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Crusading Began with religious passion but quickly progressed into cynical self interest." To what extent would you agree that this is a fair assessment of the changing nature and purpose of crusading between 1095 and 1204?

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"Crusading Began with religious passion but quickly progressed into cynical self interest." To what extent would you agree that this is a fair assessment of the changing nature and purpose of crusading between 1095 and 1204? "For they who are supposed to serve Christ rather than themselves...have bathed swords in the blood of Christians." It would appear, from Pope Innocent III after the shocking events of the fourth crusade, that by 1204, the nature or way in which crusading was carried out, had changed, and that the purpose or motivation for the crusades had also. Does this, however, confirm a progression from initial religious passion, to cynical self interest? Although it is easy to label the atrocities of 1204 as being acts of cynical self-interest, where the individual was motivated by personal, secular goals, it must be determined whether there was once an ecclesiastical motivation, where religious passion was the key motivating factor. The four crusades between 1095 and 1204 show that there were distinct differences in the way in which each these holy wars were carried out and it must, therefore, be determined whether the changing motivation for the crusades was a cause of this, starting with the first crusade, and finishing with the fourth. Certain sources indicate that religious passion was a key factor in the first crusade. The language used in Pope Urban II's call for the crusade show distinct religious passion, but also condemns cynical self-interest, as a motivating factor: "..... ...read more.


He points out that "although our expedition was not good for the extension of boundaries or for the comfort of our bodies, it was good for the salvation of many souls." This not only indicates that religious passion was an inherent motivating factor, even at the end, but also claims that it was more important than the concept of early foreign expansion, as a motivating factor. The best example of the nature of crusading being unaffected by cynical self-interest is when, on the 17th of June 1147, Louis VII of France would not use his crusader army to attack the Christian city of Constantinople, in order to free it. This shows a marked difference between the attitudes of the second and fourth crusades, as in 1204, Constantinople was sacked by a crusader army. It has therefore been shown that, like the first crusade, religious passion was mixed with other motivating factors, including cynical self-interest, but that it was often the overriding motivating factor for the second crusade. Despite the presence of cynical self-interest, it was, at this time, not the key motivation for the crusaders. The call for the third crusade was came after the fall of Jerusalem to Saladin. Again, it would appear that the focus of the crusade lay in religious goals, as Jerusalem had little secular value, but was still of key importance in religious circles. This is exemplified by the call of Pope Gregory VIII, for the crusade, where he desires that the crusaders do not go for "profit or earthly glory," in much the same way as Urban II, in the first crusade. ...read more.


The Venitians, who were to transport the armies to the Holy Land by ship insisted that the Christian City of Zara be attacked, evidently to me their own needs. The nature of crusading, by this point has certainly changed, as the crusaders were to attack a Christian city, and this shows that all values of Religious passion had been cast aside in favour of cynical self-interest. The plea by Guy of Vaux-de-Cernay shows how the crusaders had completely forgotten the concept of religious passion, and that cynical self-interest had taken over as the overriding motivation: "I forbid you, on behalf of the Pope of Rome, to attack this city, for those are Christians and you are crusaders!" However, this was not the end of the change from religious passion, to cynical self-interest. On April 12th 1204, Constantinople was attacked by a crusader army. It seems that the crusaders had easily forgotten the events in the city of Zara, which had made the crusade an excomunicate, and after attaining the forgiveness of the Pope, the sacking of Constantinople occured. The nature of crusading had degenerated, by this stage to the extent that "they have not spared religion, nor age, nor sex and have committed fornication and adultery in public." There can be no doubt, then, that the fourth crusade marks the point where cynical self-interest overtook Religious passion, as the key motivating factor for the crusades. the crusaders did not care about reclaiming Jerusalem, as it never even reached the city. Furthermore, the willingness to attack fellow Christians for secular rewards shows the polar opposite of religious passion, in cynical self-interest. Peter Mitchell D13 ...read more.

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