Taking The Cross Essay

769 words - 4 pages

The crusading movement had a resounding influence that promoted change within European Christendom’s sphere of influence. Interaction with Muslim and Byzantine culture proved to have a resounding effect on this changing Europe. In 1095, Crusader armies formed at the expense of personal feuds under the command of Pope Urban II, who declared, preached and called for a holy war against the infidel. In the scheme of things, Pope Urban hoped to achieve an end to constantly waged warfare in Europe, enforce papal authority over all Christians, and finally, to attack and end a Muslim menace who had raided the Southern Italian and French coastlines since the 7th Century. What Urban preached started a great movement in Europe, families, peasants, children, merchants, knights, lords, and kings all “took the cross” to find their own salvation, wealth, and glory found on pilgrimage to Outremer. Many critics chose to call these men and women religious fanatics, an aggressive campaign against a benevolently peaceable people, but this popular misconception gives Crusaders a bad name in our own time. Religious fanaticism was not what drove the European to attack the Saracen, instead the Church sought a controllable amount of peace for an inherently brutal land by sending the ever violent feudal warrior against a common enemy.
Norman Cantor, Steven Runciman, and many other famous 20th century historians attacked the crusader; consequently, 20th century historiography has greatly impacted the modern thought about what it meant to “take the cross.” New research has shown that the 20th century consensus is not as momentous, and black and white as we once believed. Simply put, the crusading movements, especially when we consider their origins, was a complicated time for all participants.
In Europe, Popes were struggling for power with Kings: clergy sought to claim ultimate authority over the secular world. It was a land of constant danger and struggle, the lord sought their own advancement in society by use of violence; but land remained sparse for the lesser noble. Muslim raiders attacked the Italian coastline, and had authoritative control over the Iberian Peninsula. Through all these issues, new forms of society arose. Arable land was utilized like never before. Less people worked in the fields, and the economic trading center, known as the town, formed around strong secure castles. Europe, to be brief, was ripe with potential. Pope...

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