Show Summary Details

Page of

PRINTED FROM OXFORD HANDBOOKS ONLINE ( © Oxford University Press, 2018. All Rights Reserved. Under the terms of the licence agreement, an individual user may print out a PDF of a single chapter of a title in Oxford Handbooks Online for personal use (for details see Privacy Policy and Legal Notice).

date: 26 May 2020

Abstract and Keywords

This article argues that the modern concept of terrorism does not fit the realities or worldviews that characterize medieval societies. Instead, therefore, the article explores the wider use of instrumental terror in the period, that is, the deliberate use of extreme fear to achieve some goal or set of goals indirectly, rather than by the direct application of force. It concludes that instrumental terror formed an important part of the repertoire of power in medieval Europe. It was most often applied through violence wielded from the top down, by people wishing to impose or maintain their power over others. It was occasionally, however, used from the bottom up, in an effort to destabilize or overturn a dominant order. Its legitimacy was subjective; while some medieval sources condemn it, others present it as necessary and even positive.

Keywords: terror, terrorism, instrumental, medieval, Middle Ages, violence, power, order

Access to the complete content on Oxford Handbooks Online requires a subscription or purchase. Public users are able to search the site and view the abstracts and keywords for each book and chapter without a subscription.

Please subscribe or login to access full text content.

If you have purchased a print title that contains an access token, please see the token for information about how to register your code.

For questions on access or troubleshooting, please check our FAQs, and if you can''t find the answer there, please contact us.