Crusaders Into The Holy Land essay example

1,450 words
The First Crusade As the year 1000 A.D. was approaching the strength of Christianity in Western Europe was growing along with its population. The newly reformed and organized Church began to gain great power. A new Europe was being born with the Catholic Church as a force in every area of life. In Christian beliefs, the savior, Jesus Christ was to return to earth and bring judgment on its people. Many clergy members along with lay people believed this would take place in the year 1000 A.D...

Knowing this, the people of Europe awaited the return of Christ and feared the Wrath of God. Religious people wanted to make up for their sins and avoid the horrors of eternal damnation. Clergy members were often consulted to figure out what would be a suitable penance. ' The Church itself still frequently imposed pilgrimages as a penance' (Campbell p. 14). A pilgrimage to the Holy Land was not an easy task to say the least.

The road to Jerusalem was jagged. On the way to Jerusalem, pilgrims were often murdered by thieves. They were defenseless and often did not return. Some pilgrims did return from the Holy Land. They came back with tales that planted the seeds for a Crusade. 'The pilgrims that returned from the Holy City of Jerusalem recounted tales, often grossly exaggerated, of the horrible pollution of the sacred places at the hands of the Turks' (Campbell p 23).

Other stories of the destruction of the Church of the Holy Sepulcher, the burial place of Jesus, by the Turks surfaced in the early eleventh century. The news of the destruction of the Sepulcher was mourned in every Christian country. The nations looked to Rome for a solution to this most serious of Problems. The Byzantine emperor asked for the aid of the Pope to help him with his Turk problem. To the Pope, it would be a strategic move to aid the Byzantine emperor. The Pope realized that this offered the opportunity to re-establish the universal Church and establish the supremacy of Rome.

In 1095, at the Council of Clermont in southern France, 'Urban II challenged Christians to take up their weapons against the infidels and participate in a holy war and recapture the Holy Land' (Spielvogel, p 344). Pope Urban II addressed the French telling them of the horrors imposed on the Holy Land. He told them all of the destruction and desecration of churches, and the torturous treatment of the Christian inhabitants of the Holy Land. The large crowd listening to the Pope's speech was saddened and outraged. The Pope called on Christian knights to set out to the Holy Land and free it from the claws of the pagan Seljuk Turks.

He promised any knight who set out to the Holy Land ' the remission of sins and be sure of the incorruptible glory of the kingdom of heaven' (Spielvogel, p 345). The crowd immediately supported it by crying out ' It is the will of God' (Spielvogel, p 345). This can be seen as the starting point of the period of the Crusades. A Crusade immediately followed known as the Peasant's Crusade.

This Crusade was not organized by the papacy. They were mostly poor or peasants and were inadequately prepared. On their way to the East they terrorized the Balkans by looting and persecuting the Jews. Eventually, they reached Constantinople and were sent by the Emperor Alexius I to Asia Minor where they were slaughtered by the Seljuk Turks.

A papal supported Crusade was soon to follow. The soldiers for the first true Crusade were recruited from the warrior class of knights. By 1096, 'an international military force, with a large nucleus of knights from central and southern France, Normandy, and Norman Sicily, made its way across the Balkans and assembled in Constantinople' (Hollister, p. 189). The warriors of the First Crusade numbered around 25,000 or 30,000. The number of troops may seem minuscule by today's standards it was ' immense in the eyes of contemporaries ' (Hollister, p. 189).

Pope Urban II appointed Adhemar of Le Puy, a French bishop, to lead the Crusaders into the Holy Land. The First Crusade was underway. There were many reasons for knights to venture out to the Holy Land. Many joined the Crusade for the Pope's pledge of the remission of sins and the incorruptible glory of the kingdom of heaven. To them it was like an ' armed pilgrimage' (Spielvogel, p 346).

Others saw a more materialistic goal. They saw victory in the Holy Land as a chance to benefit themselves. They felt they could gain territories, wealth or a title. The Crusade was not only a ' Holy War. ' By 1097, the noble warriors from Western Europe had reached the Byzantine capital of Constantinople. When the Byzantine Emperor Alexius saw the amount of crusading soldiers he was not entirely accepting.

He was unsure of the true motives of the Crusaders. To him they posed a threat to his empire due to the size of the armies. Alexius truly called on the West only to aid him in recapturing the lost Byzantine provinces of Asia Minor. The Crusaders we redetermined on the conquest of the Holy Land.

Alexius made the Crusaders promise homage to the lands they would conquer. Alexius promised the Crusaders military aid but it never truly came. After the Crusaders left Constantinople ties with the Byzantines were severed. The crusading armies then moved southeastward across Asia Minor. The immense number of cavalry and foot soldiers reached the ancient city of Antioch by 1098. ' After a long and complex siege ' the Crusaders captured Antioch (Hollister, p. 192).

After the capturing of Antioch, the Crusaders moved towards Palestine. In June of the year 1099 the Crusaders reached the 'Holy City ' of Jerusalem. ' After a five week siege ', Jerusalem was taken by the Crusaders (Spielvogel, p. 346). The victory was celebrated by the plundering of the city. The Crusaders carried on the 'Will of God ' through the brutal slaughtering of Jerusalem's non-Christian inhabitants. Eyewitnesses described the battle as being so gruesome that their ' feet were colored to their ankles with the blood of the slain' and that ' neither women nor children were spared' (Hollister, p. 193).

Conquests in the future followed. As the conquest was ending, the Crusaders set up feudal states in the conquered lands. Four main Latin states were created. They were the principality of Antioch, the county of Edessa, the county of Tripoli and the kingdom of Jerusalem. The ruler of the kingdom of Jerusalem, Godfrey de Bouillon, had the most power. He held the other states as fiefs.

The Latin states relied heavily upon the Italian merchant cities for supplies due to the fact that the lands bordering them were enemies. The First Crusade was the most successful of the Crusades. In only three years the Crusaders fulfilled their goal of conquering the Holy Land. They were successful in freeing the Holy Land from the clutches of non-Christian rulers. They successfully carried out the wishes of the Pope and, more importantly, what they believed to be the ' Will of God.

' The crusading knights gained new powers through the conquest along with salvation. Economically, the First Crusade was a success for Western Europe. New ports on the Mediterranean were in the hands of Western lords, opening new gates for trade. On the other hand, the First Crusade could be seen to be a failure in many ways.

Relations with the Byzantine Empire grew far more distant. The Pope's dream of unifying the eastern and western churches could not be achieved. The gruesome display of barbarism on behalf of the Crusaders could also be seen as a failure in morals. It seemed that the Crusaders, for the most part, lost their way. Their goals switched from religious to materialistic. The First Crusade was the first installment in a series that lose their' holiness' and become less successful.

Militarily, the First Crusade was a nutter success. It started a hatred for the West by the Near and Middle Eastern peoples that still is strong today.