Front Page Titles (by Subject) 29.: On the Crusades - Judgments on History and Historians
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29.: On the Crusades - Jacob Burckhardt, Judgments on History and Historians 
Judgments on History and Historians, ed. Alberto R. Coll (Indianapolis: Liberty Fund, 1999).
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On the Crusades
Ekkehard of Urach said the truest and most profound thing about them: “Novitatem hanc iam senescenti et prope intereunti mundo pernecessariam.” [This novelty was essential for a senescent and almost moribund world.] The opponents of the cause he recognizes as Epicureans.
The ideal was: “Regni sui caelestis ineuntes servitium” [To enter the service of His heavenly kingdom]. It ennobles all of Western humanity that it desires something at once human and divine. Hitherto there had been only force and individual devotion; this time the power of all is placed in the service of a common holy aim. Europe realizes that something great must be accomplished jointly in the consciousness of full strength. People had a presentiment that they were regenerating, strengthening, and exalting themselves thereby. That common cause necessarily bestows a higher consciousness of existence, different from all strength and power employed hitherto. The difference between the Crusades and the conquests of Mohammed and the caliphs consisted in the fact that this time it was not a matter of the world, but of a venerated spot. Hope is not essentially directed at worldly possessions (because the defectiveness of the land must have been known from previous crusaders), but at the safeguarding of the most sacred relic. Thus their aim exalts the crusaders, while, after a short, holy, sacrificing war, the Mohammedans are debased by greed for more gain.
With the crusaders, the object is small, the volition great; with the Mohammedans, the object is the whole world, the volition is soon very low. The great things that happened through the crusaders could not be confiscated for base tyranny.
Once it had set that great volition in general motion, the papacy had accomplished what was perhaps its greatest mission. Only the papacy could have done this, and afterwards it was never able to do anything as great again. Innocent III, who in his sermons proclaimed the Albigensian Crusade with the knowledge that his bands were setting out chiefly to maraud and murder, looks small compared to Urban II at Clermont.
The Crusades completed the consciousness of a common Western life. The peoples who participated in them or completed similar tasks in a similar fashion, such as the Spaniards, have since then constituted the higher power in Europe.
There was no question of any precalculation of what actually happened; instead of that, people fed on dream pictures. The papacy, first to be informed about the great current, at least took the helm, for reasons suited to it and its previous nature and history. The Empire took its second European fall by not providing leadership. The world had postulated a great absolving central institution and forcibly given it ideal stature. This later became a crown-bestowing institution; now it commanded the European world to go East. Since that time we have been in the West.