First Crusades Essay

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The First Crusade and the idea of crusading was not as much a rupture in a way of thinking as much as it was an evolution of the ideas which originated from the Cluniac papal reforms began by Pope Gregory VII and continued by his successor, Pope Urban II. The response to Pope Urban II’s call for the crusade at the Council of Clermont in 1095 was a large mobilization of both knights as well as clerical and lay noncombatants. However, there were numerous impetuses of both spiritual and non-spiritual nature that motivated western Christians to leave their homes and partake on what was considered an arduous adventure. Western Christians were motivated to go on the First Crusade because of the opportunity to go on a pilgrimage to Jerusalem, the …show more content…
For example, the participants on both the First Crusade and previous pilgrimages took a votum, a proper vow made to God prior to departure, accepted the idea of the remittance of penance (discussed in depth later), and had their property protected by canon law in their absence. However, Fulcher of Chartres’ transcript of Urban’s speech mentions warfare, something not commonly discussed in pilgrimage. Fulcher recounts that Urban said that the western Christians can “rightly fight barbarians” in order to help those “who, like you [the audience at Clermont], profess Christianity” in reference to the Eastern Christians, the Greeks and Armenians living under Muslim rule. This statement shows the conflation of the idea of a holy war, a righteous war fought against the enemy of a religion, and the idea of a pilgrimage, which until now, had been unarmed. In this respect, Urban’s message is different from that of previous pilgrimages because of the emphasis that the crusaders could be armed rather than remain unarmed as pilgrims to Jerusalem had been in the past. Hence, it makes sense why some of the chroniclers refer to the crusaders as peregrini and their journey as peregrinatio, Latin for pilgrims and pilgrimage

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