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

By Christoph T. Maier | Go to book overview

4
PORTRAYING THE CRUSADE

THE CONTRIBUTION of propaganda, and in particular sermons, to creating a public image of the crusade cannot be underestimated. By the thirteenth century, crusade propaganda had come to play a considerable public role throughout most parts of Europe. As the century progressed, its volume and frequency continued to grow. The main factor in this growth was the ever more systematic organisation of crusade propaganda by the papacy. The involvement of the mendicant orders, in particular, meant that by the second half of the thirteenth century, there was a powerful machinery for crusade propaganda in place which could be put into action at relatively short notice and with a considerable degree of efficiency.1 Even though we do not have any exact figures, it is probably no exaggeration to say that, theoretically, the great majority of inhabitants of Europe would have had the opportunity of listening to several crusade sermons during their lifetime. Even those who never actually made it to a crusade sermon would probably have heard reports from other people. This means that the impact of crusade sermons on the manner in which the public perceived of crusading and the crusade must have been considerable.

This chapter discusses how the model sermons presented here portray the crusade and the crusader. Even if crusade model sermons are no direct records of how crusade propaganda was actually delivered, these sermon texts are the next best sources for establishing the framework of ideas within which crusade propagandists worked. The discussion that follows is an attempt to describe some of the general ideas and common elements shared by all, or at least most, of the crusade model sermons. The emphasis is not so much on the exact presentation and development

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1
For this see Maier, Preaching the Crusades.

-51-

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