Post-classical history

Peter of Blois (d. 1211)

Theologian and author of three treatises relating to crusading, as well as numerous theological works and letters.

Peter’s Latin crusade treatises were written in the aftermath of the defeat of the army of the kingdom of Jerusalem by Saladin at Hattin (4 July 1187), and were intended to encourage recruitment for a new crusading effort in the West. At this time Peter was in the service of Baldwin of Ford, archbishop of Canterbury, with whom he later went to Palestine in the course of the Third Crusade (1189-1192), during which Baldwin died (19/20 November 1190). Peter returned to England in 1191.

Peter’s first crusade treatise was the Passio Reginaldi(s), which begins with a lament for the Holy Land after the Muslim conquest, news of which reached Peter while he was at the papal court in Italy with Baldwin. The Passio develops into an account of the life and death of Reynald of Châtillon, lord of Transjordan, who was executed by Saladin after his capture at Hattin. Reynald is depicted in hagiographic terms as a heroic Christian example to crusaders, a martyr and potential saint.

The Dialogus inter regem Henricum secundum et abbatem Bonnevallensem is an exposition of the problems faced by King Henry II of England during the rebellion of his sons. It is framed in the form of a dialogue between the king and an unnamed abbot of Bonnevaux, a Benedictine abbey in Maine. The dialogue appears to conclude with agreement that the king could achieve salvation by leading a new crusade, but it was clearly never completed, finishing in mid-sentence.

The most popular of the three crusade treatises was the Conquestio de dilatione vie Ierosolimitane. This lament for the fall of Jerusalem criticizes Christian rulers for their tardiness in coming to the aid of the Holy Land and stresses the importance of spiritual reform as a precondition of crusading.

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