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Communicating Crusade: Livonian Mission and the Cistercian Network in the Thirteenth Century

Communicating Crusade: Livonian Mission and the Cistercian Network in the Thirteenth Century

By Marek Tamm

Ajalooline Ajakiri, no. 3/4 (2009)

Introduction: In this article, I would like to raise the question of how and to what extent did contemporary information about the conquest and Christianization of Livonia reach Western Europe? This specific question is, of course, located within the broader context of the history of medieval communication, in general, and the history of the communication of the crusades, in particular.

In discussions about medieval communication, it is very important to keep in mind its oral and conservative character. Even though the significance of the written and visual channels of the time should definitely not be underestimated, it was the immediate oral contact between addresser and addressee that dominated in the medieval communication act. It is not possible to speak about mass communication in the strict sense of the term in the Middle Ages, although from the thirteenth century on, ever more wide-spread preaching began to acquire certain features characteristic of mass communication.

The contribution of the crusades into the evolution of communication is indeed remarkable, even if it did not entail principal changes in the nature of communication channels. As one of the most prominent students of medieval communication, Sophia Menache, has aptly put it: “The Crusades present one of the earliest examples of what has since come to be known as the use of mass media, whose impact in medieval society is hardly questionable.”

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