The Fourth Crusade

1556 Words7 Pages
During the Middle Ages, the church played an integral role in the lives of individuals. This is best demonstrated by the crusades, where an individual would have traveled to the Holy Land to secure the salvation of one 's ' soul by fighting the barbarians. Relics became connected to this practice, as the crusade acted as an alternative to a pilgrimage. One can observe the power relics had over individuals in the political sphere, as people would swear on them to make decisions, they upheld honor and commitment in war, and ultimately create a cycle of obtaining even more relics. Relics were widely sought-after commodities in the Middle Ages. A relic is any object that belonged to a saint. This included pieces of the respective saint 's…show more content…
As a result of war, especially during the crusades, religious leaders gained more relics, as the knights sacked captured cities. In the Fourth Crusade, Villehardouin tells his readers how "the spoils were so great that no one could tell you how much it amounted to in gold, silver, tableware, precious stones, samite, silk cloth, garments of vair, grey fur and ermine, and all the fine things that were ever found on Earth." As a result, these riches were meant to go to the churches. This is significant, as these items could have been used to encapsulate more relics with gold and precious stones. While Villehardouin does not state everything that was seized, one can guess that the knights would have also sacked churches in Constantinople and discovered additional relics. Although this contrasts with the idea of pilgrimage, the practice was generally accepted, as the knights thought they were saving the relics. There was already a precedence set in Europe about stealing relics from churches and bringing them to others. This is suggested during the Seventh Crusade, when Saint Louis receives a piece of the true cross and one of the thorns from Jesus ' crown of thorns from Constantinople. Joinville confirms this story when he relates how Saint Louis went to the reliquary platform in his chapel at the Magdalene in Paris to bring down the true cross. One can observe the interconnections between relics and war that created a cycle in the Middle Ages, as one would swear on relics in order to go to war, and as a result collect more
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