Emergence of Medieval Europe
Proffesor Di Battista
The Road to Salvation starts With Death: Analytic Book Review of the First Crusade and the Idea of Crusading
The middle ages was marked by a shocking poverty, a sporadic decrease in the birth rate, and a high mortality rate due to famine and disease. However this did not stop the fervor that gripped the heart of Europe which was the crusading mentality. Crusading can arguably be seen as the “hip hop” culture of the medieval ages, other than devotion through Monasteries, Crusading was the best way to show your loyalty to God in the Middle ages. With Christianity deep in European hearts, it was only a matter of time before soldiers of Medieval Europe laid their eyes upon the birthplace and death of the Christianity's forefront figure (Jesus Christ), the holy land. The first Crusade was initiated when Pope Urban called the armies of Europe to defend Byzantine lands and regain the Holy land after it was conquered by Saracens from the Egyptian Caliphate. However we don't exactly have much information, but Jonathan Riley Smith provides a detailed amount of information that allows us to draw a picture in our mind about what the Crusades were really like. Of course, Riley examines crusade culture and how it is had a profound effect on the Social Classes but he emphasizes the importance of the Crusades which was to free the churches from “pillaging Muslim armies” and to protect Eastern Christians so to ensure that they are free to pray to their Christian god. From a different perspective, Pope Urban realized the potential of adding the holy land into European Christendom, which also momentarily united all of Europe and made the Christian faith dominant in Jerusalem by driving the various Arabic and Turkish ethnicities out thereby giving the people of Christendom a path to salvation, and how it effected the typical people that went on either the Pigrimage or the Crusade of the Crusader Heyday, however we should also examine the ulterior motives of the leading figureheads of these Social classes in terms of financial and Political gain from the results of the crusade. Modern day Israel and the surrounding areas such as Jordan or Syria were known as the holy land or even in some cases, the Kingdom of Heaven but ironically the first Crusade made it into the most bloodiest site of its day creating a tension between the Eastern and Western peoples that even last
to to the modern era. It is imperative to know why the Crusades started, and one of the main reasons was to free the churches of Eastern Christendom and to make sure that the Holy land will not fall to Turkish and Saracen armies as it did before the time the First Crusade was launched. Riley says “So one aim was the liberation of the people, the baptized members of the churches, the other was the liberation of a place” (pg.20), this of course is the underlying cause of the Crusade that Pope Urban had so openly advocated for, the crusade by the Pontificate was not only viewed as a “liberation” of Christianity in the Holy land alone but liberation of all other Christian areas predominated by Islamic rulers such as the Moors who were firmly encroached in Spain until the Spanish Reconquest. However not only Urban's message motivated people to engage in the Crusades, it was also the spiritual rewards that laid in the end such as the Heaven and the glory to fight for god. Within the Crusading Culture, many Latin terms were invented such as the “Exercitus Domini” or “militia christi” which mean army of god and knights of Christ respectively which shows that they were not fighting for Europe or even the church including its pilgrims but ultimately, the Christian God and his son, Jesus Christ. People were so caught up the web of a illusion cast by the Church that waging a crusade was to fight for God even though many atrocities were committed and the prevalence of a high death in the Holy land...
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