Account for the success of the first crusade.
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Account for the success of the first crusade. The first crusade was hailed as an unprecedented success by the historians of the day and indeed by contemporary historians. The reasons for this great success, if it can be called great at all, are many. From Pope Urban II's fiery call to arms, to the lack of preparation from the Turks, there are many causes for this success. Indeed the unquestioning faith of the crusaders, the quality of their leaders, and the allies which they procured during their journey were further factors in the success. After receiving the request for military aid from the Byzantine emperor Alexius I, Pope Urban II seized upon this opportunity for him to reinforce Papal control and influence in the east and to unite the divided western Christian Europe. Through his highly charismatic sermon given on 27th November 1095 at the Council of Clermont, Urban was able to arouse great enthusiasm from the nobles and clergy present for a Holy War on the Muslims in the east. They then went out and spread the command of a call to arms from God to their diocese and to anyone they met. This created a huge influx of people from all walks of life wishing to take part in this pilgrimage to the holy land. This could have been seen as a good thing as more people would mean a bigger army for which to smash the Muslims with. But a lot of people who answered the call were not knights or trained soldiers they were ordinary men, women and children, and so they can be seen as more of a hindrance than of help. ...read more.
But the main leaders were driven to a degree by their own ambition and this sometimes led to atrocities occurring. Such as the massacre of 300 Norman troops who Baldwin of Boulogne had forced to camp outside the walls of his newly captured town of Tarsus because he did not trust them and hence they were slaughtered by the town's former garrison under nightfall. But through all of the bad decisions, most of the time when they were needed to unify and attack together they did just that. They worked as one army, even if they disagreed on tactics when they assaulted and besieged major cities such as Antioch and Jerusalem. Indeed the assault on Jerusalem was impeded time wise by the arguing between the leaders over who should be given Antioch, but when they eventually got there the remaining princes worked together to gain success. But the fact that most of the princes true ambitions lay in their own personal gain is shown by Bohemond who selfishly never took any further part in the crusade after becoming Prince of Antioch. He never even went to Jerusalem. This was a major reason in why in took so long for the crusaders to take Antioch, because Raymond had wanted to storm the city but Bohemond refused and wanted to besiege it even though there wasn't enough troops to encircle the city. Bohemond's decision to siege was due to his own greed; he wanted Antioch for himself and so wanted it intact. ...read more.
During the People's crusade The Turkish king Kilij Arslan's capital, Nicaea was situated close to where the crusaders were based. He was happy enough to watch them ravage the countryside but as soon as they threatened his city he easily defeated them. This easy defeat of the Christian forces lulled him into a false sense of security. When he heard that another Christian force had amassed at Constantinople he assumed that it would be of the same type of incompetent soldiers as before and so took the majority of his army to attack a rival state, 'he had not foreseen that the crusading army would be so strong'2. This same sort of misconception of the crusading forces was common among many of the Muslim leaders, and hence played a major part in the success of the first crusade. This can be proven by the failure of the second crusade. It contained around the same amount of people as the first crusade but by this time the Muslim leaders were more prepared and swiftly defeated the crusaders in two battles3. Even though the main reason for the success of the first crusade was the disunity between the Muslim states, all of the factors mentioned contributed to the crusades success. The crusaders allies played their part in helping the crusaders to succeed in their goals. Also the faith of the people played a major part. Their faith cannot be underestimated, it kept them going and forced them onwards to Jerusalem; it was their faith which stopped them from turning back even when they were dying from starvation and disease. It was ultimately their faith which drove them to succeed. ...read more.
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