Leading up to the Crusades, secular kings and the church were constantly jockeying for superiority over one another. Kings status’s symbolically fluctuated constantly in the public eye by seemingly meaningless gestures. The Crusades, while a holy mission, were also a political weapon to increase the power of the popes of the middle ages. In the 1070’s Pope Gregory VII challenged the Holy Roman Empire. While this was the start of the rise and increase in the power of the papacy, Pope Gregory’s skirmish with Henry IV ultimately ended with Henry continuing his reign of power. This was because of the Pope Gregory’s lack of military force. The uphill climb to superiority in the papacy was continued by Urban II. Pope Urban was able to recognize that Pope Gregory was too bold without proper backing: that in order to have authority over a king, the church must have their own means of military enforcement. In an attempt to reinforce the power of papacy and triggered by rumors of abusive pilgrimage, Pope Urban gave a speech to a vast Christian assembly of Cluny monks encouraging them to form an army of Christian soldiers whom he promised salvation to enlist in a great struggle to free the Holy Land (Lecture). In the speech at the Council of Clermont, Urban II claims that it is the permission of God that he announces his crusade. He makes a proclamation that past sins will be absolved if participants are true to the cause (Urban II). Something unexpected happens and in addition to nobles answering the call, so do the peasants. It was an attempt at a fight against heresy and to ultimately take back Jerusalem. In the ensuing journey to The Holy Land many Jewish communities were the first victims of the crusade. Solomon bar Samson were Jewish writers who chronicled the beginnings of these first crusades, they recount the crusaders, led by Emico. In the chronicles, Emico is view as wicked, far from the image that the word crusader invokes (Solomon bar...
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