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Why People Went On Crusade

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Introduction

Why did so many people go on Crusade? Jerusalem had been under Muslim rule since the 7th century, but pilgrimages were not cut off until the 11th century, when the Seljuk Turks began to interfere with Christian pilgrims. For Christians, the very name of Jerusalem evoked visions of the end of time and of the heavenly city. To help rescue the Holy Land fulfilled the ideal of the Christian knight. Papal encouragement, the hope of eternal merit, and the offer of indulgences motivated thousands to enrol in the cause1. Undoubtedly political considerations were also important. For many the Crusades were a response to appeals for help from the Byzantine Empire, threatened by the advance of the Seljuk Turks. ...read more.

Middle

By the fourteenth century the crusade had become an essential part of every noble knight's career. It was still an act of faith, but for the noble knights seeking one's own honour went hand-in-hand with seeking God's honour. The Crusades were equally a result of economic circumstances. Many participants were lured by the fabulous riches of the East3; a campaign abroad appealed as a mean of escaping from the pressures of feudal society, in which the younger sons in a family often lacked economic opportunities. On a larger scale, the major European powers and the rising Italian cities4 (Genoa, Pisa, and Venice) saw the Crusades as a mean of establishing and extending trade routes. ...read more.

Conclusion

Whilst others were forced to go on Crusade by the Church because they had committed a crime or sin. For example, from an English trial in 1291 said, "You have been found guilty of hitting a priest with your sword. For this outrage you must join a crusade or pay a suitable soldier to go instead." However, this had a relatively small scale impact in attracting people to the Crusades, and it was mainly religious fervour and the potential to gain prestige and wealth that attracted so many Christians. 1 Gesta Francorum trans. Rosalind Hill 2 Marcus Bull, Knightly Piety and the Lay Response to the First Crusade: the Limousin and Gascony, c. 970-c. 1130 3 Jonathan Riley-Smith, The First Crusade and the Idea of Crusading 4 Fulcher of Chartres, A History of the Expedition to Jerusalem ...read more.

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