Portland State University. Department of History
John S. Ott
Term of Graduation
Date of Publication
Master of Arts (M.A.) in History
1 online resource (viii, 160 pages)
The goal of this project is to isolate Cluniac attitudes towards violence and the use of martial force in the tenth through twelfth centuries, first by determining in what situations Cluniac authors deemed the shedding of human blood was permissible, and second by tracking the evolution of these attitudes from the abbey's foundation to the height of its influence. Given Cluny's role in European society, there is a rich and longstanding body of scholarship which examines Cluny's support or rejection of force as a means of conflict resolution. This study demonstrates a consistency over time in Cluniac attitudes on the motivations and limitations of violence which governed warfare in Europe, leading eventually to the codification in Cluniac texts of acceptable uses of force, and establishing a clear pathway to salvation for the warrior caste whose lives and fortunes revolved around being effective in the execution of warfare. This thesis employed a combination of corpus linguistics and word embedding as its primary methodology. The usage frequency of a list of twenty-four Latin roots relating to concepts of warfare, violence, use of force, justice, and power was determined in order to identify and quantify the use of martial language in Cluniac texts of a variety of genres (legal texts, hagiography, history, sermons, and poetry). The opportunities for greater understanding of historical texts are almost limitless as scholars explore ways to use these exciting new interpretive methods.
The patterns of target root occurrence strongly imply a distinctly Cluniac culture in the manner in which Cluniac authors thought about violence which does not appear to be fully in line with existing scholarship. Cluny's message was not about eye-for-an-eye equivalency, or Christ's vengeance on wrongdoers, but the salvation of all mankind. This result makes sense, both spiritually and pragmatically, as it was only fair that those Christian knights and rulers who fought and protected others--so long as they followed the rules for the just and justifiable use of force--should not be excluded from the Kingdom of Heaven. The results provide a way to draw back the curtain of public speech to reveal the thought patterns behind it and to quantify our subjective understanding of these texts. In seeking to understand the mentalities and motivations of the producers of the historical record, whether a sermon intended to give warriors hope for salvation or a public address to discuss the response to a global pandemic, word choice, as this thesis demonstrates, matters.
© 2021 Amanda K. Swinford
This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial 4.0 International License.
Swinford, Amanda K., "Words Matter: A Linguistic Analysis of Cluniac Views on the Use and Abuse of Violent Force" (2022). Dissertations and Theses. Paper 5909.