If it is true that the first eight Crusades in the Holy Land were essentially dictated by a religious fervor aimed at defending Christianity from Islamic expansion, it is equally true that they are integrated by other Crusades organized at European level which, more than for religious reasons , were inspired by political reasons and by the conquest of power. This is the reflection at the basis of the second meeting on the theme “A prolonged medieval cycle imprinted in the West” (the first was held last Friday and under the lens the Crusades in the Holy Land ended), which took place this afternoon at Palabanca Mazzini (Sala Panini), as part of the Cultural Autumn of the Bank of Piacenza. The in-depth study by Edoardo Bavagnoli (researcher with a degree in Historical Sciences at the University of Milan) and Roberto Laurenzano (president of the Dante Alighieri Society) in this case concerned “The Crusades and the Crusaders in Europe”.
The Crusades called on European initiatives – was underlined by Dr. Laurenzano – had even less religious spirit than those in the Holy Land. On the one hand, religiosity (especially some first ones) subsisted (it was thought that by participating in a crusade one was purified for sins and sins committed), but political dominance was the real substantial goal. Therefore there were Crusades inspired by the fight against heretics, in particular against the heresy of the Cathars (who saw Good and Evil according to a drastic dualism: God is all-Good, and the World is all-Evil) and also called Albigensians , from the name of the city of Albi, where Catharism was particularly widespread; Crusades against the Baltic pagans, called by Northern Europe, and Crusades against the Jews, wanted by the German and French nobles united. The president of “Dante Alighieri” then recalled the Crusade against the “Forlivesi” and the Ordelaffi, Lords of Forlì to reconquer the lands of Romagna and the Marches for the Papacy; and the Crusade against the Hussites, connected to the “historic” defenestration of Prague. And likewise the so-called Crusade of the “Reconquista d’España” against the invading Moorish, which nevertheless did not succeed. Nor did the Crusade strongly desired by Pope Pius II for the reconquest of Constantinople manage to be completed. In short, the intense aspect of political domination characterized the substantial story of the Crusades of Europe.
Dr. Bavagnoli, for his part, explored the theme of medieval heresies (popular religious movements that were born from the 11th century throughout Europe, in France and northern Italy in particular. Heresies that opposed orthodoxy, rejecting dogmas – the mediation of priests and the sacraments – and proposing social equality between workers and gentlemen), dwelling on the Crusade against the Cathars in southern France (commissioned by Pope Innocent III) and those in Northern Europe for the evangelization of the populations of the Baltic countries, which led to the foundation of Prussia as an evolutionary process of the monastic state of the Teutonic knights.