IMC 2013: Sessions

Session 118: The Pleasure of Crusading, I: The Pleasure of Killing

Monday 1 July 2013, 11.15-12.45

Sponsor:Society for the Study of the Crusades & the Latin East / Centre for Medieval Literature, Syddansk Universitet, Odense & University of York
Organiser:Kurt Villads Jensen, Institut for Historie, Kultur & Samfundsbeskrivelse, Syddansk Universitet, Odense
Moderator/Chair:Torben Kjersgaard Nielsen, Institut for Kultur og Globale Studier / Cultural Encounters in Pre-Modern Societies, Aalborg Universitet
Paper 118-a'God helped thee; the eagle got food afresh': Norse Crusaders and the Pleasure of Killing
(Language: English)
Pål Berg Svenungsen, Institutt for arkeologi, historie, kultur- og religionsvitenskap, Universitetet i Bergen
Index terms: Crusades, Language and Literature - Scandinavian, Mentalities
Paper 118-bBloody Killing and Bloody Sacrifice
(Language: English)
Kurt Villads Jensen, Institut for Historie, Kultur & Samfundsbeskrivelse, Syddansk Universitet, Odense
Index terms: Crusades, Mentalities, Military History
Paper 118-cThe Pleasurable Benefits of Killing: 'The Thunderbolt of War' and His Marriage to Constance of France
(Language: English)
James Doherty, Department of History, Lancaster University
Index terms: Crusades, Genealogy and Prosopography, Politics and Diplomacy

Crusading was an act of love and combined extreme pride in fighting for a lofty cause, and extreme humility in fighting to the ultimate, to martyrdom. The pleasure of crusading is explored in two sessions, ‘The Pleasure of Being Killed’, and ‘The Pleasure of Killing’.

Paper -a:
A famous Norse comment is found in the Flateyjarbók and the story of Þórgeirr Hávarsson. At one occasion Þórgeirr apparently struck the head of a shepherd for no other reason than that ‘he was well placed to receive a blow’ (hann stóð svo vel til höggsins). The Norse society was inherently violent, and the Norse sagas are riddled with stories about feuds, vengeance, and defense of honor even after the Christianization in the 11th century. How then, did this influence the Norse involvement with crusading? Crusades, even though being a penitential act, were in essence violence committed in the name of God. However, crusaders were not meant to take pleasure in the killing of God’s enemies. But even the first crusaders were reported singing loudly and having tears of joy during the sack of Jerusalem in 1099. The paper, therefore, aims to explore the relationship between crusading and the pleasure of killing, from a Norse perspective.

Paper -b:
‘No sacrifice is more pleasing to God than the death of the wicked’. With these words, archbishop Absalon of Denmark postponed the service he was just about to celebrate and rushed out from the chapel tent during a crusade campaign and led his troops against the heathens. More narratives from the 12th-14th century describe the pleasure of killing during the crusades in the Baltic, not only as a chivalrous act, but also a religious act in the service of God. This talk will present examples of such convergence of sacrifice during communion and sacrificial killing of enemies of the faith, and invite to a discussion about the underlying theology of sacrament and of crusading.