The Crusades In The Name Of God

2605 words - 10 pages

Several centuries after they ended, the Crusades are remembered as wars that were fought and lost in the name of God. The efforts and means utilized and maintained to continue to wage a battle for more than one hundred years is memorable nonetheless. While we say that these wars were fought in the name of God, it is simply not that easy to define. The causes for the Crusades cannot be traced to an isolated event but rather several factors that operated together to create a climate of religious fervor to fight for the name of God. Power, piety, zeal, determination are words we can use to define some of the reasons that drove men to establish a war with another race of people, in which little was known. The Crusades are a story as much about the nature of man as they are the nature of politics and religion. The religious reasons led to social and economic ramifications that changed the political landscape forever. We see the Crusades as religious wars but a closer inspection reveals that they were fought for various reasons with

Europe’s political, social, and economic order was facing a positive turnaround in at the turn of the century. Expansion was prevalent and, as a result, the economy was improving greatly from the turmoil it had experienced in 900. While all of this sounds good and was good to a certain extent, things were still fragile. Strength and the power of the unknown paved the way for the crusades. Land, expansion, adventure, zeal, soldiers, and powerful papal leadership were the essential ingredients for crusading, which became “popular social movement” (Noble 416). No one could have imagined what the Crusades meant from the first to the last. Peter Charanis notes that the motivating factors that prompted the Crusades were “many and complex” (Charanis 1952, 123) and also “difficult to determine” (Charanis 123). Simply put, the First Crusade of 1095 was a “holy war” (123) fought with the objective of liberating the Holy Land. Charanis notes that the pope’s motivations for starting the first crusade are muddy at best but almost every historian agrees with the notion that power lurks behind any action. When looking at the causes for the Crusades, it is important to study what sparked the First Crusade. Thomas Noble maintains that the background to the First Crusade can be traced back to “the Muslim and Byzantine East and in the Latin West” (Noble 1994, 384) and the three interested parties were the Byzantines, the popes, and the warriors of Europe. The Byzantines were seeking aid primarily from the Turkish threat and when Pope Urban II offered to lend help, many soldiers were eager to help rid the land of the infidels. The church saw the crusade as an opportunity to “manifest their leadership of the church” (384) and the crusade was “perfectly consonant with the ethos of the knights of western Europe” (384). Religious zeal was certainly one factor in the Crusades. It is interesting to note how the First...

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