In The middle of the Eleventh Century The tranquillity of the
eastern Mediterranean seemed assured for many years to come, but
little did the people know what was ahead . This, thus embark us on a
journey back into the First Crusade. In this paper I will be
discussing the events that lead up to the first in a long line of
crusades. I will also be mentioning the lives of some of the
crusaders through letters that they wrote. The crusades were a time
of confusion for most people, yet today we look back at them as a
The Crusades were Christian military expeditions undertaken
between the 11th and the 14th century to recapture the Holy Land from
the Muslims. The word crusade, which is derived from the Latin crux
("cross") , is a reference to the biblical injunction that Christians
carry their cross . Crusaders wore a red cloth cross sewn on their
tunics to indicate that they had assumed the cross and were soldiers
of Christ .
The causes of the Crusades were many and complex, but
prevailing religious beliefs were clearly of major importance. The
Crusaders continued an older tradition of the pilgrimage to the Holy
Land, which was often imposed as a penance . Now, however, they
assumed a two roles as pilgrims and warriors. Such an armed pilgrimage
was regarded as a justifiable war, because it was fought to recapture
the places sacred to that of the Christians .
Jerusalem had been under Muslim rule since the 7th century,
but pilgrimages were not cut off until the 11th century, when the
Seljuk Turks began to interfere with Christian pilgrims. For
Christians, the very name of Jerusalem evoked visions of the end of
time and of the heavenly city. To help rescue the Holy Land fulfilled
the ideal of the Christian knight. Papal encouragement, the hope of
eternal merit, and the offer of indulgences motivated thousands to
enroll in the cause .
Political considerations were also important. The Crusades
were a response to appeals for help from the Byzantine Empire,
threatened by the advance of the Seljuk Turks. The year 1071 had seen
both the captures of Jerusalem and the decisive defeat of the
Byzantine army at Miniskirt, creating fear of further Turkish
victories . In addition, the hopes of the Papacy for the renunciation
of East and West, the nobility's hunger for land at a time of crop
failures, population pressure in the West, and an alternative to
warfare at home were major impulses .
The Crusades were equally a result of economic circumstances.
Many participants were lured by the fabulous riches of the East; a
campaign abroad appealed as a mean of escaping from the pressures of
feudal society, in which the younger sons in a family often lacked
economic opportunities . On a larger scale, the major European powers
and the rising Italian cities (Genoa, Pisa, and Venice) saw the
Crusades as a mean of establishing and extending trade routes .
Late in the year of 1095 Pope Urban announced on Tuesday,
November 27 that he would hold a public session to make a great
announcement. This was the beginning of what was to be the First
Crusade . After having painted a real grim or somber picture the Pope
made his appeal. He thought that western Christendom should march to
the rescue of the East. Rich and poor alike should go and they should
leave off slaying each other and instead fight a great war. Supposedly
they thought it was God will and that God would lead them and Take
care of them. During his speech Cries of "Dues le wolt! -- "God
wills it!" - Interrupted his speech. Just after the Pope ended his
speech the bishop of Le Puy fell to his knees and asked permission to
join the "Holy Expedition." Hundreds crowded up to later follow his
Each man involved with the expedition was to wear a cross in
symbolization of his dedication. Anyone who took this cross vowed to
go to Jerusalem . Everyone was to be ready to leave his home by
August 15 the Feast of Assumption. The armies were to meet in
Constantinople. When they were all together pope Urban wanted to make
it clear that the crusade was under the control of the church, so he
appointed Bishop Le Puy as the leader .
When Urban returned to Rome for Christmas of 1096 he could
feel assured that the Crusade was truly launched. He in fact launched
a movement greater than he would ever know.
By October 1096, The Byzantine emperor Alexious I had not
anticipated a force as large as that which the Crusaders brought.
Although he provided the crusaders with food, shelter and promised
them guides, he attempted to get oaths of loyalty from them and
exerted pressures upon the crusaders that would not comply . The
visit of these Crusaders to Constantinople marked the beginning of
that Western distrust of Byzantine that would eventually hamper the
second Crusade and provide a rational for the diversion of the fourth
crusade to capture Constantinople itself.
Life during the first crusade was miserable and evil. Men
were wearing them selves out to the harm of their bodies and their
souls . But their life would be prosperous and joyful and they would
be true friends of god.
The Crusade perhaps more than any other event in before the
Eleventh Century elicited a great number of letters . The excerpts
from the example here was written around the time of the siege of
Antioch, Perhaps the darkest moment of the entire three-year campaign.
This letter was translated into English :
" For on the very day on which they had promised that they
would surrender, Solomon and all the Turks, collected from neighboring
and distant regions, suddenly fell upon us and attempted to capture
our camp. However the count of St. Gilles, with the remaining Franks,
made and attack upon them and killed an Innumerable multitude. All the
others fled in confusion. Our men, moreover, returning in victory and
bearing many heads fixed upon pikes and spears, furnished a joyful
spectacle for the people of God"
This all supposedly happening on the seventeenth day before
the Kalends of June.
The results of the Crusades are difficult to assess. In
religious terms, they hardened Muslim attitudes toward Christians. At
the same time, doubts were raised among Christians about God's will,
the church's authority, and the role of the papacy. Religious fervor
yielded to disinterest, skepticism, and a growing legalism (as, for
example, in the use of indulgences). On the other hand, the Crusades
did stimulate religious enthusiasm on a broad scale. They inspired a
great literature in Latin and in the vernacular, especially the
Romance languages .
Overall, How Pope Urban organized the Crusades was ingenious
in itself. Yet the way the men were treated during the crusades was
extremely horrific. I don't nessarily think that Urban new what he was
getting into by having his bishops spread the word. However the word
was mainly spread by the effective preaching done by the poorer men
and by such people as Robert of Abrissal who was the founder of the
Order of Fontevrualt. I might have been even better if fewer great
lords had answered Popes Urbans' appeal. That way everything could
have been a little more organized and his men wouldn't have gone
through the hell they did.
The Crusades continued may years after Pope Urban originally
lead them to Constantinople. Needless to say, the Mediterranean
Developed a knack for warfare. After all look at all that has happened
since the crusades. In all the Crusades helped some religions, but
they killed many to do this. If it was God's will that these people go
on these crusades then was it God's will to kill these people??? I
still see the Crusades today as a Changing point is World history.
These people, although the were partially tricked, decided that it was
time for something to change and they did it.. Even though it was
about 800 years ago, it still sticks out as a turning point in
history. I went into this paper with out a clue on what to do it on,
how to do it, or even why I'm doing it. I've learned more about the
Crusades and their importance though out our history. I've also
learned that in everything there is a secret meaning and lesson to be
learned. Those my friend are the most valuable treasures a person can