Professor of History Presents Paper at International Medieval Congress
Professor of History John Eldevik presented a paper in July at the annual International Medieval Congress in Leeds, England, as part of a panel on “Networks and Entanglements in the Cult of Saints.”
A Closer Look at the Hirsau Network and Crusader Saints in the 12th Century
Eldevik’s presentation, titled “Martyrdom, Memory, and Reform: The Hirsau Network and Crusader Saints in the 12th Century,” delved into the rise of two saints’ cults in the mid-twelfth century within a network of German monasteries associated with the Hirsau Reform.
The Purpose of the Cults of Thiemo of Salzburg and Ernest of Zwiefalten
The cults of Thiemo of Salzburg and Ernest of Zwiefalten, both of whom were believed to have perished as martyrs while on Crusade, played a significant role in strengthening the commitment of reformed monastic communities and their lay patrons to the Crusade movement.
Bolstering Commitment After the Second Crusade
These two cults gained prominence, particularly after the disastrous Second Crusade (1146-48), which resulted in the humiliating defeat of Christian armies in the Holy Land. The defeat left many questioning the effectiveness and legitimacy of the Crusade movement. However, the cults of Thiemo of Salzburg and Ernest of Zwiefalten provided a renewed sense of purpose and determination for the Crusades.
The Hirsau Reform and its Influence
The rise of these cults can be attributed to their association with the Hirsau Reform, a movement within German monasticism that aimed to bring about spiritual and disciplinary reforms. The Hirsau Reform sought to strengthen the role of monasteries and foster a greater sense of dedication to the ideals of Christianity.
Martyrdom as a Powerful Tool
Martyrdom, as represented by the deaths of Thiemo of Salzburg and Ernest of Zwiefalten, was an incredibly powerful tool in promoting the goals of the Crusade movement. The belief in their martyrdom allowed their cults to inspire loyalty and commitment among both monastic communities and lay patrons.
The Impact of the Hirsau Network
The Hirsau Network, consisting of various German monasteries connected by shared goals and beliefs, played a crucial role in the dissemination and promotion of the cults of Thiemo of Salzburg and Ernest of Zwiefalten. The network acted as a powerful support system, fostering a sense of unity and reinforcing the importance of the Crusades.
A Lasting Legacy
Through their influence on reformed monastic communities and lay patrons, the cults of Thiemo of Salzburg and Ernest of Zwiefalten left a lasting impact on the Crusade movement in the twelfth century. By bolstering commitment and reigniting faith in the cause, these cults played a significant role in the continued support and participation in Crusades.