The People and Public Opinion in the Eleventh-Century Peace Movement

Tuesday 6 February 2024

MacKinney, Loren C. Speculum 5, no. 2 (April 1930): 181–206.

This article examines the peace committees which began to crop up in eleventh-century France, creating a refreshing depiction of an orderly France, despite it being less than a hundred years from the first crusade. MacKinney delves into the factors which created this phenomenon: religious peace propaganda, military coercion, and pacts between towns were some of the many methods used to push forward this peace movement.

MacKinney also puts emphasis on what is the most interesting part of this movement – that it grew to include all social and economic classes. While at first the church’s peace committees could only be joined by the clergy and nobles, once commoners began to regularly attend, more socially cooperative peace programs began. MacKinney also illustrates the significance of this movement in a wider context. This was the first time the church was able to propagate an ideal of peace ‘in the interest of public welfare rather than upon fear of spiritual punishment’. It is also one of first recorded instances of a French collective identity and goal. The nation was brought together through one the idea of peace. The strength of this collective identity increased throughout the century as the Truce of God was brought in as ‘a highly organised machinery of peace enforcement’, as well as the rise of peace pacts between towns. This article’s visualisation of a nation brought together through an interest in peace is useful as an example of what peace-building and peace-keeping can look and act like.

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