Essay on The Crusades And The Middle East

Essay on The Crusades And The Middle East

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In the late eleventh century the majority of people in Europe belonged to specific religions: primarily Christianity, Islam or Judaism. However, relations between Christianity and Islam had been hostile from the seventh to the fifteenth century, with Muslims invading the Holy Land, Central Europe, Italy, Spain and North Africa. This resulted in the principal reaction from the Christians: the Crusades. This movement lasted from Pope Urban II’s call-to-arms in 1095 to the crusade fought at Nicopolis in 1396 between European forces and the Ottoman Turks. It is clear that the crusade movement had limited successes: The First Crusade returned the political authority of Jerusalem to Christianity and Christendom was expanded. Also, the economy grew and trade between the Middle East and Europe was vastly opened up. However, as a whole, the Crusades should be viewed as a failure as several Crusades, such as the Second, resulted in Muslim victory and the consequences of even the successful battles were not long-lasting.
The primary purpose of the Catholic Crusades to the Middle East was to recapture Jerusalem from Muslim rule, as declared in Pope Urban II’s call-to-arms in 1095. The first of these was successful due to its fusion of strong piety and practical good sense. The Holy City remained under Catholic authority for eighty-eight years , allowing safe passage for pilgrims travelling to the Middle East. This led to a deep devotion to the humanity of Christ as they saw “the events of the Gospels liturgically re-enacted” where Christ had lived as man , and demonstrates the importance of the Crusades to Western Christendom. The first chapter of the crusade movement was successful; Pope Urban had desired to promote pilgrimages to Jerusalem...


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...ver the clergy, expanded Christendom for a limited time, demonstrated the military strength of the papacy and opened up opportunities for more global trade than had previously been possible. However, when looking at the movement as a whole it is clear that it was not successful as the Crusades were episodic and sporadic and mainly had short-term aims; it was not a process of long-term colonisation and settlement in the Middle East. Although the papacy did achieve some successes through the crusades, most of these were reversed by 1396, when the Ottoman Turks became a clear threat to the authority of Christianity. Also, the Crusades simply changed the image of Christendom from one of pacifism, to one of hostility. The term ‘crusade’ still acts as an “emblem of cruelty and violence” and accelerated the deteriorating relations between Christianity and other religions.

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