Free «The First Crusade and the Fall of Jerusalem» Essay Sample
The fall of Jerusalem was an event that occurred in the late 11th century. The Christian Crusaders successfully seized the city of Jerusalem from the power of non-Christians who were occupying it. The paper attempts to answer several questions related to the First Crusade in order to understand better the Crusaders. They include, whether the Crusaders were devout Christians or they behaved the way the Catholic Church said that they should, that is, did they love their fellow man? Did they turn the other cheek? Were they charitable? It also questions whether the Crusaders were motivated by the desire to do good for the Church and, finally, whether the other factors influenced their actions.
The Crusaders were devout Christians who trusted in Pope Urban II and believed in God. The Pope had informed them that they were God's shepherds who had been called to protect his Christian flock (Thatcher and Holmes 513). The Crusaders believed that the Lord had commanded them to seize and defend Jerusalem from non-Christian groups. If they failed to do as commanded, they would lose God's reward promised to them. The Crusaders had also shown their devotion through their intention to purify the earth (Thatcher and Holmes 514). They held a deep conviction that in attacking the Muslims and other non-Christians who were devoted to the pleasures of the world, they would be purifying the Lord’s land. They, therefore, intended to keep God’s land of Jerusalem free from secular authority. Another factor that proves the Crusaders were devout Christians were their beliefs. One of their beliefs was that, if any of them were to die in the battle against the Muslims and non-Christians, he would receive an immediate redemption of his sins (Thatcher and Holmes 516). The Christian Crusaders also showed their devotion to Christianity when Count Raymond's crusader army attacked the Saracens in Jerusalem (Krey 258). They were tired and almost losing hope when two Saracen women tried to bewitch one of the Christian crusader's hurling machinery. However, a stone crushed them. The Crusaders believed that their God had performed the miracle to ensure they were victorious. It motivated them to continue fighting.
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The Christian crusaders were Catholic. However, it is clear that even though they believed that they were fighting in the name of God and the church, they went against their church’s traditions. For example, German and French crusaders led by Emico, a German noble, did not turn the other cheek as expected in their Catholic traditions (Marcus 116). The Crusaders attacked helpless Jews, who were weak from weeks of fasting and were, therefore, unable to fight back. To save themselves from the wrath of crusaders, the Jews killed themselves. The German Crusaders also went against the church's commandment on loving their neighbors. They had for the longest time considered Jews to be their enemies (Marcus 116). They, therefore, found the crusade as a perfect opportunity to kill the Jews. Another instance, which depicts how the Christian Crusaders went against their church's rule of love was when they were fighting the non-Christians. When the Saracens and Arabs took refuge in the Tower of David, the Crusaders followed them and attacked them killing all of them. They did not spare women and children (Thatcher and Holmes 517). Besides, the Crusaders are depicted as uncharitable. Upon the Crusaders attacking the Saracens, they turned them into their slaves. The Saracens were to collect materials like timber and carry the machinery the Crusaders were using to build defense towers (Thatcher and Holmes 258).
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Two conflicting sides try to explain whether the Christian crusaders were motivated by the desire to do good for the church. The first group believes that the Crusaders were indeed motivated by the desire to do good. The Crusaders were informed by Pope Urban II in his instruction letter that the Turks and Arabs had conquered the Greek Empire, killed Christians, and destroyed churches (Krey 42). They, therefore, fought to protect and restore the integrity of the church. Another instance when they demonstrated they were prioritizing the church’s needs was when Count Raymond and his crusader army attacked the Saracens by demolishing the Jerusalem Wall (Krey 260). The Crusaders believed they were capturing the city for the glory of God. The Crusaders were also motivated by the desire to recover the countries that the Turks and Palestine had seized from the Greeks. After sieges, the non-Christian countries were spreading Islam and pagan traditions among the colonies (Krey 42). The Crusaders, therefore, aimed to capture Jerusalem and turn it back into a Christian city. The letter of instruction from the Pope calling for the First Crusade also insisted that the Crusaders owed the church the duty to fight in the campaign (Krey 42). It is because they were needed to save their fellow Christians in Jerusalem who were under the influence of Jews, Muslims, and the other religious groups. The Pope informed them that it was the church that had given the Crusaders redemption and source of Christianity and, thus, they needed to fight for the church.
The second group, on the contrary, claims that the Crusaders’ only motivation in fighting non-Christians was acquiring precious stones and gold that were available in the city. In one instance, Tancred the Crusader broke into the temple of God to steal gold, silver, and jewels (Thatcher and Holmes 517). In addition, after killing the Saracens, the Crusaders waited for several days and burned a heap of the Saracens’ bodies to retrieve gold coins that they believed the Saracens had hidden in their stomachs and intestines (Thatcher and Holmes 517).