The eleventh century was a period of time when the Seljuk Turk’s expansion of Islam and the Arab empire in the Middle East created a sense of distress that spread throughout the clergy of Christianity and among all of Christendom. The invasion of areas in the Christian Byzantium Empire helped to arouse anger against Moslems. A sense of fear and urgency grew that something had to be done to stop Moslem territorial expansion and subjugation to the tenants of the Islam faith.
The first two Crusades were, without a doubt, the most important of them all. “The era of the Crusades is one of the most important in the history of Western civilization. When it began, western Europe was only just emerging from the long period of barbarian invasions that we call the Dark Ages” (Jordan 133).
These Crusades were the first time in western civilization that regardless of social status clergy, nobles, and peasants united in a common purpose. under the umbrella of Christianity. They united to stop the spread and controlling influence of the Moslem Empire. Many factors led to these crusades, and what happened during the course of them is unimaginable. The result of the Crusades had a profound impact during this period of history, there are still plenty of lasting effects on Europe and globally to this day.
How did the Crusades start? Voyages by religious believers to the Holy Land throughout early Judeo Christian history led up to the Crusades. The Holy Sepulcre in Jerusalem is the resting place for Jesus Christ after his death on the cross, and this is a common place for Christians to visit, with obvious reason. With this in mind, Christianity spread throughout the Middle East and Western Europe. Eventually, believers studied past Biblical events and geographic locations as practices of their faith and freedom. The Christian pilgrims went through many struggles in their visits to the Holy Land and Jerusalem. The Christian pilgrims had to survive the journey in route through foreign lands, many did not survive the voyage. They were often ridiculed and persecuted while they were visiting Jerusalem. Since the beginning of Christianity, the western Roman Catholic Church and the Eastern Orthodox Churches existed. Western Europe was made up of several sovereign regions. Their primary ideological and political unity was the influence and control of the Roman Catholic Church and the Papacy. Coincidentally, over a period from 638 until 1095 in the Middle East, Islam, the religious beliefs from the Prophet Mohammed and based on his writings in the Quran, had spread among many tribes and people of the region. Moslems, the followers of Islam, ultimately gained control of most of the Middle East, including Jerusalem through conquest. For hundreds of years during this period, religious tolerance existed in the region. Moslem overseers, such as the Saracen caliphs, allowed the diverse groups of religions to freely worship and were basically accepting of pilgrimages to the Holy Land. In the eleventh century, this changed when a powerful tribe of Moslems from Tartar, belonging to the Seljukian Turks, came into control of the Turkish Empire which included the Holy Land. These Moslem followers were very extreme Islamist fundamentalists, intolerant of other religions, they burned and desecrated churches and temples, and cruelly persecuted believers of other faiths. Ultimately, the first Crusades were military expeditions. They were undertaken to fulfill an oath, primarily by Christian followers of the Roman Catholic Church, to free the Holy Lands from the controlling Moslem tyranny that existed in the region. The actions of European kings and nobles for further Crusades were weak, and other expeditions did not accomplish much at all.
By 1095 Islamic Turks had conquered Jerusalem, and Pope Urban II proclaimed a "holy war," or Crusade, to rout the Muslims and to reclaim Palestine for the Christian faith....
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