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What are The Crusades of the Middle Ages
Responding to The Papacy Call
The crusades were movements that occurred between the 11th and 13th century and they were mainly under the direction of the Papacy. Before this time, much of the land surrounding the Holy land and the Holy land itself had fallen to the rule of the Muslims. However, around the ninth and tenth century the emergence of heavily armed knights on horse backs started changing the tide. The knights had a sense of being protectors and a sense of superiority. This increased the strength of Europe and they started gaining rule over many of the surrounding territories. The Carolingian Empire broke down in the 9th century, and coupled with the relative stabilization of the borders of Europe increased Europe’s stability. A Christianization of Magyars, Slavs, and Vikings produced a whole group of warriors who had nothing to do. It resulted to rowdy bunches of warriors fighting each other and poor peasants as an outlet to their yearning for war. Therefore, when the pope made a rallying call to bring liberation to the land, which had fallen to the Muslims, it fell on willing ears.
The papacy made a promise that those who would join the crusades were to get rewards in terms of with tax withdrawals. Other promises included cancellation of debts and external life (. The response to the crusade spread to other lands quickly and large groups of peasants sold their lands to get passage to the Holy land. The enthusiasm was more in Scotland, Scandinavia and England. All this happened even before the Pope could organize his armies. As they moved southwards, most of the peasants purchased their own food. However looting took place in some towns along the way. Officials at Constantinople at times hurried the mobs out of town to prevent the looting. The crusaders arrived in the Holy land before the Knights, and many of them ended up butchered. The Knights were much more successful than the crusaders.
An Accounts of The Conquest
The belief that the crusade was a noble task for Christendom only added the fuel to their enthusiasm. This was a chance for many to emulate the great deeds they had seen from Charlemagne. History credits Charlemagne with changing the tide of Muslim dominance around 801 when he took Barcelona. The Knights were all in a good mood for victory, conquest and loot. The first crusaders were mainly drawn from France and Germany. For the Western Christendom, they were looking to asserting their prominence to the Eastern Christendom whom they viewed as more pagan that Christian. They felt that victory in recovering the Holy land would result in more respect and honor to them and consequently absorption of the Eastern Christendom .
The march of the Knights through Europeans towns was not without drama. They sought contributions from the Jews and at times looted and murdered them. They did this in the conviction that Jews had murdered Jesus Christ. Certain Jews who rejected baptism got murdered around the year 1096. A Catholic Bishop named John sought to protect the Jews from the killing and gathered them under his protection. He ordered that those found killing the Jews should be punished by having their hands cut off. Many more Jews were killed as the crusades progressed. The crusaders advanced their liberation war with a cry that, “God wills it!” Unlike the peasants before them, when they finally arrived at the Holy land, they conquered.