The question is mostly self-explanatory; however I want to state I have read a few books so I am aware of abuses and also some of the origins of the Crusade.

So what I am really asking for is instances where St. Augustine's Just War theory was actually implemented/followed prior to and during the FIRST Crusade. I imagine there are at least a few, but the Crusade is often painted with an Enlightenment brush.

  • I'm looking for examples from both the crusading armies, the Emperor's policies and even Pope Urban's Vision of what it would be. (with the knowledge that it didn't turn out exactly as hoped). Oct 2, 2015 at 16:38

2 Answers 2


Not at all directly, as that would be a bit of an anachronism.

While the term "just war", and the basic idea behind the concept belong to Augustine, what are known today as the principles of it were actually laid out initially by Thomas Aquinas in 1274 in his Summa Theologica, and have been greatly expanded over the years into the theory we know today.

The First Crusade was in 1096-1099, and was promoted by Pope Urban II in 1095. That's nearly two centuries earlier.

Its a pretty good bet Aquinas knew about it and later Crusades, and factored what he knew of them into his thinking when coming up with his three conditions for a "just" war. So if anything, the relation between Just War Theory and the First Crusade goes the other way.


First of all, none of the accounts of Pope Urban II's speech were contemporaneous or detailed, so nobody knows exactly what he said at all. Moreover, the existing summaries differ significantly from each other. None of the summaries mention St. Augustine at all.

The tone of the summaries is not very theoretical. The question seems founded on the idea that the Crusade was some kind of United Nations deliberation featuring long-winded theoretical debates. That is not the way it went down. Basically the Pope just invited a bunch guys over, said "Take back Jerusalem! Anybody that does it will go to heaven!" He was not trying to "justify" anything. In medieval times, nobody in Europe needed any "justifications".

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    I believe the tone of this answer is very likely to discourage people from participating in H:SE.
    – MCW
    Oct 2, 2015 at 17:36
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    I agree with the commentor. You can obviously see Pope Urban talking about all kinds of things that the Turks were forcing Christian pilgrims to do: an attempted justification for going to war. Whether or not the abuses were as widespread as urban believed is up for debate and outside the scope of my question. And we know that the Armed pilgrimage that urban was calling for was for the forgiveness of past sins, so no guarantee that you're going to heaven afterwards- and absolutely no guarantee you go in the event you die. Someone had to consult the saint to connect Christians and war Oct 2, 2015 at 17:48
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    And I'm well aware of how erroneous it is to read 18th and 19th century colonialism back into 11th century Christendom. At that time there were still a lot Christians living in the near east as there were in Europe. Oct 2, 2015 at 17:51

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