Why did the First Crusade erupt?

Topics: First Crusade, Pope, Crusades Pages: 2 (1064 words) Published: September 20, 2014
Why did the First Crusade erupt?
The First Crusade was a monumental event of the 11th century, where thousands of ordinary people took up the cross to make the extremely long and perilous journey to Jerusalem to fight the ‘other’; the Muslim threat. Inspired by extreme devotion to God and His church, people made this decision based on a single speech. Jonathan Philips argues that Pope Urban II’s speech in 1095 had managed to draw together a number of key concerns and trends, synthesising them into a “single, highly popular idea”, which led to the First Crusade. Described often as an ambitious politician, it is certain that the Pope intended this to happen, for various motives, and his audience were ready consumers of the information he proclaimed to them. Pope Urban’s motives for his iconic speech in Clermont were largely restorative and ambitious. He wanted to restore Papal authority in the East, towards the Mediterranean, by recapturing the place known as the centre of the world, Jerusalem. The Holy Land had been taken from them 400 years earlier, so it would be fair to agree with Asbridge that the situation “hadn’t deteriorated significantly in the years before 1095”. It can be argued that the Pope was recycling old events, dressing them in inflammatory language to create the “explosive material” he needed. Following in the footsteps of his ambitious predecessor Pope Gregory VII, he wanted to establish himself as the greatest leader in Europe; emphasising his papal role as God’s representative on Earth; above mere kings or emperors. The act of commanding great forces of the people of Europe for a single cause would demonstrate this kind of power. It would also act as a kind of unifying force for Europe that was fractured since the Great Schism of 1054, an event which undermined the Pope’s authority. The schism created the rival body to the Pope; the Greek Orthodox church, seated in the great Byzantine Empire. Pope Urban’s source material for his speech...

Bibliography: Phillips, J. (2002). The Crusades, 1095-1197. 1st ed. Pearson Education.
Jones, T. Crusades. (1995). [video] BBC.
Riley-Smith, J. (2014). The Crusades: A History. 3rd ed. London: Bloomsbury Academic.
Purser, T. (2009). The First Crusade and the Crusader States 1073-1192. 1st ed. Oxford: Heinemann
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