Essay Final Draft

Essay Final Draft - Cheng 2 Chris Cheng Professor Charles...

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Cheng 1 Chris Cheng Professor Charles Chamberlain MMW 3 – The Medieval Tradition Section B06 6/3/08 The Success of the First Crusade In the late eleventh century AD, the Byzantine Empire was under constant attack from the Seljuk Turks. This led to Alexius I, the emperor of the Byzantium Empire, to ask Pope Urban II in France for assistance. Urban II responded by gathering nobility and bishops from all over Europe and calling together the Council of Clermont in November of 1095. There, he presented a speech that convinced the nobles and people attending the council to take the Holy Land, primarily the region of Israel and the cities of Antioch and Jerusalem, which was then ruled by various Islamic empires. This speech led to what historians now call the First Crusade, a campaign set out to conquer threats against Christian Europe. The First Crusade stands out in comparison to future campaigns in that it was more successful, even “miraculous” by some standards, than the later crusades in the Middle East (Schein 26). However, during the First Crusade, the army faced many hardships and was at a disadvantage for much of the campaign. What was the reason for the success of the First Crusade despite the crusaders being at a disadvantage? Some scholars argue that the crusaders won because of their military might over the Muslims. Others believe that the political disunity the Islamic empires were facing was what led to the success of the campaign. While these have all contributed to the victory of the crusaders, their success was mainly enabled by the powerful dedication the crusaders had to the Christian religion.
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Cheng 2 When Pope Urban II presented his speech at the Council of Clermont, the enthusiasm of the people’s response created an army a size unlike Europe has ever seen before, assisting the crusaders to victory by providing their forces with numbers. The Pope, in an effort to promote his cause, promised salvation to anyone who participates in the campaign. He “offer[ed]...’ the remission of sin’ to all who took the cross” (France 4). The Christian people of Europe at the time looked to the Pope as their highest leader. With salvation assured, many people volunteered to go on the campaign to take back the Holy Land. One account from Fulcher of Chartres, a man who participated in the expedition, said that “[Fulcher] believed that if [he] met death on the expedition he was assured of paradise, as the Pope had promised at the council of Clermont” (Munro 321). The promise of salvation from the Pope for just attempting the campaign was more than enough to gather a large number of volunteers. The sheer number of people that gathered was beyond Urban’s expectations. “Urban created a mass movement; an army of about 50,000 – 60,000, plus non-combatants, was set in motion” (France 2). An army of this size would have definitely given the crusaders a higher chance of winning in their campaign.
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