God's peace

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The peace of God (Latin Pax Dei ) in connection with the truce of God (Treuga Dei) is the result of the cooperation of secular and spiritual power in the Middle Ages and represents the beginning of a European peace movement.


In the Middle Ages the church felt increasingly threatened by the private wars of the nobility and their attacks on church property and tried to gain influence on the political life of the time by participating in the maintenance of peace, also in the interests of the worldly welfare of the faithful. The church did not, however, seek to change the existing rulership. The peace of God consisted of decisions made by the bishops in communion with secular rulers and affirmed by oath. He was secured by the threat of church punishment ( excommunication )as well as the willingness of the oath community to punish violations by force if necessary. The aim was to prevent misconduct against defenseless people (clergy, farmers, poor people, women, merchants), localities (churches, cemeteries, public places and streets) and objects (cattle, crops, bridges) from taking place. Treuga Dei , which was added later , forbade warfare against the entire population on various days of the week (e.g. Thursday to Sunday) or at festive times of the church year (e.g. Lent, Advent to the octave of Epiphany, feasts of the local church patron).

The cradle of God's peace was the Auvergne in France in the 10th century . The old (above all secular) institutions could no longer guarantee the maintenance of public order in the 10th and especially the 11th centuries, which is why the formation of new executive bodies was necessary for the church to take on this task, the so-called Pax militias . The middle and lower nobility were to be fought, while the church exercised solidarity with the high nobility, as they had to rely on their agreement in their efforts for peace. Spiritual peace has thus in turn become an instrument of power in the hands of the entire high nobility, who were thus able to safely rule their territories.

Through the diocesan militias, God's peace was given a further function in the second half of the 12th century: It no longer only served to limit the privileges of the nobility, but the armies were also used against the disruption of the internal Christian order and thus became a comprehensive one Power instrument of the sovereigns. Whether this was always compatible with canon law remains a matter of dispute.

With the accession of Louis VI. In 1108 the old peace movement in the French area gradually came to an end. The balance of powers, which had favored the creation of God's peace, was destroyed by the king. In addition, the bourgeoisie made their claims to power from below against the will of the nobility and clergy . This development ended with the central power gaining the upper hand and making itself the arbitrator and justice of the peace. The churches enjoyed more and more the protection of kings and no longer needed God's peace. In summary, the peace of God was an exercise of law that arose from various local conditions and was at the discretion of each individual bishop .

In Germany, God's Peace functioned as a model for the later German rural peace , which was concluded at the provincial level by the sovereigns and at the imperial level by the German king. Although the bearers of peace were formally secular princes, the clergy and secularity continued to work together to make peace.

The interpretation of this development in the High Middle Ages is controversial among historians. Dominique Barthélmy said that the “God's Peace Movement” was a myth that was invented by E. Sémichon and from 1857 onwards served Catholic apologetics. Until then, according to the views of the 11th century, the Treuga Dei had been emphasized more correctly .


  • Uta-Renate Blumenthal: Charroux, Council of In: Lexicon of the Middle Ages (LexMA). Volume 2, Artemis & Winkler, Munich / Zurich 1983, ISBN 3-7608-8902-6 , Sp. 1736.
  • Thomas Gergen : Pratique juridique de la Paix et Trêve de Dieu à partir du concile de Charroux (989-1250). Lang, 2004 (Legal History Series Volume 285).
  • Thomas Gergen : God's Peace. in: Concise Dictionary of German Legal History II, Berlin 2012, Sp. 470–473.
  • Hans-Werner Goetz : The God's Peace Movement in the Light of Recent Research. In: Arno Buschmann, Elmar Wadle (Ed.): Landfrieden - Claim and Reality. Paderborn 2002, pp. 31-54.
  • Hartmut Hoffmann : God's peace and Treuga Dei. Hiersemann, Stuttgart 1964 (Monumenta Germaniae Historica; 20).
  • Reinhold Kaiser: God's peace . In: Lexicon of the Middle Ages (LexMA). Volume 4, Artemis & Winkler, Munich / Zurich 1989, ISBN 3-7608-8904-2 , Sp. 1587–1592.
  • Bernhard Töpfer : People and Church at the time of the beginning God's peace movement in France. Berlin 1957.

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See also

Individual evidence

  1. E. Sémichon: La paix et la trêve de Dieu . Paris 1857
  2. Dominique BARTHELMY: The rule myth of French historians. In: Gerhard Dilcher , Cinzio Violante (ed.): Structures and changes in rural rulers from the 10th to the 13th century . Berlin 2000 p. 67; see also FE de Mézeray: Histoire de France and A. Kluckhorn: History of God's Peace. Leipzig 1857