Objects Of Patriotic Loyalty
First, in the medieval period, the patria could be identified with a locality, hamlet, clan, village, township, or city. The patriot was one who submitted to the village or city and was prepared to defend it. Second, in terms of the feudal structure, defending homelands could also entail defending the lands of a local lord or prince. In this sense, feudal and vassal relations became integral to patriotic argument. Third, in Augustinian Christian thought the significant patria was the "city of God," which transcended all cities and states. During the later medieval period, Roman imperial thought was utilized by secularizing territorial states (initially city-states) in Europe. However, "abstract legal Rome" (communis patria) was a movable feast. It could apply equally to Venice, Florence, Paris, or London. Princes became, in effect, supreme lawmakers (sovereigns) and emperors in their own realms. The objects of patriotism thus became the new territorial states with their fatherly princes.
From the twelfth century, the notion of patria often arose in the context of defense of a state territory. Defense of patria was a key ground for "just war." This identification with patria intensified with renewed study of writers such as Cicero (106–43 B.C.E.), and later, with the thirteenth-century re-discovery of Aristotle's political writings. Thomas Aquinas (1225–1274) also touched on the issue of the religious duty of citizens to render themselves vulnerable to death for their patria—pro patria mori. Religious language was immensely important here. Death for patria and death for the Christian faith became virtually coeval by the late medieval and early modern period. The emotive religious memorials and formal recognition we still give to patriotic war dead are a testimony to how deeply this idea has permeated state theory. It is crucial to the understanding of patriotism to the present day. Finally, it is important to underscore the point that patriotism is formally compatible with any political creed or "object of attachment." Family, locality, city, tradition, land, absolute monarch, total state, and republic have all been objects of patriotic loyalty.