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)
4 A HISTORY OF THE CRUSADES 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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