February 29, 2012 Lecture
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Religion and War
Violent struggles between people states
- Christian empire
- Barbarization of Christianity in this period
- absence of strong central authority
those who make war – knights – bellatores
those who pray – priests, monks – oratores
those who labor – serfs – laboratories
the church itself became deeply entangled in the feudal order – she granted and
received territorial feifs (indeed the church was the greatest landowner and master
geopolitical interests of the church – islamadvances
men if families contended to become popes or high authority figures in church
the sacralization of Christian combat
- in 8th and 9th centurys, popes leo iv and john vii had promised that all who
died in defending against Arabs, Magyars or Vikings will win eternal life. By
1050 the church monopolizes the “ordination” of knights widely considered
as constituting an 8th sacrament
the initiates armor and weaponry would then be blessed and smeared with holy oil.
Pope Gregory vii proclaimed that military service for Christ could be secure a
complete remissio peccatorum.
Holy war as penance – killing the “enemies of god” is deemed more effective than
prayer, fasting or works of mercy.
Crusading - a devotional act of aimed pilgrimage, initially to reclaim the holy land
from Muslim control but which expanded to include religious wars against pagans in
eastern Europe and the Baltic region Greek and Russian orthodox Christians, tartars
and Christian heretics such as the cathars and hussites as well as political enemies
of the popes (massacres against local Jewish population were common)
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