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Research The Groningen Research Institute for the Study of Culture (ICOG) Research Research centres Research Centre for Historical Studies (CHS)

CHS guest lecture - CECILIA GAPOSCHKIN (Dartmouth & Aarhus): "Cross Relics and Crusading Warfare"

When:Mo 10-10-2022 16:00 - 17:30
Where:Room1312.0018, Harmonie building

This guest lecture is part of the research colloquium of the Centre for Historical Studies.

Moderator: Babette Hellemans


This paper examines the practice of bearing cross relics into battle during the Crusades, usually as a battle standard. The practice can be traced throughout the history of the Crusades, beginning in 1099 and continuing up through the fifteenth century. I argue that the reason is because the True Cross was understood as Christ’s weapon, the means by which He overcame death and destroyed the devil. This was in some measure true of all crosses as signs (that is, as a signum crucis) but the ability of relics to connect heaven and earth made the material cross (that is, the lignum crucis) particularly powerful as an earthly weapon against the enemy, the inimicos crucis. As Christ’s battle standard (vexillum christi) the cross also meant that Christ himself was joining the crusaders on the battlefield.