Online Encyclopedia

TRUCE OF GOD

Online Encyclopedia
Originally appearing in Volume V27, Page 321 of the 1911 Encyclopedia Britannica.
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TRUCE OF GOD, an attempt of the Church in the middle ages to alleviate the evils of private warfare. Throughout the 9th and loth centuries, as the life-benefices of the later Carolingian kings were gradually transformed into hereditary fiefs, the insecurity of life and property increased, for there was no central power to curb the warring local magnates. The two measures which were adopted by the Church to remedy these conditions—the pax ecclesiae or Dei and the'treuga or tre.va Dei—are usually both referred to as the Truce of God, but they are distinct in character. The latter was a development of the former. The pax ecclesiae is first heard of in the year 990 at three synods held in different parts of southern and central France—at Charroux, Narbonne and Puy. It enlisted the immediate support of the regular clergy, particularly the vigorous congregation of Cluny, and of William V. of Aquitaine, the most powerful lord of southern France, who urged its adoption at the Councils of Limoges (994) and Poitiers (999). The peace decrees of these various synods differed considerably in detail, but in general they were intended fully to protect non-combatants; they forbade, under pain of excommunication, every act of private warfare or violence against ecclesiastical buildings and their environs, and against certain persons, such as clerics, pilgrims, merchants, women and peasants, and against cattle and agricultural implements. With the opening of the 11th century, the pax ecclesiae spread over northern France and Burgundy, and diocesan leagues began to be organized for its maintenance. The bishop, or count, on whose lands the peace was violated was vested with judicial power, and was directed, in case he was himself unable to execute sentence, to summon to his assistance the laymen and even the clerics of the diocese, all of whom were required to take a solemn oath to observe and enforce the peace. At the Council of Bourges (1038), the archbishop decreed that every Christian fifteen years and over should take such an oath and enter the diocesan militia. The idea that peace is a divine institution seems to
End of Article: TRUCE OF GOD
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