Truce of God

Truce of God a scheme set on foot by the Church in the Middle Ages for the purpose of quelling the violence and preventing the frequency of private wars, occasioned by the fierce spirit of barbarism. It was first proposed at the Council of Charroux in 989, adopted by the Council of Orleans in 1016, and by the Council of Limoges in 1031. In France a general peace and cessation from hostilities took place A.D. 1032, and continued seven years, through the efforts of the bishop of Aquitaine. A resolution was formed that no man should, in time to come, attack or molest his adversaries during the season set apart for celebrating the great festivals of the Church, or from the evening of Thursday in each week to the morning of Monday in the week ensuing, the intervening days being consecrated as particularly holy-Thursday as the day of our Lord's ascension; Friday as that of his Passion; Saturday, when he rested in the grave; and Sunday, the day of his resurrection. In 1034 it was opposed by the bishop of Cambray. Later it was extended to nearly all the more important fasts, feasts, and holy seasons of the Church. England (1042) and Italy adopted the custom, which was further confirmed by the second and third Lateran councils (A.D. 1139,1179). A change in the dispositions of men so sudden, and one which proposed a resolution so unexpected, was considered as miraculous, and the respite from hostilities which followed upon it was called the "Truce of God." This cessation from hostilities during three complete days every week allowed a considerable space for the passions of the antagonists to cool, and for the people to enjoy a respite from the calamities of war, and to take measures for their own security. The triumph of legal over feudal government eventually did away with the institution and the necessity for it. See Trench, Medieval Church History, p. 424 sq.

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