8 KB)
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, below.
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