help cause

aiyu

Senior Member
Japanese
#1
At the end of 1082 Henry camped outside Rome with his army, determined to throttle the city with a prolonged siege. As famine struck, Romans’ loyalty to Gregory VII began to waver. Gregory did not help his own cause, as it was clear to all that he was the one preventing a resolution of the crisis.

This is from a book 'Rome: A History in Seven Sackings.

From the last sentence, does 'did not help his own cause' mean 'did not help his people'? I guess his 'cause' means his people here. Do I understand it right? Or does this mean he didn't say any excuses?

Any comments would be appreciated.
 

dojibear

Senior Member
English - Northeast US
#2
No, "his cause" does not mean "his people".

"His cause" means "what he is trying to do". It is the stated goal of "his efforts, his struggles, his actions".
 

lingobingo

Senior Member
English - England
#3
It means that the way Gregory VII acted was counterproductive – it did his cause more harm than good (he refused to negotiate even though people were starving).
 

kentix

Senior Member
English - U.S.
#4
"His cause" in this sense is a common saying and doesn't necessarily represent a specific thing. Everyone in life hopes for success and better things. That's the idea of "cause" here. So anything that has a negative effect hurts his cause - his success in life.

It seems the author is saying people thought the crisis could have been resolved if Gregory had been reasonable and cooperative. It would have been good for them and for him. But he was being uncooperative, and they were suffering because of it. And since he depended on his people for support (one man can't do anything by himself), he was hurting his cause (his further success as a ruler) by allowing his people to suffer unnecessarily and build up resentment against him.
 
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