The First Crusade

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The First Crusade

As the year 1000A.D. was approaching the strength of Christianity in
Western Europe was growing along with its population. The newly reformed and organized Church began to gain great power. A new Europe was being born with the Catholic Church as a force in every area of life.
In Christian beliefs, the savior, Jesus Christ was to return to earth and bring judgment on its people. Many clergy members along with lay people believed this would take place in the year 1000A.D. . Knowing this, the people of Europe awaited the return of Christ and feared the Wrath of God. Religious people wanted to make up for their sins and avoid the horrors of eternal damnation. Clergy members were often consulted to figure out what would be a suitable penance. " The Church itself still frequently imposed pilgrimages as a penance" (Campbell p.14). A pilgrimage to the Holy Land was not an easy task to say the least. The road to Jerusalem was jagged. On the way to Jerusalem, pilgrims were often murdered by thieves. They were defenseless and often did not return. Some pilgrims did return from the Holy Land. They came back with tales that planted the seeds for a Crusade.
"The pilgrims that returned from the Holy City of Jerusalem recounted tales, often grossly exaggerated, of the horrible pollution of the sacred places at the hands of the Turks" (Campbell p23). Other stories of the destruction of the Church of the Holy Sepulcher, the burial place of Jesus, by the Turks surfaced in the early eleventh century. The news of the destruction of the
Sepulcher was mourned in every Christian country. The nations looked to Rome for a solution to this most serious of Problems.
The Byzantine emperor asked for the aid of the Pope to help him with his
Turk problem. To the Pope, it would be a strategic move to aid the Byzantine emperor. The Pope realized that this offered the opportunity to re-establish the universal Church and establish the supremacy of Rome. In 1095, at the
Council of Clermont in southern France, "Urban II challenged Christians to take up their weapons against the infidels and participate in a holy war and recapture the Holy Land" (Spielvogel,p344). Pope Urban II addressed the French telling them of the horrors im...

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...m the clutches of non-Christian rulers. They successfully carried out the wishes of the Pope and , more importantly, what they believed to be the " Will of God ." The crusading knights gained new powers through the conquest along with salvation.
Economically, the First Crusade was a success for Western Europe. New ports on the Mediterranean were in the hands of Western lords, opening new gates for trade. On the other hand, the First Crusade could be seen to be a failure in many ways. Relations with the Byzantine Empire grew far more distant. The
Pope's dream of unifying the eastern and western churches could not be achieved.
The gruesome display of barbarism on behalf of the Crusaders could also be seen as a failure in morals. It seemed that the Crusaders, for the most part, lost their way. Their goals switched from religious to materialistic.
The First Crusade was the first installment in a series that lose their
" holiness" and become less successful. Militarily, the First Crusade was an utter success. It started a hatred for the West by the Near and Middle Eastern peoples that still is strong today.

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