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The Crusades

With the increasing numbers of Muslims and their faith taking root in the Western Europe in 1095, the Christians found it important to engage in protecting their territory, the Roman Empire. They resolved to fight off any other religion that intruded their area. This war was led by the Roman rulers with blessings from the Catholic Church and the Pope. They formed military bases that ensured that they would physically fight off any force that preached or advocated an idea that was against Christianity. The actual war broke out when the Muslims took control of Jerusalem and denied Christians access to the city. They seized Jerusalem when Muslim Seljuk Turks defeated the Christian Byzantine army in 1071. The Muslim ruler at the time, Fatimid Caliph Al-Hakim mobilized his troops to destroy most of the Christian sacred places and the Christians who were in the city were severely persecuted. Alexis 1, who was the Byzantine ruler at the moment, was afraid that the Muslims would take over the whole Asia and called for the intervention of the Pope in a move to free Jerusalem. The Pope responded as Alexis 1 had requested and blessed troops to fight off the Muslims who barred Christians from entering Jerusalem. The forceful entry was therefore seen as justified. From this moment on, the crusades set off and they spread all over Western Europe, creating many effects that ranged from  social, economic, cultural, and technological, among others.

During the crusades, a lot of inhumane acts were carried out by the troops. People were beaten up and slaughtered in the wicked, bloody attacks. The Christians claimed to be fighting for the Lord’s Holy Land and were motivated by the belief that they were soldiers of the Lord, who were blessed by the Pope. It was, however, determined that the manner in which the crusades were carried out was very ungodly and, probably, they did not receive divine support from the Lord they were fighting for.

The crusades were carried out in several phases, from the first crusade to the ninth crusade. However, there has been a continued contention over the actual dates, and so the crusades have been aggregated into four main phases: the first, the second, the third, and the fourth crusades. This paper will analyze the factors that motivated the attackers and determine whether they were in line with Christian teachings.

The First Crusade

Conquering the Eastern Church-political

Across the Roman Empire, there existed a rivalry that was controlled by the area that any ruler controlled. If the first crusade had been carried out, the Pope saw a high likelihood that he will take control over the Eastern Church again. He mobilized young men to take part in the war and promised them that they would be forgiven their sins. They therefore went in for war with a lot of zeal and energy to gain holiness as promised by their highest religious leader, the Pope.

This was an act that was completely against Christianity. The Pope sent his subjects to an unworthy war, misleading them with the promise of rewards from God. In his teachings, Jesus at some point said that anyone who misled an innocent person would be severely punished. The Pope, in this case, misled the young people and could face the wrath of God.

Business Empowerment

Once the First crusade was carried out, businessmen and other powerful leaders believed that they would increase their influences. They saw this as an expansion of their market and did not hesitate to fund the wars and crusades. The act of funding a war to enrich oneself was a very egocentric approach. One of the two major commandments that Christ passed on to his disciples was to love one’s neighbor as oneself. The businessmen sacrificed the young fighters so that they would reap the benefits. They did not care whether they would return alive or they would die in the war. This was not an act of love to a neighbor or care to a brother or sister.

Spread of Christianity

At the time, there was a continuous fight among religions and every religion wanted to manifest its strength to win more converts. They all wanted to get the larger number of people against their rivals because they all wanted to become the majority religion. With more followers, one could be termed as a stronger ruler in the region and this was what the Muslim and Christian leaders looked forward to. They believed that they would eventually control the whole Asia and suppress the rival religion. This is what the then Pope contemplated when he authorized the attack on the Muslims in the quest for the Christian Holy Land. He wanted to expand his territory and increase his power to rule the continent and eventually the world. After the crusade, the Pope had planned to send missionaries in the liberated areas and ensure that the people there were converted to Christianity. 

The spread of Christianity was instituted by Jesus through Peter. He, however, never advocated for war or physical confrontations and, in the subsequent books in the New Testament, Paul stated that they had never fought physically, but their new fight was spiritual and guided by God. The Christians of the time fought physically with an excuse of spreading Jesus’ will.

However, it was not among Christ’s teachings, because He Himself did not physically confront His persecutors during His crucification. During His capture at Gethsemane, He remained calm and did not confront His captors physically, despite one of His disciples being ready to attack.

Christians were the Saviors

Crusaders had been made to believe that the world was evil and needed liberation before God. Everyone was a sinner and the Christians were to ensure that the maximum number of people was saved. They took it upon themselves to convert as many people as they could, no matter the methods that they would use. This allowed them to use their military prowess which they considered the godly means in order to show His people the way. They did all this with the support from the Pope who was seen as the mediator between them and God.

Christians confronted the Muslims with a belief that they were better off than the latter. They regarded the Muslims as sinners who were supposed to be liberated from their sins. Jesus said that only those who had repented their sins should be baptized. Therefore, any effort for one to get saved is supposed to come from an individual and not from the external forces such as those exercised by the crusaders.

The Second Crusade

Recapturing of the Edessa Kingdom

After the first crusade was over, a significant co-existence between the Muslims and Christians developed in the Holy Land. There were less restrictions and every religion controlled their region. However, this later changed when the Muslims invaded Edessa, which was a Christian kingdom, and took control over it. This prompted the Christians to reorganize crusades and capture Lisbon. However, they failed to capture Damascus from the Muslims despite having surrounded it. The Muslim leader was merciful at the defeated Christian troops and allowed them to retreat.

In Jesus’ teachings, He made it clear that His kingdom was not worldly, but Heavenly. This was a direct opposite to what the Christians did since they fought for the worldly territory instead of following in Jesus’ examples, which demanded that they get into spiritual liberation and agreement with the Heavenly Father.

The Third Crusade

Recapturing Jerusalem

After the Muslims took control of Jerusalem, the Christians did not stop attacking the city as they tried to recapture it. There were some peace-making efforts that the Muslim leader attempted with the advancing crusaders; however, the latter did not back off and continued to fight vehemently. He had even promised safety to all Christians who visited Jerusalem for pilgrimage. Despite the large number of followers, the Pope was again unable to conquer Jerusalem and it remained under the Muslims. As aforementioned, the acts of Pope were contradictory to those of Jesus and hence failed miserably in most of the battles that they went into.

The Fourth Crusade
Corruption and Greed

During the fourth crusade, the Pope’s own interests did not concur well with the Christian teachings. In 1198, Pope Innocent III ordered an invasion against the Orthodox Christians in Byzantine and put his ruler there. From this point on, the Orthodox and the Catholics developed a strained relationship which has lasted to date.

The acts of egocentrism were very common among Christian rulers. All their efforts were geared towards their own enrichment and control of territory. Just on the contrary, Jesus taught His followers to remain humble. He even likened the probability of a rich person getting to heaven to a camel trying to get through a needle hole. The Pope was very concerned with the earthly belongings, which was the opposite of Jesus’ teachings.

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