The Crusades: Deus Vult

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“Deus vult!” These two words would spark one of the most controversial events in history, the Crusades. Spoken by Pope Urban II, “Deus vult” means “God wills it” in Latin. These two simple words were said to inspire the masses of Europe. They would also cause the bloody conflict that would ravage the Holy Land and drag generations of warriors into the chaos. Today many believe the crusades were a war between Islam and Christianity. That religion was the main cause and only cause of this event. They are right in thinking this, for religion was a cause, but it was not the only cause but one of many factors. Three causes that lead up to the Crusades were Europe’s changing medieval society, the desire to protect Christendom and greed.

The first cause of the crusades was the shift in Medieval European society. Up until the eleventh century Europe was in what many historians call the “Dark Ages”. It was during this time that Europe was under constant Viking raids from the North, Saracens from the South and Magyar’s from the East. Europe survived these and came out stronger than ever. With these threats gone, Europe’s society recovered quickly. The Italian City States built large trade fleets and took to the sea trading in ports all over the Mediterranean(Nelson 1). In the mainland, farmers began producing more food and raw materials that before now had been looted or burned by Vikings and other raiders. Religion also became more important as pilgrimages to holy places became more common. Europeans were no longer accepting their faith passively but had an urge to act on their beliefs and do something positive for their God(Nelson 2). Well Europe was having a comeback from centuries of raids and violence there was one problem. Europe wa...

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...tal struggle between two powerful faiths. Several generations of warriors would fight and die during the Crusades. These facts are obvious but there was more to them than just religious fanatics going at each over a city. The Crusades were born of Europe’s changing culture, determination to defend itself and the greed of man. All these fell into place leading Europe and the Middle East on a collision course. Maybe “Deus vult” was true, maybe God did will it.

Works Cited

"Battle of Lechfeld." Encyclopædia Britannica. Encyclopædia Britannica Online. Encyclopædia Britannica Inc., 2012. Web. 27 Feb. 2012.

Maalouf, Amin. “The Crusades Through Arab Eyes”. New York: Schocken Books, 1989. 5-6. Print.

Nelson, Lynn H.. "Lectures for Medieval Survey." The ORB: on-line Reference Book for Medieval Studies. College of State Island, CUNY, 10 November 2002. Web. 27 Feb 2012.

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