Marked by warfare on multiple fronts, increased efforts to legislate both responsibilities and privileges to participants on and off the battlefield, and heightened efforts to weave together reform initiatives with the negotium crucis, the scope of thirteenth-century crusading was, at the very least, ambitious. This same period also witnessed diverse new forms of female religious life in the Southern Low Countries. But neither Holy War, or these new holy women arose in isolation. The career of the famed crusade preacher, Jacques de Vitry (d. 1240), bridged these two arenas. Yet his collaboration with pious lay women and promotion of crusade was neither unique or unrelated.
This presentation will introduce my PIMS project, which explores the affiliation—real and imagined—of clerics and holy women in the Southern Low Countries in the context of crusade initiatives. It will describe the unique features of thirteenth-century recruitment strategies, and address the case of Jacques de Vitry’s portrayal of crusade in the vita of Marie d’Oignies. It will conclude with some initial findings and ongoing dilemmas in investigating the relationship between the context of crusade and the collective construction of female sanctity.