The History of the Crusades

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The strong, skilled, knights planned to travel all across northeastern Europe to fight the ultimate battles to expand their territories, but what were they doing? Crusading. It went on more than 150 years according to historian debates. The crusades had a history of 8 bloody battles, Pope Urban II had to make an educated decision for the people, and the crusades left their mark on the world.

The history of the crusades began when Western Europe had gained significant power by the end of the 11th century although it still did not have as much as other Mediterranean civilizations. Seljuk Turks invaded Byzantium and gained control of a vast number of land. “After years of chaos and civil war, the general Alexius Comnenus seized the Byzantine throne in 1081 and consolidated control over the remaining empire as Emperor Alexius I (History).” In 1095, Alexius asked Pope Urban II for troops to help against the Turkish threat. He knew that he could not do it alone, and that the Pope had helped emperors times before.

So what was the harm in asking? What Alexius didn’t know this would be the mark of a new beginning and the start of the Crusades. “In November 1095, at the Council of Clermont in southern France, the Pope called on western Christians to take up arms to aid the Byzantines and recapture the Holy Land from Muslim control (History).” This was the birth of the crusades. The crusades were knights who would travel across Europe, battling, killing thousands, to expand their territory. “After pronouncing a solemn vow, each warrior received a cross from the hands of the pope or his legates, and was thenceforth considered a soldier of the Church.

Crusaders were also granted indulgences and temporal privileges, such as exemption from civil jurisdiction, inviolability of persons or lands, etc. (Bréhier).” A lot tried to go on the crusades. Even the priests and monks, who had taken religious vows, tried to go. They often found loop holes and went on the crusades. It was very tough. It meant leaving your family behind for years or possibly forever. In 1096, The First Crusade began and the knights attacked Nicea. In 1908, they headed toward Jerusalem.

In order to get into Jerusalem, the Crusaders murdered hundreds of men, women, and children. Something that would haunt them forever and still be remembered today. In 1147, the Second Crusade began as they went after Damascus’ army, which was a fail. The Third Crusade began in 1187, which ended with a peace treaty with Richard and Saladin. The Fourth Crusade was when they declared war on Constantinople. The Fifth Crusade, was by Pope Innocent III, the Crusaders attacked Egypt for their land and sea, but failed due to Muslim defenders. The battles went on until finally it ended.

Why did Pope Urban II decide to help Alexios I Komnenos in 1095 CE against the Turkish threat? Maybe for his own reasons, such as being the Pope of the Western and Eastern Christian churches above the Patriarch of Constantinople. Mark Cartwright stated, “The two churches had been split since 1054 CE over disagreements about doctrine and liturgical practices, particularly the papacy’s elevation of Jesus Christ to the same level of God in the idea of the Holy Trinity (Cartwright).” If the two churches rejoined again, the Pope could be the great leader of the two. The tipping point of Urban II decision to help was the loss of Christian control of the Holy Land with its unique sites to Christianity, particularly the tomb of Jesus Christ, the Holy Sepulcher in Jerusalem [Cartwright].

With helping Alexios I Komneos and creating The Crusades, so many religious advantages would come to the Pope and to the Christian people. Later, Urban II began a preaching tour in France that the was the violence of the war was not sin, because it was out of defense and righteousness. Urban II wouldn’t know that hundreds of years later, Christians would be upset with him over this preaching tour. Because of Urban II, warriors gathered across Europe through 1096 CE ready to embark for Jerusalem [Cartwright]. Without Pope Urban II, they would not have had the strength and the support to go for 150 years to gain territorial land.

The crusades have affected the world today in many different ways. Military order was instructed in the First Crusades and is still incorporated in our military today. According to Wikipedia, the definition for military order is, “confraternity of knights originally established as religious societies during the medieval Crusades for protection for Christianity and the Catholic Church (Wikipedia).” It still exists as nation-states. Also, it played a major role in European territorial expansion and for development. Many of the flags in Europe have a cross, resembling the times of the crusade movement.

Not only was there good, many Christians are demanding an apology from the pope from the slaughters that were committed from the Crusades. Christians are appalled that their ancestors were told that it was not equal to a sin. They increased the wealth of the church. The takeover of territories in Europe led to intellectual development when eventually led to the period of the Renaissance. Without the Crusades, the famous geographical discoveries by Marco Polo would’ve never been found. If the Crusades would’ve never happened, the world would not be the same today. Religion, church, Europe, and so many things would be different. It is the butterfly effect.

After a long 150 years of knights riding their horses with their swords, gaining back their territory one-by-one across Europe, missing their families, the crusade battles will be remembered. The history of the crusades, Pope Urban II decision whether to help Alexius and people, and the choices they made are still being discussed today.

Cite this paper

The History of the Crusades. (2021, Nov 23). Retrieved from https://samploon.com/the-history-of-the-crusades/

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