The First Crusade

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 example.

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 valuabl!

e treasures a person can learn.


1.) Runciman, Steven, A history of the Crusades, 3 vols. (1951-1954; Rep 1987)

2.) Riley- Smith, Jonathan, The Crusades: A Short History (1987)

3.) Billings, Malcolm, The Cross and the Crescent(1988)

4.) Maalouf, Amin, and Rothschild, Jon, The Crusades through Arab Eyes (1987)

5.) Mayer, Hans E., The Crusades, 2d ed., trans. by John Gillingham (1988)

6.) Riley-Smith, Jonathan, The First Crusade and The Idea of Crusading (1986)

7.) Setton, K. M., ed., A History of Crusades, 5 vols. (1955-85).

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