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Terra matris: crusading, the military orders, and sacred landscapes in the Baltic, 13th – 14th Centuries

Leighton, Gregory ORCID: 2018. Terra matris: crusading, the military orders, and sacred landscapes in the Baltic, 13th – 14th Centuries. PhD Thesis, Cardiff University.
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Crusading and the military orders have, at their roots, a strong focus on place, namely the Holy Land and the shrines associated with the life of Christ on Earth. Both concepts spread to other frontiers in Europe (notably Spain and the Baltic) in a very quick fashion. Therefore, this thesis investigates the ways that this focus on place and landscape changed over time, when crusading and the military orders emerged in the Baltic region, a land with no Christian holy places. Taking this fact as a point of departure, the following thesis focuses on the crusades to the Baltic Sea Region during the thirteenth and fourteenth centuries. It considers the role of the military orders in the region (primarily the Order of the Teutonic Knights), and how their participation in the conversion-led crusading missions there helped to shape a distinct perception of the Baltic region as a new sacred (i.e. Christian) landscape. Structured around four chapters, the thesis discusses the emergence of a new sacred landscape thematically. Following an overview of the military orders and the role of sacred landscpaes in their ideology, and an overview of the historiographical debates on the Baltic crusades, it addresses the paganism of the landscape in the written sources predating the crusades, in addition to the narrative, legal, and visual evidence of the crusade period (Chapter 1). It then proceeds to a chapter-by-chapter analysis considering specific sacralising elements expressed in the sources, which structure the definition of sacred landscape used in this thesis (outlined in the Introduction). Chapter 2 considers the role martyrdom in sacralising the landscape, followed by a discussion of the role played by relics (Chapter 3), ritualization, and sacred space (Chapter 4). By incorporating Geographical Information Systems (GIS) into the analysis of the texts, a new spatial map of the Baltic campaigns emerges from the present study, providing a fresh approach to studying contemporary views of holy war in a region with no holy (i.e. Christian) shrines.

Item Type: Thesis (PhD)
Status: Unpublished
Schools: History, Archaeology and Religion
Subjects: B Philosophy. Psychology. Religion > BR Christianity
D History General and Old World > DK Russia. Soviet Union. Former Soviet Republics
D History General and Old World > DL Northern Europe. Scandinavia
Date of First Compliant Deposit: 2 January 2019
Last Modified: 08 Nov 2022 12:22

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