By Thomas M. Greene
The Holy War, edited by Thomas Patrick Murphy (Ohio State University, 1976)
Introduction: The paper that follows needs to be regarded as a kind of epilogue to the proceedings of this conference, since it involves a considerable shift of focus. Its subject is the literary consequences of a cultural collision that occurred in western Europe during the sixteenth century. Thus we must make first of all a leap in time, since most of the men I shall be dealing with were, in terms of the calendar, at least as close to us as they were to Urban II. But we must also shift disciplines, since we shall primarily be concerned with the imagination of the sixteenth century, and I shall be zigzagging back and forth across the fuzzy line between literary and intellectual history, a line that is particularly indistinct in Renaissance studies. We must also interpret the phrase “holy war” somewhat freely, since this particular century, for better or worse, was free of Crusades in the medieval sense, although by no means free of religious conflict. In making all these shifts, I can only hope that the altered perspective will shed some measure of light on human responses to conflict that will transcend its era.