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the First Crusade

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Author Topic: the First Crusade  (Read 7079 times)
Rachel Dearth
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Posts: 4464

« on: February 25, 2009, 03:11:38 pm »


All these events are claimed by historians to have contributed to the origin of the crusades. According to the "Erdmann thesis", developed by German historian Carl Erdmann, the origin was directly linked to the eleventh-century reform movements. Exportation of violence to the east, and assistance to the struggling Byzantine Empire were the primary goals, with Jerusalem a secondary, popular goal.[14]

Generally, historians have either followed Erdmann, with further expansions upon his thesis; more recently, they have also considered the influence of the rise of Islam. According to Steven Runciman, there was no immediate threat from Islam, for "in the middle of the eleventh century the lot of the Christians in Palestine had seldom been so pleasant."[15] The crusade was a combination of theological justification for holy war and a "general restlessness and taste for adventure", especially among the Normans and the "younger sons" of the French nobility who had no other opportunities.[16] Thomas Asbridge argues that the crusade was simply Pope Urban II's attempt to expand the power of the church, and to reunite the churches of Rome and Constantinople, which had been in schism since 1054. The spread of Islam was unimportant, because "Islam and Christendom had coexisted for centuries in relative equanimity."[17] Thomas Madden represents the opposite view; while the crusade was certainly linked to church reform and attempts to assert papal authority, it was most importantly a pious struggle, waged by faithful idealists, to liberate fellow Christians who "had suffered mightily at the hands of the Turks." This argument distinguishes the relatively recent violence and warfare that followed the arrival of the Turks from the general advance of Islam which is dismissed by Runciman and Asbridge.[18] Christopher Tyerman incorporates both arguments; the crusade developed out of church reform and theories of holy war as much as it was a response to conflicts with Islam throughout Europe and the Middle East.[19] For Jonathan Riley-Smith, poor harvests, overpopulation, and a pre-existing movement towards colonising the frontier areas of Europe also contributed to the crusade; he also notes, however, that "most commentators then and a minority of historians now have maintained that the chief motivation was a genuine idealism."[20]

The idea that the crusades were a response to Islam dates back as far as twelfth-century historian William of Tyre, who began his chronicle with the fall of Jerusalem to Umar ibn al-Khattab.[21] Although the original Islamic conquests took place centuries before the First Crusade, there were more recent events that European Christians still remembered. In 1009 the Church of the Holy Sepulchre was destroyed by the Fatimid Caliph al-Hakim bi-Amr Allah; Pope Sergius IV supposedly called for a military expedition in response, and in France, many Jewish communities were even attacked in misplaced retaliation. Nevertheless, the Church was rebuilt after al-Hakim's death, and pilgrimages resumed, including the Great German Pilgrimage of 1064–1065, although those pilgrims also suffered attacks from local Muslims.[22]

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