Academic journal article Medium Aevum

Knightly Piety and the Lay Response to the First Crusade: The Limousin and Gascony, C. 970 - C. 1130

Academic journal article Medium Aevum

Knightly Piety and the Lay Response to the First Crusade: The Limousin and Gascony, C. 970 - C. 1130

Article excerpt

Marcus Bull, Knightly Piety and the Lay Response to the First Crusade: The Limousin and Gascony, c. yyo - c. iijo (Oxford: Clarendon Press, 1993)· xiv + 328 pp. ISBN 0-19-820354-3. £40.00.

This book is a notable contribution both to the literature of the crusades and to French regional studies. While, moreover, the author uses a wide range of sources, including chronicles, hagiography and conciliar decrees, the main weight of this study is borne by charter evidence, and it is a model of the way in which such material can be used to illuminate religious motivation and sentiment.

The author discounts both the peace movement and participation in the early stages of the Reconquista as important factors in determining knightly response to the launching of the First Crusade. The Peace of God had last been promulgated in Aquitaine at the very limits of human memory, and it was only in the early twelfth century that the reconquest of Spain took on the characteristics of a holy war. Marcus Bull argues, rather, that crusading enthusiasm originated in the perpetual contact between the military classes and the religious at the altars and in the chapterhouses of monastic and cathedral communities. Oblation, adult conversion and burial within the monasteries, and lavish benefactions to them, provide evidence of a deep-seated concern to avoid in the afterlife the penalties for sin, which were often portrayed in lurid detail. Using the example of Saint-Léonard at Noblat, he illustrates the general tendency of late eleventh-century ecclesiastics to encourage the military profession towards devotion to saints, often made manifest in pilgrimages to holy places associated with them. …

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