College of Arts, Humanities and Social Sciences

Professor Jonathan Riley-Smith: The Crusades and Christianity

Professor Jonathan Riley Smith's Gifford lecture 'The Crusades and Christianity' reflects on the moral shift in opinion regarding the Crusades, and how the use of force is viewed in relation to Christian belief

Professor Jonathan Riley-Smith

Event details

Lecture title: The Crusades and Christianity

Date: 22 March 2007, 5.15pm

Venue: Lecture Theatre A, David Hume Tower, George Square, Edinburgh


Jonathan Riley-Smith will deliver a Gifford Lecture in the University of Edinburgh in 2006-2007. No tickets are necessary for this Lecture.

He is Dixie Professor of Ecclesiastical History at Cambridge University.

Lecture abstract

The archbishop of Canterbury was only stating the obvious when he recently maintained that "most Christians would now say that...the crusades...or the religious wars in Europe in the sixteenth and seventeenth centuries were serious betrayals of many of the central beliefs of the Christian faith."

But for centuries the overwhelming majority of Latin Christians believed that qualified men had a moral obligation to take part in crusades and the modern consensus begs the question why most devout Christians from the eleventh to the seventeenth centuries saw no contradiction between taking the cross and their religion.

What motivated them?

Why do we think so differently?

What anyway are ‘the central beliefs of the Christian faith’ in relation to the use of force?