Crusading against Bosnian Christians, c. 1234–1241

Research output: Chapter in Book/Report/Conference proceedingChapter (peer-reviewed)peer-review

Abstract / Description of output

Launched for the purpose of eradicating heresy in Bosnia and its environs, the Bosnian crusade of 1234–1241 was led by Coloman, Prince of Hungary and Duke of Slavonia (1208–1241). The precise events of the crusade are difficult to trace. However, following discussion of the logistics of the crusade and the position of the Latin Church in papal letters reveals a concerted effort made by the papacy, in part via crusade, to eradicate heretical depravity in Bosnia and instil a distinctly Latin ecclesiastical infrastructure. A combination of the uncertain position held by thirteenth-century Bosnians in relation to Latin and Greek governmental powers, the Bogomil myth, Bosnia’s mountainous terrain, and the political events of nineteenth- and twentieth-century South-Eastern Europe has led to the treatment of the crusade in historiography as an inevitable event—a movement launched against an odd people with an idiosyncratic church—and the presence of an organised heretical movement in Bosnia as a historical given. After providing an overview of the historiography from the nineteenth century to the present, tracing in particular the legacies of national and confessional historiographies, the chapter assesses the letters of Pope Gregory IX (1227–1241) concerning the crusade within the context of local and wider papal policies towards regions and peoples who did not quite fall under the direct governance of the Latin Church. The papacy employed tropes of environmental determinism in which Bosnia became a rotting wasteland ripe for the spread of heresy, alongside developing a narrative that the bloodlines of Bosnia’s rulers and prelates were adulterated with heresy. In order to protect Christendom, this necessitated the invasive alteration of the imaginative and physical landscapes of Bosnia, and the correction and submission of its peoples. The chapter argues that the crusade is most fruitfully interpreted as part of a wider papal programme to disinfect Christendom of heretical pestilence and to radically reimagine the land to reflect Christ’s glory.
Original languageEnglish
Title of host publicationCrusading against Christians in the Middle Ages
EditorsMike Carr, Nikolaos Chrissis, Gianluca Raccagni
Number of pages19
ISBN (Electronic)9783031473395
ISBN (Print)9783031473388
Publication statusPublished - 28 Mar 2024

Keywords / Materials (for Non-textual outputs)

  • Bosnia
  • Slavonia
  • Crusading against heretics
  • Pope Gregory IX


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