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The First Crusade - Research Paper Example

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Critical Analysis of the First Crusade as a Response to the 11th Century Reform Critical Analysis of the First Crusade as a Response to the 11th Century Reform Introduction Though the common view asserts that the first Crusade was primarily the response of thousands of common people to Pope Urban’s (II) preaching, modern sociological studies show that it was essentially the product of the early reformist zeal of the 11th century as well as a response to the contemporary historical phenomena…
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Download file to see previous pages Indeed Pope Urban’s religious apparel often tends to shroud the true aspects of the First Crusade and the fact that Pope Urban himself was up to his own cause is often ignored. Indeed historians have interpreted the event of the First Crusade differently. The lack of any unique primary document on Pope Urban’s (II) motive for the crusade has laid the event open to interpretation. These interpretations revolve mainly around three points: a. the 11th century reform movement, b. the Seldjuk or Muslim threat to the Eastern Roman Orthodoxy, c. affirmation of Papacy on entire European Christendom. But an astute analysis of the event will reveal that all of these three causes had their, more or less, equal shares of influence on the First Crusade. Seldjuk’s Threat in the East as a Primary Cause of First Crusade Though there is a common tendency among the historians to underrate the Seljuk threat to the Eastern Christendom considering it as a secondary cause of the First Crusade and to view it as a mere excuse to move eastward, the Seljuk attack on the Byzantine Empire was no less important as a psychological motivation than other causes. In a concrete sense, it might be a mere excuse in Pope Urban’s political and religious scheme, but it was a demonic cause to usurp the commoners’ sacrificial emotion for the war in its essence. In fact, First Crusade was the product of the reincarnated commoners’ passion for a holy war against the infidel and the unfaithful that were commonly considered to be the Seldjuk during the late 11th century. The extremity of medieval religiosity to achieve ablution for sins, restored faith of the commoners in church, superiority of the Popes and the church’s victory of the Emperor- all together functioned to boost up the common people’s zeal to fight for the Holy Land and eastern Christendom against the invading Seldjuk. Even if Islam and Christianity coexist on the east bank of the Mediterranean Sea for more than three hundred years before the 1000s, as Thomas Asbridge’s claims, the increasing Seldjuk attacks on the Byzantine Empire, the defeat in Manzikert in 1077, the conquest of religiously important cities like Antioch and Nicaea, Turkish invasion and conquest of Anatolia, etc were severe blows on the 11th century Christendom that made the Western church reformers feel the pressure on the East and eventually provoked the superior papacy to successfully characterize the invaders as the infidel and unfaithful who must be challenged. In an article, Paul Crawford describes the crisis as following: “In 1071 the Turks met and crushed the Byzantine army at the Battle of Manzikert, near Armenia. As a result the entire heartland of the Empire, in Asia Minor, lay open and defenseless” (Crawford 2). The atrocities of the Seldjuk are reflected in a “Letter of Alexius to Count Robert of Flanders”: The holy places they desecrate and destroy in numberless ways, and they threaten them with worse treatment…For almost the entire land from Jerusalem to Greece, and the whole of Greece with its upper regions…and now almost nothing remains except Constantinople. (Alexius) East-West Schism as one of the Causes of First Crusade Indeed for Pope Urban II there was no ...Download file to see next pagesRead More
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