The Subject of CrusadeLyric, Romance, and Materials, 1150 to 1500

The Subject of CrusadeLyric, Romance, and Materials, 1150 to 1500

Marisa Galvez

Print publication date: 2020

ISBN: 9780226693217

Publisher: University of Chicago Press


When medieval people went to war over religion, they prayed, took up arms, bade farewell to their families—and sometimes wrote lyric poetry. These warrior-artisans expressed their culture in poetry as live performance as well as in other art forms, from gold-illuminated manuscripts and tombstones to elaborate embroidered tapestries. More than historical documents or expressions of a common spirit of crusade, these fundamentally lyric works enabled their makers to process experiences of popular piety and personal sacrifice related to holy war. This book argues that these poetic articulations are crucial for understanding the crusades as a complex cultural and historical phenomenon. In a period during which the Church imagined the need to recover the Holy Land as inseparable from the individual and collective moral reform of its believers, the crusader subject of vernacular literature and art sought to reconcile competing ideals of earthly love and chivalry with crusade as a penitential pilgrimage. For some, such a reconciliation was untroubled; certainly there are many chronicles, sermons, works of art, and narrative poems (e.g. chansons de geste) that affirm the preaching of the Church to reclaim the Holy Land. This book concerns another version of speaking crusades, in which courtly art forms, such as lyric, and romance, and material objects, such as tapestries and textiles, manifest ambivalence about crusade ideals.