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The First Crusades

  • Date Submitted: 03/03/2013 01:01 AM
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The First Crusade

The Crusades were Christian military expeditions undertaken between the 11th and the 14th century to recapture the Holy Land from the Muslims. Crusaders wore a red cloth cross sewn on their tunics to indicate that they had assumed the cross and were soldiers of Christ . The Crusaders continued an older tradition of the pilgrimage to the Holy Land, which was often imposed as a penance . Now, however, they assumed a two roles as pilgrims and warriors. Such an armed pilgrimage was regarded as a justifiable war, because it was fought to recapture the places sacred to that of the Christians .

Jerusalem had been under Muslim rule since the 7th century, but pilgrimages were not cut off until the 11th century, when the Seljuk Turks began to interfere with Christian pilgrims. For Christians, the very name of Jerusalem evoked visions of the end of time and of the heavenly city. To help rescue the Holy Land fulfilled the ideal of the Christian knight.

Political considerations were also important. The Crusades were a response to appeals for help from the Byzantine Empire, threatened by the advance of the Seljuk Turks. The year 1071 had seen both the captures of Jerusalem and the decisive defeat of the Byzantine army at Miniskirt, creating fear of further Turkish victories . In addition, the hopes of the Papacy for the renunciation of East and West, the nobility's hunger for land at a time of crop failures, population pressure in the West, and an alternative to warfare at home were major impulses .

The Crusades were equally a result of economic circumstances. Many participants were lured by the fabulous riches of the East ;a campaign abroad appealed as a
mean of escaping from the pressures of feudal society, in which the younger sons in a family often lacked economic opportunities . On a larger scale, the major European powers and the rising Italian cities (Genoa, Pisa, and Venice) saw the Crusades as a mean of establishing and extending trade routes ....

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