What Is the Correct Latin for "Deus Lo Volt"?

Deus Lo Volt or Deus Vult?

Deus lo vult
dierk schaefer/Flickr/CC BY 2.0

"Since the movie Kingdom of Heaven has come out, my friends and I have been having discussions on the Crusades. I have a question regarding the term/phrase "God wills it". It was apparently the war cry of the Crusaders. I have seen it written in Latin (I believe) as "Deus Lo Volt". But some of my friends say it should be "Deus Volt". None of us studied Latin in school. Can anyone clarify this for us."

Posted by schwatk in the Ancient/Classical History Forum.

The Classical Latin is Deus vult, not Deus volt, or Deus Lo Volt, from the irregular Latin verb volo, velle, volui. Deus Lo Volt is a corruption of this. In The Decline and Fall of the Roman Empire, Chapter LVIII: The First Crusade, Edward Gibbon explains this corruption:

Deus vult, Deus vult! was the pure acclamation of the clergy who understood Latin, (Robert. Mon. l. i. p. 32.) By the illiterate laity, who spoke the Provincial or Limousin idiom, it was corrupted to Deus lo volt, or Diex el volt.

Latin Tips

I received the following comment in email. This topic is also covered in the forum thread started by schwatk.

" The fact is that you say that "Deus Lo Volt" or "Deus Lo Vult" is a corruption of Latin's "Deus Vult", which is not correct at all.

Both Deus Lo Volt or Deus Lo Vult mean "Deus Vult" in medieval catalan language.

Historians who investigate medieval times usually make this kind of mistakes because they don't know catalan, which is a very important language when studying that period (the mediterranean sea was known as "the sea of the catalans"). Catalan is also commonly mistaken as bad or old italian.

So my advice is to learn some catalan or have someone who speaks catalan read any latin from medieval ages, just in case ;)

Best regards,


-- Francesc Xavier Mató de Madrid-Dàvila

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