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Thursday, 5 April 2018 at 20:50

March of humanity on Dr John Dunn. Medieval illuminated manuscript showing Peter the Hermit's People's Crusade of 1096

Wecome back to the point that there was no division between the inner and personal life of religion, and the practical interests of the external order. Each individual in the western world, for example, was part of anorder of faith that stretched from the parish church and manor, to kingship, the Holy Roman Empire and Christendom. The First Crusade, notable for not being merely a military operation, included vast numbers of ordinary men and women within a tide of humanity, known as the People’s Crusade, that swept across Europe towards the Holy Land, probably representing the high water mark of medieval social cohesion from emperor to vassal. Such a coalition of souls could never have been imposed by the political or economic despotism of a centralised power. It grew from an acceptance that to comply perfectly with one’s own specific function there was a need for an identical participation in the spirituality of the whole, conceived as a living organism. This kind of social order, with the sovereign at the centre, was the form within which the subjects demonstrated their faithfulness to God through faithfulness to their ruler. This faithfulness was a cornerstone of traditional society, in addition to work as rite and an elite that embodied transcendence. This was the force which as a magnet held together the social structure, establishing an implicit pull and gravitation between the individual and the centre, between the individual and the whole. It was a force acknowledged by Dante:

The essence of this blessed life consists
in keeping to the boundaries of God’s will,
Through which our wills become one single will.

© John Dunn.


Wednesday, 4 April 2018 at 20:55

Louis IX on Dr John Dunn. It would take monarchical absolutism to break the grip of the Guelphic oligarchy by imposing order upon the chaos. The sweeping away of ultra-feudalism meant neutering the power of the nobility, whilst controlling trade by limiting the movement of goods, slaves and money. As a consequence, this also meant effectively policed national borders. Within these borders the monarch would be able to act as a servant of the commonwealth, i.e. govern on behalf of the physical and cultural enrichment of the people, as opposed to the deliberate holding back of development in the form of intensive labour by ignorant peasants, who could be easily and persistently exploited by having their surplus labour looted to no positive end for themselves.

The necessary coalescence of order out of chaos began in France. Louis XI (pictured above) tackled one element of the tripartite Guelphic alliance, the nobility, in an effort to break the grip of profiteering, usury and financial speculation that epitomised the era of ultra-feudalism. He imposed absolute royal authority, with the nobility unquestionably subservient to him.

© John Dunn.

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