Christian CrusadesStudents NameCourse TitleInstructor’s NameDate
IntroductionThe Christian crusades had a number of reasons. Each Christian crusade was formed for different reasons. However, the main reason always surrounded the greater good for Christianity. For instance, when Peter and Gottschalk gathered an army of Christians to attack Jews in the Kingdom of Lorraine, their main justification for their act was to protect Christianity; to protect their faith and all the good in it. All they believed in was the faith of Christianity and the long existence of it. The Jews were enemies to Christianity, and their existence, therefore, threatened Christianity. Therefore, Count Emico and his followers butchered the Jews and left them dead, both men and women together with their children.
The writer, however, criticizes the main reason for the crusades. He argues that if the main reason for the crusades was to protect Christianity by eliminating its enemies, why then would the army of Christians take the money and other properties that belonged to the Jews. This brings out one drawback of the crusades. To some extent, some Christians used the crusades for different reasons. They used it to meet their desires and greed.
Additionally, the historic Christian crusades were organized by pseudo-prophets who deceived Christians by vain preaching. The preaching of these fake preachers was so enormous that it attracted a large crowd of Christians. Not only had the subjects followed these men but also the kings and the bishops as well as other powerful men in the kingdoms. During the crusading, different people came out with different intentions. During the fight, they not only went out to fight against the enemies of the Christian faith but also the friends of Christianity. Some men went to fight so as they could escape the service given to them by their lords. On the other hand, some men went out to fight so that they could escape from the punishments that awaited them. Likewise, there were some men who also went out in the battlefields so that they could relieve their poverty. To some men, it was a chance to escape from the oppression they have endured due to their debts. Different men had different motives to turn up in the crusades. However, there are also those men who were genuinely willing to shed their blood fighting for the true faith and long existence of Christianity. These were the men who were driven by a holy and a divine purpose. Unlike others, they were kindled by the divine majesty to fight a holy war and to fight solemnly for the holy of holies.
We can say that the main pro of the crusades is that they were out to fight to exist, and to spread the holy faith; to survive and to ensure that their faith is not washed away by the enemies. However, the hidden motives of the Crusaders were a great setback. Most of the Crusaders had different motives at heart. The Crusaders who were out to feed their own desires gave the crusading a bad name.
Another reason for the crusade was to bring peace to the oppressed nations that shared the same faith with the Crusaders. For instance, we can see that Peter the Hermit convinces the peasants to go to the Holy Land (the land of the friends of their faith and where the people who shared their Christian faith lived) and free it from the oppression of the Muslims. They believe that it is their duty to bring peace upon the oppressed. And if the oppressed are their brothers who also believe in the same doctrine, then they have no choice but to rush and help them before the Muslims slay them all. Therefore, in trying to give them courage to go to the Holy Land, Peter of Hermit was trying to use the crusade for a better motive; freedom and peace for the oppressed.
The same reason of crusading is also seen to be valid and viable when it comes to the Muslim faith. They also believed that they should use the crusades to save their brothers who are oppressed and going through pain. For instance, Abu Hamid Muhammad al-Ghazali claimed that the jihad was a sufficiency obligation. This meant that if any particular group has enough people in its army, and the group is confronted by an enemy, then it will be possible for the group to fight the adversity on their own because they are sufficient. However, if the group is weak and unable to handle the magnitude and the force of the enemy in order to defeat the evil, then it is only logic that the obligation to defeat evil is imposed on the nearby individuals who share the same faith and doctrine as the oppressed. Therefore, it is up to the nearby individuals to join in the fight against the enemy in order to help defeat the evil one.
Additionally, he gave an example of Syria. For instance, if one of the cities of Syria is attacked by an enemy, and there are not enough people in that city to conquer the enemy, then the duty to conquer the enemy will be imposed on all the cities of Syria to send in more people in the city until the city has enough people to fight and bring peace. He added that during this time, the obligation is on all the cities of Syria because the land is now like one town.
However, it is clear that these crusading do not bother to look at the other side of the argument. The focus is seen to be on the reward that God gives to those who bring peace and freedom to the oppression. There is no focus of on God’s preference on the human life and the dignity of the human life. There seems to be no one who feels that peace and freedom can be brought to the oppressed without bloodshed and additional injustices. During these crusades, there are definitely a large number of believers who lose their lives in the battlefield. In addition to their number, there is also an added number from the enemies they are out of attack. Who is responsible for all this type of bloodshed and loss of life? Is it God, or the hand that slays them down?
In conclusion, it is no doubt that the initial motive or the first-hand motive or reason for the crusades is good. In fact, in some crusades, the motives are utterly justifiable. Nevertheless, there are some crusades that cannot be justified. This is because the main motive of the Crusaders is to take away from the victims, to run away from their harsh conditions and to free themselves rather than fight to free the oppressed or fight a holy war to protect their faith and the existence of their faith. Moreover, there are some sides of the arguments left unaccounted for. For instance, who is responsible for the lives lost during the fight for the faith? Such issues are left unaddressed. Addressed are only the rewards that the Crusaders get from God for protecting the faith and the oppressed.
Annales Herbipolenses, s.a. 1147, in MGH, SS, XVI, 3, translated by James Brundage, The Crusades: A Documentary History, Milwaukee, WI: Marquette University Press, 1962.
August. C. Krey, The First Crusade: The Accounts of Eyewitnesses and Participants, Princeton: 1921.
Bongars, Gesta Dei per Francos, 1, pp. 382 f., trans in Oliver J. Thatcher, and Edgar Holmes McNeal, eds., A Source Book for Medieval History, New York: Scribners, 1905.
Dana C. Munro, “Urban and the Crusaders”, Translations and Reprints from the Original Sources of European History, Vol 1:2, Philadelphia: University of Pennsylvania, 1895.
De Consideratione Libri Quinque, II, 1., in Patrologia Latina 182,: 741-45, translated by James Brundage, The Crusades: A Documentary History, Milwaukee, WI: Marquette University Press, 196.
Emmanuel Sivan, “Un traité Damasquin du début du XIIe siècle”, Journal Asiatique 254 1966.
James Harvey Robinson, ed., Readings in European History: Vol. I: Boston:: Ginn and co., 1904.
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