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Crusades Essay Question

List of Suggested Topics and Themes for a Paper on the Crusades

In any of the topics and themes below, the approach must always compare and contrast from both sides of the crusading conflict, i.e., there should always be an attempt to include perspectives and primary texts about the issue from the European Christian side and the Saracen Muslim side. Reminder: Not permitted is a comparative study specifically on Richard the LionHeart vs. Saladin or any inclusion of current issues in the Middle East today.
  1. Motivations of the Crusaders and Saracens;
  2. Causes of the Crusades and motivations of Europeans in initiating the conflict and/or motivations of the common people, including Saracen perceptions, motivations, and reactions;
  3. Inspiration for the leaders (e.g.: religious zeal, religion serving a political function, etc.);
  4. Military or political strategies and tactics;
  5. Treatments of enemies and prisoners;
  6. Tendencies toward religious tolerance or intolerance among Crusaders and Saracens (when, where and why);
  7. Women and gender issues in the Crusades, including:
    1. status and roles of women (on both or either side) during the Crusades;
    2. activities of women and perceptions/reactions on both sides (women as warriors, servitors, whores, wives, etc. including Saracen perceptions, reactions, etc.);
    3. female leadership, e.g., the roles, function and status of the queens of Jerusalem (or princesses of the royal house of Jerusalem), Byzantine princesses, &/or Saracen leadership (e.g., Shajaret el-Durr, the Sultana of Egypt);
  8. Leadership and unity issues among Crusaders and Saracens (e.g., what united any one side before vs. what divided it later and what effect this had on their successes);
  9. Religious perceptions of jihad (holy war), including the notion of Crusade as Christian jihad, "holy war";
  10. Comparison and contrast of First and Second Crusades (including initial Christian successes and Saracen failures followed subsequently by Christian failures and Saracen successes);
  11. Unity of purpose and success vs. failure (on both sides);
  12. Effects of religious beliefs (if any) on warfare practices;
  13. Muslim and Christian views and treatments of each other;
  14. St. Francis of Assisi and his personal mission of peace in the Fifth Crusade;
  15. Christian fighting orders in eastern and western perceptions (including: Knights Templar, Knights Hospitaller, Teutonic Knights, etc.);
  16. Comparison and contrast: the Knights Templar vs. the Assassins sect (Hashishin);
  17. Internal conflicts among Crusaders and Saracen perceptions and reactions:
    1. conflicts among ambitious Christian leaders;
    2. conflict between the more flexible poleins (2nd-generation Crusaders born in the Middle East) vs. zealous European newcomers;
  18. Specific battles, campaigns, sieges, etc. from both perspectives;
  19. Changing sides: the Crusades as gray areas, in which Europeans might side with or accommodate or sympathize with Saracens against other Europeans and/or Saracens might side with or accommodate or sympathize with Europeans against other Saracens, and what this means about any absolute "us vs. them" mentality;
  20. Turning points and watershed events in the Crusades (e.g., Edessa, Damascus, Hattin, etc.);
  21. Perceptions of Jews by both Europeans and Saracens in the era of the Crusades;
  22. Perceptions of native Middle Eastern Christians by Europeans and Saracens;
  23. Perceptions of leaders by both sides, e.g.. European/Saracen views of any or more of the following: Zangi, Nur el-Din, Saladin, Richard I (the Lionheart), the kings of Jerusalem, Baldwin and Balian of Ibelin (brothers), Raymond of Antioch, Reginald of Kerak, etc.

As I started to read different articles; I wondered what the difference was between a crusade and a crusader. I found out that the medieval crusade was a holy war, and for it to be an officially crusade, it had to be ordered by the pope against groups of people that hated Christendom. Only Jerusalem and surrounding areas of the Holy Land were looked at as Crusades. The Crusaders were basically the same thing. The Crusaders attacked non-Christians in Northern and Eastern Europe. There were also campaigns towards the heretics, pagans and Muslims of Europe as Crusades. (Snell n.d.) The Crusaders were basically the same thing. The Crusaders attacked non-Christians in Northern and Eastern Europe, and they led bloody massacres against the Jews and heretical Christians in their own territories, and tried to move Muslims of the Iberian Peninsula and out of North Africa. They also took Palestine, ruling the Holy Land from the citadels. (Meinhardt n.d.)

Muslims ruled over Jerusalem for many centuries. The Muslims put up with the Christian Pilgrims, because they were an asset to the economy of Jerusalem, but regardless of how they were an asset; the Turks; who were also Muslim; didn’t see it that way. After they conquered the Holy Lands; they started mistreating the Christians, because they didn’t know how much of an asset they were to Jerusalem. Along with mistreating the Christians; they also threatened the Byzantine Empire. The Byzantine Empire was an ancient Greek colony founded by a man named Byzas. Byzantine Empire’s Roman emperor was Constantine 1. The Byzantine Empire was also a part of the Crusades, and the 11th century is when the Crusades began. There were holy wars on the Western Christians and against Muslims from 1091 to 1291. Pressure was being put on Constantinople, Emperor of Alexius, by the Seijuk Turks of central Asia. Constantinople asked the West for help, and that caused the declaration of ‘holy war’ by Pope Urban II at Clermont (France), and this began the First Crusade. (Byzantine Empire n.d.)

Ten ninety-five is when the Crusades began when the pope chose a Christian army to fight all the way to Jerusalem, and this war continued until the 15th century. Thousands of people were killed during these crusades, and nobody ever won the Crusades. This made Catholics across Christendom feel like they had a purpose, and the people were happy and enthused about their situation; instead of feeling like they did not belong to the church, and I think they even tried to convert the Crusaders to Islamic. (History.com/topic/middle ages)

During the first crusade times were hard in Europe, and disease was everywhere. Nevertheless, they were happy about being called to go to a foreign land to be soldiers for Christ. It wasn’t long before an unruly mob was formed by Peter the Hermit; he was on his way to Jerusalem. On the way to Jerusalem many Jews were killed and many members of the mob lost their lives also. There were other crusades led by Adhemar, bishop of Puy, and he was a personal representative of Urban II. ( (Gonzalez n.d.) The crusades just kept on forming under many different leaders. They took a lot of different routes, and went through a lot of suffering, and they finally sieged Antioch under the leadership of the count of Edessa; who was Baldwin. The Crusaders were getting low in number, because a lot of them deserted their post. (Gonzalez n.d.)

The Islamic people were growing more powerful. They gained large sections of the Middle East, and it was about three or four times bigger than the Christendom world. As we continue to talk about the crusades; let’s look at the objectives of the crusades. One thing that they wanted to accomplish was to get the Holy Land back in Jerusalem. They also wanted to get Spain back from the Moslems, free the slaves and pagans, and get the island of the Mediterranean back. ( (Ancestory.com n.d.) The only way to vilifying the last remnants of Arab Spain was to show Islam as a form of pseudo-Jewish heresy. The royal chaplain and chief anti-Morisco polemicist, who was Jaime Bleda, said that ‘the Moorish invasion of Spain was a divine punishment for the pro-Semitic policies of the Visigothic King Wittiza (1698-710).’ (Boase 2002) He went on to liberate the Jews from slavery and restored to the Jews their land and their privileges. (Boase 2002)

After this Jerusalem was lost, the Christian city of Acre fell, and all the dreams of going back to the Holy Land was a good dream, but no matter how the King of France planned it; it seemed that everything was always redirected or delayed by regional tension. There were knightly orders that rose up throughout the land. These were Knights Templar, the Teutonic Knights and the Hospitallers. All of these were religious knights that worked under monastic rule to help the holy land and the pilgrims en route to Jerusalem. (Boase 2002) There were many consequences to the offensives against Islam. There was a lot of mistrust, and hatred between Christians and Moslems, and also between Latin and Byzantine Christians. All of the blood that has been shed throughout these crusades would not be forgotten. The Spanish Reconquista helped the power of the papacy. The crusades had an impact on Christian piety, and with contacts with the Holy Land, it turned the attention to the Bible, and devotion came to center on the humanity of Jesus. The crusading spirit was used to combat heresy, and for some years to come the ideal of crusades would be used in different circumstances. (Gonzalez n.d.)

The contributions of the Crusades helped to increase wealth of the church, and power of the Papacy. The Popes had placed in their hands the authority and influence of the armies, and Christendom resources, and the people looked to them for guidance. Churches and Monasteries were made to be enormously greater. There were thousands of crusaders who returned with a broken spirit, and their health was not good. Many of them went to asylums. (Ancestory.com n.d.)

There were also effects from the crusades on Commerce, and this was the most important. It created demands for all types of things like transportation, ship building, and extended the markets. The crusades affected the life of Western Europe. It undermined feudalism, and many barons and knight sold their stuff to raise money for a crusading expedition. (Ancestory.com n.d.) The political effects of the crusades broke down powers of the feudal aristocracy, and to give favor to the kings and the people. The social effects of the crusades were very important, because the crusades offered many opportunities. There was Intellectual Developments that could not be overestimated. Most of all it liberated the minds of the crusaders. The crusaders traveled among many strange lands and around people they didn’t know. They could go out everywhere and learn different things, different cultures, better manners and better ways to dress. It seems like the crusades opened up a whole new world, they learned a lot of new things, and helped to wake up Western Europe mentality. This bought about the ‘Revival of Learning and the Renaissance. There was material development such as commercial enterprise to the trade and commerce of the Italian cities, and last there were many Voyages of Discovery by Marco Polo, and Sir John Mandeville. (Ancestory.com n.d.)

One would think that after all the fighting throughout the crusades there would have been a tremendous impact on the world, but it really did not change the face of the Europe. Greek and Latin churches relationships were impacted. (Madden n.d.) After the fourth crusade there was no reconciliation between the East and the West. Finally, the fighting between the Europeans and the Muslims stopped, and they started concentrating on other things. (Edmonds n.d.) In the end the Crusades were merely seen as an exaggerated or uncontrolled time. Every generation has their own aspect of the Crusades. The middle Ages were idealized by the Romantics; the French looked at the crusades as the first attempt to bring civilization to the world. (Edmonds n.d.) In the history books the crusades were looked upon as barbarians. People today asked the Pope to apologize for the horrors committed during the Crusades. (Edmonds n.d.) Christians used to be looked at as infidels by the Muslims. In 1899 the Arabic history was the first to be written over a period of time, and memory. The crusades were discredited by the thought of colonialism and imperialism. (Madden n.d.) There were still a lot of short lived raids on the Holy Land at the end of the 13th century. These raids were beginning to annoy the Muslims rulers. Thibault IV of Champagne was the leader of the Seventh Crusade and he recaptured Jerusalem for a short time, and in 1244 Jerusalem was lost again.

The Eighth Crusades was fought bay King Louis IX of France, and this one was against Egypt, and it ended up in defeat. The Crusaders were struggling, because a new rule took power; they were known as the Mamluks who came from former slaves held by the sultan, and they took Egypt. Antioch was destroyed in 1268, and this made Louis IX to start another Crusade, and he was killed in North Africa. In the last Crusade there were warships arriving from Venice and Aragon that defended the remains of the Crusader states in 1290. When the coastal port of Acre fell, it ended the crusades in the Holy Land after nearly two centuries. (Crusades n.d.) There were minor crusades organized by the Church; they were trying to move the Muslims out the territory, and pagans out of the regions; then papal authority declined. (Crusades n.d.)

In my opinion; there was great amount of lives lost in these battles. I am wondering what good every came out of any of it. Jerusalem seemed to get free at one point, and in the next minute it was captured again. They stayed in and out of turmoil. It seems that it would have been very hard to keep the faith in all that turmoil, but I see some of them did not give up. All they needed to do was survive.

The Middle Ages and the Crusades, n.d.
The Crusades (www.lordsandladies.org/the crusades), n.d.
“Ancestory.com.” Objectives of the Crusades, n.d.
Boase, Roger. “The Muslim Expulsion from Spain.” 2002.
“Byzantine Empire.” Byzantium and the crusades, n.d.
“Crusades.” History.com/topics/crusades, n.d.
Edmonds, Molly. How the Crusades Worked, n.d.
Gonzalez, Justo L. “The Story of Christianity.” n.d.: 293.
“Heretics, Heresies and the Church.” n.d.: www.historyguide.org.
Madden, Thomas F. “The New Concise History of the Crusades.” n.d.
Meinhardt, Jack. “When Crusader Kings Ruled Jerusalem.” n.d.
Snell, Melissa. “Crusades Basics,.” Definition of crusade, n.d.

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