Ruling and Fighting Non-Christians: Muslims, Jews, and Heretics
I. The Crusades
What were the origins of the Crusades?
What sustained the Crusades for two centuries?
How “Christian” were the Crusades?
What is its significance of the Crusades for the history of Christianity?
− Leader Muhammad: social activist, critic of materialism, heard Allah’s
words recited to him directly.
− Revelations of Muhammad recorded in the Quran
− Followers conquered Mecca and created an Islamic state
− Began to expand and create empires, including taking over Byzantine
territory (Asia Minor)
Origins of the First Crusade
− Crusade: crux (meaning cross) worn by crusaders
− 1070’s Seljuk Turks invade Asia Minor – change in territory triggers
− Eastern Church forced to ask for help from the West – specifically ask
the Pope whether he can stir leaders in the West
− Urban II (1088-1099) sees this as a good opportunity to extend
western authority and recognizes the threat of Islam to all Christianity
so attempts to rally Christians • Council of Clermont (1095) the Pope’s attempt to rally
o Reports on horrific stories of Christian abuse by Turks in
Asia Minor and Holy Land
o Reports on attacks on holy sites
o Reference to Muslims as a “vile race,” who worship
o Council attended by lay people as well
o Call responded to by 50-60 thousand people, an
unprecedented force mostly from France (height of papal
− Interests for West and East differed. East needed to defend
themselves, the West wanted to take the Holy Land for Christians
and establish their own power
First Crusade (1096-1101)
− Siege of Antioch (Siege of Jerusalem) established Western kingdoms
(European colonies) that became known as Crusader States.
• Not what the Eastern emperor had wanted
• Temporarily succeeded in goal of winning holy land back.
− Success did not last long. Turks re-grouped and re-took the land in
− The remaining crusades were all attempts to re-gain Crusader states
End of the Crusades
− The official end is dated to 1291 with the fall of the last crusader
− Stopped because of various factors • Major wars in Europe
• Black death
• Famine and drought
− The Pope had his own problems with decrease of papal authority
• Re-located to Avignon
• 2 rival popes elected
Why did the Crusades last so long?
− The trip was dangerous, it involved investment of money, possibility
for starvation, disease, wounds etc. The odds were against you
returning home. What drove people then?
Crusading culture in the West
− Success in popularity partly because the crusades fit with and
promoted existing ideas, structures, and mentality already in Western
− The shape of religious piety means pilgrimage (in best case to
• Going on a crusade was like going on a pilgrimage
• Involved spiritual reward, indulgences, remission for sin, etc.
• Other pilgrimages also meant indulgences
• Way to depend your relationship with God
− Warrior culture in search of peace
• Western culture was searching for peace but centralized
government was precarious, and violence popped up through
war and in society • Attempt to re-channel warrior spirit threatening to destroy the
fabric of the west. Diverting spirit by giving people a common
enemy. Urban II declares “there will be peace in Christendom.”
• Many disagree with crusades because violence was contrary to
Jesus’ teaching but draw on OT violence for “just wars”
• Language of war even found in Benedict.
− Feudal Culture
• Warriors lived in hierarchy to one another
• Knights responsible to lords and protect them in exchange for
• Crusades have the same relationship – off to the Holy Land in
effort to defend the spiritual lord and responsibility to defend
him and get his land back.
How Christian were the Crusades?
− Had the stamp of approval by the institution
− Given biblical authority according to Matthew 10:38 “Take up your
cross and follow me.”
− Christian rhetoric surrounded them “Christ commands it”
− Some Crusaders likely interested in piety, indulgences, and a way to
Knights of the Templar/the Templars
− Group of warriors who fought for the crusader kingdoms
− Took vows of a monk and defended Christian territories
− Showed the harmony between Christianity and war – a cross
between monks and brutal warriors − However, may be evidence that this was more than simply a spiritual
venture and the bible became malleable
− Economic: could make your fortune and establish new trading
− Political: realized by kings and kingdoms that they could conquer and
keep new territory and drove them to take risks
− Church promotes secular interests: offer to take away interest on
− There were many different reasons for going, a mix of both spiritual
and secular, all with individual aims
Fourth Crusade (end of 1100’s to beginning of 1200’s)
− Ended with the Sack of Constantinople (1204)
− De-habilitated by secular issues
− The 3 crusade had fallen apart because of undermining by the
− Sporadic control of the pope and a clash between the papacy and
secular rulers were evident in how badly the crusades were going
Final attempt at Crusades
− By the 15 century there was a last attempt for a crusade, but the
pope received no answer to his call
− Test for the power of the papacy and see the limits of the strength of
Significance of the Crusades
− Illustrates the both papal and secular interests as well as the power
of secular and papal authorities − Effect on Christian piety as people come back with many relics –
fuelled culture of relics as a foundation for Christian piety.