Religious Warfare in Europe, 1400-1536

Religious Warfare in Europe, 1400-1536

Religious Warfare in Europe, 1400-1536

Religious Warfare in Europe, 1400-1536


Religious warfare has been a recurrent feature of European history. In this intelligent and readable new study, the distinguished Crusade historian Norman Housley describes and analyses the principal expressions of holy war in the period from the Hussite wars to the first generation of the Reformation. The context was one of both challenge and expansion. The Ottoman Turks posed an unprecedented external threat to the 'Christian republic', while doctrinal dissent, constant warfare between states, and rebellion eroded it from within.
This is a major contribution to both Crusade history and the study of the Wars of Religion of the early modern period. Professor Housley explores the interaction between Crusade and religious war in the broader sense, and argues that the religious violence of the sixteenth and seventeenth centuries was organic, in the sens that it sprang from deeply rooted proclivities within European society.


Considering its modest length, this book has taken a disconcertingly long time to write. The idea for it came to me while I was finishing my general account of crusading in the late Middle Ages, The Later Crusades, 1274–1580: From Lyons to Alcazar (1992). What gave the project focus and direction, however, was my participation in two research groups in the 1990s: first, my membership of Philippe Contamine’s team working on the volume on inter-state warfare and competition for the European Science Foundation programme ‘The Origins of the Modern State in Europe’, and secondly, my participation in Peter Schäfer’s seminar on Messianism at the Institute for Advanced Study in Princeton in 1996. The intellectual stimulus offered by both groups proved invaluable; more generally, the months I was able to spend at the Institute in Princeton were tremendously useful because of the interdisciplinary contacts on which the Institute, quite rightly, prides itself. No less important have been the ideas I have encountered and tried out over the years at Jonathan Riley-Smith’s Crusades seminar in Cambridge and London, at meetings in Richard Bonney’s Centre for the History of Religious and Political Pluralism in Leicester, and at the Summer Meeting of the Ecclesiastical History Society at Warwick in 1998. Chapter 5 in particular benefited from outings at the Riley-Smith Crusades seminar, at the seminar on Medieval and Early Modern Warfare convened by the Department of War Studies at King’s College London, and the 19th International Congress of Historical Studies which met at Oslo in August 2000.

Institutional support has been crucial. To the University of Leicester I owe a considerable debt of gratitude. It has been generous with both study leave and leave of absence, and it has financed a number of trips to use the British Library in London. The University Library’s Inter-Library Loans Department has come up trumps on numerous occasions. The Leverhulme Trust awarded me a Fellowship which paid for six months leave of absence in 1996. The Arts and Humanities Research Board awarded me money which, together with study leave, gave me that elixir of joy for any academic, the full year free of teaching, in 2001–2. The British Academy kindly paid for me to go to the USA in 1996 and to Oslo in 2000. By appointing me a member of its School of Historical Studies in 1996, the Institute in Princeton enabled me to make use of not just its own superb Library, but also the Firestone Library at nearby Princeton University.

I am very grateful to Jonathan Riley-Smith for reading the entire book in draft. Finally, I must thank my wife Valerie and my children Simon and Sarah, for providing a family life where history is kept firmly in its place.


Search by... Author
Show... All Results Primary Sources Peer-reviewed


An unknown error has occurred. Please click the button below to reload the page. If the problem persists, please try again in a little while.