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

Page View

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

I: The Legal and Political Theory of the Crusade,   pp. 3-38 PDF (14.2 MB)


Page 36

 36 A HISTORY OF THE CRUSADES 
often, of course, to the "religion of violence"; generalizations are based
on traditional distortions of early Islamic history, and tendentious reading
of Robert of Ketton's paraphrase of the Koran, undertaken for Peter the Venerable,
stressed the commands to fight unbelievers. This crude idea of jihdd was
quite unrelated to the crusade. We might say that an unacknowledged influence
of Moslem jurisprudence, not even perceived by those who received it, is
not impossible, but it is an unnecessarily complex assumption. The natural
explanation is that those who start from the same position and go in the
same direction are apt to follow much the same path. Granted the duty of
converting the world, and granted that there is no objection to the use of
force, at least within legally determined limits, the detailed rules seem
to develop inevitably in parallel. There was of course no fundamental difference
between the Christian and Moslem positions on the use of force. Christians
began by not using force at all, and Humbert's theory that different stages
of development require and justify different means, whether or not it is
a sound theory in theology or law, is certainly good history. The real difference
was that the Christian position did not require toleration, in the way that
Islam is predetermined by the Koran to accept the "Peoples of the Book".
Although there is something similar in the status of Jews, under Romans 11,
the fact that nothing guarantees the status of Moslems — tolerated,
as Holcot said, only as Gibeonite hewers of wood and drawers of water —
made a political objective of total conformity possible. The proof is that
Christians and Jews have survived under Islam, but not Moslems under Christian
rule before the modern colonialist period; in Christendom, Jews have survived,
and Moslems have not. The position of the latter was always insecure despite
the reasonable terms on which so many of their cities surrendered. 
 In minor ways uniformity might be broken by license, by the purchase of
privilege. It is ironic that in the days of effective crusading people paid
the church in order not to go on "pilgrimage"; when a crusade was no longer
a practical possibility, they paid for license to break the boycott, to go
on pilgrimage, or to travel to Alexandria to trade. As excommunication followed
excommunication and was ignored until it suited better to give way, it might
seem that the weapon was cheapened beyond usefulness, but, though this may
be true of the conflict between the papacy and the secular state, excommunication
as the typical ecclesiastical sanction was not diminished; on the contrary,
the suppression of heresy became more widespread. The fact is that excommunication
was the natural mode of thought of Europeans, unquestioned till relatively
late, and surviving into the seventeenth cen 


Go up to Top of Page