Bibliographic data

Dowiat, Jerzy: Historia 1, dla klasy 1 liceum ogólnoksztalcacego. Historia, Vol. 1. Warsaw: Wydawnictwa Szkolne i Pedagogiczne, 13. Aufl., 1979, 402–403.

Pope Urban II's Appeal to European Knights for the Crusades (1095) by Herfordt, Ewa (2017)

Crusade-participant and chronicler Foulcher de Chartres remembers Pope Urban II’s appeal for the Crusade at the synod in Clermont 1095. The chronicle excerpt at hand is reproduced in the source section that follows the general information section about the socio-economic changes in West Europe (XI-XII Centuries). The report and source sections, in alternating sequence in the history book by Warsaw Medieval Studies professor Jerzy Dowiat (1920-1982), do not vary significantly in layout from each other. Urban’s speech is located in the report section of the chapter “The Genesis of the Crusades” and is introduced by a brief section about the synod. Thematically, the Crusades are located between the general explanations of the class system and the Investiture Conflict in West Europe, as well as the political and economic situation in Poland during this time.

The call to the crusade printed in the textbook consists of the last third of the papal speech, in which the Pope appeals to the “religious duty” of the “European knighthood” to free the “holy city” of Jerusalem from the hands of those of a different faith. He promises all social strata material gain in addition to the remission of punishment for sin. In this section of the speech Jerusalem is the main emphasis of the idea for the Crusade. The passages in which the Pope covers the notion of supporting domestic peace within the Christian occident are not printed.

The choice of document and its presentation in the section discussed here primarily underscores, in addition to the economic dimension, the religious dimension of the event. The author emphasizes the context of the origin of the first Crusade as a “holy war” against the Turks, or Seljuks, who were threatening Jerusalem and ponders its socio-economic aspects. His considerations are of a general nature and refer solely to Western Europe. Parallels are drawn to the Reconquista in Spain and to the enterprises of the German orders in Eastern Europe against the pagan remnants of West Slavic clans in today’s Poland. These are classified as “Crusades,” in which, according to the author, in contrast to the Crusades against the Turks, religion served as the pretense for the real goal of conquest. The author does not provide a reference to the present in his evaluation and makes no general statements about religiously motivated or legitimated wars. His interest applies to a conflict in the Middle Ages that had consequences on the political, cultural and economical development of Western Europe.

The history book was published in 1979 as a new epoch of tension in the East-West conflict was dawning under the Helsinki Accord (1.08.1975). Poland’s connection in this with (West) European history and culture is reflected through religion. The mobilization of the “Christian World” against an outside danger – in the form of the Turks as “barbarians” – created a strong sense of the collective in the Middle Ages, which was tightly merged with Christianity and which unfurled its effects upon Latin Europe for many centuries. The textbook author does not explicitly remark at any point on this idea of “Christian Europe.” Subliminally however, Christianity also appears as constitutive for the European from the point of view of Polish historiography.


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