Crusades Essay

2374 words - 9 pages


     Crusading, much like Imperialism in the 20th century, was all about expansion. During the middle ages however, it was more about the expansion of religion rather then power, or at least that’s the way it was preached. Crusading by definition is; “ a holy war authorized by the pope, who proclaimed it in the name of god of Christ. It was believed to be Christ’s own enterprise, legitimized by his personal mandate” (1). This essay examines the background of the crusades to offer a better understanding as to why they occurred. It also examines the effects that the crusades had on the world. It is easy to look at the crusades as a violent meaningless act, but one must understand the type of setting this movement occurred during. This was a time when if you took part in the crusades, you were seen as a warrior of god, recruited by the pope. Any man who fought in the name of god would be rewarded in heaven. Popular belief in the 10th and 11th centuries was that the more you did for god, the less accountable you were for you’re past sins. The more deeds you did, the better your credit in the ‘Treasury of God’ (2). The Treasury of God is a summarization of the good deed outweighing the bad deed principle of the time. Acts of violence in the name of god are far less common in the world today. But, as seen with September 11th, jihad or holy war is still occurring. This essay gives a basic timeline and underlying principles behind the crusading missions. Justification for these acts remains unclear and is simply opinion based.
     To understand the effects of crusading one must be familiar with the background in which it took place. The major conflict that initiated the crusading endeavors occurred when the Seljuk Turks aggressively took Syria and Palestine. Turkish Muslims also invaded the Byzantine Empire and subjected all classes of people to their rule, even Christians. At the same time, Popes of the 11th century were trying to extend their religious power beyond its original borders. They did this by forcing religion upon certain groups such as: heretics, pagans, and most all non-Christians. When Pope Urban seen the action of the Muslims he then thought it was his duty to Christianize those people. These facts combined started the First crusade in 1095 (3). At a personal level however, crusading could be undertaken for many different reasons. Many European cities were becoming over crowded, meaning many people would join crusades in search of new land. Knights would go in the hope of acquiring power and control over this new land. The chance at commercial success in new places was a huge determining factor for the western merchants of the day. Adventure, money, land, and religion were all big reasons for participating in the Crusades of the Middle Ages (4).
     The first Crusade began on November 27th 1095, as a response to the attack on the Byzantine Empire by the...

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