Journal of Historical Political Economy > Vol 4 > Issue 2

The Christianization of War: How the Church Reform Movement Incentivized Armsbearing Elites to Conquer the Holy Land

Jonathan Stavnskær Doucette, Department of Politics and Society, Aalborg University, Denmark, jostdo@dps.aau.dk , Jørgen Møller, Department of Political Science, Aarhus University, Denmark, jm@ps.au.dk
 
Suggested Citation
Jonathan Stavnskær Doucette and Jørgen Møller (2024), "The Christianization of War: How the Church Reform Movement Incentivized Armsbearing Elites to Conquer the Holy Land", Journal of Historical Political Economy: Vol. 4: No. 2, pp 189-219. http://dx.doi.org/10.1561/115.00000072

Publication Date: 08 Jul 2024
© 2024 J. S. Doucette and J. Møller
 
Subjects
Comparative politics,  International conflict,  Social movements
 
Keywords
CrusadesCatholic ChurchReform MovementMedieval EuropeChristianization of war
 

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In this article:
Introduction 
The Argument 
Data and Empirical Approach 
Analysis 
Conclusions 
Acknowledgments 
References 

Abstract

The crusades that began around AD 1100 are among the most staggering examples of how religious ideas can be reinterpreted to justify warfare. How can we explain this "Christianization" of war and how can we explain its resonance in medieval Europe? This paper argues that the eleventh-century church reform movement, made possible by the ninth- and tenth-century Carolingian state collapse, incentivized its lay supporters to go on crusade as part of the struggle to spread its religious program. This relationship was strongest for the First Crusade; it weakened for subsequent crusades as the new and revolutionary ideas about penitential warfare became widely accepted following the surprising (and bloody) conquest of Jerusalem in 1099. Using data on the location of crusaders between 1096 and 1192 — and instrumenting for proximity to the church reform movement using distance from its place of origin (Cluny Abbey in Bourgogne) — we provide evidence in support of this argument.

DOI:10.1561/115.00000072

Companion

Journal of Historical Political Economy, Volume 4, Issue 2 Special Issue: Religion and Culture within Historical Political Economy
See the other articles that are part of this special issue.