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Example research essay topic: Failure Of The Crusader States - 2,144 words

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Failure of the Crusader States Within the course of that paper, I will explore one of the most interesting religious and military phenomena of the worlds history the Crusades, or Holy Wars. The common knowledge about the Crusades and Crusaders mostly is presented from the Christian point of view, where the Arabic world is viewed as evil and wrong, and the Crusaders are shown as the noble knights fighting for the just cause. However, the interpretation of the Crusades certainly depends on a lot of factors, and the representatives of the Arabic world definitely had different opinions about the Crusades than Europeans did. The goal of that paper is to find five the most important reasons for failure of the Crusader states, and when we look at the crusades from Arabic perspective, it would be much easier to do so. When Pope Urban II read the letter from Alexius, Emperor of Byzantine, a glorious vision of sorts came to the Pope, and he quickly acted and made plans for the First Crusade. At the Council of Clermont, Urban II stood before thousands and appealed to their religiousness with a Holy War to the lands of the Holy Sepulcher in the Middle East.

There was little mention of the invasion of the Byzantine Empire by the Seljuk Turks, only word of a terrible army of bloodthirsty heathens. In addition to the liberation of the city of Jerusalem, Pope Urban II appealed to the material desires of the people as well, for a holy crusade would provide land to the conquering armies, which would bring an end to the constant land struggle that the growing population of European nobles seemed to be caught in the middle of. Another reason for the undertaking of a military campaign was the further expansion of the Western Catholic Church, and the possible reuniting of the Western and Eastern Churches under one authority, which of course, would be Pope Urban II and his successors. From this comes out the first major reason for the failure of the crusader states the Holy wars were not fought because of military necessity or strategic expansion, the soldiers in those wars were motivated by religious factors and material wealth.

The Muslims, who had to protect their own lands, certainly were more motivated, and this lack of motivation on the crusaders part is responsible for the failure of crusader states first of all. When we look at the Christian army the crusaders, it becomes evident why the crusader states ceased to exist. In order to found and further maintain a state, there has to be a disciplined and regular army, while the Christian army was simply a mix of different groups of people all pursuing their own goals. The greater portion of the Armies of Christendom was made up of powerful nobles, their subsequent vassals, and the vassals' knights.

This was due largely in part to the fact that the Crusades were a volunteer military organization in which each man supplied his own weapons, armor, and a horse if he were the owner of one. During the first few crusades, especially the First Crusade, many peasants joined in the fight simply to escape the hardships of everyday life, which were going to kill them anyway. With time many monastic clans that were dedicated to the protection of the numerous pilgrims traveling to the Holy Land came to power. These small, yet powerful bands of monk-knights, who only submitted to the Pope himself, were supported by the king in return for protection and activity in the Crusades.

A few of the more famous and influential clans included the Templars, the Hospitallers, and the Tue tonics. There were countless crusades throughout the next centuries. Everything was seen by the Europeans as a direct reflection of God's view of the people at the time. There were eight major crusades during the next two hundred years. The First Crusade, 1095 - 1099, was actually made up of two dispatch ments. The first, called the Peasant's Crusade, was an unofficial army led by Peter the Hermit and Walter the Penniless, who left Europe in the spring of 1096 on their way to Constantinople.

This roving army of peasants wreaked havoc all over the Balkans against anyone considered an enemy to Christianity, but later in autumn, the real army, the Barons' Crusade, which was a mix of German and French forces leave Europe and matters come under control. The First Crusade was considered successful because of capturing Jerusalem and setting up four Christian states, but much of the army returned home, leaving very few knights to defend the newest addition to Christendom. The crusader states also ceased to exist, since the mix of people that was called an army by Christian authorities certainly was not able to protect and control those states. Now it is time to look at the Crusades from the Muslim perspective, which will certainly provide us with more reasons for failure of the Crusader states. The Muslims perceived the Crusades certainly not as a noble mission but as an invasion of the foreign powers into their land, which had to be protected by any means. The Christian settlements that appeared on the land that originally belonged to Muslims before the Crusades were viewed by the Muslims as alien and illegitimate, they did not see any appropriate reason why those settlements appeared there in the first place, and thus were unwilling to allow those settlements to grow and develop, since that would mean having a potential enemy within their native lands.

Another factor that enraged the Muslims was that those settlements were mostly set up at the expense of the Arabic population that dweller on those territories earlier, that population was moved out or brutally slaughtered by the Christian knights, and the Muslim world viewed that as a reason for a full-scale war against the occupation of their territories. The Muslims described the first Christian crusaders as ruthless and barbaric, since they did not show any mercy even towards the civilian population that occupied the lands through which the crusaders passed. This aggression and mercilessness is the third reason for failure of the Crusader states, the Muslims simply had to terminate those states, since if they had not been able to do so, the Christian soldiers would have certainly destroy all the Muslim population that lived near the Crusader States. Thus, the aggression of the crusaders also became a reason for failure of the Crusader states that were founded on the Muslim territories. Another important reason for failure of the Crusader states was the capture by the Crusaders the city of Jerusalem, which was lost by Muslims and represented a great value for them. While most of the European historians considered the capture of Jerusalem great event in the history of the Crusades, actually it became an incentive for the Muslim world to put force their best efforts and throw the Christians away.

The city of Jerusalem contained the Islamic sacred shrines: the Aqsa mosque and the Dome of the Rock. For the Muslims, those two objects meant a lot, thus the loss of Jerusalem was perceived by the representatives of the Arabic world as one of the greatest losses ever in their history. The Muslims were enraged because of the defilement of their sacred religious places, that engagement has been fed by the Christians throughout the whole century, and, as a result, all the images and objects that belonged to Christianity were simply destroyed after the Muslims sacred shrines were gained back. The sacred shrines mentioned above, and the city of Jerusalem that contained those shrines became the focal point of the Jihad throughout the 1100 s. The Muslims were willing to do anything to recapture the city, they felt it rather humiliating that the Christians were able to capture one of the most important cities in the Arabic history and hold it for a substantial period of time. When the city of Jerusalem was finally taken back by the Muslims led by Saladin in 1887, Muslims were overwhelmed with joy and felt that now they certainly be supported by their God, since they have fulfilled their religious duties and freed such an important city with the sacred shrines that meant a lot for them.

After the city was captured by Muslims, all the Christian object and images were destroyed immediately. The recapture of Jerusalem became the turning point in the confrontation between Muslims and Christians. Muslims felt that now Jihad is prosecuted according to their religious duties and that they would certainly be able to cleanse their inherent territories from the Christians, who tried to occupy them and oppressed the Muslim population. The fifth reason for failure of the crusader states is the fact that the Muslims were quite militant in their nature, and the only way the Crusaders would have been able to maintain their states on the Muslim territory was hundred percent annihilation of the Muslim population, which was not theoretically possible.

There is another interesting point that can be made regarding how Muslims perceived the war with the representatives of the Christian world. Certainly, they viewed the Christian Crusades as a religious war at the very fundamentals of the Islam faith, however Christians were actually considered more a political than a religious enemy. There is a particular evidence to prove that point, since when Saladin recaptured Jerusalem and the Christian defense was done with, he did not simply slaughtered the Christian population, as the Crusaders did to the Muslim population within the territories that they were conquering. Saladin was a rather wise and civilized man, he gave those Christians a choice of living in the area and paying taxes to him or moving out to the territories that were controlled by the Christians. Carole Hillenbrand, in her famous book The Crusades, Islamic Perspective, discusses various issues connected with the Crusades and tries to show the general audience how the Muslims felt about the invasion of their land by the Christian forces and what those Crusades meant for them.

She suggests that the presence and discussion of the Crusades, which are widely elaborated upon and interpreted in the history of Christianity and the European nations, is somewhat neglected in the Muslim history and society at large. For the representatives of the Arabic nations, who were in the constant state of war with their various neighbors as well as between the Arabic countries themselves on some occasions, Christian Crusaders, even considering the fact that they were actually able to capture the city of Jerusalem, represented only another enemy that needed to be fought. Hillenbrand comments that there is relatively small amount of work done by the Muslim scholars to cover the Crusades, and she believes that the reason for that is that the Muslims did not consider Crusades to be something significant as the Christians did. She begins her book with a rather interesting discussion of the Crusades in Palestine, and how the Muslims respond to those Crusades. Further in her book, the author uses more details to show the Muslim perspective on the Christian Crusades, she elaborates on the political system that was dominant in the Arabic countries as well as at the values and norms of the Muslim society at large. She also elaborates on how various Muslim rulers retaliated on the Christian attacks, what methods were used to stop the advance of the Crusaders, how people reacted to the fact that their native lands were conquered by the representatives of another nations and completely different religion.

Overall, the militant nature of Muslims and constant stage of war that made them accustomed to fighting different enemies on their territories is the fifth reason for failure of the Crusader states. Thus, employing the Arabic perspective on the Holy Wars is quite helpful for determining the five most important reasons for failure of the Crusader states. Definitely, those reasons are not the only ones that could have been mentioned within the course of that paper, however they are the most significant ones. A brief restatement of those five reasons will conclude the research: 1) lack of motivation on Crusaders part; 2) no disciplined, regular army, but rather a mix of various groups of people fighting for different reasons; 3) the unnecessary aggression of the Crusaders towards civilians; 4) capture of Jerusalem the beginning of full scale religious war; 5) the militant nature of Muslims and their superiority because of the constant military conflicts they had to go through all the time.

Bibliography Barber, M, The New Knighthood: The History of the Order of the Temple, Michigan: Zondervan Publishers, 1998. Hillenbrand, Carole, The Crusades: Islamic Perspectives, New York: Random House, 2000. Gabriel, Francesco, Arab Historians of the Crusades, Berkeley: University of California Press, 1984. Riley Smith, J, The Crusades: A Short History, New York: Harper Perennial, 1999.

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