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What makes a just war? As you ponder this question, you ask yourself is there really a correct answer? The word "just" contradicts every aspect of war. Can a chaotic and brutal event, such as warfare, be guided by reason and fairness? During the height of the 12th and 13th century in Europe it was thought that every war should be fought for a just cause. It was during this time that the concept of chivalry arose, creating a sense of honorable and courteous conduct expected among knights. Knights were to feel a personal obligation to the weak and defenseless elements of their society. Therefore it became a knight's duty to fight off anyone causing harm to the helpless people of his society. The notion of fighting for the good of society thus became a just cause for war.
The ideas of chivalry came about through the church in an effort to Christianize the military. The church made a knight take an oath that his sword "may be a defense of churches, widows, orphans, and of all those who were not entitled to bear arms." Books were also written that marked out the rules of chivalry in more detail such as The Order of the Hospital of St. John of Jerusalem and The Order of Poor Knights of Christ. The books stated things like, "protect churches and ecclesiastical property, unarmed women, non-noble children under the age of fourteen, and unarmed clergy peasants engaged in their labors." The rules of chivalry gave a purpose to fighting. War was honorable because it was for the protection of helpless people. Those who fought for the good of society were fighting for a good and just cause and would be looked highly upon in the eyes of God.
The rules of chivalry also applied to the other side of warfare. Knights who were fighting had to follow honorable rules when dealing with the enemy. A chivalrous knight would not harm the weak or the defenseless people during warfare. In this way war became "fair" because only the armed would fight.
The rules of chivalry became commonly understood social laws. Knights followed the rules of chivalry because it made them honorable, good men and pleased the Lord.
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13th Century St. John Other Side Bear Arms Peasants Fight Detail Knights Orphans Chivalry
Fighting for the good of society and following the rules of chivalry justified the actions of war.
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Society in Medieval France. Cornell and University Press. Ithaca
and London: 1998.
2. The New Encyclopedia Britannica. Britannica: 1998. Volume 3.
3. Webster's Desk Dictionary. Gramercy Books. New York: 1987.
4. Wright, Nicholas. Knights and Peasants: The Hundred Years War in the
French Countryside. The Boydell Press. Woodbridge: 1998.
The Just War Theory Essay
1299 Words6 Pages
What is the Just War theory and how did it pertain to St. Augustine? According to Augustine there is no private right to kill. According to Paul Ramsey opposes in The Just War, Christian participation in warfare “was not actually an exception to the commandment, “you shall not murder” but instead an expression of the Christian understanding of moral and political responsibility. One can kill only under the authority of God. St. Augustine argued that Christian rulers had such an obligation to make peace for the protection of his subjects even if the only way to eliminate such a threat was through force of arms. St. Augustine believed that in wars there was a right intention.
Augustine also commented that wars should not be fought with…show more content…
The just war theory has a long history. Parts of the Bible hint at ethical behavior in war and concepts of just cause, announcing the justice of war by divine intervention. St. Augustine provided comments on morality of war from the Christian point of view (railing against the love of violence that war can engender) as did several critics in the intellectual flourishing from the 9th to 12th centuries. Just war theorists remind warriors and politicians alike that the principles of justice following war should be universalizable and morally ordered and that winning should not provide a license for imposing unduly harsh or punitive measures or that state or commercial interests should not dictate the form of new peace. “The attraction for jus post bellum thinkers is to return to the initial justice of the war”. This means that war is considered as self-defense.
The ultimate goal of a just war is to re-establish peace and safety. The just war can only be waged as a last resort requiring that all reasonable non-violent options must be exhausted before the use of force can be justified. A war can be just when it is fought with a reasonable chance of success. The Just War tradition is a set of mutually agreed rules of combat may be said to commonly evolve between two culturally similar enemies. An array of values are shared between two warring peoples, we often find that they implicitly or explicitly agree upon limits to their warfare.
“There are two principles