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Why did so many people go on the first crusade

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Introduction

Why did so many people go on the first crusade? The reaction of the people of Christendom to the Sermon at Clermont can only have been highly unexpected to Urban II and Alexius Comnenus. However in hindsight, it is obvious why people reacted the way they did to his call. This essay will focus on several reasons why people reacted the way they did, firstly focusing on spiritual reasons, before moving on towards more material reasons. Although we have many different accounts of what was said at Clermont we do not have a perfect (true) account which limits us in the way that we view Urban's aims in launching the crusade, and why it may have appealed to the various parties who undertook this campaign, we do however have several more accurate accounts of the letters which he sent to several different areas within Christendom, which also help to indicate to us what Urban tried to achieve in each area within Christendom. Each of the letters and the various records of the sermon outline many religious reasons, these probably had the greatest effect on the peasants, which ultimately formed the first wave of the crusade, though it is important to stress that these religious reasons were just as important amongst the upper ranks of the crusade as it was amongst the lowest. ...read more.

Middle

(Ibid) The idea that people were actually going on a pilgrimage is clearly shown in the First Wave, which was largely made up of peasants who brought their families along , this gives us the idea that they not only viewed themselves as going to war against the Saracens but more importantly were going to Jerusalem on a pilgrimage to visit the holy city: 'At every town or Castle the Children would ask if that was Jerusalem where we were heading'. This is further emphasised by Peter the Hermit, who claimed to have been on a pilgrimage and therefore to control of his particular branch of the crusade. He was obviously a powerful preacher, who had managed to capture the peasants, and entrance them into the idea of the Crusade which was definitely not what Urban II intended, he had intended an army of knights mainly Francs rather than a rabble of peasants that emerged as the first wave. On the one hand the Knights crusade is easier to explain, these were the people who Urban specifically targeted, and thus we can see the motives which he tempted them with. It was to an extent less focused on religious reasons and more on material reasons, however the cost of the crusade itself puts this point in doubt, ...read more.

Conclusion

65-7), and to move the target to the east, this had successfully been done in Spain in the 10th and Early 11th Century, and the crusade provided an opportunity to a group of Francs whose 'life purpose was fighting', The crusade must have proved to be highly appealing to this group of people, who were able to continue to do what they were good at whilst the blessing of the Church. In Conclusion there were three principle reasons why the huge numbers of people decided to go on the crusade. The first was religious and was mainly because of the religious atmosphere in Christendom at the time, particularly in relation to the popularity of pilgrimages and the promise of absolution from sin. The second was for material gains; however the huge cost of going on the crusade meant that this was only for the very wealthy or the military leaders of the crusade. The third aspect was war itself, for many of the Francs war was their way of life, the crusade provided a war which they could justify as they were fighting in the name of the church and most importantly for Christians not against them. ...read more.

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