Divine Vengeance and Human Justice in The Wendish Crusade of 1147

Mihai Dragnea


“Crusading as an act of vengeance” is a new paradigm proposed by Susanna A. Throop. In this study I will focus on the question of whether the Wendish Crusade supports an “act of vengeance” paradigm. The study shows us a new understanding of how crusading was conceived as an act of vengeance in the context of the twelfth century. Through textual analysis of medieval sources it has been possible to clarify the course of the concept of divine vengeance, which often used human agents in its execution, as well as the idea of crusading as an act of vengeance. In primary sources which emphasize the necessity of a Holy War against the Wends, the concept of vengeance was intimately connected with the ideas of human justice and divine punishment. Most of these sources are clerical writings which contain biblical allusions in order to justify their aims. This paper shows how the concept of divine vengeance was perceived as an expression of both secular and religious authority, embedded in a series of commonly understood emotional responses in medieval society, and also as a value system compatible with Christianity.



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