The Poets, the Popes, and the Chroniclers: Comparing Crusade Rhetoric in the Songs of the Troubadours and Trouvères with Crusade Literature, 1145-1291

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The call to crusade in 1145 prompted a movement fueled not only by religious writings and sermons, but by calls to arms in secular song. During the mid-twelfth to thirteenth

The call to crusade in 1145 prompted a movement fueled not only by religious writings and sermons, but by calls to arms in secular song. During the mid-twelfth to thirteenth centuries, French Trouvères and Occitan Troubadours wrote over one hundred crusade songs, the majority of which are rife with propaganda and support for the crusades and the attacks against the Saracens and the East. The crusade song corpus not only deals with sacred motivations to go overseas, such as the crusade indulgence present in papal bulls, but also summons biblical figures and epic persons as motivation to crusade.

Previous scholars have not adequately defined the genre of a crusade song, and have overlooked connections to the crusading rhetoric of the genre of crusade literature. I offer a precise definition of crusade song and examine commonalities between crusade literature and song. During the crusades, troubadours and trouvères wrote crusade songs to draw support for the campaigns. The propaganda in these songs demonstrates that the authors had an understanding of current events and may have had some knowledge of other crusading literature, such as papal calls to crusade, crusade sermons, the Old French Crusade Cycle, and various crusade chronicles. These documents show how the themes and allusions present in crusade song have broader connotations and connections to crusade culture in Medieval Europe.