Tuesday, September 4, 2018

The Peace of God

And the peace of God, which transcends all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.
-        Philippians 4:7

Charlemagne’s attempt at consolidation and empire ended in failure and chaos, especially in his original domain – the land of the Franks, the western lands of continental Europe.  Within a couple of generations, war, battles, highwaymen, theft: a drive for kingship and emperorship by some, a fight for survival by many.

The church tried to stem the extent of feudal warfare through “the peace of God.”

This wasn’t faith without works or words without action.  The movement began with the bishops and was spread by the bishops.  It might be considered one of the first popular movements in the medieval west, beginning in 989 at the monastery at Charroux, and then spreading in subsequent years to Le Puy (990), Narbonne (990), Limoges (994), and Poiters (1000).  Orleans and Burgundy subsequently followed.  The assemblies were held in open fields, with ever-larger crowds participating.

Excommunication was the threat used to reign in the recalcitrant:

Those who refused to keep the peace were excluded from Mass and Communion, refused forgiveness of sin, and denied church burial in consecrated ground, which effectively condemned them to hell.

Citing Ronald C. Musto:

In an age when salvation was the goal of life, such measures were of incalculable power.

The peace of God was followed by (and, apparently, merged into) the “truce of God,” which began about forty years later and in a different part of France.  What is common in both movements?  The Church, and God; a desire to reduce conflict and recognize life and property.

From George Duby, an influential French historian who specialized in the social and economic history of the Middle Ages:

The Peace and Truce of God, by attaching sacred significance to privacy, helped create a space in which communal gatherings could take place and thus encouraged the reconstitution of public space at the village level ... In the eleventh and twelfth centuries many a village grew up in the shadow of the church, in the zone of immunity where violence was prohibited under peace regulations.

From James Westfall Thompson:

Germans looked with mingled horror and contempt at the French 'anarchy'. To Maintain the king's peace was the first duty of a German sovereign.

For the Germans, such proclamations seemed redundant to what was already assumed a king’s duties.

Returning to Collins and the Franks:

Warlords gradually came to see the peace as a kind of treaty with God, the breaking of which would lead to divine chastisement.  The movement soon took on a popular tinge, as the church used crowds of ordinary people to persuade warlords to stop fighting.

A “treaty with God.”  We really can’t consider this merely a “contract.”  I am unaware of contractual clauses that come with the risk – a risk taken seriously by the parties – of eternal damnation for breaking the terms.

In addition to the regions of what is today France, peace was eventually declared in and between the Frankish regions bordering the east and the south:

Glaber tells us that Robert II “lived in peace with the rulers around his borders, especially the [German] Emperor Henry II.”  Henry and Robert met in 1023 on the Meuse River to strengthen the peace.

While protocol demanded a mid-river meeting, Henry chose to cross the river with only a small escort; the two then celebrated Mass.  After this, they had breakfast together, exchanged gifts, and proclaimed a universal peace.  Thereafter, the peace spread to Italy and Spain.

Was the peace ultimately effective?  I guess all things are relative; effective, compared to what or when?  It wasn’t a perfect peace, as man is not perfect.  Yet, the next centuries would witness the flowering of everything that is considered the best and most productive of the Middle Ages – from industrial developments, castle building, intellectual advancement, a liberalizing of society, the flowering of free cities, the birth of the university.


Excommunication and damnation to hell – “in an age when salvation was the goal of life.” 

Shunning is an effective and non-aggressive tool to govern behavior.  The issue, as always, is the underlying culture: what actions result in being shunned, and are these actions supportive of or destructive to life.

An eye on legacy – even eternity; this is also effective at controlling behavior – and perhaps one of the more important factors that shape culture.  A family, children, grandchildren – a belief in an afterlife; all cause man to consider the long-term impact of his choices and actions. 

Compare this with our situation today.  For many of the “nobles” of our age, “he who dies with the most toys wins” guides life choices.  Given the short-term focus and an environment of political correctness that purposely destroys family and church, the weapon of shunning today’s nobles toward peace, prosperity and liberty may not be so effective.

We don’t move toward liberty without first addressing this culture.  Which is why I grow further convinced that Christian leaders must once again play their proper role.


  1. Hear, hear! This ties well to your article concerning a movement based on inividualism. A liberty movement tied to a larger cultural movement, specifically a Christian one, is something I would be much more interesting. Your last sentence has a big part of the solution: Christian leaders that will once again play their role.


    1. Thank you, Sherlock.

      War, torture, intrusions to privacy, Israel, "social justice" regarding libertine lifestyles: Christian leaders too often are on the wrong side of all of these issues.

      Instead, if they would advocate for the right (Biblicly-grounded) side, we would live in a more peaceful world...and a more libertarian one.

    2. Thanks Bionic. It seems the Biblical pattern is Godly leaders only show up only when the nation is thoroughly degenerate. That seems to be happening now. Here's a current Biblical reactionary movement:


  2. That is going to take speaking the gospel and seeing many souls regenerated.

    That is the only way you will get a movement of people who are sensitive to natural law and liberty.

  3. "We don’t move toward liberty without first addressing this culture. Which is why I grow further convinced that Christian leaders must once again play their proper role."

    So true, but where are they? Maybe Robert Sirico, head of the Acton Institute, is one, but I'm not thrilled that he used to be a gay rights activist. Who else? Maybe Carlo Vigano, the nuncio who just recently called out everyone (including Pope Francis) who knew something about Cardinal McCarrick's disgraceful behavior for years and did nothing or worse than nothing (promoted him). Other than this, I know nothing about him. I'm guessing he's not a libertarian. Anyone else?

    Remember when we last discussed coming up with a different name other than libertarian to fully encapsulate our position? "Decentralizationist" is good, because decentralization is surely the correct immediate libertarian goal in attaining a free society. But does it suggest anything in keeping it free? I would also contend that decentralization is not the only 'weapon' we'll need to bring about conditions of liberty, and I'm venturing that you'd agree.

    I'm proposing a new one here for the first time anywhere that I think resonates well with our position of liberty requiring Christian faith and values. My inspiration is Erik von Kuehnelt-Leddihn. I was reading an interview of his, and he said the following concerning equality and freedom with reference to Christianity:

    "After all, eleutheria, which means “freedom,” is mentioned again and again in the New Testament, but isotes, “equality,” is not." - EKL


    Eleutherian. It's Greek, and it's Christian. It's a near perfect word for representing the union of the best of reason (libertarianism) and the best of religion (Christianity). Here's my definition:

    Eleutherian / ελευθεριας: one who advocates and believes in a noble and virtuous Christian liberty founded upon the eternal word and salvation of Jesus Christ as revealed by Himself and His apostles through the Word and the Church and the timeless natural laws of civilization as discovered and spread through the ages by reason and tradition.

    My only qualm with it so far is that it does not recognize the unique and important contribution made by the Germanic cultures of the Middle Ages. In other words, it satisfies 'Reason' and 'Faith,' but where is 'Honor?' Thoughts?

    Here are the places eleutheria is mentioned in the bible. These chapters very much augment and supplement the definition I have provided above.

  4. BM: "Shunning is an effective and non-aggressive tool to govern behavior."

    Hmm, I don't think so. Shunning can be used aggressively as well. Shunning in self defence or violent response ... I don't really see a difference.

    Unprovoked violence or shunning are both aggressions.

    Shunning is cheaper for the initiator(s), but the end effect is the removal from the gene pool just as surely as if the person was killed.

    1. Rien,

      How is shunning violence? I don't follow.

    2. ATL: Shunning is a female form of violence.

      Shunning is a form of punishment otherwise it would not be done. Why shun somebody? well, because he is doing something you don't like. You want to punish him.

      Any form of punishment IF unprovoked is a form of aggression.

      When provoked, its self defence, just as violence can be used as self defence.

    3. Rien, this does not make sense. If shunning is violence, that means you have an obligation to associate with others.

      On the contrary, you should be free to associate or disassociate with anybody for any reason--good, bad, or indifferent. What's the alternative? Should the State fine or imprison the Amish for keeping their dealings with the "English" like me to a minimum?

    4. Tony, shunning is the exact same as imparting or transferring costs. I.e. you cannot treat it any other way like, for example, theft.

      Imparting costs on someone increases the cost of doing business for the entire society and makes that society less able to compete with other societies. (When using shunning without cause)

      "you have an obligation to associate with others"

      Where the rubber meets the road... yes, to a certain extent you do. If you want to be part of a society. You can choose to shun, and to decrease the efficiency of society. But then you are giving that society reason to reject your participation in it.

      TANSTAAFL: society cuts both ways. This is why shunning as libertarians want it is an attempt at freeriding.

      I.e. you cannot claim the right to shun without also accepting the consequences of shunning. Just like violent defence. Society will judge you for it.

    5. Rien, if an individual shuns without cause, it will be that individual that is the loser in the "efficiency of society" game. Your last two paragraphs really are all that need to be said on this point.

      In any case, "cause" is a dangerous term in this context. What if I shun you due to your religion, race, "gender status" claim, etc.? It is "cause" for me, but may not be "cause" for the "efficiency of society" crowd.

    6. Rien,

      So having a preference is committing violence? Shunning is just an extreme form of having a preference. Does a woman do me violence when she turns down my sexual advances? Do I commit violence against Ford by choosing a Toyota? Nope.

      Nobody has a right to be 'liked,' and if you do something that causes many people to dislike you, and so much so that they've organized a campaign to convince others to do the same, you've probably earned it.

      "shunning is the exact same as imparting or transferring costs" - Rien

      This assumes that you already own all of your expected future sales, which in the free market, you do not. No one can steal from you what you do not own.

      If someone slanders you, or shuns you for a false reason, there are many libertarian (NAP compliant) contingencies to address this.

    7. ATL: "So having a preference is committing violence?"

      No it is not.

      "Shunning is just an extreme form of having a preference."

      No it is not.

      In fact, though not native english, I believe those two words are each others opposite. Shunning is avoidance, preference is choosing, selecting. Shunning is the negative of preference, so it is possible to change one into the other by attaching a negating word.

      "This assumes that you already own all of your expected future sales"

      Only in some cases. However it is not the 'owning' part that is interesting, it is the increase of the total cost to society that is important.

      In the end, the society with the least amount of costs will win out from the society with a higher cost base. When I look at western (white, christian) society, I see two mechanisms at work: The high trust level reduces costs for society to function. And the rights of ownership (liberalism, libertarianism) make the individuals in that society function optimally. However it would be a mistake to place either one above the other. This dualist approach is what makes us 'the best'. And I am sorry to say that imo libertarianism in its ultimate consequence will cannibalise society in favour of the individual.

    8. ATL: "Do I commit violence against Ford by choosing a Toyota?"

      I cannot say because I don't have enough information.
      It is not shunning when the toyota is the better car for your purposes.
      It is shunning when the ford is the better car for your purposes.

    9. BM: "if an individual shuns without cause, it will be that individual that is the loser in the "efficiency of society" game."

      That is not what I meant, I really meant the efficiency of the society as a whole. See also my reaction below:

      BM: "What if I shun you due to your religion, race, "gender status" claim, etc.?"

      In all cases, nature will be the final arbiter. If societies that shun based on religion, race etc come out on top, it was right. If those societies disappear, it was wrong.

    10. Rien,

      So, back to my example, if a woman turns down my sexual advance, even though I am the best or most socially efficient option (more handsome, higher salary, charitable heart, etc.), she has committed violence against me (or society?) by rejecting me, and I can legitimately return this violence upon her by forcing her to make the "right" decision? We haven't spoken of punishment in response to supposed "female violence," but if all you're after is the "efficiency of society as a whole," why not?

      By this argument, you'd have to be an open borders proponent if it could be shown that the influx of immigrants improved social efficiency by driving down production costs and increasing output. This, incidentally, is the argument of many liberaltarians who favor open borders.

      What should be as glaring as the reflection of the sun in a mirror (ever been to a garage sale on a sunny day?) is the question: who gets to decide what is the most efficient? I think the only answer in accord with your view is the State.

      I don't think you can hold onto this view and freedom at the same time without contradiction, unless it is your view that only "female violence," and not real violence, may be employed as a punishment in response to "female violence." If this is the case, then I would drop my argument concerning freedom and just say that this usage of word "violence" (and this whole tangential discussion) is very misleading. Either way, this usage of the word is misleading.

      Although I am fascinated by this position you've taken, I will have to bow out now. You may have the last word.

    11. ATL: In case of women the issue is thorny. (In some societies the woman has no choice, in our society women make a lot of wrong choices, in our society happiness as reported by women is declining the last few decennia)

      Anyhow, I think you approach this from the wrong side for a woman selecting a mate is a major decision. If not for the state, this would be mostly a one-off decision. I.e. she can choose only once, no do-over. In other words the woman has a finite resource and has to make a selection, must express a preference. Hence there is no shunning involved.

      Now you would likely make the argument that your money is also finite thus if you take the toyota even though the ford would be better for you, this should also be a free choice. And indeed in normal situations where we buy on the margin I would defend that position.

      The problem comes when its no longer at the margin. For the sake of an argument, say the US would buy its aircraft carriers from Portugal and not involve any US based companies. They would simply buy them, and not receive any compensation orders. Do you think voter repercussions (against the sitting government) would be justified?

      With every thing you do, and everything you don't do, you have a responsibility towards the society (culture) you live in. Trying to deny that responsibility or trying to trick people into not holding you responsible (NAP) will not work. People _will_ hold you responsible. You can only fool yourself.

    12. ATL: "who gets to decide what is the most efficient? I think the only answer in accord with your view is the State"

      Nope, society.

  5. Bionic: “Shunning is an effective and non-aggressive tool to govern behavior.”

    Shunning can be a powerful deterrent, and like any punishment can be used inappropriately. Most people are sensitive to how they’re perceived by their peers, including those on the lower rungs of the social ladder (I gleaned this from Theodore Dalrymple’s book, Life at the Bottom). The “social animal,” that is, us, desires acceptance from its own. Peggy in Oregon