History of the Christian Church, Crusaders

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The Crusaders and the Church 

Medieval Christianity is one of the most controversial periods of the Churches history. It is a time when dramatized fantasy often overshadowed a humble reality. This was time of valiant knights and ruling kings, and time when the government was deeply seeded in orthodox Christianity. Christians and non-Christians alike have wrestled with the haunting events of this age. It is an ongoing debate as to whether or not the events and decisions made by the heads of the Church were justified, or just plain cruel. Some even go as far as to compare the Crusades to the abomination that was the Spanish Inquisition. The Crusades were essentially wars that were begun and declared by the church, against a seen heresy that was hindering the Church. The first Crusade is a perfect example of this. As stated before however, it is very important to take all true aspects of this time into account. It would be very easy to simply accuse the Crusaders of being cruel and completely separated from God’s will in their actions. This would be however, to undermine all of the events that surround and encompass this age. To understand these crusaders, one must step back and understand what happened leading up to, and during them. For when it is examined like this, it can be surmised that the Crusades were an effort by the Papacy to reunite the eastern and western branches of the church, and mitigate heresy among the known world. This alone is a just cause, but by its means, the Crusades did not further the Gospel, did not further the Church, and did not bring the two branches of the Church together. For example, In light of the justification of violence to defend the church, the modern day Christian cannot find much evidence to say that the Crusades physically furthered the message of Jesus Christ.

Before the Crusades began, the Papacy was gaining a lot of power. This came from the struggles between empire and Papacy that plagued the end of the twelfth, and thirteenth centuries. The Papacy began to become very wealthy along with this political power. Popes begun questioning a King, or and nobleman’s right to have a say in Papal regulation. For a long time, the government had the power if Investiture over. This meant that a king, or ruling authority, could bestow the title and authority of Bishop, to whoever they saw fit. For quite some time this seemed to work decently well. However, once this role of bishop also had with it vast amounts of wealth and power, this Investiture became a huge tool of corruption. There was no regulation by which a bishop had to be qualified to get the job; they merely had to be appointed. The Papacy reformed this aspect of the relationship between church and state beginning with the Gregorian Reform. The Papacy sought to rid the church of Simony, which was the act of buying and selling the position of bishop as a means for a king to make money. This was a huge leap in power, being that the Papacy was becoming a separate entity, apart from any king or reigning power. Eventually with their wealth, Bishops began having the ability to own massive estates, and even create armies for them. Rulers such as Henry the 5th recognized the power that the bishops were creating. In an effort to make sure the Papacy remained peaceful with him, Henry said that he would get rid of his right to decide who gets to be bishop (Investitures), as long as the Bishop did not have more money that the Lords and dukes of his realm. This is an important time to question the bishops’ motives. Some believe that the bishops did this in order to gather wealth and power for themselves. They see these actions as clear indications that the Papacy was on a road of power hunger and greed. However, even a quick look into the mindset and motivations of the bishops can shed a different light, one that could change the perspective of the Crusades all together.

The bishops saw their severing of state rule very differently....
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