First Crusade Essay

778 Words4 Pages
There were many reasons for the popularity of the First Crusade among the lay society of the medieval West. This essay will consider a religious fervour (including the desire to liberate the Holy City of Jerusalem and to help fellow Christians in the East); economic reasons (such as poor conditions in Europe); and political aims (regarding the creation of a knightly kingdom in the East). Yet, essentially, the most prominent incentive came from religious zeal and fervent faith in God: this appeared to strengthen and unite the Crusade army at the most critical of times. Initially, the fundamental motivation appears to be in the form of religion, in particular Pope Urban II’s promise of remission of sin at the Council of Clermont in 1095. J.…show more content…
Urban is depicted by Robert of Rheims to have presented this as a key motive for embarking on the pilgrimage; he states: ‘this royal city, therefore, situated at the centre of the world is now held captive by His enemies … She seeks therefore and desires to be liberated’ . However, there has been debate as to whether Jerusalem was the key focal point of the Crusade. For example, K. Erdmann suggested that 'the goal of the holy war was the freeing from the Turkish yoke of the Eastern Churches in general. Jerusalem was merely the goal of the journey’ . Since Jerusalem held the Holy Sepulchre, the place where Jesus was crucified, it seems highly likely that the Christians of the West would have taken up the Cross in order to defend the Holy City. H. E. J. Cowdrey, in his work on ‘Pope Urban II’s preaching of the First Crusade’, considers that Jerusalem was a secondary thought due to ‘an upsurge of popular enthusiasm and religious zeal’ . Thus, Cowdrey implies that Jerusalem may not have been the primary motivation, yet, it almost certainly played a part in inspiring the Crusaders. Subsequently, Cowdray goes on to further his point by suggesting that Urban did not intentionally put forward Jerusalem as the primary aim but instead was ‘anxious to improve relations with the Byzantine Emperor … and to
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