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The First Crusade and the Ideas of Crusading

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The First Crusade and the Ideas of Crusading

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Contrary to many commonly held notions about the first crusade, in his book, The First Crusade and the Idea of Crusading, Jonathan Riley-Smith sets out to explain how the idea of crusading thought evolved in the first crusade. In his book, Riley-Smith sets out five main arguments to show how these ideas of crusading evolved. Firstly, he argues that Pope Urban's original message was conventional, secondly that a more positive reaction was drawn from the laity (due to the ideas surrounding Jerusalem), thirdly, that the original message of crusading had changed because of the horrible experiences of the first crusaders, fourth, that due to these experiences the crusaders developed their own concept of what a crusade was, and lastly, that these ideas were refined by (religious) writers and turned into an acceptable form of theology. Riley-Smith makes excellent points about the crusade; however, before one can delve directly into his argument, one must first understand the background surrounding the rise of the first crusade. Throughout the ten-century, particularly in France, the world had become an extremely violent place. Feudal Knights were often quarreling over land possession, looting, and looking to lay people to provide them with sustenance . Likewise, the power of these knights and the extent of violence flourished due to the increasingly lacking power and authority of the kings . The Church, in an attempt to halt the violence and anarchy attempted to take control and issued such concepts as "the Peace of God" . Similarly, at this time other movements for peace by the Church were underway, and one of the commonly held ideas was the need to transform the world to more "monkish ideals". From these ideals also sprouted the concept of the laity having "God-given functions to perform, functions that could include fighting to protect the Church". Pope Leo IX (1049-1054) is an example of this idea; he often used militia to fight against his opponents....