God's War (Magill's Literary Annual 2007)
Medieval societies were violent, both in Christian and Muslim lands. It was impossible for any state that did not defend itself to survive, and with aggressive neighbors on all sides, Christians, Muslims and pagans alike honored and rewarded their warriors. Though rulers agreed that peace and justice were desirable goals, they understood that violence was sometimes necessary against evildoers and that while wars of expansion might be of questionable morality, in the contemporary political world those who remained passive went under.
According to Christopher Tyerman in his book God’s War: A New History of the Crusades, nothing illustrates this better than the fate of the Carolingian state. Vikings, Magyars, and Muslims rampaged through Germany, France, Britain, and parts of Italy. Only a drastic decentralization of authority and the creation of a new military class (knights) allowed a reorganization of those regions as feudal states. However, just when the Holy Roman emperor seemed on the verge of pulling the many independent regions into a more unified state, one that could extend Roman Christianity northward and eastward, a quarrel with the popes crippled his authority. This contest, known today as the Investiture Controversy, was over control of the church lands in Germany and Italy, and a belief that, once the reformed papacy made itself supreme over secular rulers, it could make Christian principles dominant throughout society.
(The entire section is 1790 words.)
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Bibliography (Magill's Literary Annual 2007)
The Atlantic Monthly 298, no. 4 (November, 2006): 124.
The Christian Century 123, no. 21 (October 17, 2006): 23-24.
The Daily Telegraph, September 10, 2006, p. 44.
Library Journal 131, no. 15 (September 15, 2006): 74.
The Nation 283, no. 20 (December 11, 2006): 44-49.
The New York Review of Books 53, no. 16 (October 19, 2006): 41-45.
Publishers Weekly 253, no. 29 (July 24, 2006): 46.
The Spectator 301 (August 26, 2006): 35-36.
Sunday Times, August 27, 2006, p. 45.
The Times Literary Supplement, September 8, 2006, pp. 4-5.
(The entire section is 53 words.)