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Violence in the Medieval Church before the First Crusade


Jewell, Joseph Stephen (2004) Violence in the Medieval Church before the First Crusade. Senior thesis (Major), California Institute of Technology. doi:10.7907/33km-kt20.


The attitude of the medieval church towards violence before the First Crusade in 1095 underwent a significant institutional evolution, from the peaceful tradition of the New Testament and the Roman persecution, through the prelate-led military campaigns of the Carolingian period and the Peace of God era. It would be superficially easy to characterize this transformation as the pragmatic and entirely secular response of a growing power to the changing world. However, such a simplification does not fully do justice to the underlying theology. While church leaders from the 5th Century to the 11th had vastly different motivations and circumstances under which to develop their responses to a variety of violent activities, the teachings of Augustine of Hippo provided a unifying theme. Augustine’s just war theology, in establishing which conflicts are acceptable in the eyes of God, focused on determining whether a proper causa belli or basis for war exists, and then whether a legitimate authority declares and leads the war. Augustine masterfully integrated aspects of the Old and New Testaments to create a lasting and compelling case for his definition of justified violence. Although at different times and places his theology has been used to support a variety of different attitudes, the profound influence of his work on the medieval church’s evolving position on violence is clear.

Item Type:Thesis (Senior thesis (Major))
Subject Keywords:Violence, medieval, church, middle ages, Augustine of Hippo, Carolingian, Peace of God, crusades, Constantine, Eusebius, Ambrose, Gregory of Tours, Boniface of Mainz, Gregory the Great, theology
Degree Grantor:California Institute of Technology
Division:Engineering and Applied Science
Major Option:History
Awards:Rodman W. Paul History Prize, 2004
Thesis Availability:Public (worldwide access)
Research Advisor(s):
  • Brown, Warren C.
Thesis Committee:
  • Brown, Warren C. (chair)
Defense Date:7 June 2004
Record Number:CaltechTHESIS:06162014-194836973
Persistent URL:
Related URLs:
URLURL TypeDescription
http://www.joejewell.comAuthorAuthor's webpage
Jewell, Joseph Stephen0000-0002-4047-9998
Default Usage Policy:No commercial reproduction, distribution, display or performance rights in this work are provided.
ID Code:8521
Deposited By: Joseph Jewell
Deposited On:17 Jun 2014 16:19
Last Modified:10 Feb 2021 00:47

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