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First Crusade

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

turning point.

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


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