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In the year of our lord 1095, Pope Urban II started what we know as the Holy Wars or the Crusades. Over the period from 1095 - 1464, a series of military expeditions were fought to take back the Holy Land, Jerusalem, from the Seldjuk Turks. There were eight crusades which were spurred for many different reasons by many different people that left a lasting effect to the world. These years of bloodshed were led by men of power to bring money, greed, and fame to themselves at the expense of others. Although it brought a lasting uneasiness between the two religions, but trade with the East increased and feudalism became scarce. The crusaders failed to regain the Holy Land, but the Eastern connections opened Europe to a brighter understanding of optimistic ways of living and thinking.
This began the formation of modern Europe. Overview: The leaders and the results During the Middle Ages, Christians visited Palestine, known as the Holy Land, which was the region where Jesus Christ had lived. The Muslims had captured this land from the Christians, but still allowed religious pilgrimages. Towards 1071 the fierce Seldjuk Turks started conquering the East.
The Turks had become Muslims (), but the Turks made it difficult for Christians to reach the holy places. The military expeditions planned and fought by western European Christians that began around 1095 are known today as the Crusades. The soul purpose of these expeditions was to overtake and gain control of the Holy Land, Jerusalem, from the Muslims. Deus vult! (God wills it! ) was the battle cry of the thousands of Christians who participated in the event of the Crusades.
It was Christian belief that fate was to gain control of the Holy Land for the glory of God. The origin of the Crusades was a result of the Turkish expansion in the middle east; the Turks invaded the Christian empire, Byzantium, and thus the crusaders were sent out to recover the land which was rightfully theirs. Around 1071 the fierce Seldjuk Turks started conquering the East. The Turks had become Muslims (), but the Turks made it difficult for Christians to reach the holy places. The Turks decided to continue their reign of terror. In 1095, Byzantine Emperor Alexius I Comnenus asked Urban II, pope of the Roman Catholic Church, for assistance in fighting the Turks ().
Urban II agreed with two goals in mind to defend Christianity against the Muslims and to recover the Holy Land. The first crusade was initiated by Pope Urban II. On November 27, 1095, Pope Urban preached to his followers outside the city of Clermont-Ferrand about the action which needed to take place. Preaching words about how God would lead the way because they would be doing his work, Pope Urban urged action to take place. In response to his speech, the people cheered and planned their crusade to regain control of the lost city. Urban brought all the bishops and urged them to encourage their friends and fellow villagers to take part in the expedition.
Small self-directing groups began to form, each planning their own path to Constantinople; that was where they would meet and form unity. Their plan was to attack the Turkish forces in Constantinople and regain control of the city. The Christian armies conversed with the Byzantium emperor, Alexius I Comnenus, and agreed to return any of the old land that was recaptured. The armies were unsure about this agreement, however, they agreed to the treaty anyhow. The first attack by the crusaders was on the Turkish capital, Anatolian. During the same time frame, the Byzantians were also making an attempt to regain the city of Anatolian.
The Byzantians used the crusades to their advantage to achieve their goal in capturing the city. Later in the year, Anatolian surrendered the city to the Byzantians, not the crusaders. The crusaders then met once again and together defeated the Turkish army, scoring a great victory. Afterwards, the crusaders went and captured the city of Antioch, and then moved on to their primary goal -- Jerusalem. Jerusalem was under heavy guard by the Egyptians at the time period when the crusaders were about to make their attack. The crusaders set up siege machines and called for reinforcements, and eventually, the Egyptians surrendered to them.
All who dweller in the city were massacred in belief that the blood of former possessors purified the city. For the next generation or so, the crusaders kept control over the Holy Land and invited their people to come inhabit the city. They began to colonize and set up states; the four major states which were set up consisted of: Tripoli, Antioch, Edessa, and Jerusalem. The crusaders used the strategy of isolating and cutting off supplies that could lead to strengthening to the Muslims and Egyptians. However, as the next generation came about, the children of the original crusaders were not quite as motivated and determined as the original fleet, so the Muslims escaped the isolation and regained power.
The Muslims, under the leadership of the radical leader, Zangi, found victory in attacking Edessa. The Muslims destroyed churches, homes, building, and murdered many crusaders, and regained control of the city. The Pope, seeing the events that were taking place, declared yet a second crusade to recapture the lost territory once again. Armies from France and Germany set out to meet once again in Jerusalem and join forces. However, the German crusaders were ambushed during their voyage depleting their supplies and cavalry. The few remaining joined the French fleet in Jerusalem, and together attempted an attack on Damascus.
Being badly defeated, the French army returned home, while the Germans remained with the colonies of the former crusaders. The states established by the crusaders were slowly being destroyed, and thus, the failure of the second crusade led into a third. Nur ad-Din, the new Muslim leader, motivated the Muslims into believing that they should take back what was thought to be theirs. However, the newfound leader died a few years proceeding, and yet another leader, Saladin, came to power. With the newly revived army, Saladin led his army in an attack to recapture Jerusalem in 1187. In early October, Saladin defeated the crusaders and gained control of Jerusalem.
Pope Gregory VIII then called for a third crusade. Frederick I, Roman Emperor, Philip II, French king, Richard I of England, all joined together to assemble one of the most powerful armies during the time of the middle ages. However, due to the many misfortunes the crusaders faced, they were not able to recapture control of Jerusalem. Returning home, the Roman, French, and English armies accomplished none of the goals which they had set. Almost immediately upon being elected pope, Innocent III assumed the leadership of the Fourth Crusade (1202 - 1204). He organized a crusade to attack the Muslims in Egypt.
However, almost immediately, Innocent lost control over the Crusade. The original plan if the Fourth Crusade to meet in Venice and ship hosts to the Holy Land, however, financial problems formed because of the expenses involve in shipping so many. The Venetians agreed to give up the ships if the crusaders would help them capture the city of Zara. After capturing Zara, the Venetians urged to take control over the city of Constantinople.
Innocent forbade this expedition, however, most of the crusaders went anyhow; in July 1203, the crusaders took control over Constantinople. The Fourth Crusade was not a crusade that was bound for the Holy Land, but only an event of political and commercial greed. Following the Fourth Crusade was the Childrens Crusades. Singing and shouting, French children marched out across the countryside to the edges of the Mediterranean Sea, where old, rotted merchant ships provided free transport across to the Holy Land.
However, the ships were sunk by a storm, and all aboard the vessels drowned in the icy waters of the Mediterranean. Meanwhile, children in Germany began a march to convert the atheists to Christianity. However, these children also faced tragedy and death, for they were not equipped for the hardships of the Alps to Rome. After the fall of Acre, the Christians last stronghold, in 1291 many Christians lacked the enthusiasm to continue with more disappointing crusades. Instead other men made small expeditions to the Holy Land in later years to try and get a little piece back. Though the wars continued to 1464, the last battles were minor and not consider crusades.
The definite results of the Crusades on European History is certainly debatable. What is certain is that the Crusades had very little impact on the East, except for their castles. Though it was spurred by the clashing of two cultures, it most likely brought a broadening perspective to everyone. The real effects of this were in Italy and Spain. The Italian ports began to see a substantial amount of economic growth of the Genoa, Venice, and Pisa. Although the great wealth and growing population made this war possible, the Crusades certainly enhanced trade, but did not revive it.
The Crusades had one other strong effect on Europe, it managed to reduce the number of quarrelsome and contentious knights. The Crusades provided an outlet for knights to become one and fight for a common good. The monarchs were able to consolidate their control more easily now that the warrior class had been reduced. To understand some of the motives behind the Crusades, we must look at the fascinating political and religious balance of power that dominated the medieval world. By the end of the 10 th century, the spread of Islam had all but stopped and a comparatively stable state of affairs existed between Muslims, Jews and Christians with the latter able to make pilgrimages to Jerusalem, which was at that stage under Muslim rule.
This state of affairs came to an end however, with the aggressive expansion of the Seljuk Turks, a race of nomadic shepherds from the steppes of central Asia. They had been converted to Islam as they moved westwards, and by 1055 ran a huge empire which stretched from central Asia and southern Russia to the northern borders of Syria. The Turks inevitably rubbed up against the eastern borders of what was then the greatest Christian power-base in the world, the Byzantine Empire, with its capital in Constantinople (now Istanbul). In 1071, the Turks defeated the Byzantine army at the Battle of Manzikert, leaving the greatest city in the world vulnerable and weakened.
The Turks were also ambushing parties of Christian pilgrims on their way to Jerusalem. The various routes to Jerusalem had been relatively safe and these sudden attacks alarmed the European Christians for whom pilgrimages were very important. The Christian world at this stage was split in two. In the middle of the 11 th century the Emperor and Bishop of Constantinople had excommunicated the Bishop of Rome (the Pope), who in turn excommunicated them. There was no longer one Holy Roman Empire. But with the Byzantine Empire under threat from the Turks, the Emperor Alexius swallowed his pride and sent a request to Pope Urban II in Rome for help.
This cry for help was a perfect opportunity for Pope Urban to regain some influence over Constantinople and also fulfil his obligation to protect the rights of Christendom. The years of bloodshed that was spurred by greed and power ended up with no Holy Land and an ongoing rivalry towards the Muslims. Despite the harsh feelings between both cultures, they both gained economically due to the improvement of trade between the West and the East. Many rulers came along and fought for their own causes, but known were successful. These Holy Wars aided in the shaping of European History and left a lasting effect on the world. Bibliography:
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