For much of the twelfth century the ideals and activities of crusaders were often described in language more normally associated with a monastic rather than a military vocation; like those who took religious vows, crusaders were repeatedly depicted as being driven by a desire to imitate Christ and to live according to the values of the primitive Church.
This book argues that the significance of these descriptions has yet to be fully appreciated, and suggests that the origins and early development of crusading should be studied within the context of the "reformation" of professed religious life in the twelfth century, whose leading figures (such as St Bernard of Clairvaux) advocated the pursuit of devotional undertakings that were modelled on the lives of Christ and his apostles. It also considers topics such as the importance of pilgrimage to early crusading ideology and the relationship between the spirituality of crusading and the activities of the Military Orders, offering a revisionist assessment of how crusading ideas adapted and evolved when introduced to the Iberian peninsula in c.1120. In so doing, the book situates crusading within a broader context of changes in the religious culture of the medieval West.
Dr WILLIAM PURKIS is Senior Lecturer in Medieval History at the University of Birmingham.
Admirably steers the study of the crusades away from the somewhat repetitive narration of specific campaigns and focuses it on the heart of the matter - the spiritual experience of crusading. SPECULUM
A valuable contribution to crusade studies. [It] contributes to understanding crusaders on their own terms. AMERICAN HISTORICAL REVIEW
An informative discussion about spirituality, motivation and the appeals that popes, preachers, theologians and secular writers made to get those capable of bearing arms to do so in what was widely seen as the most just of all causes. The author has done a careful and nuanced reading of a wide variety of source materials ranging from papal encyclicals to well-known chronicles. EHR
A thoughtful, useful, and well-ordered discussion that fits into a number of current debates on the nature of crusading and its relation with changes in western European spirituality. Historians of the early crusades and of twelfth-century spirituality will benefit from Purkis's lively suggestions. CHURCH HISTORY
Offers a distinctive and original reading of the contemporary sources. [.] This fine first book argues persuasively for the enduring importance of spiritual ideals in understanding the impulses to violent action. TIMES LITERARY SUPPLEMENT
A valuable contribution to our understanding of eleventh- and twelfth-century spirituality.
This book makes us rethink parts of how we understand the early crusades and how they are woven into the very fabric of twelfth-century European society. THE MEDIEVAL REVIEW
First Published: 21 Aug 2008
13 Digit ISBN: 9781843833963
Size: 23.4 x 15.6
Imprint: Boydell Press
Subject: Medieval History
BIC Class: HBLC1
Details updated on 26 Mar 2015
- 1 Introduction
- 2 The Monastic Response to the First Crusade
- 3 The Foundations of Crusading Spirituality, 1095-c.1100
- 4 Pilgrimage, Mimesis and the Holy Land, 1099-c.1149
- 5 The Cistercian Influence on Crusading Spirituality, c.1128-1187
- 6 The Introduction of Crusading to Iberia, 1095-c.1134
- 7 The Development of Crusading Spirituality in Iberia, c. 1130-c. 1150
- 8 Conclusion
- 9 Bibliography
- 10 Index