Crusading in the Fifteenth Century: Message and Impact by N. Housley

By N. Housley

This selection of essays via eu and American students addresses the altering nature and attraction of crusading through the interval which prolonged from the conflict of Nicopolis in 1396 to the conflict of Mohács in 1526. participants concentrate on key elements of the topic. One is advancements within the crusading message and the language within which it used to be framed. those have been led to partially via the looks of latest enemies, particularly the Ottoman Turks, and partially by way of transferring spiritual values and leading edge currents of suggestion inside of Catholic Europe. the opposite point is the wide variety of responses which the papacy's repeated calls to holy conflict encountered in a Christian group which used to be more and more heterogeneous in personality. This assortment represents a considerable contribution to the examine of the Later Crusades and of Renaissance Europe.

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Not all of this is strictly true, as Bessarion may well have known. 55 But these versions ill-suited Bessarion’s purpose. In his account, the Turks defeated the Greeks in great battles, and the Ottomans moved west, steadily and inexorably, from the furthest corner of Asia Minor to the shores of Europe itself. The inaccuracy of Bessarion’s account recalls the historical manipulations made by Pius II and the scholars in his employ. But Bessarion, by emphasizing the Turks’ recent political and military manœuvrings rather than their remote origins and primitive habits, aimed at a more rational explanation of their current policies towards the West, one that was intended to appeal to the hard-headed political instincts of contemporary European governments rather than to their religious convictions or their concern for the monuments of classical culture.

But this brief moment of glory was not to last. Among the crusaders in the Latin kingdom, moral corruption and greed quickly set in. Their dereliction of civic duty led rapidly to the loss of the holy city itself. Not long after, the Tartars appeared on the eastern horizon, bringing new waves of chaos and devastation in their wake. A worse scourge even than the Arabs, the savage Tartars brought fitting punishment for a world that had betrayed its ancient heritage twice. Biglia radically condensed the history of the Mongol invaders and their successor states in western Asia, making Genghis Khan and Timur appear quite close in both time and political character.

Indeed, as the project of a new crusade became more closely identified with the political agenda of the restoration papacy, it grew all the more imperative to assert the religious nature of the conflict, one in which only the Vicar of Christ could prevail. The crusade propaganda produced in the pontificate of Pius II is remarkable for its fusion of secular and religious themes. Pius’s own rhetoric became, not surprisingly, increasingly charged with religious fervour over time. While his letters and speeches immediately after the fall of Constantinople stressed Turkish depredations against the newly revived glories of classical Greek culture, in his oration at the Congress of Mantua he dwelled on the bloodthirsty rapacity of the infidels as they slavered after Christian blood.

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