Universität KonstanzExzellenzcluster „Kulturelle Grundlagen von Integration“

Forms of Termination of War in Conflicts with Heathens and Heretics

Dr. des. Kai-Henrik Günther


At present we can observe that after decades in the shadows, war as a historical phenomenon is regaining prominence in German-language medieval studies. In contrast, the question of how medieval wars were ended continues to play a subordinate role. There are, to be sure, many studies of the medieval understanding of peace in the context of conceptual history, together with a great deal of consideration of the ban on blood-feuds as a way of enforcing domestic peace; but until now little interest has been shown for the end of major wars: wars that in the High Middle Ages had a largely transcultural character, in the Late Middle Ages sometimes even a trans-national character, and that are to be distinguished from such feuds. The termination of these major conflicts stands at the center of this project—and on that basis the concrete peace negotiations and ideas tied to each of the peace treaties. In this regard treaties ending the campaigns against heathens and heretic are especially illuminating. For according to the church’s normative concepts, peace was only possible within the believing Christian world, treaties with members of other religions or with religious deviants thus being excluded. Nevertheless such treaties were repeatedly arranged throughout the medieval centuries. For this reason questions regarding both the function of religions and religious differences should be seen as a key to understanding these conceptions of peace.