The Crusades as Cultural Encounter
Pope Urban II made an influential speech on 27th November, 1095 which called all Christians in Europe to counter Muslims in a struggle to reclaim the Holy Land. There are several factors which led to this calling. Previously, Christians had been visiting the Holy Land (Middle East) as part of their Christian faith. However, Turkish Muslims had occupied the city. Pope Urban II felt threatened. Middle East was referred as the Holy Land based on the Christian beliefs which positioned it at the center of the works of Jesus Christ. The crusades were therefore a call against Muslims. Clerics and Christians across Europe took the call seriously and waged serious war against Muslims. It is argued that up to one hundred people responded to the call made by Pope Urban II.
Different people had different motivation factors to join the struggle. To majority of Christians, Muslims posed a serious threat to their existence. They were continuously encroaching on their Holy Land. In the process, they were threatening their future. While these Christians would have liked to face the Muslims, they had not received such a call in the past. Therefore, this time round, the call had been made by their leader. They had to support and join the call for the sake of the church. However, there were other people who joined the struggle for their own gains. For instance, European nobles who had wanted to own land in these region saw this as an opportune moment to advance their agenda. They ensured that many people died. They took over the estates which they were controlling and started living in the region.
The sources show how religion shaped in the 11th century. The Muslims had a very strong army as compared to Christians. Christians had numbers. In the war, Christians were made to believe that Muslims were bad. The conflict created at that time based on religious differences still persists. Religion was taken seriously. The people further believed that their claim to own the Holy land was provided for and protected by the bible. They could therefore use any approach to reclaim the land. Pope Urban two was an extremist. Based on religious readings, he ensured that he used the emotional topic of religion to create a conflict that would take centuries to address. When he died in 1099, Jerusalem had already fallen. It was left in ruins as Christian troops crashed with Muslim troops which were highly organized. Though the Christians eventually won, the religiously based outlook of life would have serious consequences in the religion. Everyone would be viewed according to their religious affiliation. The conflict between Christians and Muslims continued being a serious threat to unity in the region. Even today, Muslims are still in serious conflicts with Christians in the Holy land.
The posture of European Crusaders towards Muslims, Jews and Eastern Christians was similar. While addressing the question of the extent to which they were similar, it is important to explore the factors which contributed to this posture. The differences were anchored upon religious beliefs. They were based on religious extremism and correctness. Some of the religious or religious groups felt that their beliefs were superior to others in the region. For instance, during the crusades called for by Pope Urban II, the pope felt that other religious groups did not have a claim to live in the Middle East. This could have been solved amicably rather than calling Christians to face it off with Muslims. Many people died in the bloody confrontation.
The most pleasing results of the crusades as viewed by Pope Urban II would be reclaiming Jerusalem and the Middle East. The pope did not want the Muslims to live in the region. He would have been happy if all these Muslims were killed or made to migrate to another region. This was very wicked of a leader in his position. He would have been disappointed if the Christian crusaders were defeated. The fall of Jerusalem which came few days before his death was a good result based on his call. He wanted the city to collapse so that the foundation the Muslims had in the region would be shaken.
The sources are biased. It is evident that much research and covering was done on Christians while failing to do the same on Muslims and other religious affiliations. However, the presentation of facts is not biased. The information presented shows the factors underlying the call for crusades and the position of the pope after the call. This is an informative approach which can be used as background to conduct a deeper analysis on the subject. In the speech, Pope Urban II urged Christians to go to the aid of the Greeks and to recover Palestine from the rule of the Muslims. He also made a call to reclaim Jerusalem. This clearly covers the call for the crusades and the misuse of power by the pope to stir war between Christians and Muslims.