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    The First Crusade

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    In 109 The First Crusade was launched by Christians with the support of the Roman Catholic Church in hopes of recapturing Jerusalem from the Muslims.

    The Crusades arose out of feudal society in the eleventh century, offering crusaders freedom adventure and a possible economic gain. Pope Urban II gave a speech to the church leaders and nobles in France, telling them to rescue their fellow Christians from the Muslims. He promised them everlasting life in heaven if they went. The Crusades weren’t started for no apparent reason, their were many causes of the first crusade and many effects. The crusades were mainly directed to Jerusalem and the Holy Sepulcher.

    (West 5)Jerusalem was taken by the caliph Umar in the 7th century, and early in the 11th century Fatmid caliph Hakim began to persecute the Christians and despoil the Holy Sepulcher. (Colombia 1) In 1004 the caliph Cairo of Cairo ordered the destruction of the church and Holy Sepulcher, but son after he proclaimed himself to be god, and the Muslims got ride of him, the Greek emperor was permitted to rebuild the Holy Sepulcher. The new spirit of adventure in the art, literature and actions of the western Europeans became a cause for the increase of pilgrimages to the holy lands. Europe was in a period of expansion and its urge for war and conquest had grown during the years of fending off the raids of the Magyars, Viking and Saracens. The spirit of religious reform that led to the Investiture Controversy led to an increase in popular spirituality. People now wanted to participate actively and do something in honor of their god.

    (Nelson 1) The different groups of European society contributed to the cause of the crusades. The aristocracy found themselves losing the importance they once had when they stood between Europe and its attacker. They needed more land and started to fight with each other over it, their numbers were growing because there we no longer losses in battles. ( Nelson 1) In 1054 the Church split into eastern and western organizations and the popes wanted to heal that split. They were also involved in the Investiture Controversy and were looking for allies.

    Middle classes knew they could become rich by cutting out of the Byzantines and taking the profits for themselves that byzantine merchants had been making on trade with them. (Nelson2). Pilgrims returning for the Holy Land were bringing stories home of the atrocities being committed by the Seljuk Turks against pilgrims, and of the way they were disrespecting holy places. This caused great outrage because the average western European was better acquainted with the Bible lands than any other place other than their own villages and towns.

    (Nelson 2)Late in the 11th century the Byzantine Emperor Alexius I, was threatened by the Seljuk Turks that had been moving towards Constantinople since their victory at the Battle of Manzikert. Alexius knew he would need reinforcement so he turned to the west for help. (Columbia 1) Alexius had seen a group of western knights under the command of Count Robert of Flanders earlier and was impressed by their fighting and tried to hire about 1200 warriors. (Nelson1) He sent his request to Pope Urban II who was more than glad to help. The calling of the Crusade was a political opportunity for Urban to attract loyalty from a wide range of disparate countries and asserting the church’s role as a unifying force. (Wikipedia 1) After a council held at Aurillac in France, Urban gave a speech to the laymen who had come to hear him.

    Although there are no records of what he exactly said there are some ideas. He didn’t say much about Alexius since the westerners did not like the Byzantines very much. He concentrated on the mission to free the Holy Land from the Muslims. He promised them the Church’s blessing, the aid of god, and he offered them a Papal Indulgence, which promised the immediate remission of all sins of any one who participates in the expedition. The crowds reaction to his speech was phenomenal and the crowd yelled out “Deus Vult”, which means God wills it.

    The number of those whose joined the Crusades increased daily and they all believed to be led directly by God. The “People’s Crusade” is probably the most famous crusade of the First Crusade. It was started by wandering preachers that were met in churches, at mass, highways, fairgrounds, crossroads and in marketplaces. Of these preachers the most famous and most enthusiastic was Peter the Hermit. He had formed a large group of dedicated followers who listened to him preach about the crusades. After listening to him preach suddenly all the humble people turned out in force so that they could go and deliver Jerusalem and win back the Holy Land.

    (Pernoud 29) On April 1096 a whole troop of people took to the road following Peter, and on August 1096 Peter the Hermit had finally reached the walls of Constantinople. Soon after they established themselves in the neighborhood of Civetot, they were attacked by the Turks who massacred them to the last man. (Pernoud 30) On October 21st the people of Civetot were ambushed by the Turks who massacred indiscriminately the women, old people, and children who had remained. That marked the end of the “Peoples Crusade.

    “While the peoples expedition was being massacred, the main Crusader army marched to Jerusalem which had been recaptured by the Fatimids of Egypt. The Crusaders from the north, Lorrainers, Walloons, and those from Brabant were grouped under the leader Godfrey of Bouillon. The Crusaders from the south were led by Raymond of Saint-Giles. After a long siege and great loss of Crusaders, Jerusalem was taken on July 15, 1099.

    The Crusaders massacred the whole Muslim and Jewish population including women and children. The jews were burned alive in their main synagogue and the Muslims were slaughtered in the Al-Aqsa Mosque, and it is said that their blood ran ankle-deep. ( Wikipedia 3) Not everyone was killed though some were took captive and used as laborers to cart the bodies out of the city. Although many people were killed during the crusades, there were many positive results for both the east and west. (Trautman 2) The Christians captured Jerusalem in 1100. They benefitted from the disunity among the Muslims and set up the Latin Kingdom of Jerusalem.

    In Europe the departure of so many nobles and knights for the crusades strengthened the power of the kings and middle class. (Nelson 3) The most obvious result of the crusades was the establishment of trade routes between east and west. Although the pope initially tried to ban trade with the Muslims, he backed down in 1344, and a trade market was established which benefitted the economy of both cultures. (Trautman 3) The combination of these cultures resulted in the invention of the windmill, the compass, gunpowder, and clocks. The Pope saw the Crusades as a way to assert Church influence as a unifying force, with was as a religious mission.

    This was a new attitude to religion and it brought religious discipline, previously applicable to monks, to soldiery. Muslim architects began to imitate the European pointed arch, and Europeans learned Greek medicine from the Muslims. They also learned military techniques from one another. As a result of learning new military strategies and uniting themselves against one cause, the Muslims developed a stronger religious nation, which also helped the decline of feudalism and the Byzantine empire. The First Crusade was the only crusade that achieved more than temporary results and is the only crusade to ultimately succeed.

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    The First Crusade. (2019, Feb 05). Retrieved from

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