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History Crusades Essay

2455 words - 10 pages

Essay Topic: The Crusades
Essay Question: What were the leading causes of the Crusades and what is their legacy on the world?

What were the leading causes of the Crusades and what is their legacy on the world?

From the moment the first crusade was called in 1095, the European continent; it’s beliefs, it’s people, and it’s way of life, would be changed forever, whilst those in the Middle East were not anywhere near as greatly affected by the fighting that spanned for centuries. The factors that led to such a monumental event grew over time and coupled with one another soon snowballed into what would become the calling of the First Crusade by Pope Urban II in 1095. Factors ...view middle of the document...

When Jerusalem was conquered in 638AD The Eastern Roman Empire lost control of Christianity’s most holy and sacred city to Muslim conquers. Nevertheless the new owners of this sacred land allowed both the Jews and Christians to continue using their places of worship, and for centuries people of all three faiths co-existed in the Holy Land relatively peacefully. 3 In fact it would be over four hundred years before Christians attempted to recapture Jerusalem, and only then when Constantinople and the Eastern Emperor were under direct threat from the Seljuk Turks. It was not until this threat was apparent that the Pope saw fit to reclaim the Holy Land. A reason for this is that with the Great Schism in 1054, whereby the church was divided into Western Catholicism and Eastern Orthodox, the Vatican lost it’s influence in the East, and they saw this threat as a great opportunity to regain supremacy of the East. By aiding the East to fight off the infidels, the Vatican could at least gain moral supremacy that might ultimately lead to a repairing of the religious divide. Or if that was impossible then having the Eastern Empire indebted to the Catholic Church would be only slightly less advantageous.4 It was this Papal drive for power that contributed to the decision to retake the Holy land.
In the 11th Century the popes sought to increase their powers not just over the church but their secular powers too. Secular rulers such as the Holy Roman Emperor Henry IV challenged the power of the popes, this led to the Investiture Controversy when relations between Pope Gregory VII and Henry IV diminished to the point where Gregory excommunicated the Emperor. Pope Gregory VII believed that if the papacy could persuade the nobility of Europe to wage war on behalf of the church, it might enable the pope to claim jurisdiction over warfare5 and this would be an “expression of [the pope’s] moral leadership of the western worlds”6. So in order to achieve this Gregory instigated controversial reforms of both spiritual and organisational nature. These Gregorian Reforms, as they came to be known, aimed to purify the church which was at risk of becoming lax and corrupt. He issued new standards on clerical behaviour, competence and education, whilst also reorganising the bureaucracy that was the church, strengthening the pope’s authority and making it more consistent and answerable to the Vatican. After making these reforms Pope Gregory in 1074 attempted to call for the nobility to take up crusade saying “A pagan race [has] overcome the Christians and with horrible cruelty had devastated everything almost to the walls of Constantinople […] if we love God and wish to be recognized as Christians, […] we should lay down our lives to liberate them.”7 However due to the negative reaction to his reforms and excommunication of the Holy Roman Emperor, the nobles of Europe ignored this call. Nevertheless it was these organisational changes that enabled Pope...

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