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

I: The legal and political theory of the Crusade,   pp. 3-38 PDF (104.2 KB)

Page 4

no purgatory, needs no penance, but his act must be nothing more than a refusal
to deny the Christian faith. He must not seek death or incur it rashly. For
much of the crusading period the situation of the individual crusader was
more exactly defined than the crusade itself.' 
 When the Arabs began to colonize the Spanish and Italian mainlands and Sicily,
they were not thought of as unique, and the war against them was not "signed
with the cross" more than war against any other invader. In this situation,
however, pope Leo IV (847—855) asserted that Christians who die for
the truth of their faith, the safety of their country, and the defense of
Christians are sure of a heavenly reward.2 This, of course, means no more
than is self-evident in Christian terms, that death incurred in the course
of these good and praiseworthy acts is particularly meritorious. "The repose
of eternal life shall embrace those who fall in the conflict of war, from
duty to the Catholic religion and struggling vigorously against pagans and
infidels," wrote pope John VIII in 879, at a time of continual wars against
the Arab colonizers of Italy.3 Death for the "Christian faith and commonwealth",
then, was a penance, and in pronouncing absolution, John made it conditional
on penitence, foreshadowing theological development in a later period. He
did so also in his many diatribes and exhortations against affiances of Christians
with Moslems, requiring, for example, that prince Waiferius of Salerno "withdraw
everyone from the fellowship of the pagans". He exhorted bishops Ayo of Benevento
and Landulph of Capua to secure the dissolution of these ungodly alliances
(foedera impia) or unnatural alliance (infandum). The Neapolitan duke Sergius
II, warned to withdraw from an alliance, was threatened with attack by the
temporal defenders of the church, but was promised, if he obeyed, both papal
favors and "great heavenly rewards".4 Thus an influential man, merely for
not helping the Moslems, was offered almost as much as those who might be
killed. Archbishop Athanasius of Naples was finally excommunicated for his
treaty arrangements with Moslems (881), in rather more sober language.5 John's
aim is clear — the elimination of Moslem invaders from Italy. The justification
is stated in another of his letters, more emotional in tone: he denounced
the Mos 
 1. Bruno Krusch and Wilhelm Levison, eds., Gregorii episcopi Thronensis
libri historiarum X (MGH, Mer., I, i; Hanover, 1951), e.g., II, 37 (pp. 85—88),
and III, preface (pp. 96—97). 
 2. PL, 115, col. 657 (ep. 1, ad exercitum Francorum). 
 3. FL, 126, col. 816 (ep. 186, ad episcopos in regno Ludovici constitutos).
 4. Ibid., cols. 708, 717-718, 723, 726 (ep. 55, ad Gua~ferium; 63, ad Landulphum;
70, ad Sergium; 72, ad Ajonem). 
 5. Ibid., cols. 930—931 (ep. 321, ad diversos episcopos). 

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