Crusade Propaganda and Ideology: Model Sermons for the Preaching of the Cross

By Christoph T. Maier | Go to book overview

1
THE AUTHORS, THE SERMONS
AND THEIR CONTEXT

FROM THE TWELFTH CENTURY onwards, sermons concerning the crusade were preached on many different occasions. In the thirteenth century alone, crusades were fought against Muslims in Spain, Africa, the Holy Land and Apulia, the Mongols, non-Christian peoples in the Baltic, heretics in Languedoc, Germany, Italy and the Balkans, Orthodox Christians in Greece and the Hohenstaufen rulers and their supporters in Italy and Germany. These crusades were usually announced by sermons. Propagandists preached in order to recruit participants and collect money for the crusade. Sermons also marked the departure of a crusader or a crusade army. During the campaigns, the clergy accompanying the crusade armies regularly preached sermons in order to sustain the participants' enthusiasm or to give them courage on the eve of a battle or in moments of crisis. Last but not least, sermons concerning the crusade were also preached to those at home in the context of penitentiary processions and prayers in support of crusaders in the field. Indeed, the number of different types of crusade sermons preached at various times in late medieval Europe must have been immense.1

Despite this, we are not particularly well informed about what exactly crusade preachers said in their sermons. As with sermons generally, crusade sermons were not the stuff of medieval chronicles or of other narrative accounts of the period. Although these sometimes mention that crusade sermons were preached, they seldom give details about their

____________________
1
For a general survey of post-1200 crusading see J. Riley-Smith, The Crusades. A Short History (London, 1987), 119–78, 221–54. For crusade propaganda see P. J. Cole, The Preaching of the Crusades to the Holy Land, 1095–1270 (Medieval Academy Books 98; Cambridge, Mass., 1991). Also C. T. Maier Preaching the Crusades. Mendicant Friars and the Cross in the Thirteenth Century (Cambridge Studies in Medieval Life and Thought 28; Cambridge, 1994 and 1998).

-3-

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