Essay on The Crusades: History's First Jihad

Essay on The Crusades: History's First Jihad

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For centuries, religion has been a key underlying concept that has had the power to unite many individuals, and give them a sense of belonging. For thousands of years, polytheism was a widely popular religious affiliation until the transition into monotheism. The belief in only one god was a major shift in history, especially when looking at Christianity. The unity of faith for Christians has been an ideal from the beginning. On the other hand, Islam, and its followers the Muslims, are united in belief and practice because of Allah, or the God.
Since the early days of Christianity, the primary pilgrimage destination has been the Holy Land, and one of the most sacred is Jerusalem—it is said that this is where Jesus was crucified and buried. After the Arabs captured Jerusalem from the Byzantines in 638, Christians were still allowed to travel to the land as Muslims were rather tolerant of their visitors. However, by the eleventh century, things took a turn for the worse and Christians set out to recapture their Holy Land. In turn, the First Crusade took course to take back what was theirs.
In 1095, Pope Urban II received a letter from the Byzantine Emperor, Alexius I Comnenus, asking for assistance against the Seljuk Turks who had seized land in Asia Minor, Syria, and Palestine. Even before Urban had received the plea for help, he had heard that the Church of the Holy Sepulcher had been destroyed by a Muslim leader of Jerusalem. The church was later reconstructed around 1040. False tales of mistreatment of the Christians spread throughout the West quickly. However, the Muslims actually profited from Christians who came to worship in the holy land and were impelled to leave them in peace. Nonetheless, the pope believed t...

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...itnesses and Participants. Princeton, 1921.
"Letters of the Crusaders Written from the Holy Land." In Translations and Reprints from the Original Sources of European History. Dana Carlton Munro, tr. and ed., vol. 1, no. 4. Philadelphia: Department of History of the University of Pennsylvania, 1900.
Marcus, Jacob. The Jew in the Medieval World: A Sourcebook, 315-1791. New York: JPS, 1938.
Munro, Dana C. "Urban and the Crusaders." Translations and Reprints from the Original Sources of European History. Vol 1:2. Philadelphia: University of Pennsylvania, 1895.
Phillips, Jonathan. Holy Warriors: a Modern History of the Crusades. New York: Random House, 2009.
Riley-Smith, Jonathan. "The State of Mind of Crusaders to the East, 1095- 1300." In The Oxford Illustrated History of the Crusades, edited by Jonathan Riley-Smith. Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2001.

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