truce of God

truce of God, in the Middle Ages, an attempt by the Catholic church to limit private warfare between feudal lords. It is related to the peace of God, which exempted clergy, women, children, and peasants from battle or attacks. The truce of God was proposed (a.d. 958) by Pope John XV and was first applied in 1027. It prohibited fighting from 9 p.m. Saturday to 3 a.m. Monday, which was soon extended to span Wednesday evening to Monday morning. Religious days were also included. That left only 80 days a year for fighting. The truce spread from France to Germany, Italy, Flanders, and Spain, and from 1123, it was backed by the threat of excommunication. The increasing power of kings (the “peace of kings”) and the subsequent rise of strong national governments rendered the truce of God unnecessary and ineffective for enforcing internal peace. It lapsed in the 13th cent.

The Columbia Electronic Encyclopedia, 6th ed. Copyright © 2024, Columbia University Press. All rights reserved.

See more Encyclopedia articles on: Ancient History, Middle Ages and Feudalism