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Causes and Effects of the Crusades

Towards 1071 AD, Seldjuk Turks had grown powerful and had started conquering the East. Christians began to find it difficult to reach the holy places during their pilgrimages. The military expeditions planned and fought by western European Christians that began around 1095 AD, are known today as the Holy Wars, or the Crusades. The purpose of these expeditions was to overtake and gain control of the holy land of Jerusalem, from the Muslims. Deus Vult, meaning God Wills It, was the battle cry of the thousands of Christians who took part in the event of the Crusades. It was Christian belief that fate was to gain control of the Holy Land for the glory of God.

In the year of 1095 AD, Pope Urban II started the Crusades. On November 18, 1095 AD, Pope Urban II opened the Council of Clermont. Nine days later, the Pope made a speech just outside the French city of Clermont-Ferrand. During this speech, Pope Urban II had called the Christians to join a holy war Holy War to reclaim the Holy Lands as an act of Christianity. Pope Urban II stayed in France until September 1096 in hopes of providing leadership and control for the First Crusaders.

Soon, his famous speech had begun to spread throughout the west, and many people of different social classes started joining the crusading army. For peasants, the crusade let them be free of feudal bonds. Everyone was also promised immediate salvation in heaven if they were killed in trying to free the holy land from non-Christians. This goaded many people to become part in this battle. Soon, Urban lost all control of the vast army that was far beyond his control. Therefore, he did not have to power to stop the slaughter of Jews in northern France, and so many other populations in the East and in Europe.
At this time, and at the start of the crusades, the Pope had little real power over Christianity. Urban was hoping that the Crusades would help strengthen his power and possibly help religious beliefs become more a part of daily life among the general population in Europe. In General, the Crusades were seen as a way for the Pope to gain political power over the uncontrolled warrior class. Urban felt that the best way to unite followers is a Holy War, where Christianity is everyone’s standard.

The eight crusades which were spurred for many different reasons by many different people that left a lasting effect to the world. These years of bloodshed were led by men wanting money, greed, and fame to themselves at the expense of others.

The Crusades had one major strong effect on Europe. It managed to reduce the number of quarrelsome and contentious knights that fought and destroyed society. The Crusades provided an outlet for knights to become one and fight for a common good. The monarchs were able to consolidate their control more easily now that the warrior class had been reduced. European cities, such as Venice and Genoa in Italy became rich and powerful due to the increased trading the Crusades have brought. Also, the crusaders improved their technology by building better ships and making more accurate maps. Magnetic Compasses were used to tell direction and new military skills, especially in siege techniques, were learned. Weaponry also improved as well.

In recent years, many Christians have shown their regret for the things that happened during the Crusades. The crusading armies soon became a pack of brutal plunderers destroying everything in their path. When they took Jerusalem on July 15th, 1099, they viciously murdered all the Jews and Moslems, carrying a cross in one hand and a sword in the other - and Satan celebrated one of his greatest triumphs: he had made the church sin in God’s name. The Reconciliation Walk was founded to help express their regret to the Moslem people, who still feel the crusades are an open wound.

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