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The Crusades: Salvation or Exploitation

The word crusade is used mostly to describe campaigns that are motivated by a religious factor between the 11th and 16th centuries BC. These were mostly but not all conducted against Muslims in the east. Also involved were heretics, pagans, and people that wore the brand of excommunication, whether for political, religious or economic reasoning. The emblem of the crusades: salvation or exploitation was a cross, because the word crusade is taken from the French term that means to take up a cross.

The first of these crusades was started in 1095 by Pope Urban II’s calling. The goal was to restore access to the holy lands around Jerusalem to the Christians. Unknowingly, this led to a struggle that lasted over 200 years, and they failed in reclaiming their holy lands.

In Western Europe, the destruction of the Byzantine Empire was the push that made people responds by conducting a wave of attacks on Turkish Muslims. That was what started the events leading up to Pope Urban II’s actions. Emperor Michael VII sent a request to the pope at the time in 1074 and nothing came of it. Over 20 years later, the new emperor asked the asked the current pope, Urban II for help and the crusades were born. They became an outlet for a religious piety that was intensely played out among the public lay.

Although most of those who participated in the crusades: salvation or exploitation, believed that by retaking their city of Jerusalem, they would go straight to heaven once they died. But it was still a hot topic of debate throughout those 200 years exactly what was meant by a remission of sin. Pope Urban II launched the first crusade at the Council of Clermont in the year 1095 to revive religiosity, because he felt that evils had hindered the success of the church in a spiritual sense and sought to repair that. It was announced on the last day of the council that the pope suddenly gave overs to crusade against the Muslims. Christian princes from all over Europe began launching war in the Holy Land for their rights to Jerusalem.

A second crusade was launched in 1101 that was less successful. In the end, the Turks had completely defeated the crusaders in only three different battles as their response to the atrocity of the first crusade. Later in 1187, the Muslims were finally united under Saladin, after long years of fighting amongst themselves. This created a single state that was very powerful. He was easily able to overthrow the crusaders and take back Jerusalem in September of that year by breaching the walls. The victories of Saladin were shocking to the whole of Europe. After hearing the news about losing Jerusalem, Pope Urban III allegedly died of a heart attack from it. The seventh crusade occurred in the summer of 1244, where a Khwarezmian army overtook and stormed Jerusalem. France was allied with a relation to this army and they were able to use their combined forces but were defeated in less than forty eight hours of battle.