Analysis of the 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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