The Crusades Essay Research Paper Crusades

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The Crusades Essay, Research Paper Crusades Introduction On November 27, 1095, Pope Urban II he gave an important speech at the end of a church council in Clermont, France. In it he called upon the nobility of Western Europe, the Franks, to go to the East and assist their Christian brothers, the Byzantines, against the attacks of the Muslim Turks. He also apparently encouraged them to liberate Jerusalem, the most sacred and beloved city in Christendom, from the domination of Muslims who had ruled it since taking it from the Christian Byzantines in A.D. 638. Several versions of this speech have survived, and although we cannot be sure of the exact words the Pope used, the general outlines of his speech are fairly clear. Political and Military Background Beginning in the first

century A.D., the religion known as Christianity came to Palestine and spread very fast throughout the Roman Empire. By the end of the fourth century, the Roman Empire had become officially and primarily Christian, as a result of peaceful missionary activity from within society . Jerusalem, Palestine and Syria, all within the boundaries of the Roman Empire, became Christian . In the seventh century A.D., the religion known as Islam arose in the Arabian peninsula. Like Christianity, Islam officially condemned forced conversions. But unlike Christianity, Islam instructed its followers to ensure that the world was under the political control of the Faithful. Islam’s political domination could be, and was, spread by the sword. Carried on the backs of Arab cavalry, Islam burst out

of Arabia and quickly took control of the Middle East. Byzantium and Persia, the two powers in the area, were exhausted by prolonged conflict with each other. Persia was completely defeated and absorbed into the Islamic world. The Middle Eastern armies of the Christian Byzantine Empire were defeated and annihilated in 636, and Jerusalem fell in 638. Through the rest of the seventh century, Arab armies advanced northwards and westwards. By the early eighth century Arab forces had reached the Straits of Gibraltar, and in 711 they crossed into European Spain and shattered the armies of the Christian Visigoths. By 712 they had reached the center of the Iberian Peninsula, and by the 730s they were raiding deep into the heart of France, where Charles Martel met and defeated their most

ambitious raid near Tours around 732. This was to prove their high water mark in the West. For the next 300 years Christians and Muslims engaged in a protracted struggle, including the siege of Constantinople by the Arabs in 717-18, and the seizure of Sicily and other Mediterranean islands in the ninth century by the Muslims. In the tenth century the Byzantines made some limited gains along the periphery of the now-shrunken Empire, but did not retake Jerusalem. In the middle of the eleventh century the Arabs were displaced as leaders of Islam by the Turks, who converted to Islam even as they conquered the Arabs. The Turks disrupted the area’s political and social structures and created considerable hardships for Western pilgrims. Up till now most Arab rulers of the area had

been fairly tolerant of Christian interest in the Holy Places .By the second half of the eleventh century, most pilgrims were going to the Holy Land only in large, armed bands, groups who look in retrospect very like crusade rehearsals. The Turks also posed a new threat to the Byzantines. In 1071 the Turks met and crushed the Byzantine army at the Battle of Manzikert, near Armenia. As a result the entire heartland of the Empire, in Asia Minor, lay open and defenseless, and the Turks soon established themselves as far west as Nicaea, just across the Bosphorus from Constantinople. In the same year the Normans in southern Italy, led by Robert Guiscard, defeated the Byzantines at Bari and drove them off the Italian mainland. The Imperial Byzantine crown was briefly contested