Tag Archives: Georges Duby

Crusading as a Form of Pilgrimage

Because some level of merit historically had been attached to Christian warfare under limited and less defined circumstances, it was not particularly hard for clerical promoters of the First Crusade to convince Christian knights that fighting in defense of fellow Christians on God’s behalf was a virtuous act. Indeed, as Riley-Smith has demonstrated, the charters of knights participating in the First Crusade sometimes explicitly referenced the desire to aid eastern Christians suffering under Islamic rule as one of their motivations for participating. A charter of two brothers, for example, written shortly before they embarked on the First Crusade, notes that they were going on the crusade, in part, “…to wipe out the defilement of the pagans and the immoderate madness through which innumerable Christians have already been oppressed, made captive and killed with barbaric fury.”[1] In this case, Muslims were depicted as barbarians without reason and self control, dominated by rage, which of course was in contrast to what clerics were now asking knights to do, namely refrain from indiscriminate violence as they put their military skills to use in defense of fellow Christians. Continue reading


Jonathan Riley-Smith on the Motivations of the First Crusaders

See also: https://apholt.com/2017/07/28/the-most-influential-crusade-historians/

In any consideration of historians’ arguments about the appeal of the First Crusade  to the earliest crusaders (as well as the circumstances by which it came about), Jonathan Riley-Smith must be front and center. No other scholar has had as much of an impact on the field of crusade studies over the past forty years than the now retired Cambridge University historian. Indeed, it is not an understatement to note that Riley-Smith, as the author of more than a dozen influential books and many influential essays, has revolutionized the modern historiography of the crusades. This was accomplished not only through his many important publications, but also the many doctoral students he taught at Cambridge who are now also professors at various institutions in North America and Europe that reflect his influence.  His influence is also reflected in his role as a founder of the Society for the Study of the Crusades in the Latin East, the world’s leading scholarly society for the study of the crusades.  Continue reading