The Role of Violence in the Middle Ages


The Middle Age period, between the eleventh and fifteen century, saw a lot of development in Europe. This period was characterized by numerous cultural developments, social, economic and military developments among the Europeans. With these developments, there emerged violence, whereby various groups were fighting for control over power as well as resources in the continent. These centuries can, therefore, be said to have experienced a wide spread violence which was targeted at certain groups of people. During these centuries, the spread of Christianity, Catholicism was at it gear resulting into conflicts which in most cases resulted into violence, as various religious groups made efforts to win more followers. It is at the centuries that a number of religious crusades were been conducted and these crusades caused a wide spread of violence among the Europeans. Another source of violence during this Middle Age period in Europe was the fight for power that existed between various European nations. The nations were fighting for territorial expansion because having a large mass of land as nation meant that they were powerful.

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This essay seeks to analyze the role that violence played in the European society and how various religious groups justified the widespread violence, especially the Catholics. In order to successfully achieve the objective of this essay, a combination of primary and secondary sources is used to help tackle the subject.

Thesis Statement

The spread of Christianity, as well as Catholicism religion played a great role in escalating violence in Europe in the Middle Ages. Implementation of religious crusades by these religious groups contributes in spreading violence in Europe. The fight for followers, as well as defending ones who believe can be said to have caused violence in Europe. Therefore, the thesis statement for this essay will be, “the spread of religion and the need to defend religious beliefs and win followers resulted into a wide spread of violence in Europe in the Middle Age centuries.”


According to various primary, as well as secondary sources on the role of violence in the European society during the Middle Ages indicates that there were a number of ways in which Europeans used violence. The sources show that violence was used as an important tool of advancing one’s agenda and beliefs of others. Therefore, violence was one of the most power tools that were used by various groups to achieve their agenda in society.

According to the article written by Albert, violence during this age was used to force some groups of people to accept the Christian faith. Through violence, many Jews, according to the article, were slaughtered after they failed to confess the Christian faith. The slaughtering of Jews by the Western Europeans was used as a tool of ensuring that Christianity was spread among the Jews without any form of resistance. It is clear that violence in this case was used by Western European powers, such as England and France, to instill fear among the Jews in order to make them accept Christianity. The article provides one with a clear picture of how many Jews were converted into Christians, not out of their will but out of fear of being slaughtered. In this case, the article illustrates that violence played an important role in spreading of Christianity. Failure to adhere to Christian teachings by any other group of people during the Middle Ages meant that one was met with full force of violence. Being confronted with violence, cruel and brutal treatment, one had no option but to confess the Christian faith, as failure to do so was to be slaughtered.

The articles clearly show that violence served as religious crusade tactics, whereby in order for Catholics to advocate for their beliefs, they had to use force and violence to enhance the spread of the gospel. In this case, violence in Europe during this age served the role purpose. According to the teaching of Christ, people were not to use violence if they professed the Christian faith. However, the use of violence and force served as the role of instilling fear rather than serving its actual purpose of defending the community interest. The articles clearly indicate that violence played an important role in spreading of Christianity, especially Catholics’ beliefs among non-believers. Those who were deemed as opposing the spread of the Catholic teaching were either arrested or slaughtered. It is during this period that many of those who were opposed to Catholic teachings were killed in order to instill fear among those who opposed to the spread of Catholic movement throughout Europe.

It is very clear from the articles that violence was used as the means of strengthening religious crusade in a number of regions in Europe. Many of the people who were engaged in religious activities used violence as a tool for defending their religious beliefs and winning more souls among the non-believers.

Another thing that comes out clearly from the articles is that violence was used to defeat the spread of Islamic faith by various religious crusaders. The crusaders used violence as the means of persecuting those who were spreading the faith among the Europeans. The Catholic crusaders who were greatly opposed to the spread of other forms of religion in Europe would gather soldiers and kill those who were spreading the faith. This served as a warning for many who wanted to spread their faith. Therefore, it is very clear from the articles that violence played the role of persecuting those who were spreading other forms of religious teachings other than Christianity.

For instance, the secondary source indicates that the religious crusaders used violence to win souls in the Muslim territories. Armed crusaders were sent with an aim of defeating the spread of Islamic faith, which had in years spread in many parts of Western Europe. In order to curtail this spread, crusaders, especially the Catholics, sent thousands of witnesses who were supposed to preach the gospel, and if the need did arise, they would use violence to win back territories that had been won by Muslims. It is, therefore, very clear from these articles that violence was used to contain the spread of Islamic faith, especially by first and second religious crusaders during the Middle Ages. Even though, through violence they managed to win back some of the people that who had been converted to the Muslim faith, their efforts did not bear much fruit.

Most of the religious organizations during this age in Europe tried to justify the use of violence by claiming that it served as “holy war” and a mean of protecting God’s people (Edgington & Lambert 36). For instance, the Catholics justified their persecution acts by claiming that they were fighting for the cause of the spread of the gospel. The articles clearly show that they based their arguments on scriptures, whereby they claimed that those who were opposed to God’s people were supposed to be slaughtered. They used this notion to slaughter the Jews by claiming that they were fighting a holy war, where they were defending the cause of the gospel. They also used the notion that it was a way of enhancing the spread of Christianity. Through violence, which brought a lot of fear among the affected groups of people, the crusaders managed to win lot of converts who did give in to their teachings out of fear. It is very clear that violence was used as the means of defending one’s religious beliefs and advocating for one’s faith among different people.

From the articles, it is also evident that violence was used by the Western European nations as the means of enlarging their territories and expanding their influences on other countries. This is evident when the Western European nations used violence and their military strength to expand their territory in Asia and Muslim countries. Therefore, these countries according to the articles used violence as the means of enlarging their territorial control, so that they could influence others through their cultures. It was also used as the means of expanding their economic control in the captured regions. The usage of violence was a mechanism that was used by Western nations to control other regions economically, politically and socially.


The articles do provides a clear picture of the role that fear played in Europe during the Middle Ages. It was mainly used as a tool of instilling fears among the opponents. This is evident in the case where violence was used to force the Jews by those who were spreading Christianity with the help of their respective governments to capture and slaughter those who failed to confess to the Christian faith. Violence during this age in Europe can be seen as a tool that was used by Christian and Catholic crusaders to force other religious groups to convert into Christianity. This was evident when crusaders from Western nations persecuted Muslims and Jews for failure to convert into Christianity. Finally, it is, therefore, justified to conclude that violence was the means of defending ones religious beliefs and advocating for those beliefs to other groups of people or individuals.

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