peace of God

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peace of God:

see truce of Godtruce of God,
in the Middle Ages, an attempt by the Catholic church to limit private warfare between feudal lords. It is related to the peace of God, which exempted clergy, women, children, and peasants from battle or attacks. The truce of God was proposed (A.D.
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Peace of God


(pax Dei), the mandatory cessation for a relatively long period (up to three years) of military actions in any given Western European country (or province) prescribed by the Catholic Church from the late tenth to the 12th centuries.

It was first proclaimed in France in the late tenth century by the Cluny monastery; the rules for observing the Peace of God were elaborated in greater detail at French feudal assemblies in the 11th century (1027, 1041, and others). In the 11th century the Peace of God was also often practiced in several other Western European states. Upon the insistence of Pope Urban II, the Council of Clermont in 1095 discussed and reaffirmed the conditions of the Peace of God as being binding on all Christians. From 1179, the Peace of God became a canon law of the Catholic Church. In introducing the Peace of God, the church wanted to eliminate or at least to reduce feudal strife, which caused especially great damage to the insufficiently protected church possessions and which hindered the development of trade and of pilgrimages, which were an important source of the church’s income. The provisions of the Peace of God included demands for the inviolability (even in wartime) of clerics, monks, pilgrims, and women, as well as church and monastery buildings, mills, agricultural implements, and draft animals. Despite the severity of punishment for violating the Peace of God (fines, confiscation of property, corporal punishment, and excommunication), it was constantly violated under conditions of feudal fragmentation, which gave rise to private wars. The process of the centralization of the feudal states put an end to these wars, and the church accordingly ceased applying the Peace of God. The Truce of God (treuga Dei) was a variety of the Peace of God; the Truce of God required the cessation of military actions for several days a week— usually from Wednesday or Saturday evening until Monday morning and during important church holidays.


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