Jedin, The Church in the Age of Feudalism, pp.
How much the Church was able to display of the new initiative from the turn of the millennium was apparent in the movement of the Peace of God and of the Truce of God. The Midi was their place of origin. The process of political decomposition, which was especially active there, which fragmented the counties into power districts of viscounts, châtelains, and lords and furthered club-law, caused the bishops to intervene. The first to undertake self-help was the Bishop of Le Puy. At a synod in 975 he compelled the nobility by force to promise under oath not to attack the goods of the Church and of the pauperes and to give back what they had taken. We hear nothing more about similar efforts until the Council of Charroux in 989, representing the ecclesiastical province of Bordeaux. With it began the long series of synods which were to exert themselves for peace throughout the entire eleventh century and into the twelfth and partly even into the thirteenth. Although the goal was sought in various ways, certain basic trends can be isolated. The eleventh century efforts were welcomed, on the one hand, by the great princes and the King and, on the other hand, by the lesser folk; the middle and lower nobility, on the contrary, from whose ranks proceeded to a great extent the brigandage and violence complained about, held back and, according to circumstances, offered resistance. Occasionally, such peace synods were convoked, not directly by the bishops, but by secular magnates.
The powerful popular participation gave to not a few councils the character of a mass demonstration. Monks or clerics took care to bring along the relics of the titular saints of their churches in solemn procession, miraculous cures took place, a religious enthusiasm seized hold of the crowd and broke out into the cry, “Pax, pax, pax”, while the bishops, in confirming the peace decrees, raised their croziers to heaven. This has been correctly called the first popular religious movement.
The masses went along, because the proclaimed peace was to protect not merely the churches and their ministers but also the bodies and property of the peasants and at times also of tradesmen. The Church brought her spiritual penal authority to bear against violators of the peace. The interdict, laid on the territory ruled by the guilty person, proved to be an effective collective penalty. Entirely new was the peace oath, which many synods required of the nobility. Furthermore, there was taken up at various times the obvious idea of having legal proceedings take the place of the feud. People did not even shrink from recourse to compulsion by war. This measure was not merely decided on here and there, as, for example, at the Synod of Poitiers, convoked by William V of Aquitaine between 1000 and 1014; there also arose peace militias prepared for war. Probably no one exerted himself so much for them, at least until 1050, as did Archbishop Aimo of Bourges, and with their aid he put a stop to the activities of many a robber knight. It is true that in 1038 his territorial militia, despite numerical superiority, suffered a frightful defeat at the hands of Eudes of Déols, but the institution of a diocesan army continued to exist. The slogan “war on war” was successfully taken up in many places in the second half of the century.
The Truce of God constituted a special form of the general peace movement. It consisted of the prohibition of feuds on specified days of the week. In most cases the suspension of hostilities was to last from Wednesday evening till early on Monday, but there were also briefer periods of respite. Attempts to extend it to longer periods, for example from Advent to the octave day of the Epiphany of from the beginning of Lent to Low Sunday, as well as to special feasts had little success. In themselves the decrees issued for the protection of clerics and peasants remained in force, but the old and frequently recalled duty of carrying conflicts over property before the judge steadily declined.
The origin of the Truce of God is obscure. We first meet it in 1027 in the acts of the Council of Toulouges (Roussillon). The idea spread quickly in the 1030’s, first in Burgundy and Aquitaine and from there throughout France. , It entered Spain, chiefly by way of Catalonia, while in 1037 and 1042 appeals made by the French episcopate and the propaganda of Odilo of Cluny propagated it in northwest Italy; Germany accepted it only toward the end of the century. However one prefers to interpret the Truce — as a giving way, in the guise of a compromise, vis-à-vis the all too tense earlier efforts, or simply as a new initiative alongside the other exertions — in any event it gave the peace movement fresh stimulation, especially since recourse was had both to the commitment under oath and to warlike compulsion.
Although the movement of the Peace and Truce of God attained its real goal only very imperfectly and even then only for a limited time, it was of importance as a pioneer. The fact that the French episcopate not only, as earlier, supported the crown in its care for the public order, but also worked for peace on its own authority gained it a new relationship to the Christian world. In itself this had long been based on the religious and political cultural unity of the early Middle Ages and the resulting cooperation of Regnum and Sacerdotium, but up till now the Sacerdotium had had to leave the constructing of a Christian world first of all to the crown, for only a hard fist could create order. Meanwhile, however, the ratio of forces had shifted : in France the Regnum had become weak, while the Sacerdotium had increased in authority as a consequence of the continually growing Christianization of the West. Its endeavours for peace found all the more assent in that, for mediaeval men, standing under Augustine’s intellectual influence, pax and iustitia were rooted ultimately in the religious and supernatural and so directly concerned the Sacerdotium. And since, on the one hand, at that time the awareness of natural law began to lose its force in connection with the land and the people and, on the other hand, the secular, rational law that could be effectively enforced by a sovereign was still to be created”, people and princes were especially amenable to the religious guarantee provided for the peace. Thus in the question of peace the French episcopate was able to stress a law fundamental for the Church’s future position of leadership : the competence of the Sacerdotium for the spiritual and political goals of Western Christendom. Also pointing to the future was the practice now appearing whereby the Church summoned high and low alike to arms against violators of the peace and set in motion small or large armies. Thus the idea of the holy war was already present basically and with it the legal claim of the Sacerdotium to be allowed to exercise armed compulsion by means of laymen when essential interests of Christianity were threatened.
The idea of the holy war was to find powerful expression in the crusades. These, it is true, especially concerned knights, but the Church began even in the tenth century to assume a new attitude toward this social class. Ifpreviously the liturgical prayers had envisaged the King as the defender of the Christian religion, and even occasionally the army which he led, they were slowly applied also to the knight and to his vocation to war and found expression above all in the blessing of the sword with which the young knight was girded at his investiture. Formulas appearing in the second half of the tenth century assigned to the individual knight the protection of churches, widows, and orphans, as well as the defence of Christendom against pagans — hence specific royal duties — and in direct imitation of the texts of the anointing of a King. Soon after, at the latest in the eleventh century, there was a transition from the blessing of the sword as a thing to a dedication of the person of the knight; then regular liturgical ordines were composed, in which the knight was solemnly inducted into his armed vocation. This development, completed in various countries, and especially in Germany, could not but acquire an up-to-dateness of its own by means of the initiative of the French episcopate in the Peace of God. However, the Church in France more and more disregarded the hesitations which opposed the notion of war by recourse to the oldest Christian tradition, despite the protests of individuals, such as Fulbert of Chartres. In the emerging idea of the holy war ideals lay at hand which were able to inspire knighthood so long as it was directed to the great aim —the defence of Christendom from Islam. The crusade idea was in the making.
If one surveys the exertions for reform and renewal in the Ottonian and early Salian period, there becomes clear a decided upward movement, which quickened its tempo from the turn of the millennium and engendered a growing uneasiness. What was then being concentrated was to burst forth in the coming great reform age. There is no doubt that the reform was brought about by abuses that had crept in, but its real motivating power was to be sought at a deeper level. Simony, clerical concubinage, a piety that was too external and too much oriented to a legalistic view of achievements, and other maladies had long been connected with Western Christendom. That there occurred a sharper reaction against them in the eleventh century was the consequence of a process of maturation: the West was slowly moving from the early into the high Middle Ages.12Until around 1000 the Roman-Germanic community of nations was in the stage of coherence typical of early cultures. It was permeated with spiritual and secular forms of life: Regnum and Sacerdotium, law, morality, religion. Man felt himself to be hidden in this world, all-integrating, sacral-sacramental, even interspersed with magical notions, so long as it corresponded to his own inner condition and he accepted it without discussion as objective reality handed down by the ancestors. But as soon as he began to become intellectually more awake, he entered into a new historical stage : into that of diastase. This occurred from the turn of the millennium.» The old unity of culture was not destroyed, but the eye now took in its individual components. In a constantly growing process of differentiation they became more clearly distinct, were contrasted with one another, were slowly completed as special spheres. Naturally, this did not occur without tensions and struggles. The first voices of the dissatisfaction with the status quo have been recorded earlier in this section. The more powerful they grew, the more urgent became a, reform which would seriously confront the problems of the day.
This Webpage was created for a workshop held at Saint Andrew's Abbey, Valyermo, California in 1990