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What Caused the First Crusade, and was it a Success? Essay

The First Crusade was cause by conflicts between the Christians and the Muslims for the Holy Land, Jerusalem. Jerusalem was the holy city for all three groups of different faiths; the Christians, the Jews, and the Muslims. For the Christians, Jerusalem was where Jesus was crucified and resurrected. For the Muslim, Jerusalem was the place where Muhammad had ascended to heaven. For the Jews, it was their God’s city and it was the sit of Solomon’s temple. The main idea of the First Crusade was good against evil, in which the crusaders were on the good side and the Muslims and Jews on the evil side; after all they were the one who killed Jesus. The two main leaders that called for the First Crusade were Alexius I, emperor of the Byzantine Empire, and Pope Urban II. The First Crusade was an evil act against Muslims and Jews.

Greed and lack of knowledge mostly caused the First Crusade. The riches of the East lured many, mostly because younger sons in families lacked economic opportunity. During this time, the church was very corrupted and had split into an eastern and a western organization. To solve this problem, Urban II looked for something that would join all Christians and that is on e of the reasons why he started the First Crusade. Many people returning from the Holy Land were bringing home stories of the violence being committed by the Turks there. Because this was their Holy Land, it caused many Christians to be outraged.

The crusaders existence was established mostly on strong beliefs more than any other reason. The crusaders also brought back the tradition of pilgrimage back to the Holy Land. They consisted of two roles: pilgrims and soldiers. The idea of armed pilgrims weren’t accepted, but in this case they were because they were fighting for the Christian Holy Land. This made “war” justified in their eyes. There are numerous possible reasons for the cause of the First Crusade. But only a few are supported by evidence. There are three possible motives behind the First Crusade. The first possible motive was probably a response to Emperor Alexius I request for military aid. The second possible motive was an attempt to annex the Holy Land and to ensure access for pilgrims. The third possible motive was aimed at controlling the European society.

It all started in the late 1000s AD, when the Seljuk Turks from Central Asia had taken Jerusalem. Their conquest left Palestine in chaos and caused pilgrimage to increase. They threatened the Byzantine Empire, especially Constantinople. Since the situation had threatened the Christian community, Alexius had felt that it was appropriate to ask the pope for military aid. He wanted to defend Christianity against the Muslims and to recover the Holy Land. When Urban II saw this opportunity presented to him, he took advantage of it and called for the First Crusade.

By calling this crusade, he would unite both churches to fight together for a reasonable cause. On a cold November day in 1095 AD, at the Council of Clermont, Pope Urban II made an emotional speech that touches many people and affected them in many ways. He gave the speech with a shaky tone asking for a volunteer army to take Jerusalem and Palestine from the Seljuk Turks. During the speech, he used many powerful adjective describing how important is was the Christians to take back Jerusalem.

“The Turks, a Persian race, have overrun the eastern Christians right up to the Mediterranean Sea. Occupying more and more of the land of the Christians on the borders of Romania, they have conquered the… slaughtering and capturing many, destroying churches and lying waste the kingdom of God. The noble race of Franks must come to the aid of their fellow Christians in the East. The infidel Turks are advancing into the heart of Eastern Christendom; Christians are being oppressed and attacked; churches and holy places are being defiled. Jerusalem is groaning under the Saracen yoke. The holy Sepulcher is in the Moslem and has been turned into a mosque. Pilgrims are harassed and even prevented from access to the Holy Land” (The Crusade).

Clearly, he exaggerated the story and overestimated the potential of the Turkish army. Urban II had urged the Christians to stop fighting among themselves and recapture the Holy Land from the Seljuk Turks. He had promised both spiritual and material reward for their efforts. He promised indulgence for everyone that joined the crusader’s army to fight the infidels on the Holy Land. The crows responded in a very positive way. They wore a red cloth sewn on their tunics to indicate that they were soldier of Christ. Perhaps this speech appealed to many people of Europe because it offers them salvation and during that time period they were troubled by a deep sense of they own sinfulness.

There are two kinds of army; the professional trained sent by the Pope and Alexius I, the other was the Peasant’s army led by Hermit and Walter the Penniless. They traveled through town hollering “God wills it, God wills its” (The First Crusade). On their way traveling toward Jerusalem they massacred many Jews and Muslims that they had passed by. They robbed and killed many and demanded food and shelter form the town peoples there. Apparently they didn’t have nay actual leader, they just did whatever they wanted. Many of them were killed by angry mob because of the actions. Many of them were going on religious term but some of them just saw it as a chance to kill Jews and Muslim sin the name of Christianity. When they reached Constantinople, Alexius I had looked on at them with distrust and dislike rather than with kindness. He gladly got rid of them by helping them across the strait to Asia. In passing through Asia Minor, they faced many hardships and had to fight often.

They siege their first city and took it after six weeks and besieged the next one after eight months. During this siege they suffered terribly. Their tent were blown to shed by the wind or rotted away by the heavy rains. The Crusaders found themselves out of food so they had to feed on their horses, camels, dogs, mice, and grass and bark of tress. Their horses had almost sunk under hardship and diseases and lack of food thinned the men. As they traveled through towns, they slay anyone who refuses to become Christians. Within three years from the time of their starting, they finally entered the Holy City and murdered in cold blood almost all of the inhabitants there.

For forty days Jerusalem was besieged until it finally fell on July 15, 1009. “Now the cross replaces the crescent on the Dome of the Rock” (The First Crusade). The Crusader entry into the Holy Land was an event of killing and raiding. “At certain times, the crusaders were on their knees with tears of repentance and joy; and then again they would start up and break loose into some frightful acts of cruelty and plunder against the conquered enemy, sparing neither old man, nor woman, nor child” (The First Crusade). In the end they did succeed in capturing Jerusalem but there were only a few left of the crusader’s army because many had died in battle and of starvation and diseases.

To sum up, the First Crusade was a success, but it was the only successful one out of nine. During the Crusades, many were misguided, so I guess you can’t really blamed their behavior because of their ignorance. A crusade wasn’t necessary for solving the Seljuk Turks problem. In religious terms, the First Crusade hardened Muslims attitudes toward Christians, yet at the same time, it raised doubts among Christians about God’s will, the church authority, and the role of the papacy. On the other hand, the First Crusade did provoke religious enthusiasms on the broad scale. The European’s crusades were stupid and didn’t accomplish much. The only good thing that came out of it was more trade routes.

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