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The Crusades Essay

The Crusades are a big part of history, not just for the church, but for the world. This point in time showed the weakened state of the Romans and the power of the church over its people. There are good and bad things that came out of the Crusades; the heart of the people and the corruption of man. But where does the story start? The call to fight started in November 27, 1095 during the Council of Clermont under Pope Urban II.

Urban address the Council and sent his priests out to give sermons to motivate the people. This was in response to the Eastern Emperor Alexios’ request for help. Urban’s call was heard throughout the land that any man who went and fought to liberate the Holy Land would be forgiven of all their past sins, and those who could not fight gave money to the campaign would receive the same kind of forgiveness. 1] The words “whoever wishes to save his soul should not hesitate humbly to take up the way of the Lord, and if he lack sufficient money, divine mercy will give him enough” and “brethren, we ought to endure much suffering for the name of Christ-misery, poverty, nakedness, persecution, want, illness, hunger, thirst, and ills of this kind, just as the Lord saith to his disciples ‘You must suffer My name’” were given by the priests to encourage people to support the effort. [2] The call to march and help out the eastern Christians was heard loud and clear.

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The people were ready to free them the Persians because their hearts where not directed to God[3]. The West marched on Constantinople and then towards Jerusalem, and liberated both them from the Muslims. This Campaign was considered a huge success and a victory for the Christians. The Second Crusade Unlike the first Crusade, the second was not considered as successful. This campaign started in 1145 under Pope Eugene III. There is controversy over why the second crusade was started, and it is unknown if it was to attack the Muslims to free the holy land, or to reconquer the land under military might.

It is also unknown what the key factors were for the campaign, but we do know that Germany and France had a big role in the fight. From the records we can see that it’s beginning was a delegation from Armenia of bishops that came to ask the Pope for help. It took them 18 months to reach the Pope and they arrived at the end November, 1145 and saw the Pope on December 1. [4] The delegates led by Hugh the Bishop of Jabala in Syria pled with the Pope and even mentioned that they were considering appealing for help from Conrad of Germany and Louis of France. 5] It is believed that the papacy knew about what was going on with the eastern churches, but it is unknown why they had not reacted yet.

The decision was made December 1st, and the Pope issued the Crusade bull, “Quantum paraedecessores nosti”. [6] Louis of France, after hearing the request for help, summoned his princes together and ordered them into the crusade. It is unknown why Louis did this, but some say it is because he had an oath to fulfill that his brother had taken on (to see Jerusalem) but was unable to complete because of his death. 7] Either way, on Easter 1146, France picked up their Crusade Cross to help the East. It took Louis awhile to get the approval of the Pope to start the expedition, but when it was approved the Pope appointed St. Bernard the task of being the official papal delegate on the crusade. In 1147 the two Kings set off of the East.

Conrad III of Germany and Louis VII of France both intended to protect Jerusalem from falling. [8] Conrad landed in Constantinople in September 1147, and Louis arrived in October. They were not welcomed by the Eastern Emperor Manel because of what had happened during the first crusade. 9] Both armies marched out. Conrad’s army was defeated first in the Battle of Dorylaeum where he lost 9/10 of his forces. Louis’ army did not fare well either; many became sick and died from disease. Both kings regrouped in Constantinople and decided to go by sea to Damascus, but failed to take the city and so caused more trouble with the region by losing the support of the leader of Damascus. Both kings returned home defeated. [10]

The Third Crusade The failure of the Second Crusade took the fight out of the west, and many of them evaluated if the campaigns were really doing any good or making atters worse. It was almost 40 years before another campaign would be formed to go back to the Holy Land. Although there was a call for a crusade in 1165 by Pope Alexander III, the kings of Europe were too busy fighting amongst themselves to answer the call of the pope. It was not until 1187 when the people would return to Crusading because of the fall of Jerusalem to the Muslims. While the kings of Europe had been fighting with each other, the Saracen army led by Saladin[11] had gained strength in the Holy Land and now controlled a wide area of land surrounding the Christian states. 12] The fall of Jerusalem woke the western world. It is said that Pope Urban III died of grief when he heard the news of the Holy City falling. Many of the people believed that this was a punishment from God and felt that a new Crusade was in order to make things right with God. [13] Three Kings raised up forces to go fight; Philip II of France, Emperor Fredrick Barbaross of Germany, and Richard ‘the Lionhearted’ From England. [14] Barbaross set out in May 1189 and met disaster in Antioch where he drowned while bathing in the river Gorlu. His men lost heart and returned home.

The tensions between England and France delayed their departure because each were afraid that the other would attack while they where away. Eventually, both kings set off and went by sea in the summer of 1191. They met with the former king of Jerusalem, King Guy, and after they captured the city of Acre, King Philip decided he had had enough and returned home. King Richard set off for Jerusalem and captured the cities of Arsuf and Jaff, but never made it to Jerusalem. In 1192 he was recalled home, and signed a three year truce with Saladin. [15] The Fourth Crusade Pope Innocent III called for a crusade in 1198.

His hope was that by sending troops, it would put an end to the quarrel[16] between the Catholic Church in Rome and the Greek Orthodox church in Constantinople. The army was made up of French and Flanders; barbarians and knights. No kings went on this campaign. To get the ships they needed to sail to the Holy Land, they had to strike a deal with the Venetians to attack the town of Zara that was a trading rival of Venice, and they would give the crusaders the ships they need for the campaign. The pope ordered the crusaders not to attack the town because they were Christian, but the crusaders did anyway. 17] This time the plan was to take Egypt to cut off reinforcements to the Saracens, but the time the army took in capturing Zara delayed the invasion until spring 1203. During the delay the Eastern Emperor, Isaac, had been overthrown by his enemies in Constantinople. [18] Isaac’s son Alexius went to the crusaders and pledged Greek forces to aid them in taking Egypt if they would put his father back on the throne. The crusaders were split on what to do because they felt that attacking another Christian city was wrong, but others felt they could use the help of the Greek soldiers.

The Venetians made their minds up for them, and ordered them to attack Constantinople because they were also trade rivals. This caused the forces to split. Some of the French forces returned home disgusted at the order. Others splintered off and made their own way into the Holy Land. The rest attacked Constantinople in June 1203 and restored Isaac to the throne. [19] The Children’s Crusade In May 1212, a new form of crusade used children. Led by Stephen of Cloyes, a 12-year-old shepherd boy who believed he had a mission from God to lead an attack to take back the Holy Land, 30,000 children joined the forces but were never heard from again.

Another Children’s Crusade came from Germany where Nicholas gathered 20,000 children, some unmarried women and girls, and marched to take back the Holy Land, but the army was never heard from again as well. Neither of these two were counted officially as crusades because the pope never blessed their mission, but many of the people felt that they were true crusades working for God; not Kings, greed or men. [20] Conclusion The crusades were a bloody time in the Church history, but they show that the people’s hearts were for God even if the leaders of the people were not.

The crusades also show how much power the pope had to be able to rally a massive army to go and fight, and the influence he had to also use the office of the Pope to motivate the people to support the cause financially. It also shows that the hearts of the people were for God in not wanting to let the land that He promised to His people to fall to heathens. It also showed the loyalty to other Christians. The east and the west had their disagreements on doctrine, but felt that they should help each other out when threatened by another force that would threaten the belief in Christ.


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