Jewish Persecution in First Crusade

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The Jews were persecuted and slaughtered in the first crusade due to the religious rationale that the Crusaders were able to justify. The Jews were perceived as the murderers of Christ, low their involvement as bankers, and infidels for settling in with the Seldjuk culture. These major “vices” qualified the Jews to be slaughtered by the Crusaders through the Just War written St. Augustine of Hippo.

St. Augustine of Hippo’s work on the Just War was a vastly important document in the rationalization of the Crusades and the victimization of the Jews. “Augustine of Hippo (d. 430) was one of the most influential early Christian theologians, helping to shape medieval thinking on a wide variety of topics.”[1] Augustine in his work on the just war clearly notes that the act, the agent, and the authority for the action are all of great importance in the order of nature, that only wars of defense are justified, and also that if God commands for war, such as he did with Moses, that the war could always be justified.

Pope Urban II’s call for the first crusade appeased the need for the correct authority to authorize the action of war. During Urban’s call for the first Crusade he paints a vivid picture of the Byzantine Empire being conquered by the pagans, the Turks and Arabs, which in turn is being tarnished, church’s being defiled. Urban then continues to express his fears of the Seldjuk chaos spreading throughout Europe, thus leading to the oppression of God’s people everywhere. What made Urban’s call for the crusade overwhelmingly successful was telling the people that this issue not only concerns them but God as well. “On this account I, or rather the Lord, beseech you as Christ’s heralds to publish this everywhere and to persuade all people of whatever rank, footsoldier and knights, poor and rich, to carry aid promptly to those Christians and to destroy that vile race from the lands of our friends... Moreover, Christ commands it.”2 Urban finalizes his speech by...
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