This action might not be possible to undo. Are you sure you want to continue?
A DAM KNOBLER
The College of New Jersey On 12 June 1798, Napoleon Bonaparte took control of the islands of Malta. The Knights Hospitaller surrendered with little ﬁght, and the independently recognized polity of the Knights of St. John, the last bastion of the medieval chivalric orders, fell. Founded in the Middle Ages as a military order created both to carry the sword against Islam and provide shelter and medical care for pilgrims to the Holy Land, the Knights had by the end of the eighteenth century become an anachronism. The Ottoman Empire, the last of the great Muslim powers of the Mediterranean, had long been considered little more than a pawn in larger political struggles on the Continent. The practical application of crusading as church policy had long fallen out of favor. As a military force, the Order was no longer of any consequence. The Grand Council that directed the Order consisted for the most part of Maltese or Italian nobles of little formal training in the strategy and tactics of “modern” warfare. Historians of the late eighteenth century had come to the conclusion that the crusades of the Middle Ages were little more than the fanatical hate mongering of an unenlightened time. As Edward Gibbon wrote: “The principle of the crusades was a savage fanaticism; and the most important effects were analogous to the cause. . .. The belief of the Catholics was corrupted by new legends. . .. The active spirit of the Latins preyed on the vitals of their reason and religion. . .. The lives and labours of millions, which were buried in the East, would have been more proﬁtably employed in the improvement of their native country. . ..”1 However, we should not be too hasty in agreeing with Gibbon’s assessment of crusading as merely an example of medieval “savage fanaticism.” Quite apart from the purely romantic images of the knights in shining armor and damsels in distress which, folly or not, still remain with us today, many who retained power in Europe in the nineteenth century were not devotees of Hobbes or Gibbon, and did not take their historiographic cues from the
Edward Gibbon, The Decline and Fall of the Roman Empire, 7 vols. (London, 1925), ch. 61.
0010-4175/06/293–325 $9.50 # 2006 Society for Comparative Study of Society and History
realm of bourgeois liberalism. Rather, for many of those at both the apex and nadir of the social classes, the crusades were an apt and readily portable symbol of the current political landscape. In the face of revolutionary barricades, the crusades represented to many supporters of the ancien regimes a time when governance, justice, and diplomacy were undertaken with divine sanction and under a rather uncomplicated set of moral absolutes. Yet, since the Roman church no longer sanctioned crusading in its original form, royalist conservatives, and the ultramontanist religious “right” who opposed the growing secularization of European society felt crusading needed to be “reinvented” or, at the very least, transposed from its original medieval milieu to make it a useful contemporary symbol. The use of the image and ideology of the crusades, as part of a portable memory of history in the nineteenth and early twentieth centuries, is the subject under discussion here. I have structured this paper around three themes or motifs, to examine the manifold ways nineteenth-and twentiethcentury people used the memory of the medieval crusades. The ﬁrst theme concerns debates over the meaning of nation, nationhood, and the possession of national symbols. Throughout the nineteenth century, the states of Europe worked to deﬁne who could rightly lay claim to the symbols of the nation seen as central to the nation’s history. Were these to be the property of an elite few or a large majority? What deﬁned the symbols of nationhood: ﬂag, religion, language, history? In examining history, was there a collective past, or collective memory, upon which all could agree? The second motif, derived in part from eighteenth-century pre-Revolutionary thought, but still alive in the nineteenth century, was the same romanticism against which Gibbon had railed. Could the methods and ideas of the old crusades, with their notions of chivalry and purity, be revived in an era when, to many, such niceties had been lost to high politics? The notion of the hero was particularly important in developing and maintaining this kind of crusading: individuals to whom nations, states, or political factions could point and who would provide a rallying point for political or social action. The third motif developed largely as a backlash against the development of the imperialism of the nineteenth and twentieth centuries, inverted the crusading motif and romance of Europeans in the Muslim world. Muslim nationalists and intellectuals used crusading metaphors to indict current political circumstances directed against the Islamic world by Europeans. In essence, they used the crusades as a negative image of the past, about which the West should be ashamed. Likewise, western imperialism was often seen as the direct linear descendant of medieval crusading against Islam. The trans-national ubiquity of crusading images is striking. How and why did an 850-year-old series of conﬂicts become such an effective language in communicating ideas between classes and societies? As all Europeans had
THE MODERN USES OF MEDIEVAL CRUSADES
some knowledge of the stories of Old Testament, so too, the adventures of Richard the Lion-hearted, St Louis, Saladin, or the Fall of Constantinople in 1453 were part of nineteenth-century common memory. The debate over the possession of national symbols in the nineteenth century is a common theme in contemporary historical and anthropological circles. Collective memories have become the subject of many recent scholarly works, whether the subject be the internal battles of ideology, religion, or class which took place in states existing prior to the French Revolution (Spain, Portugal, Britain, or France itself); the congregation of smaller states into imperial bodies through conquest or manipulation (such as the Austro-Hungarian and German entities); or those states whose development arose from some form of construction based on ethnic irredentism and external political and military forces, the control of symbols, and the construction of national pasts.2 A speciﬁc term, “medievalism,” has come to be broadly identiﬁed with those working on the “uses” of the Middle Ages’ later periods, yet few have examined the place of the crusades in the context of broader political and social discourse.
CRUSADING AS A NATIONAL SYMBOLIC INHERITANCE
France Joseph-Francois Michaud, the French editor of the royalist organ Le Quotidi¸ enne, ﬁrst published his Histoire des croisades in 1815 as a means of discrediting Napoleonic legitimacy and evoking the great deeds of the French heroes of the pre-Revolutionary past. Thus, from the ﬁrst year of the post-Revolutionary era the French right began to look to crusading as an important symbol for their claims to rule France.3 In 1827 the French royal minister of war turned to the monarchial past in proclaiming the French king as “the son of Saint-Louis.”4 Royalists appealed, not to democratic or liberal values, but to the older ideal of “un roi, une foi, une loi” (one king, one faith, one law). Such values were represented most clearly by the most blessed of medieval French kings, the sainted Louis IX, who, albeit unsuccessful as a crusader, was nevertheless a beloved and holy ﬁgure to whom churches, abbeys, and monasteries had been dedicated across France, and to whom a entire popular hagiographic cult was resumed in both public and private French life throughout the nineteenth century. While the Royalist successor of the French Revolution, Charles X, connected
2 See Patrick Hutton’s review article, “Recent Scholarship on Memory and History,” History Teacher 33, 4 (2000), 533 –48. 3 Michaud’s work was republished throughout the nineteenth century. 4 Marquis de Clermont-Tonnerre to Charles X, 14 Oct. 1827, in, Paul Azan, ed. “Le rapport du ´ Marquis de Clermont-Tonnere ministere de la guerre sur une expedition a Alger (1827),” Revue Africaine 70 (1929), 215, 253.
much of his crusading association with imperial ambitions in North Africa and his invasion of Algeria in 1830, the July Revolution of the Orleanists began a thorough revision of public political culture. Appeals to the past, necessary to insure a symbolic legitimacy of the new dynasty, had to be couched in such a ´ way as not to glorify the deeds of the recently deposed ancien regime. The French nation was to be the object for pride. A national policy of restoring historical monuments was undertaken under the directorship of the author and ´ historian Prosper Merimee. However, the greatest public memorial to France’s grand past was to be the conversion of the royal palace at Versailles to a museum dedicated “to all the glories of France.”5 Of the nearly 130 paintings on medieval topics commissioned for the monarchy by Louis Philippe for display at Versailles, nearly ﬁfty were on crusading themes.6 Four works deal speciﬁcally with Saint Louis himself, the largest and most renowned of these being undoubtedly Delacroix’s depiction of the Battle of Taillebourg, commissioned in 1834 and now hanging in the grand Salle des batailles. The exploits of crusaders, hung on the walls of France’s new “national” museum, publicly afﬁliated military action (in this case in North Africa) with the Orleanist dynasty and French nation without needing to be associated with Charles’ ultraroyalist politics. The majority of crusading scenes were commissioned between 1838 and 1842, corresponding to Louis Philippe’s renewal of Charles X’s “crusade” in Algeria. Any renewed action in the Maghrib could be undertaken in the name of the new French nation and would invoke ancient and noble grandeur rather than Bourbonist excess and whimsy. Napoleon III, too, was a master of political propaganda and manipulation of collective historical memory. Conﬂict in Lebanon, for example, gave birth to schemes in the conservative Catholic press in the summer of 1860 demanding that the emperor intervene militarily in defense of the Christians of Syria and Lebanon. Clerics were sent to Syria to distribute aid and solace to Maronite refugees while rightists posited the possibility of a crusade.7 The Emperor himself, like Charles and Louis Philippe before him, invoked the great crusading precedent of the French past as the basis of his right to protect the Holy Places of Palestine in the face of Ottoman and Russian claims to the contrary. As French troops left for the Levant in 1860, Napoleon’s words rang with
5 ´ ´ See Thomas W. Gaehtgen’s, Versailles, de la residence royale au musee historique. La ´ galerie des batailles dans le musee historique de Louis-Philippe. Patrick Poirot, trans. (Antwerp, 1984); Michael Marrinan, “Historical Vision and the Writing of History at LouisPhilippe’s Versailles,” in, Petra ten-Doesschate Chu and Gerald P. Weisberg, eds., The Popularization of Images: Visual Culture under the July Monarchy (Princeton, 1994), 113 –43. 6 ´ Calculated from Claire Constans, Musee national du chateau de Versailles: Catalogue des peintures (Paris, 1980). 7 ´ ` “Napoleon III n’est pas seulement l’Empereur des Francais, il est le chef de la derniere ¸ ` ´ ` croisade . . . comme a une autre epoque; la France dit a son souverain: ‘Dieu le veut! Dieu le veut!’ “La question d’Orient (Paris, 1860), 48.
THE MODERN USES OF MEDIEVAL CRUSADES
crusading imagery: “You leave for Syria . . . to that distant land, rich in great memories . . . you will prove yourselves to be the worthy descendants of those heroes who had gloriously carried the banner of Christ to those [same] lands.”8 The Orientalist Gabriel Charmes looked across the Mediterranean at Syria and noted how everything of the Syrian past reverberated with the deeds of the crusaders. At the core of French responsibility to the memory of the medieval crusaders, he wrote, were the protection of Lebanese and Syrian Christians and the establishment of French colonial control over Syria.9 Arab nationalists would use such French claims against them in the twentieth century. Spain Following the French Revolution and the subsequent Napoleonic conquest of Spain, crusading came to be an almost constant theme in Spanish traditionalist polemic during the nineteenth century. The Revolution’s disestablishment of the Catholic Church and Napoleon’s support of sweeping social reform stood in direct contrast to the almost theocratic ideology of the far right. Unsurprisingly, the Napoleonic regime in Spain served as the straw man against which traditionalists would use holy war imagery. The royalist polemicist Antonio Capmany compared Napoleon to everything from the Ottoman Sultan Mehmet the Conqueror to Tamerlane, while comparing the Spanish to the crusaders of old.10 The popular press made the historical parallel even more striking, casting the war against the French as a cause that was as holy as the war against the Prophet Muhammad.11 By reformulating Napoleon and his humanistic and liberal allies as akin to Muslims, traditionalist editors tapped directly into part of Spanish collective historical memory. Those who defended Spain against such an invasion were thus the spiritual descendants of the Reconquistadores of the Middle Ages. The traditionalist press was, however, speaking to a readership that, we can assume, already had a certain level of political sophistication, or at least some awareness of the events of the time. The transformation of these images from part of the national collective memory to active political symbol was, for the majority of Spaniards, accomplished through the work of local rural clergy. Throughout the century, local clergy were able to translate political ideology into historical symbols through their control of local education. For many of the rural poor, the Sunday sermon or the priestly instruction in
8 “Vous partez pour la Syrie . . . Sur cette terre lointaine, riche en grands souvenirs . . . vous ´ ´ vous montrerez les dignes enfants de ces heros qui ont porte glorieusement dans ce pays la ban` niere du Christ.” Quoted in Taxile Delord, Histoire du Second Empire, 6 vols. (Paris, 1873), 3: 31. 9 ´ ´ Journal des debats, (17 June 1880); and Gabriel Charmes, Politique exterieure et coloniale (Paris, 1885), 101– 3, 305–428. 10 Antonio Capmany y de Montpalau, Centinela contra franceses, Francoise Etienure, ¸ ´ ´ Coleccion Tamesis, eds., serie B, 17 (London, 1988), 122, 125, 145. Capmany’s work is an anti-Napoleonic polemic of the most vivid and graphic order. 11 ´ Diario Polıtico de Mallorca, 25 June 1808.
local schools was the only news of the outside world they were likely to hear. And, with the anticlerical strain notable in Napoleonic and subsequent liberal political discourse, it is not surprising that members of the clerical class often threw their own political support (and, as a consequence, that of many of their parishioners) with the more traditionalist forces of the political spectrum. For example, the suppression of the monasteries and friaries in August 1809 sent monks and friars into the countryside where, according to one report, they “fanned the ﬂames of . . . holy war. . ..”12 One Carmelite prior exhorted his friars to sacriﬁce themselves “on the battleﬁeld of a Holy Crusade.”13 Some were even promised heavenly reward for their participation in the ﬁght.14 Sufﬁcient troops were rallied in the so-called Spanish War of Independence (or Peninsular War) to expel the Napoleonic forces, and the Spanish monarchy was restored under Ferdinand VII, an ultra-traditionalist who had been lauded throughout the war as the incarnate spirit of the nation and the Church. While Ferdinand steadily lost popularity during the remainder of his reign, those who continued to support his martial causes, such as his failed attempt to regain Mexico in 1829, returned to the earlier image of the king as a crusader, leading Spain in a just ﬁght. Royalist priests in Mexico called upon their mostly Indian parishioners to take up a crusade against the liberal-humanist leaders of the independence movement.15 In truth, however, Ferdinand proved to be a singularly inept military leader and diplomat, and prone to listening to poor advice, and his death left Spain in political turmoil. The troubles were, as they had been several times before in Spanish history, a question of legitimate succession. Ferdinand died leaving no sons. His eldest daughter, Isabella, was only three years old and many traditionalists viewed her regent, her mother Queen Maria Cristina, as morally unﬁt to rule. As a consequence, a surge of support developed on the right for Ferdinand’s brother, Don Carlos. The so-called “Carlist” faction of the Spanish monarchist movement was next to adopt medieval crusading images to greatest effect. For the Carlists, their greatest political obstacle was to prove their legitimacy as the true and rightful inheritors of the Spanish crown. Using the supposed moral turpitude of the regent queen mother, and stressing the need for Spain to return to its strong Catholic heritage, Carlist propagandists spent more than forty years attempting to connect their claimants to the great moral and military battles of the past.
´ ˜ Francisco Aragones, Los frailes franciscos de Cataluna, 2 vols. (Barcelona, 1891), 1: 49–50. ´ Juan R. de Legısima, “Las ordenes religiosas en la guerra de la Independencia,” Archivo Ibero-Americano 22, 118 (1935): 197. 14 ´ Alfredo Martınez Albiach, Religiosidad hispana y sociedad borbonica (Burgos, 1969), 138. 15 ´ The leading preacher of this action was Father Miguel Bringas of San Antonio de Bejar, who claimed that the political and economic crises facing Mexico in the late 1820s were divine punishment for abandoning the king as God’s chosen ruler. See Eugenio de Aviraneta e Ibargoyen, Mis ´ memorias ´ntimas, 1825–1829, Luis Gonzalez Obragon, ed., Documentos historica de Mejico, 3 ı (Mexico, 1906), 76.
THE MODERN USES OF MEDIEVAL CRUSADES
Again, working mostly through networks of rural clergy and ultratraditionalist nobility, the Carlists played on the most widely understood and appreciated symbols of the medieval Reconquista. Don Carlos was lauded in poems and sermons as leading his troops with the Reconquistadores’ ˜ battle cry of “Santiago y cierra Espana!” ([For] Santiago and to save Spain).16 Others dubbed the Carlist army as “the children of El Cid,” the conquistador of medieval Spanish epic.17 Throughout the century, Carlist pamphleteers likened their cause to everyone from Columbus, to Ferdinand and Isabella, to the victors at Lepanto, all in an attempt to stir not only patriotic feeling, but, more importantly, a sense that only they were the true inheritors of such a noble history, one abandoned by Isabella II and her supporters. Even after the death of Carlos in 1855 and the deposition of Isabella in 1868, which launched another succession crisis, the Carlists continued to use medieval images in their public pronouncements to link themselves with Spain’s heroic past. In 1870, the twenty-two-year-old Carlist claimant, Carlos, the Duke of Madrid, was publicly presented with a small replica of the Cross of Victory, a relic associated with the great medieval conqueror, James I of Aragon.18 The young Carlos, some Carlist pamphleteers prophesied, would restore Spain’s glory even to the point of re-extending Spain’s borders to reclaim the medieval Spanish patrimony in Gibraltar, North Africa and Portugal.19 While Carlist claims for legitimacy had a strong following among the clergy and the rural poor, the movement’s leadership rarely rose to the occasion. Gentleman soldiers, ill equipped for the new face of warfare and supported by weak and undisciplined troops, in the end had little but their symbols to carry them to victory. ´ As for the government, Prosper Merimee, living in Spain during the disastrous Spanish attempt to conquer Morocco in 1859 – 1860, wrote that all the Spanish viewed the expedition as a “guerre sainte” (holy war) that united the country in single purpose.20 Certainly, once the war was underway, the Spanish press and by many of its authors and poets popularized the imagery of the crusade. Spain, having lost most of its imperial gains of the sixteenth century to the Latin American independence movements of the 1820s, was
16 ´ As in the poem, “Himno de los voluntarios vasconavarros dedicado al marques de Valde´ ´ Espina,” in Alexandra Wilhelmsen, La formacion del pensamiento polıtico del Carlismo (1810–1875) (Madrid, 1995), 242 –43. 17 ´ ´ ´ Juan Arolas, “Himno en la destruccion de la faccion de Negrı por el general Espartero,” Obras, (Madrid, 1982), 2: 141–42. 18 ˜ “Proclama a los aragonenses,” in Historia del tradicionalismo espanol, Melchor Ferrer, ´ Domingo Tejera, and Jose F. Acedo, eds., 30 vols., (Seville, 1941– 1979), 20: 222; 23 (supplement), 130. 19 ´ ´ ´ ˜ ˜ Sebastian Perez Alonso, Carta consejo a Dona Isabel de Borbon (Logrono, 1870), 5. 20 ´ ´ ´ ´ Merimee to [French War Minister] Marshall Jean Vaillant, 4 Nov. 1859, in Prosper Merimee, ´ ´ ´ Correspondence generale, 2e serie, Maurice Paturier, ed., 9 vols. (Toulouse, 1953– 1961), 291.
again to take its rightful place among the nations of Europe through joining in this “new imperialism.” Traditionalist conservatives and liberals alike evoked the Reconquista. In doing so, the former could claim legitimate authority to conduct a war under a constitutional monarch, while the latter could ward off fears of Carlist revival. Both could successfully appeal to a broadly “national” sentiment by drawing parallels with the decidedly “Spanish” nature of sixteenth-century Iberian crusading in North Africa. Some papers, it is true, such as El clamor publico, wrote sadly that “the time of the Crusades has already passed” (26 Oct. 1859).21 Others, such as the moderate El estado, voiced opposition to giving the war a religious character.22 Most, however, ﬁlled their pages with stories of a great Spanish past that was about to be renewed. The moderate El conciliador referred to the Spanish soldiers of the expedition as “the descendants of those illustrious men who planted the standard of the Cross on the Barbary coasts!”23 Likewise, ˜ El espanol, on the same day, declared proudly, “the blood of our fathers . . . [who made] the Moorish multitude that refused to bow before the sacred sign of the cross bite the dust—still runs in our veins.”24 Still others, such as the absolutist La Esperanza, recalled the spirit of Saladin, who opposed the Christians and the battle of Lepanto, which drove the Turks to their knees.25 Apart from journalists, literary circles often saw crusading analogies and ´ parallels in the penetration of Morocco. Jose Maria de Ugarte, the poets who contributed to “ofﬁcial” El Romancero de la Guerra de Africa collection, and “Fernan Caballero” each wrote of the operation as an explicit renewal of crusading.26 The Romancero collection, in particular, strove to connect the campaigns in Morocco with a whole range of Spanish conquests and holy wars of the past. In his poetic invitation, which begins the collection, the Marques de Molins himself not only invoked the Reconquista and the deeds of Cisneros, but also those of Magellan, Columbus, Cortes, and Pizarro.27 Other authors in the collection, such as former Spanish premier, the Duque de Rivas, poet and secretary to Queen Isabella, Manuel Canete, and dramatist Manuel Tamayo y Baus all make clear reference to past crusading deeds.28
21 In Robert C. Bogard, “Africanismo and Morocco, 1830– 1912,” Ph.D. diss., University of Texas at Austin, 1974, 29. 22 12 Nov. 1859, in Marie-Claude Lecuyer and C. Serrano, La guerre d’Afrique et ses repercussions en Espagne: Ideologies et colonialisme en Espagne, 1859–1904 (Paris, 1976.), 66. 23 Issue of 22 Oct. 1859, in Bogard, “Africanismo and Morocco,” 29. 24 In Bogard, “Africanismo and Morocco,” 29–30. 25 25 Oct. 1859, in Lecuyer and Serrano, La guerre d’Afrique, 74. 26 El Romancero de la guerra de Africa, Mariano Roca de Togures, marques de Molins, ed. (Madrid, 1860); “Fernan Caballero,” “Deudas pagodas,” in Obras completas 8. Coleccion de escritores castellanos: Novelistas, 132 (Madrid, 1898–1914). 27 “Romance invitatorio,” in El Romancero, 9– 17. 28 Poems 2, 22, and 10, respectively, in El Romancero.
THE MODERN USES OF MEDIEVAL CRUSADES
One author, Ventura de la Vega, invoked the actual crusades in concluding his piece.29 However, perhaps because of the enormous cost of life due in large part to disease, glorious crusading imagery quickly faded from Spanish writing about Morocco. Others, such as Perez Galdos in his Aita Tettauen of 1905, perhaps noting how the mosque of Tetuan was converted to a church, as had been done by Cisneros in Oran, wrote, “The priests . . . [urged the soldiers] not to return without destroying Islamism.”30 The year 1898 was, of course, a disastrous one for Spanish imperial ambition, as most of its remaining colonies were stripped away following their military defeat at the hands of the United States. This loss called for much soul searching, including attempts by traditionalist forces to lay blame at the feet of liberal humanism: it was divine retribution for turning Spain’s back on its religious past.31 The history referred to in the political arena as well as that taught in the increasingly secularized schools became an important battleground for ideological discussions.32 This issue of national regeneration became the central topic of conversation that came to dominate Spanish political culture for two decades, and those whose political future had relied so much on reviving past glories seemed to many to be desperately out of touch. Progressive forces came to the fore, and addressed their concerns to the urbanized working classes as well as to the middle orders of society, who together came to view traditionalist ideology as untenable in a modern world. But the forces of tradition remained strong among the clergy and in rural areas, where appeals to religion and glory held far more appeal than talk of a new day for the working class. Therein lay the political conundrum that bedeviled Spain for much of the ﬁrst thirty years of the twentieth century. The New Byzantium The fall of Constantinople to the Ottomans in 1453 gave way to numerous claims of succession to Byzantium’s place at the apex of the Orthodox world. However, many scholars have maintained that Orthodox Christians—Greeks and Russians in particular—never developed a true concept of crusade or of justiﬁable holy war.33
El Romancero, 218. Benito Perez Galdos, Aita Tettauen (Madrid, 1905), 47. 31 ´ ´ ´ See the pastoral letter of Bishop Fernandez Pierola, 11 Feb. 1899, in Boletın eclesiastico del obispado de Vitoria 35 (1899). 32 ´ ´ Manuel Merry y Colon, the catedratico of Spanish history at the University of Seville, wrote in his school textbook that it was necessary to purge “our History of the series of errors [which] . . . have tried to obscure our national glories.” He devotes nearly 40 percent of his text to the Recon´ quista, and emphasizes the providential destiny of Spain. See Manuel Merry y Colon and Antonio ˜ Merry y Villaba, Compendia de historia de Espana: Redactado para servir de texto en los semin´ aries y colegios catolicos (Seville, 1889), 7–9. 33 On what follows, see Athena Kolia-Dermitzake, Ho Vyzantinos Rhieros polemosS: He ennoia kai he probole tou threskeutikou polemou sto Vyzantio (Athens, 1991).
However, there are three necessary presuppositions in Byzantine thought which make a war “holy”: the adversaries must be non-Christian; there must be proof of some prior injury to the Christian faith, the Church, or its believers (such as persecution or the destruction of a church); or, the war must be in the name of re-conquering a lost part of the “Roman” patrimony. These three conditions are, of course, nearly identical to the Augustinian notion of a just war as used by Latin holy warriors. Because the Byzantines did not have a Pope who could issue crusading indulgences, it was up to the Emperor, as the leader of the chosen of God, to publicly proclaim a holy war. The Church never ofﬁcially recognized soldiers as martyrs, yet neither did it condemn the Emperors for promising salvation to those who fought in a holy war. In essence, this promise was nearly identical to the papal indulgence issued in the Latin Church. Indeed, the Russians explained their military conquests in Asia as reminders of their common, crusading heritage in diplomatic discussions with Latin powers.34 Yet, following the Council of Florence, where the Byzantine patriarch had agreed to the union of Greek and Roman churches, the Russians roundly condemned such “Latinity.” Moscow saw the fall of Constantinople as a translatio imperii which granted to it succession to Rome and Constantinople.35 By extension, since Moscow viewed itself as the sole surviving source of salvation on earth, only Russia could conduct a truly holy war against the enemies of Christendom.36 Under these theological guidelines Russian tsars viewed many of their wars of expansion against their Muslim neighbors in terms of “crusading” ideals and their Byzantine predecessors.37 The princes of Muscovy repeatedly harkened back to Byzantine liturgical sources to justify their rule—the role of the emperor/tsar—as a conqueror for the faith.38 From the late ﬁfteenth century, following the fall of Byzantium in 1453, the tsars gained recognition throughout the orthodox world as the defenders of the faith. As such, Russian “crusading” tended to focus on the “liberation” of Orthodox Christians from Muslim lands, as well as the “recovery” of land that “rightly” belonged to the princes of Muscovy and the Russian crown.
34 Jaroslaw Pelenski, “Muscovite Imperial Claims to the Khazan Khanate,” Slavic Review 26 (1967), 565; Sbornik russkogo istoricheskogo obshchestva 59 (1887), 103. 35 Letter (1510) of Philotheus of Pskov to Vasiliy III, in Pamiatniki literatury drevnei Rusi. Konets XV-pervaia polovina XVI veka (Moscow, 1984), 437–41. 36 Michael Cherniavsky, Tsar and People: Studies in Russian Myths (New Haven, 1961), 36–41, 107n. 37 We do have an image from the Kazan Chronicle of Ivan as St. Demetrius of Thessaloniki, trampling the Kazan khan underfoot; see Cherniavsky, Tsar and People, ﬁg. 3 (text p. 53). 38 E. V. Barsov, “Drevne-russkie pamiatniki sviashchennogo venchaniia Tsarei na tsarstvo,” Chteniia v imperatorskom obshchestve istorii i drevnostei rossiskikh (1883), bk. 1, 27–28, 34, 51; P. Schreider “Hochzeit und kronung kaiser Manuels II in jahre 1392,” Byzantinische Zeitschrift, 60 (1967), 77, ll.14–15 (from Codex Laurentianus Olut. VIII.17).
THE MODERN USES OF MEDIEVAL CRUSADES
While justifying war as necessary for the “liberation” of captive Christians begins in the 1230s, it was not until the campaigns in the late ﬁfteenth and early sixteenth centuries against Kazan that Russian wars of expansion really took on the characteristics of a crusade. In the sixteenth century, Archbishop Vassijan Rylo, and Metropolitans Makarios and Daniil, led the “charge” for anti-Muslim “crusading” against Kazan. Even at the coronation of Ivan IV in 1547, we ﬁnd Makarios asking God to “subdue unto him [the new tsar] all barbarian nations,” using a Slavonic translation of the Byzantine imperial coronation prayer—again, making an explicit connection between the tsar and the Byzantine emperor—both conquerors for the Church.39 Makarios was probably instrumental in fostering the idea that the land of the Bulgars had been rightfully Russian since the time of Vladimir I.40 Because Kazan rulership had simply carried on from the Bulgars it stood to reason that Kazan would be rightfully part of the patrimony of the tsars. “Seek the property of [your] ancestors,” Makarios urged Ivan IV in a 1552 letter.41 Chronicles, notably the Otryvok russkoi letopisi, were commissioned expressly to justify these claims by proving dynastic continuity from Vladimir I to Ivan IV.42 The Kniga stepennaia (which may have been commissioned by Makarios himself) also argued for continuity, especially when dealing with Tsar Ivan’s victories over Kazan.43 Kazan and Astrakhan were conquered by Ivan in the years 1552 to 1557. During the late seventeenth century, Russia began to break with its earlier rather isolationist tradition, and begin to undertake cultural and political forays to the west. The Russians maintained a tenuous and sometimes antagonistic relationship with the Ottoman Turks on their southern border. The tension that developed at the court over the following three hundred years between “westernizers” and “traditionalists” had a profound effect on the holy war imagery generated in Russia. During the regency of Sophia Alekseevna (1682 – 1689), the Russians brieﬂy joined the newly formed Holy League in 1686. The Russians were not, as it happened, able to be particularly helpful allies to the Venetians, Poles, or the Holy Roman Empire. Following the Treaty of Radzin (1681), the Ottomans could not afford to antagonize Moscow, and they strove mightily to pacify the Russians. Under Peter the Great the Russian court turned its diplomatic and cultural focus westward, and even toward western notions of crusading. Peter sent an embassy in 1697 to Malta to enlist the Hospitallers, and though it was but a small and
“Hupotakhon auto panta ta barbara ethne.” Otryvok letopisi voskresenskomu novierusalimskomu spisku, sub anno 1526–1527, 1528, 1532, and 1535, in Polnoe Sobranie Zakonov Letopisei [hereafter PSRL] 6: 282, 284–86, 289, 296 –97. 41 Letter in Otryvok letopisi voskresenskomu novierusalimskomu spisku, sub anno 1552, in PSRL 6: 308– 9. 42 Otryvok letopisi voskresenskomu novierusalimskomu spisku, in PSRL 6: 277– 315. 43 Kniga stepennaia tsarskogo rodosloviia: Pervaia stepen, in PSRL 21: 1: 63.
rather ineffectual piece of diplomacy on the greater stage of Russo-Ottoman relations, it did represent a curious overture toward the distinctly Catholic crusading entity.44 Militant anti-Muslim tendencies typiﬁed the policy of the government until Catherine the Great issued the edict of Toleration of All Faiths in 1773.45 Many members of the conservative aristocracy opposed Catherine’s liberalizing initiatives. Most vocal among these was Prince Mikhail Shcherbatov, who noted that Muslims were born enemies of Christians and “as once they ruled over Russia, it should be Russia’s policy to treat them as her enemies.” The Muslims, he noted, would always be loyal to the Ottoman sultan over the tsar, and should be eternally suspect as enemies of the faith and crown.46 Despite such vehement concern regarding Muslims as an “Asian” problem, during Catherine’s reign Russians renewed their former vision of their relationship to the Muslims of the Ottoman Empire within the context of a united European “Christian” front. For example, during this period the Russian word krestonosets acquired the meaning of “crusader,” in a western sense. Before this time, the term referred to someone who simply propagated the faith, wore crosses on their clothing, or simply bore the cross in a church procession.47 In May 1769, Catherine asked assistance from the Hospitallers of Malta to ﬁght the Turks. The Hospitallers, not wishing to offend the French crown, politely declined. In 1774 the Treaty of Kuchuk Kainarji granted the Russians the full right of protection over all the Christians resident in the Ottoman Empire. In 1780, Catherine and Foreign Affairs Minister Prince Bezborodko drafted plans for a more ambitious crusade—the actual restoration of the Byzantine Empire, under the rulership of her second grandson the appropriately named Constantine.48 Much of Catherine’s attention throughout the 1780s was dedicated to this project. A triumphal arch was constructed at the fortress of Kherson on the estuary of the river Bug which read “the way to Byzantium.” But the Russo-Turkish war did not fulﬁll Catherine’s expectations, and the project was abandoned.
44 Peter to Order of Malta (Moscow, 30 Apr. 1697), in Pis’ma i bumagi imperatora Petra Velikago (Saint Petersburg, 1887), 1, 154–55. 45 PSRL, 19: no. 13996 (17 June 1773). 46 Mikhail M. Shcherbatov “Statistika v razsuzhdeni Rossii,” Chteniia v imperatorskom obshchestve istorii i drevnostei pri Moskovskom Universitete, 30 (1859), 3, 2: 61–62. 47 Slovar russkogo iazyka XI–XVII vv (Moscow, 1981), 8: 46. A far cry from the newer Russian crusader, exempliﬁed by Andrei Malov, the chaplain of the 4th Orenburg Line battalion at the siege of Tashkent in 1865, who led an assault holding his cross on high. See Turkestanskii krai: sbornik materialov dlia istorii ego zavoevaniia, A. G. Serebrennikov, ed., 19 vols. (Tashkent, 1914), 19, 1: 210; Mikhail Afrikanovich Terent’ev, Istoriia zavoevaniia Srednei Azii, 3 vols. in 2 (Saint Petersburg, 1906), 1: 315. 48 On this “Greek Project” see Vladen Nikolaevich Vinogradov, “Vek Ekateriny II: proryv na Balkany,” Novaia I Noveishaia Istoriia (1996) 4: 43–64; Hugh Ragsdale, “Evaluating the Traditions of Russian Aggression: Catherine II and the Greek Project,” Slavonic and East European Review 66, 1 (1988): 91– 117. Sochineniia Imperatritsy Ekateriny II (St. Petersburg, 1901), 2: 259–304.
THE MODERN USES OF MEDIEVAL CRUSADES
One critic called for a grand Orthodox Christian empire, centered in Rome, with the Pope subordinate to the Tsar in Petersburg.49 The Byzantine emperors Justinian and Constantine were posited as the models for Russian expansion into Central Asia.50 The solution to the “Eastern Question,”—the conﬂict among the powers of Europe concerning the fate of the Balkans and the Eastern Mediterranean—was, in the eyes of Fyodor Dostoevskii writing in 1877, to liberate Constantinople.51 By the beginning of the nineteenth century, Greek nationalists had already rallied behind this concept in the socalled Megale idea, which envisioned a re-establishment of a Greater Greek kingdom with a capital at Constantinople.52 Perhaps the best-known articulation of the Megale idea, in the context of Greek territorial expansion, or irredentism, was that by John Kolettes, who combined French-inﬂuenced nationalism with an almost messianic concept of Greek destiny. As early as 1834 he proposed that any new Greek state should “forego an ofﬁcial capital as a solemn reminder that only Constantinople could serve that lofty purpose, as a sign of Greek faith in the imminence of its acquisition.”53 Some politicians took this idea one step further and envisioned Greece in the widest possible geographical context, stretching from the Danube and the Black Sea in the north to the Euphrates in the east, the Adriatic in the west and the Mediterranean in the south.54 A “crusade” was even called for to establish the Greek Christian empire.55 This desire for the re-conquest of Constantinople and the re-establishment of a Christian state in the eastern Mediterranean was sustained well into the twentieth century. It was used to bridge the gap between the often-liberal nationalism of the politicians and the vehement traditionalism of the church leaders and their large popular followings, and Balkan monarchs and their propagandists invoked repeatedly the theme of holy war.56
49 Note, for example, the plans of the mystic poet Fyodor Tiutchev (1803–1873). Fedor I. Tiutchev, Sochineniia: stikhotvoreniia i politicheskiia stati (Saint Petersburg, 1886), 141, 193. 50 See Nikolai IA. Danilevsky, Rossiia i Evropa (New York, 1966), 419. 51 Fyodor Dostoevskii, Dnevnik Pisatelia za 1877 god (Paris, 1951), Mar. 1877, 97. 52 See R. Clogg, “The Byzantine Legacy in the Modern Greek World: The Megali Idea,” in, L. Clucas, ed., The Byzantine Legacy in Eastern Europe (Boulder, Colo., 1988), 253–81. 53 Quoted in Theodore George Tatsios, The Megali Idea and the Greek-Turkish War of 1897: The Impact of the Cretan Problem on Greek Irredentism, 1866–1897 (Boulder, Colo., 1984), 16. See also Kolettes’ speech to the Greek National Assembly, in Eduard Driault and Michel ` ` Lheretier, Histoire diplomatique de la Grece de 1821 a nos jours, 5 vols. (Paris, 1925–1926), 2: 252– 53. 54 See the speech of Kleominis Oikonomou [Logos en ti Vouli peris tis ikonopoliseos i polemou kentia tis Tourkias (Athens, 1898)]; the anonymous 1855 pamphlet Panellenis (Ermopoulis, 1855); and the citations from the newspapers Aion (especially 1 Jan. 1854) and Athina, which broadcast such ideas to the public at large, as noted by John S. Koliopoulos, Brigands with a Cause: Brigandage and Irredentism in Modern Greece, 1821–1919 (Oxford, 1987), 308 –9, notes 43, 44, and 45. 55 Koliopoulos, Brigands, 309–10, and note. 56 See Madame Guy Chantepleure’s observations of Greek demonstrations in 1913, in Eduard Driault, Le roi Constantin (Versailles, 1930), 65– 66. Queen Maria of Romania
Ethiopia Emperor Tewodros II of Ethiopia (r. 1855– 1868) stated throughout his career that one of his ultimate goals was the re-conquest of Jerusalem in the name of Christendom.57 He initially gained his power and notoriety in battles and skirmishes against the armies of Mehmet Ali of Egypt, and upon coronation he chose the name Tewodros because an old Ethiopian legend prophesied that Jerusalem would fall to a man with such a name.58 In wishing to ﬁght “the Turk” (his term encompassing all Muslims) and liberate Jerusalem, Tewodros was perceived by outsiders and, on occasion, presented himself as following in the tradition of the Solomonic sainted kings of Ethiopia’s Middle Ages such as Dawit, whose victories against the Mamluks and whose stated ambitions in re-conquering Jerusalem had become legend. Yet Tewodros was not himself of Solomonic or royal descent. Therefore the dream of Jerusalem, the claim of being a holy warrior, and the adoption of the persona of a crusader, were merely means of bolstering his claim to legitimacy at home, and gaining respectability as an equal among the “Christian” nations in Europe.59 Toward this end, Tewodros worked incessantly to demonstrate his piety to both the monarchs of Europe and his own people, and his status as a legitimate holy warrior.60 One of the most curious aspects of Tewodros’ career is the uncomfortable balance between his desire to bring Ethiopia into the modern technological age and his insistence on perceiving the world in terms of a ChristianMuslim dichotomy. One of his most important advisors, Mahdere Qal Tewelde Medhiin, was one of the ﬁrst modern Ethiopians to be educated in Europe, at a college in Malta, where he would have been surrounded by the memories of the Knights.61 Tewodros must have been shocked at the British alliance with the Ottomans, considering what he felt was the religious
speciﬁcally ordered a Byzantine/medieval theme for her ofﬁcial coronation in 1922. See. Mabel Daggett, Marie of Roumania: The Intimate Story of the Radiant Queen (New York, 1926), 294–95. 57 David Appleyard and Richard Pankhurst, “The Last Two Letters of Emperor Tewodros II of Ethiopia (11 and 12 April 1868),” Journal of the Royal Asiatic Society (1987), 31. 58 Appleyard and Pankhurst, “The Last Two letters,” 23; Richard Pankhurst, “‘Tewodros’: The Question of a Greco-Romanian or Russian Hermit or Adventurer in Nineteenth-Century Ethiopia,” Abba Salama 5(1974): 136–42. 59 Tewodros was very conscious of his non-Solomonic birth. H. A. Stern, Wanderings among the Falashas in Abyssinia (London, 1862), 63, 80f. 60 Tewodros to Victoria (Nov. 1857), in, Sven Rubenson, ed., Tewodros and His Contemporaries 1855–1868 (Addis Ababa/Lund, 1994), no. 24, where he attempted to establish a commonality based on common faith. The same may be found in a letter written nearly a decade later (29 Jan. 1866), in ibid., no. 162. 61 See Tewodros and His Contemporaries, no. 1, and note.
THE MODERN USES OF MEDIEVAL CRUSADES
basis of his relationship with the British.62 The theme of Christian solidarity against Egypt and the rest of the Muslim world runs through much of his correspondence, and he expected any warfare against the Ottomans to be conducted by a united Christian front.63 In a ﬁnal testimony Tewodros addressed to the English in 1868, shortly before his suicide, he wrote, “Let alone my Ethiopian enemies, it had seemed to me that I should march to Jerusalem and drive out the Turks.”64 Tewodros’ historical legacy is that of an Ethiopian crusader bent on capturing Jerusalem. Contemporary Ethiopian writers still commemorate him as such.65 By claiming a direct linear claim to holy warriors of the past, or comparing their own actions to those of past rulers, nineteenth-century leaders could link themselves with a great martial tradition at a time when the tenor of politics called into question monarchial legitimacy. While the Spanish might have been divided regarding who was the rightful ruler of Spain at mid-century, none would dare deny that Spanish kings in the ﬁfteenth and sixteenth centuries had created the greatest global empire of its day, had spread Spanish culture over half the globe, and had expelled Muslim invaders from the Iberian Peninsula under the banner of Santiago and with crusading bulls from the Papacy. Nor would any Frenchman have questioned the role of “French” soldiers in ﬁghting and defeating Muslims in the ﬁrst crusade. Any king who could revive those glories would gain the respect of not only his own people but also the entire Christian world. Following the Revolutions of the late eighteenth and early nineteenth centuries, that would be no small accomplishment. Likewise, Orthodox monarchs had, indeed, ruled the vast Byzantine Empire, which was the linear inheritor of Rome but had in its own right spread from Italy to Western Asia. Secondly, the declaration of holy war also provided curious comfort. The Middle Ages recalled a time of moral absolutes, romantic heroism, and noble deeds—a far cry from the Gatling guns and artillery that marked the modern military experience. A war couched as a crusade, re-conquest, or holy war was one where death meant more than simply burial in the Moroccan desert, Balkan forest, Ethiopian mountaintop, or Central Asian plateau. It gave hope for a salvation that seemed desperately far from the modern battleﬁeld.
62 On the difﬁculties of British-Turkish alliance, see Plowden to [British Foreign Secretary] the Earl of Clarendon, 7 Apr. 1855, in K. V. Ram, The Barren Relationship: Britain and Ethiopia, 1805 to 1868: A Study of British Policy (New Delhi, 1985), 85. 63 See his letter to Queen Victoria with a similar letter to Napoleon III on 29 Oct. 1862, in. Tewodros and His Contemporaries, nos. 117 –18. 64 Appleyard and Pankhurst, “The Last Two Letters,” 31. 65 ¨ ¨ ¨ ¨ See Alamayahu Mogas, Yamarinna Qene Mastamarya (Addis Ababa, 1959), 29, cited in Taye Assefa, “Tewodros in Ethiopian Historical Fiction,” Journal of Ethiopian Studies 16 (1983): 122.
The use of crusading images corresponded to a need on the part of traditionalist forces to forge cultural symbols of their own that contrasted with the Revolutionary symbols of liberty used by liberals in France and Spain. History lessons taught by priests in local schools were sure to include tales of St. Louis, El Cid, and the great era of Ferdinand, Isabella, and Philip II’s global crusading vision.66 The same was true in Greece and Russia, where schoolbooks and popular literature emphasized the Byzantine legacy of their cultures and the continuing need to expel the Turkish enemy from Orthodoxy’s rightful home. By the time children so schooled had reached adulthood, these heroes of the past were more likely to seize their imaginations than more abstract notions of choice, freedom, and liberty presented by politicians from Paris and Madrid, Athens and St. Petersburg. Traditionalists placed their political hopes on just this sort of sentiment of collective memory. In Ethiopia, Tewodros wished to be seen as a modernizer but also a man who respected and indeed revered tradition, and he used titles and legal practice to reestablish what he felt was a lost sense of a single Ethiopian kingdom. All of these tactics failed in the end to restore the past as envisioned, but they established precedents for the twentieth-century nation builders who followed.
THE CREATION OF CRUSADING HEROES
Russia Under Paul I In November 1796 Paul I acceded to the throne at the death of his mother, Catherine the Great.67 Paul was Orthodox by birth if not by ancestry or inclination. He had been educated in the history and traditions of French historiography and from childhood he developed a fascination with the Middle Ages and medieval chivalry of the Hospitallers,68 as well as an interest in military spectacle.69 This played itself out after the fall of Malta, when, blaming the collapse on incompetence, the Russian priory of the Order declared Paul the new Grand Master of the Hospitallers.70 At face value this was curious: an Orthodox monarch claiming leadership of the most Roman Catholic of orders, whose historical traditions had little impact on prior Russian
66 ´ ´ See Christian Amalvi, Les heros de l’Histoire de France: Recherche iconographique sur le ` ´ pantheon scolaire de la troisieme Republique (Paris, 1979), 144– 48, 252. 67 For more details, see Roderick E. McGrew, “Paul I and the Knights of Malta,” in, Hugh Ragsdale, ed., Paul I: A Reassessment of His Life and Reign (Pittsburgh, 1979), 44–75; Idem., Paul I of Russia (Oxford, 1992), 258ff. 68 Dmitrii Kobeko, Tsarevich Pavel Petrovich, 1754–1796 (St. Petersburg, 1887), 166–67. Following his marriage, Paul staged mock medieval tournaments regularly. 69 Semen Poroshin, Zapiski (St. Petersburg, 1881), 327– 33, 416, 517 –18; N. K. Shil’der, Imperator Pavel Pervyi (St. Petersburg, 1901), 61–64. 70 Paul’s manifesto in Michel, Comte de Pierredon, Histoire politique de l’ordre souverain de ´ ` Jerusalem (Ordre de Malte) de 1789 a 1955, 3 vols. (Paris, 1956), 1: 341–47; his Ukase in ibid., 348–49.
THE MODERN USES OF MEDIEVAL CRUSADES
history.71 On the other hand, Paul could claim a role as protector over all Christians both Latin and Orthodox.72 Paul saw in the Hospitallers something of an opportunity for Russia to return to a golden age. He conceived of the past in almost wholly western rather than Russian terms. He declared that the Knights, with their history of glory and grand ceremony, were a “means for states to increase strength, serenity, and glory . . . which will offer to OUR faithful nobility a further motive to stimulate the love of glory.”73 Their formal establishment in Russia would allow the nation and its nobility to recapture its past, yet without returning to what he felt was the barbarism of Russia’s Middle Ages. The Knights represented a “new” old order into which the Russian nobility could be brought in order to stave off revolutionary change, preserve traditional political and social values, and, in essence, restore the elaborate pomp and ceremony of the great monarchies of the past. It would introduce into Russian autocracy formalized ritual traditions of the sort the Latin West had in such abundance but the tsar felt the Russian nobility lacked. With traditions would come strength, and with strength a rejuvenated golden age. Paul introduced the Order into the life of Russian nobility, and the result was highly compatible with his love of ceremony.74 Perhaps not surprisingly, Paul’s schemes drew opposition and ridicule from those who saw the entire project as a masquerade.75 Yet, Paul continued to search for a neo-medieval revival, going so far as to build his own medievalesque castle, the Michael Castle, moving there from the Winter Palace in early 1801. The new building even contained a “Resurrection Hall” designed speciﬁcally for the ceremonies of the Knights. Within ﬁve weeks the Tsar was dead from an assassin’s bullet, and his castle and other medieval simulacra were seen by many as merely an example of his mental instability. Britain The Protestant British had to refashion thoroughly a medieval heritage that they had, in large part, rejected as outmoded Catholic barbarism less than a century before. Yet there can be no question that the British popular imagination of the nineteenth century still looked upon the notion of medieval
71 For the history of relations between the Order and Russia, see Cyril Toumanoff and Olgerd P. de Sherbowitz-Wetzor, L’Ordre de Malte et l’Empire de Russie (Rome, 1979); Petr Perminov, Pod sen’iu vos’mikonechnogo kresta: Mal’tiiskii orden i ego sviazi s Rossiei (Moscow, 1991); Andrew P. Vella, Malta and the Czars: Diplomatic Relations between the Order of Saint John and Russia, 1697–1802 (Valletta, 1972). 72 On this see Richard S. Wortman, Scenarios of Power: Myth and Ceremony in Russian Monarch, 2 vols. (Princeton, 1995–2000), 1: 185f. 73 “Appel de l’Empereur Paul Ier,” in Pierredon, Histoire politique, 1, 377–79. 74 McGrew, “Paul I and the Knights,” 59– 60; N. IA. Eidel’man, Gran’ vekov: politicheskaia bor’ba Rossii, konets XVIII-nachala XIX stoletiia (Moscow, 1986), 79– 80. 75 Adam Czartoryski, Gran’ vekov, 189.
chivalry and gentlemanly honor with great fondness and fascination. Marc Girouard and others have discussed at great length how, despite the admonitions of historians, the romance of the crusades and crusading remained very much part of both the literary output of romantic authors such as Sir Walter Scott and the iconographic, artistic, and public self-presentation of Britain’s elite classes. Through such self-presentation they attempted to cling to their own sense of class privilege at a time when earned capital and inherited, landed wealth could control the political and social fortunes of the nation.76 The crusades were de-Catholicized and gradually blended into “the cult of Christian militarism” which ﬁrst took hold in Britain at the time of the Crimean War.77 Those with apocalyptic expectations could cite a variety of Biblical passages (e.g., Dan. 8:9; Rev. 12:12) as predicting the collapse of the Ottoman Empire.78 The image of the crusades and the crusader reentered the public sphere as part of popular political discourse of empire to such an extent that, by World War One, war campaigns and war heroes were regularly lauded as crusaders in the popular press, from the pulpit, and in the ofﬁcial propaganda of the British war machine. Military failures as much as victories became the birthplace for “soldier-saints”: men of arms who carried with them all of the knightly virtues associated with “crusading.” The convergence of three separate, but ultimately integrated phenomena of the Regency and early Victorian periods prompted this phenomenon: the feminization of British religion, the rise of public, patriotic rhetoric, and, gradually, the changing nature of warfare and the realities of war as the century progressed. Until recently, most twentieth-century historians have downplayed the importance of religion and religious instruction in forming national and communal identities in Victorian Britain. Instead, they have seen religion and religious teaching as a means of social control foisted upon the lower orders from above. Religion has been interpreted as something quite apart from the selfidentiﬁcation of the working classes, in particular, and as only peripheral to the mainstream of political narrative. While many churches, particularly Anglican and Roman Catholic, were hierarchical in their presentation of scripture, members of the so-called dissenting denominations (Methodists, Baptists, Congregationalists) held a far more egalitarian view of religion. This is signiﬁcant because the Victorian public was, in large part, educated not merely in school but also from the pulpit.79 The Churches and their
76 See Marc Girouard, The Return to Camelot: Chivalry and the English Gentleman (New Haven, 1981). The most recent and complete study is Elizabeth Siberry, The New Crusaders: Images of the Crusades in the Nineteenth and Early Twentieth Centuries (Aldershot, 2000). 77 On this phenomenon, see the seminal article by Olive Anderson, “The Growth of Christian Militarism in Mid-Victorian Britain,” English Historical Review 86 (1971): 46–72. 78 Ernest Peter Cachemaille, Turkey: Past, Present, and Future in Prophecy, Aids to Prophetic Study 9 (London, 1916). 79 Susan Thorne, Congregational Missions and the Making of an Imperial Culture in 19thCentury England (Stanford, 1999), 5.
THE MODERN USES OF MEDIEVAL CRUSADES
parishioners’ study of scripture created a sense of identity based upon a common interpretation of certain texts, images, and stories, and this identity transcended boundaries of class.80 Many of these archetypes were taught, learned, and memorized through the Sunday School movement, which even un-churched adults had attended as children. Churches had been under terriﬁc pressure to retain in their pews those men who had attended Sunday school but to whom the more worldly concerns of workplace, male camaraderie, and ﬁnancial success were more enticing than stories taken from the patriarchs or the Gospels. Scholars have referred to the increasing imbalance between men’s and women’s participation and attendance in church activities as a feminization of nineteenth-century religion. The phenomenon existed not only in Britain but in America, where British traveler Frances Trollope observed, in the 1820s, she had never seen “or read, of any country where religion had so strong a hold upon the women, or a slighter hold upon the men.”81 This state of affairs posed both a spiritual and a ﬁnancial problem for churches on both sides of the Atlantic for while women ﬁlled the pews men paid the clergymen’s salaries.82 In order to redress this imbalance, churches tried to associate themselves with causes and rhetoric designed speciﬁcally to lure men back to services and away from the more worldly temptations available to post-Sunday School, school leavers. Most consistently, they attempted to incorporate manly and martial images into the presentation of religion, the church, and the life of Jesus. The goal was to counter the common view that devoutly religious men and male missionaries were, in Charles Dickens’s words, akin to “weird old women,” or, as others put it, “not quite men.”83 The churches themselves were keenly aware of this broad, public notion of their activities as being somehow antithetical to accepted forms of masculine behavior. The Congregationalist preacher, C. H. Spurgeon wrote at the end of the nineteenth century, “There has got abroad a notion, somehow, that if you become a Christian, you sink your manliness.”84 This attitude was most notable in an era when the call to arms and the right to defend and extend Britain’s empire through soldiering became intimately
80 Brian Stock, The Implications of Literacy: Written Language and Models of Interpretation in the Eleventh and Twelfth Centuries (Princeton, 1983). 81 Frances Trollope, Domestic Manners of the Americans (New York, 1960), 75. 82 Terry D. Bilhartz, “Sex and the Second Great Awakening: The Feminization of American Religion Reconsidered,” in, Philip R. Vandermeer and Robert P. Swierenga, eds., Belief and Behavior: Essays in the New Religious History (New Brunswick, 1991), 123. 83 Charles Dickens, “The Niger Expedition,” in Miscellaneous Papers 1 (London, 1848; repr., Millwood, N.Y., 1983). See also William Thackeray’s coeval portrayal of Pitt Crawley as “Miss Crawley” whilst at Eton, in, Peter L. Shillingsburg, ed., Vanity Fair, (New York, 1989), ch. 9; Thorne, Congregational Missions, 90. 84 C. H. Spurgeon, A Good Start: A Book for Young Men and Women (London, 1898), 16, 24. This idea was echoed by William Alexander Smith, founder of the Boys’ Brigades, who stated that most boys equated being a Christian to being a “molly-coddle.” See William Smith, “The Boys’ Brigade: Its Organization and Methods,” Boys’ Brigade Gazette 1 (2 Feb. 1891), 168–69.
attached to notions of manliness, an idea reinforced for the elites through the development of military corps in the Public Schools, and for the middle and working classes through the development of the Volunteer Forces. As the century progressed, soldiering developed into a moral mandate for British men. The solution to the disconnection between religion and masculinity came in a variety of forms: hellﬁre preaching replete with images of battle and warfare in the form of revivalism, education and socialization techniques for boys which combined Christian teachings with sport and other “masculine” pursuits, and the search for iconic heroes (both ﬁctional and in life) who combined strong manly actions in war with deep and devoted piety, without contradiction between them. This attempt to marry martial imagery with Christian teachings has been deemed “Christian militarism.” For the elites, for whom there had long been a military pedigree and for whom soldiering was often seen as a traditional calling, the public schools served to meld Christianity and masculinity quite well. Particularly important were the teachings of Charles Kingsley, which promoted a “Healthful and manful Christianity . . . which does not exalt the feminine virtues to the exclusion of the masculine.” Kingsley’s teachings became central to the educational philosophies of schools such as Eton and Rugby. Some observers, such as the writer Thomas Hughes, went so far as to see Christian virtue in violence.85 The task of getting the message to the working classes was more difﬁcult. One of the most common methods in this regard was the development of mutual improvement societies and organizations such as the Young Men’s Christian Association and the Boys’ Brigade. The founding purpose of such organizations was to serve both as vehicles for bringing the ideals of Christian manliness to the lower middle and working classes, and also to ease the transition of young men both from Sunday and state school leaving, and to adulthood in the workplace or army. However, given the deeply ingrained antipathy between the image of the religious molly-coddle and the desire for true manliness, which every boy was supposed to desire, the success of such organizations was marginal.86 Nonetheless, success was found in the propagation of the manly, Christian military icon—both ﬁctional and factual—whose martial deeds in service of the empire never overshadowed his devout faith and humble piety.87 Such soldier saints and heroes of the empire and their deeds were most frequently portrayed in terms of crusading and crusaders, with parallels to Richard I, England’s most notable crusading king in great evidence. This is no surprise, since the crusades of the late eleventh, twelfth, and thirteenth centuries were
Thomas Hughes, Tom Brown’s School Days at Rugby (Cambridge, 1857). See Thomas Hughes, The Manliness of Christ (Boston, 1870), passim, esp. Introduction. The most famous of these early ﬁctional soldier saints was the eponymous hero of Catherine Marsh, Memorials of Captain Hedley Vicars, 97th regiment (London, 1856), which was written expressly to serve as an instrument of evangelism among young men.
86 87 85
THE MODERN USES OF MEDIEVAL CRUSADES
the most obvious historic uniﬁcation of religious piety and manly, martial virtues. Publications became one of the primary means of education, most notably the Boy’s Own Paper founded by the Religious Tract Society, which, with its lauding of soldier-saints became for wealthy and impoverished boys alike the “unofﬁcial organ” of the muscular Christianity movement.88 From the 1840s the language of chivalry and crusading was used within the army with increasing self-consciousness. Even before Crimea, soldier-writers such as Sir William Napier were fond of describing the early heroes of British campaigns in India, especially, in crusading terms.89 By the 1860s, the association of religion and femininity had largely been obliterated from the minds of those who sought inspiration from new, militaristic hymns such as Sabine Baring-Gould’s “Onward Christian Soldiers,” written initially in 1864 for schoolchildren at Baring-Gould’s Horbury Bridge mission.90 Some prominent Englishmen attempted to take crusading to its ultimate extreme. In his second will (September 1877), Cecil Rhodes instructed his executors to establish a secret society dedicated to, among other things, encouraging British occupation of the Holy Land.91 Crusading imagery was used most vividly in the development of personality cults around military heroes of the empire. The disasters of the Indian Mutiny bore a number of “crusaders.” King Baldwin I of Jerusalem and King Richard the Lion-hearted themselves would “look very poor beside many whom we could mention,” one commentator noted.92 Perhaps no English warrior in India was lauded more for his crusading virtues than Sir Henry Havelock the Christian martyr par excellence. Havelock, it was written, was concerned
88 ` Note such stories as G. Demage’s “A Plunge into the Sahara” [translated from selections of A travers le Sahara. Adventures merveileuses de Marius Mercurin (Paris, 1894)], in Boy’s Own Paper 16 (1893–1894), which noted that the preaching of Christianity in the Sahara was “a noble revenge for the death of St. Louis and the Mohammedan Conquest of the Holy Sepulchre.” By the late 1880s, Boy’s Own had a circulation in excess of a half-million. 89 William Napier was the brother of Sir Charles Napier, who undertook the conquest of Sind in 1842. See William Napier, The Conquest of Scinde, 2d ed. (London, 1845). 90 Other hymns from this period with crusading themes included J.S.B. Monsell’s “Fight the Good Fight”; W. W. How’s “For All the Saints”; E. P. Hammond’s “Marching Along, We are Marching Along”; and George Dufﬁeld’s “Stand Up, Stand Up for Jesus, Ye Soldiers of the Cross.” I should like to thank Elisabeth Jill Henderson-Wild, Thalia Wild, and the late James Wild for helping me identify some of these themes through their deep knowledge of Anglican hymnody. 91 W. T. Stead, The Last Will and Testament of Cecil John Rhodes (London, 1902), 61–62. 92 E. P. Hood, Havelock: The Broad Sword of Honour. A Tribute of the Tongue and Pen (London, 1858), 8. Also see descriptions of Sir Herbert Edwardes, commander of British troops against the Sikhs in the 1840s, and reconciled the Afghans during the 1857 uprising, who was described as a “Christian Knight.” See Edward Gilliat, Heroes of Modern India (London, 1911), 198. See, too, stories of the “stern and just knight” John Nicholson, who was killed leading the ﬁrst British assault on Delhi in 1857; John Kaye, Lives of Indian Ofﬁcers (London, 1889), 2: 488 –89, quoting Edwardes; and that of Sir Henry Lawrence, killed at Lucknow in 1857, whose deeds were likened to “an old knight in a story.” See Gilliat, Heroes, 312.
“for the honour of the Cross and for the honour of England.”93 His religious virtues were lauded by John Ruskin, who referred to Havelock and his men as “Crusaders . . . indeed.”94 The Nonconformist journalist Hugh Shimmin, ´ in his exposes of the conditions of Liverpool’s working class, wrote how pictures of Havelock were commonplace on sitting room walls, demonstrating the widespread popularity of the new crusading saints even in the meanest of social circumstances.95 Exceeding even Havelock in his resemblance to a medieval crusader was General Charles George Gordon, hero of China and martyr of Sudan. This is not surprising, since Gordon’s ﬁnal enemies were Muslims, and the parallels with the Muslim opponents of the crusades could be made readily manifest. Even before his death at Khartoum, Gordon was presented publicly as a crusader, as “the very exemplar of muscular Christianity.”96 Books referred to his faith and his symbolic place in the English mind by their very titles such as Abraham Kingdon’s Gordon: The Christian Hero (1885) and the anonymous England’s Hero and Christian Soldier (1886). Gordon’s life was described as divided “naturally into three portions . . . three distinct campaigns in one Crusade.”97 “The old symbols of the Holy War, of the ceaseless Crusade,” one encomiast wrote, “wake up to a new life through this man who was so essentially a soldier, and so essentially a Christian.”98 Another encomiast referred to Gordon as a “Christian knight errant,” whose life proved that “the age of chivalry [was] not gone.”99 No less a public ﬁgure than Sir Arthur Conan Doyle saw the ultimate victory of the British over the forces of the Mahdi in Sudan as a clear triumph of Christianity over Islam.100 Gordon’s death was portrayed as a passion play, “teaching, not preaching, how soldier-saints die.”101 One author spoke in tones reminiscent medieval millennialists in predicting the overthrow and conversion of Egypt, the restoration of the houses of Israel, and the return of the “remnant of God’s people
Hood, Havelock, 61. John Ruskin, “A Knight’s Faith,” in, Edward T. Cook and Alexander Wedderburn, eds., The Works of Ruskin, Vol. 31 (London, 1907), 506. 95 Hugh Shimmin, Liverpool Sketches (London, 1860), 115. 96 Edward Gilliat, for example, presents him as one of his “heroes of modern crusades,” though as much for his work with youth in England as for his victories or “martyrdom” on the battleﬁeld, in, Heroes of Modern Crusades: True Stories of the Undaunted Chivalry of Champions of the Down-Trodden in Many Lands (London, 1909), ch. 13. 97 Elizabeth R. Charles, Three Martyrs of the Nineteenth Century: Studies from the Lives of Livingstone, Gordon and Patteson (London, 1885), 172. 98 Charles, Three Martyrs, 173. 99 The former is the title of chapter 6 of Robert E. Speer’s Some Great Leaders in the World Movement (New York, 1911); the latter is from England’s Hero and Christian Soldier: A Biographical and Historical Sketch of the Life of General C. G. Gordon (London, 1886), 230. 100 Arthur Conan Doyle, The Tragedy of the Korosko (London, 1898), 320, 329ff. 101 “General Gordon of Khartoum,” in, Ella May Gordon, White Heather (London, 1909), 207–9, line 20.
THE MODERN USES OF MEDIEVAL CRUSADES
from the land of Cush.”102 There was, he wrote “no clear and deﬁnite evidence of General Gordon’s death,” and scriptural arguments favored his survival.103 He then characterized Gordon as a modern Joshua, the savior and deliverer of Egypt.104 By the century’s conclusion, Professor J. A. Cramb, an ardently militaristic professor of modern history at London, could write conclusively that “this ideal of Imperial Britain—to bring the peoples of the earth beneath her sway the larger freedom and the higher justice—the world has known none fairer, none more exalted, since that for which Godfrey and Richard fought, for which Barbarossa and St. Louis died.”105 World War One provided perhaps the widest berth for those wishing to evoke crusading imagery.106 Politicians and preachers alike declared the war against the Germans a crusade. As early as November 1914 the M. P. Lord Halifax called for the formal declaration of a holy war against Germany.107 Not surprisingly, such sentiment was echoed manifold from the prominent pulpits of Britain.108 Crusading imagery became even more vivid with the actual development of military operations against the Muslim, Ottoman Turks in and around the Holy Land, with its direct historical connections with the crusades.109 However, a wide range of commentators and participants looked upon the Palestine campaign, both during the action and in retrospect, as nothing less than the last crusade, destined to restore Jerusalem to the forces of Christendom. While the government (and General Allenby, for that matter) chose to keep their public pronouncements on the campaign purely secular, the War Ofﬁce was
John Meaburn Bright, Who Is the White Pasha? A Story of Coming Victory (London, 1889), 4. Ibid., 23, 29. Ibid., 45– 47, 104–65. 105 J. A. Cramb, “Lecture IV: The War in South Africa (29 May 1900),” in Reﬂections on the Origins and Destiny of Imperial Britain (London, 1900), 160. 106 For an in-depth study of World War I and chivalry, see Allen J. Frantzen, Bloody Good: Chivalry, Sacriﬁce and the Great War (Chicago, 2004). 107 He was echoed by the Lord Chancellor Lord Haldane and the principal of Newnham College, Cambridge, Eleanor Sidgwick (who was the sister of the future Foreign Secretary, A. J. Balfour). See Church Times (27 Nov. 1914); Church Family Newspaper (12 Feb. 1915). 108 “There is a sense, as with the ancient knights, in which these roaring guns of yours may be baptized for the service of goodness and truth. . ..” James Black, Around the Guns: Sundays in Camp (London, 1915), 21. The American clergyman Randolph McKim proclaimed the war to be “indeed a crusade” (R. H. McKim, For God and Country; or the Christian Pulpit in Wartime Addresses [New York, 1918], 116 –17). Bishop Arthur Winnington-Ingram (1858– 1946), the so-called “Bishop of the Battleﬁelds,” appealed to the Church to “Mobilize the Nation for a Holy War.” (Guardian, 10 June, 24 June, and 1 July 1915; and Church Times, 1 Oct. 1915). 109 Note that this ‘crusading’ was never condoned as an ofﬁcial ideology in the houses of Parliament. The fall of Jerusalem in 1917 was described in wholly secular terms by both Chancellor Andrew Bonar Law (who made the initial report on behalf of the government) and Prime Minister David Lloyd-George (Parliamentary Debates, Commons, 5th ser., 100 (1917), cols. 875, 1180– 81). However, Lloyd-George, looking back upon his political career later in life, wrote that, with Allenby, Christendom had been able to regain possession of its sacred shrines. See David LloydGeorge, War Memoirs of David Lloyd George, 6 vols. (London, 1933–1936), 1879.
103 104 102
not above using a crusading image to garner popular support, entitling one of their ﬁlms on the campaign “The New Crusaders.”110 Clearly, the crusades were a readily identiﬁable image for the British public at large. The actor Vivian Gilbert, who served under Allenby and then commenced a Trans-Atlantic lecture tour about his experiences, repeatedly talked about the “Tenth Crusade,” making the medieval-modern contrast explicit.111 “The spirit of the Crusaders was in all these men of mine,” he wrote, “Was not their courage just as great, their idealism just as ﬁne, as that of the knights of old who had set out with such dauntless faith under the leadership of Richard the Lion Hearted to free the Holy Land?”112 Among the elites, nowhere was this imagery stronger (or more dramatized) than in the musings of the poet Rupert Brooke. Writing in February and March of 1915, Brooke told of his life-long desire to go on a military expedition against Constantinople, and even referred to himself, somewhat disparagingly, as a crusader.113 This image, self-conscious though it might have been, remained with Brooke until his death. Even the legend on Brooke’s grave reads “Here lies the servant of God, Sub-Lieutenant in the English Navy, who died for the deliverance of Constantinople from the Turks.”114 Allenby’s name is, of course, most clearly attached to the Palestine campaign and the capture of Jerusalem. In truth, he became irritated by any “crusading” imagery attached to his campaigns. Speaking in Jerusalem in 1937, he said, “Our campaign has been called ‘The Last Crusade.’ It was not a crusade. There is still a current idea that our object was to deliver Jerusalem from the Moslem. Not so. Many of my soldiers were Moslems.”115 This statement is a far cry from the over-dramatized crusading sentiment found in Ernest Raymond’s ﬁctionalized autobiography meant for a more middle class audience. Recalling speeches made while he served at the Gallipoli campaign, Raymond placed the following words in the mouth of a zealous and veteran colonel of troops: “I say the Gallipoli campaign is a New Crusade . . . Constantinople is a sacred city. It’s the only ancient city purely Christian in its origin . . . In their ﬁght to wrest this city from the Turk, the three great divisions of the Church are united once more . . . Christendom United ﬁghts for Constantinople, under the leadership of the
MacKenzie, Propaganda and Empire, 75. Vivian Gilbert, The Romance of the Last Crusade: With Allenby to Jerusalem (New York, 1923), 171. 112 Ibid., 37. 113 Brooke to Violet Asquith, Feb. 1915, in Rupert Brooke, Letters, Sir Geoffrey Keynes, ed. (London, 1968), 662–63; Brooke to Jacques Raverat, 8 Mar. 1915, in Brooke, Letters, 668. 114 W. Denis Browne to Edward Marsh, 25 Apr. 1915, in Brooke, Letters, 686. Both men were Cambridge friends of Brooke, and Marsh authored The Memoir of Rupert Brooke (London, 1918). 115 Notes from a lecture given by Allenby at Y.M.C.A., Jerusalem, 19 Apr. 1933, 6/VIII/70, Allenby papers [now MS. London, King’s College, Liddell Hart Centre for Military Archives, Allenby papers 3/5], in Jonathan Newell, “Allenby and the Palestine Campaign,” in, Brian Bond, ed., The First World War and British Military History (Oxford, 1991), 193.
THE MODERN USES OF MEDIEVAL CRUSADES
British, whose ﬂag is made up of the crosses of the saints. The army opposing the Christian ﬁghts under the crescent of Islam . . . It’s the Cross against the Crescent, again, my lads.”116 Allenby, a veteran of campaigns dating back to the Victorian period of colonial and guerilla warfare, pointed out what Raymond concealed: there was little romance to actual battleﬁeld operations. The gradual mechanization of warfare from the time of the Napoleonic Wars had changed the battleﬁeld experience forever. The romances of sword and cannon that ﬁlled the pages of the Boy’s Own in the 1880s bore little resemblance to the hellish conditions and mass execution brought by the machine gun, long distance artillery, and trench warfare. As contemporary historians of the Gallipoli campaign have pointed out from their interviews with veterans from the common soldiery, crusading romance was difﬁcult to cull from a sea “absolutely red with blood” for ﬁfty yards from the shore, or where the corpses ﬂoating in the bay could be likened to a stranded shoal of ﬁsh, or where soldiers wept, not from fear, but because of the foul, lice-infested, fecal-ridden conditions of their existence. These grim realities help explain the need for that most romantic of martial images: the medieval crusader whose just war, in a Christian cause, was a comforting and universally understood metaphor for “ﬁghting the good ﬁght.” As Michael Adams has put it succinctly, “Chivalry veneered the naked use of force.”117 Bulgaria If the British felt it necessary to reinterpret crusading for the nineteenth century and reestablish a crusading heritage in the case of late nineteenthand early twentieth-century Bulgaria, we ﬁnd a monarch who attempted to import a western crusading ideology with which he was comfortable into a country which had no crusading traditions. Ferdinand I of Bulgaria (r.1887 –1918) worked during the central part of his reign to portray himself, both to his people and to the diplomatic community of Europe, as the logical leader of a newly formed Byzantine Empire. In this he came to follow both the historiographic traditions with which he was raised and the view posited by some Bulgarian historians that the Byzantine Empire was a Slavic rather than a Greek enterprise.118 Born of a German father and a French mother, Ferdinand became keenly aware of his position between Western and Eastern traditions. After an early reign during which the new king displayed a great insensitivity toward
Ernest Raymond, Tell England: A Study in a Generation (New York, 1922), 196–97. Michael C. C. Adams, The Great Adventure: Male Desire and the Coming of World War I (Bloomington, 1990), 71. 118 This was most notably true with an 1874 history, edited by Dragan Manchov, intended for use for the national schools. Dragan V. Manchov, Bulgarska istoriia za nardony uchilishta: ot razny suchineniia po bulgarsku-tu istorii-u (Plovdiv, 1874).
Orthodoxy, Bulgarian nationalists were justiﬁably wary of his loyalties and faith. Thereafter, Ferdinand worked to appease traditionalist forces in the society, notably the Church hierarchy and the army, by a skillful blending of religious and militaristic imagery, which, for a German-born prince, would have been typiﬁed by crusading.119 He was keenly aware of his ´ French heritage, as imbued in him by his mother Clementine d’Orleans, the daughter of King Louis Philippe of France. His ﬁrst wife, Marie-Louise of Bourbon-Parma, was a direct descendant of Charles X. Ferdinand declared proudly at his marriage reception in 1893, “In my veins too ﬂows the blood of St. Louis.”120 During a visit to Constantinople in March and April of 1896, Ferdinand ﬁrst began to play upon such crusading themes in his foreign policy.121 The subsequent formation of the Balkan League in 1912 as a union of Christian states raised the specter of a true crusade of recovery intended to eliminate Muslim power from Europe.122 In declaring war against the Ottomans in October 1912, in the interest of “humanity and Christendom,” Ferdinand, joined with the kings of Greece and Serbia, in a “struggle of the Cross against the Crescent.”123 The Bulgarian declarations in the Balkan War were, in essence, a western method applied to an eastern ambition. Rumors spread in Europe that the Bulgarian monarch’s burning desire to hear a Te Deum sung in Hagia Sophia was spurred on by religious ´ visions.124 The French ambassador Maurice Paleologue described a painting of Constantinople, kept in a palace drawing room, which depicted Ferdinand as a knight of the apocalypse, in clouds of purple and gold, riding toward
A notable example is his founding of the Order of Saints Cyril and Methodius in 1909. ¨ Joachim von Konigslow, Ferdinand von Bulgarien (Munich, 1970), 14. 121 For Ferdinand’s reminiscences regarding the St. Sophia, see Maurice Paleologue, The Tragic Empress: The Story of a Record of Intimate Talks with the Empress Eugenie, 1901–1919 (London, 1928), 174–75. Paul Cambon, the French ambassador to the Porte, remarked that Ferdinand merely had a fantasy for pomp and ceremony. See Paul Cambon, Correspondence 1870–1924, vol. 1 (Paris, 1940), 402. 122 Sir H. Bax-Ironside, British minister in Soﬁa, noted that, while Ferdinand “for many years dreamed of the creation of a Byzantine Empire, of which he would be the Emperor, with its capital at Constantinople,” he has now “turned towards the Confederation of the Balkan States, to be followed by the creation of a Balkan Empire, of which His Majesty, or his successor, would be the chief” (Bax-Ironside to [British Foreign Secretary] Sir Edward Grey, 24 Feb. 1912, in British Documents on the Origins of the War, 1898– 1914, 9, 1: no. 554. 123 Speech in John MacDonald, Czar Ferdinand and His People (New York, 1971), 333–34; ¨ see also, [German Foreign Minister] Kiderlen-Wachter to [German ambassador in London] Richard von Kuhlmann, 20 Oct. 1912, in Die grosse Politik der europaischen Kabinette, 1871–1914. 68 vols. (Berlin, 1926– 1927), 33, no. 12287. 124 The desire for mass in Saint Sophia was noted by Albert, Graft von Mensdorff-Pouilly-Dietrichstein [Austro-Hungarian ambassador in London] in a dispatch to Vienna (8 Nov. 1912), in ¨ Osterreich-Ungarns Aussenpolitik von der bosnischen Krise 1908 bis zum Kriegsausbruch 1914, bd. 4 (Vienna, 1930), no. 4321. A similar report came from the Russian ambassador to ´ Britain, Count Benckendorff, via the German charge d’affaires in London; see Die grosse ¨ Politik der europıaschen Kabinette, v. 33, no. 12318.
THE MODERN USES OF MEDIEVAL CRUSADES
Byzantium.125 The painter, Ivan Mrkvicka, had painted portraits of the emperor and empress in full Byzantine imperial robes similar to those that portrayed the Bulgarian tsar John Alexander Asen in the fourteenth century.126 At each point, Ferdinand’s public image employed historical allusions intended to establish his legitimacy as a true leader among the Bulgarian people, and the right of the Bulgarian nation to claim its proper inheritance to a grand and glorious martial legacy. As the war progressed and Bulgarian forces neared Constantinople itself in November and December of 1912, Ferdinand’s dream approached reality to such a point that his own secretary, the French ` poet Paul de Chevremont, upon reﬂection noted that it was a case of fantasy taking over political reality.127 Even the Ottoman Foreign Minister believed that Ferdinand was “determined to enter and install himself in the palaces.”128 Many in the courts of Europe felt that his bravado, if taken to its logical conclusion, would have truly disastrous effects. George V of Britain noted that all of the major powers that had Muslim subjects would suffer uprisings should the cross be restored atop the Hagia Sophia.129 Ferdinand himself believed victory was imminent and, perhaps in the ultimate expression of new “invented crusading traditions,” he sent orders to Soﬁa to bring six white horses and, according to the Russian minister, his Byzantine emperor’s costume.130 This crusading propaganda was not limited to the private dreams of the emperor—chromolithographs were distributed among the Balkan troops that showed a ghostly Constantine XI, the last Byzantine emperor, guiding the Balkan kings “toward St. Sophia in the distance.”131 In the end the Ottomans were able to hold Constantinople. This, combined with the later disasters of the second Balkan War and World War One, resulted in Ferdinand’s abdication and return to Germany. His grandson Simeon, after years in exile himself, now serves as Prime Minister of Bulgaria and, ironically, is the ﬁrst Bulgarian premier to have substantial Turkish representation in his cabinet.
125 ´ See Maurice Paleologue, Au quai d’Orsay a la veille de la tourmente: Journal, 1913–14 ´ (Paris, 1947), 171 (16 July 1913). Paleologue, then French minister in Soﬁa (1907–1912), and later French ambassador to Russia (1914– 1917), and director-general of the French foreign ofﬁce (1921–1925), was thought to be a collateral descendant of Constantine XI Palaeologus, the last Byzantine Emperor. 126 See illustration 001; Andrei Protich, I.V. M’rkvichka: Zhivot i tvorchestvo (Soﬁa, 1955), 45; Anatoli Vasilevich Nekliudov, the Russian minister at Soﬁa during the First Balkan War, remarked that he was content to have himself portrayed by “third-rate painters.” See Anatoli V. Nekliudov, Diplomatic Reminiscences before and during the World War, 1911– 1917, Alexandra Paget, trans., 2d ed. (London, 1920), 12. 127 Madol, Ferdinand, 174. 128 Ibid., 172 –73. 129 ¨ Noted by Albert, Graft von Mensdorff-Pouilly-Dietrichstein in Osterreich-Ungarns Aussenpolitik, no. 4321. 130 Nekludoff, Diplomatic Reminiscences, 120. 131 Constant, Foxy Ferdinand, 259.
CRUSADING SUBVERTED: CRUSADING IN MUSLIM WRITING
Perhaps the most notable usage of portable crusading in the late nineteenth and early twentieth centuries was not found in the West at all, but rather, in Muslim critiques of western imperialism. Muslim commentators looked upon western imperialism as simply an extension of Medieval crusading, accepting in essence a western historiography of Christian-Muslim conﬂict, but appropriating and indeed subverting it to Muslim needs. The Egyptian historian Sayyid Ali al-Hariri was the ﬁrst Muslim to attempt a full-scale study of the crusades. In 1899 he wrote that European attacks against the Ottoman Empire bore “a great resemblance to the deeds of these ˆ people in bygone times. Our most glorious Sultan, ‘Abd al-Hamıd II, has rightly remarked that Europe is now carrying out a Crusade against us in the form of a political campaign.”132 The battle was later described by theor¨ ists such as the Turkish nationalist Ziya Gokalp as one of the crescent defending itself against the depredations of the cross.133 The “conscience of Europe,” ¨ Gokalp wrote, was simply, as it had always been, the conscience of Christianity.134 The call to religious struggle had great appeal, and during the 1870s the Ottoman press often couched conﬂict with the west in terms of “Crescent versus Cross,” particularly after most of the Ottoman Balkan Christian provinces had been lost. An attack on the Ottoman Empire, decrepit and faltering as it may have been, not only threatened a now more fully Muslim polity, but ˆ ¨ also challenged Sultan Abdulhamıd’s claim on the caliphate and thus on panIslamic religious authority. Yet, the pan-Islam of the Ottoman Empire was couched in secular and even outright western terms, in this case those of “crusades” and “crusading.” Western military and missionizing attacks on the Empire were interpreted as attacks on the moral and physical heart of Islam itself. The medieval crusades, with their combination of missionary zeal and frontal military assault, were the logical historical parallel. Only Muslim unity could oppose these new crusades, some argued, and the crusading threat became an important theme in the writings of the pan-Islamic movement. The Italian invasion of Ottoman Libya in 1911 was one of the primary ˆ ¨ stimulants of crusading imagery. Ottoman poet-politician Suleyman Nazıf, ˘ in a piece entitled “Hayal degil, hakikat” (Truth, not fantasy), pointed to the losses in Libya and the Balkans as further links in the chain of
132 Note al-Akhbar al-saniyya ﬁ’l-hurub al-salibiyya (Cairo, 1899), 6 in Emanuel Sivan, Modern Arab Historiography of the Crusades, (1973), 12. 133 ¨ Ziya Gokalp, Kizil Elma (1941), 81 –82, in Uriel Heyd, Foundations of Turkish Nationa¨ lism: The Life and Teachings of Ziya Gokalp (London, 1950), 99. 134 ¨ Ziya Gokalp, “Uc Cereyan,” in, Niyazi Berkes, ed., Turkish Nationalism and Western Civi¸ ¨ ¨ lization: Selected Essays of Ziya Gokalp (New York, 1959), 75; Ziya Gokalp, “Cemaat Medeniyeti, Cemiyet Medeniyeti,” in Turkish Nationalism, 101 –2.
THE MODERN USES OF MEDIEVAL CRUSADES
continuing Crusades, ones that demanded a pan-Islamic response.135 Muslims in India petitioned the Home Secretary to intervene against the Italian action. Mirza Kazim Hosain, secretary of the London All-India Muslim League, wrote to the Under-Secretary of State for Foreign Affairs, “As the seizure of Tripoli is represented by the Italians as a triumph of the Cross over the Crescent they fear an impression will be created in the Mussulman world that it is a religious war at which the rest of Christendom [sic] is looking on unmoved.”136 The thoroughly secular tone of much of the Italian propaganda regarding Libya in particular is striking. Yet the Viceroy Lord Hardinge himself wrote: “The Turco-Italian war is producing a great deal of agitation amongst the Mahommedans of India. I hear from the North-West Frontier Province . . . that the war between Italy and Turkey is the sole topic of discussion in the villages and amongst the tribes, and the bazaar version is that we have conspired with Italy to help her seize Tripoli.”137 The Balkan Wars evoked a similar reaction in the Muslim world. Syed Amir Ali, the ﬁrst Indian appointed as a Privy Council judge, reported from England to the Indian Muslim paper The Comrade that the Balkan War had been proclaimed a crusade.138 Lord Hardinge again commented, “the Mahommedans attribute our action or inaction to the fact of the Balkan States being Christians.”139 A correspondent of The Times noted how Ferdinand I of Bulgaria used the term “crusade” at the beginning of the Balkan Wars, and that the Muslim World perceived “that an unholy alliance exist[s] amongst the Christian Powers of the world not only to expel the Turks from Europe, but to put an end to their existence as an independent . . . nation.”140 Mohammed Ali, the Muslim political leader who would later lead the NonCooperation Movement with Gandhi, echoed this view in The Comrade, stating, “The armies of the [Balkan] Confederacy have marched to battle under the intoxication of religion. They have been proudly acclaimed by
135 ˆ Written as an appendix to Celal Nuri [Ileri], Ittihad-i Islam: Islamin mazisi, hali, istikbali (Istanbul, 1913); Landau, Politics, 84. In truth, only a small minority of Italian commentators ever couched the Libyan invasion in crusading terms, and they tended to be on the Catholic ` far-right: see “Mentra si volge l’imprese tripolina,” L’Unita Cattolica (15 Oct. 1911); “La nota ` giusta nella Guerra presente,” in L’Unita Cattolica (17 Oct. 1911); “Cronaca contemporanea,” ` in La Civilta Cattolica (1911) 4: 363. Indeed, L’Osservatore Romano, the ofﬁcial Vatican paper, denied the Vatican had sanctioned the invasion as a “holy war.” See [Vaticanus], “Vatican Views and the War with Tripoli,” Outlook 29 (1911): 723 –24. 136 The Comrade, 18 Nov. 1911, in, Shan Muhammad, ed., The Indian Muslims: A Documentary Record, 8 vols. (Meerut, 1980–), 3: 118. 137 Lord Hardinge to [Colonial Secretary] The Marquess of Crewe, 12 Oct. 1911, in MS, Cambridge, University Library, Hardinge Papers, vol. 117, p. 261. 138 The Comrade, 26 Oct. 1912, in Indian Muslims, 3: 157. 139 Lord Hardinge to Marquess of Crewe, Simla, 14 Aug. 1913, in MS, Cambridge, University Library, Hardinge Papers, vol. 119, 106–7. 140 The Comrade, 8 Nov. 1913, in Indian Muslims, 3: 317.
their chiefs as soldiers of Christ.” In the same speech he compared Ferdinand with Peter the Hermit.141 Such worry and criticism continued into the First World War, which was often characterized in Muslim propaganda as a Christian War against all Muslims. The Ottoman Empire itself sought to liberate Muslims from the yoke of foreign imperialism, whether in India or Azerbaijan, and on 11 November 1914 the Ottomans proclaimed Jihad against Russia, Britain, and France, though to little effect.142 The portrayal in the Muslim world of Allenby’s campaign as a crusade became just one more crusading ﬁction, perpetuated by, among others, Gamal Abdel Nasser, born the year after Allenby marched into Jerusalem. The thirty-eight-year-old Egyptian in a 1956 speech proclaimed: “It was England and France that attacked this region under the name of the Crusades, and the Crusades were nothing else but British-French imperialism . . . it was no accident at all that General Allenby . . . said on arriving in Jerusalem, ‘Today the wars of the Crusades are completed.’ Nor is it in any way an accident that when General Gouraud arrived in Damascus, he said, ‘Behold we have returned, Saladin.’”143 Once again we ﬁnd the image of the crusades deployed to couch new issues, this time on behalf of those against whom the original crusades had been waged.144 This transplantation has been brought into vivid relief in more recent events in the Middle East. While ultra-Islamist groups such as alQaeeda, Hizb Allah, and Hamas have used crusading imagery since the early 1980s,145 the recent conﬂicts in Iraq have inspired some of the most vivid use of holy war rhetoric and medieval imagery to date. Both American and Iraqi propagandists have littered their statements with references to historical conﬂict. Saddam Hussayn, as already noted, worked to make explicit connections between himself and Saladin, going so far as to Arabize the medieval Kurdish hero.146 Contemporary Muslim observers continue to complain that Western diplomatic policies regarding Islamic states are based upon a
The Comrade, 16–23 Nov. 1912, in Indian Muslims, 3: 179. G. L. Lewis, “The Ottoman Proclamation of Jihad in 1914,” Islamic Quarterly 19 (1975): 157–63. 143 “Speech delivered by President Gamal Abdel Nasser at Goumhouria Square, Cairo, [20 Mar. 1958]” in President Gamal Abdel Nasser’s Speeches and Press Interviews 1958 (Cairo, 1958), 129. This same ﬁction regarding Gouraud is followed in Abd ar-Rahman al-Basha, Ard al-butulat (Cairo, 1969). 144 The “necessity” of rewriting history to serve the interests of the Muslim state has been a focal point of the Iraqi “Project for the Rewriting of History,” of which Saddam Husayn was the head. See Saddam Husayn, Hawla kitabat al-tarikh (Baghdad, 1979). 145 ¨ A. Taheri, Holy Terror (London, 1987), 111; Newsweek, 17 Aug. 1998, 20; A. Nusse, “The Ideology of Hamas: Palestinian Islamic Fundamentalist Thought on the Jews, Israel and Islam,” in, R. L. Nettler, ed., Studies in Muslim-Jewish relations 1 (Chur, 1993), 97–127. 146 Ofra Bengio, [‘Irak shel Tsadam. English] Saddam’s Word: Political Discourse in Iraq (New York, 1998), 82ff.
THE MODERN USES OF MEDIEVAL CRUSADES
crusading ethos.147 American political rhetoric has indeed been quite explicit in its crusading references. In September 2001, George W. Bush declared his “war on terrorism” a “crusade”—a statement he was later forced to recant due to its religious implications.148 Nonetheless, in 2004 Montana governor Marc Racicot used similar words in a nationally published and distributed endorsement of President Bush’s reelection campaign. Racicot lauded Bush for “leading a global crusade against terrorism,” only to retract his words later just as Bush had.149
What are we to make from all of this modern crusading, and why have the crusades been so readily transformable, adaptable, and portable? On one hand, we ﬁnd in the crusades a very convenient way for elites to assert their own political power and justify their imperial enterprises through the manipulation and creation of acceptable cultural symbols. The imperial mission of the British, in particular, was seen as a crusade because the elites had deemed it so, and it proved to be a persuasive symbol that met with relatively little resistance, or even negotiation. Of course, the western rhetoric of imperial crusading also proved an easy target for subjugated peoples (such as the Muslims of India), who inverted the West’s positive associations of the crusades. Muslims could point to what they saw as a continuation of 900-year-old anti-Muslim sentiments even in an increasingly secularized Europe, which belied any pretense of western beneﬁcence. This brings us back to the question of how and why the crusader proved such an enduring and potent image. First of all, it allowed the iconic marriage of churchgoing (female) with military service and patriotism (male), which many had thought to be irreconcilable. The crusades represented the most Christian of historical enterprises in a martial (and thus manly) context. In the Anglo-American and French worlds, at least, the reintroduction of crusading imagery into political and public life, like the Christian athleticism so prominent in Victorian Britain, was an effort to re-masculinize Christianity at a time when men were drifting away from religion. Secondly, the crusaders provide a simple and almost universally understood message of justice, virtue, and piety at times when there are few such absolutes, and there are increasing social and political uncertainties in western public and social life.150 They have provided a symbol around which a textual community can be formed, regardless of its members’ station,
Sunday Observer, 3 Feb. 2002; Turkish Daily News, 2 Apr. 2001. See Associated Press reports of 17 and 18 Sept. 2001. 149 Reuters report, 19 Apr. 2004. 150 This point is emphasized by the French ultramontanist writer Louis Veuillot. See his Le ˆ droit du seigneur au Moyen Age (1854), in Oeuvres completes, 31 vols. (Paris, 1924–1940), ser. 1: Oeuvres diverses, vol. 6, 26.
education, or religion. With the beneﬁt of several centuries of hindsight, the crusades of the eleventh, twelfth, and thirteenth centuries provided the perfect historical precedent for such contemporary dilemmas. Whether one sees such medieval actions as blessed with romance or contaminated with barbarism, the crusading metaphor has been readily transferable. The crusades have been seen as the epitome of the moral absolute: good and evil, without hint of confusion. Their feudal hierarchy of soldiers following the commands of great men has been easily readapted to highlight the strengths of old-style feudal kings, modern nation states, and iconic heroes. Spanish Carlists and French legitimists alike have been able to re-appropriate the symbols of pre-revolutionary Europe to post-revolutionary settings, to serve as unambiguous representations of good versus evil. There was, of course, also the romanticism of the crusader and the distant past that allowed nineteenth-century regimes to create a tabula rasa upon which they could create their own mythologized histories. They could connect their own, perhaps unstable rules with a grand and glorious past and reassure a dubious citizenry or church of their good intentions. Paul I had a personal vision along these very lines in trying to create an order of knighthood in Russia, as did Tewodros of Ethiopia. Finally, the crusades romanticized warfare by contextualizing ongoing conﬂicts historically as wars with true and just causes, despite warfare’s changing and increasingly impersonalized face. The original intent of crusading was a warfare which gave special and unqualiﬁed beneﬁt and blessing to its participants, in a society where the admonition “thou shalt not kill” (Ex. 20:13; Mt. 5: 21– 22) was itself the central abiding corollary: a moral oxymoron that absolved men of war by the context and intent of their actions, if not pardoning the actions in and of themselves. In the nineteenth and twentieth centuries, as conscription made participation in war a more universal activity, while at the same time mechanization made killing increasingly impersonal and grand in scale, it became all the more essential to justify its “rightness” and provide moral absolution. The crusades represented the ultimate victory of character over mechanization and industrial warfare. Mechanization had made the “fair ﬁght” between equals—gentlemen who understood the skills and rules of war—increasingly difﬁcult. By century’s turn, such valor was no longer the sole province of gentlemen knights, but belonged to the middle and working classes as well. Only an inherent understanding of valor and chivalry distinguished a “gentleman” from one of lower rank. As the soldier George Hodson put it, British valor during the Indian Mutiny in 1857 proved “that even the Enﬁeld riﬂe has not reduced all men to a dead level, but there is still a place to be found for individual prowess.”151During the opening stages of the First World War, the Times of London ran articles with titles
George H. Hodson, Twelve Years of a Soldier’s Life in India (Boston, 1860), 50–51.
THE MODERN USES OF MEDIEVAL CRUSADES
like “Bayonet or Gun: Man’s Supremacy over the Machine,” and “Triumph of Moral over Machines,” and voiced the sentiment that the knights of the past, unlike the politicians of the present, could hold the ﬁnancier in contempt.152 The crusader was not merely a medieval ﬁgure of romance—he brought a level of common understanding to the people of Britain, both rich and poor, and allowed the imperial and military enterprises of the modern age to be communicated to a mass audience and a single community The great irony, of course, was that in claiming to transform feudal ideas into modern political discourse, the elite and bourgeois leaders of nineteenth-century Europe opened themselves up to accusations of a new feudalism—life imitated simulacra. And yet, in the condemnation of such invented traditions, the critics themselves, in this case Arab historians and propagandists, concocted their own in the course of furthering the polemic. While the French and English might have returned in the 1920s (or even 1956) to stake their claims to Jerusalem and Damascus, as Nasser supposed, they found themselves challenged by new Saladins, ready to meet them in battle once again.153
Times (London) 3 Oct. 1914, and 14 Dec. 1914. A notable contemporary and self-conscious use of the new Saladin image has been that of the late Syrian President Hafez al-Assad, who had a picture of Saladin’s 1187 victory at Hittin in his ofﬁce. He also renamed a former crusader castle in his home region Qasr Saladin.
This action might not be possible to undo. Are you sure you want to continue?
We've moved you to where you read on your other device.
Get the full title to continue reading from where you left off, or restart the preview.