The Peace of God Movements

The Peace of God movements, or Pax Dei, were one of the earliest and most intriguing responses to the chaos that had become prevalent in France around the turn of the first millennium.  In 987 CE, there was a transition in power from the Carolingian Dynasty to the Capetians.  As the Capetians consolidated their power, they began to oppress the Frankish peasantry.  In response, the peasants developed and embraced the apocalyptic trends of their day.  Some of these expectations were spurred on by signs like those outlined by Ademar of Chabannes.  These new trends manifested themselves through violence, assaults, and theft especially aimed at the nobles and clergy.

In response, ecclesiastical lords in Auquiline, Burgundy, and provinces throughout France sought to help keep the peace by calling councils that have come to be known as the Peace of God.  Secular princes, neighboring patrons, and the territories' populaces were called to various peace councils from 975 to 1040 CE.  While the church officials also believed in many of the same millennial expectations the people did, they believed that acting with peace in the light of Christ was the only way to see God when he entered into his Millennial Kingdom. Richard Landes in The Peace of God writes on some of the fervor surrounding the Peace of God movements:

"Leading regional bishops convoked councils of their fellow bishops, meetings that were also attended by the aboots of important monastic communities and by various secular leaders. Monks from the region raised up the relics enshrined in their churches and took them to the sites of the councils, where the saints could serve as witnesses and representatives of divine authority."  (Landes, Peace of God, 2)
People near and far gathered togeher with the ecclesiastical lords due to the presence of these wonderful treasures and in response to the violence and societal upheaval surrounding them.  During such coucils many members of war parties would have to take oathes of peace, and the council would mandate other reforms as to provide order to the often chaotic and violent millennial France.  The Peace of God movement is one of the most well documented pieces of evidence that attests to the apocalyptic and millennial concerns around the 1000 CE.

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