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In 1095 Pope Urban II preached the First Crusade

Posted in Historical articles, History, Religion, Royalty, War on Tuesday, 30 April 2013

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This edited article about the First Crusade originally appeared in Look and Learn issue number 236 published on 23 July 1966.

Richard the Lionheart, picture, image, illustration

Richard the Lionheart on the First Crusade

The Crusades to the Holy Land of Palestine, which began in the late 11th century, were inspired by a mixture of deep religious faith and selfish intrigue.

In 1095, Pope Urban II made a great speech at Clermont in France, in which he urged men to lay aside their personal quarrels and go to Palestine, to rescue the Holy City of Jerusalem which had fallen into the hands of the Infidel Turks.

Thousands took the Pope’s words to heart and set off to the Holy Land in pursuit of a religious ideal. But among the leaders were men of high rank but little authority in their own countries who were anxious to acquire land and power in the East.

Thus the glory of the Crusade lay with the armies who fought in the spirit of faith: for most of the leaders, the journey to the Holy Land was a rewarding “business” trip.

It is said that even the most hardened among the crusaders was moved by the sight of the Holy City. After a month’s siege, Jerusalem was finally captured in July, 1099. The Crusaders were so carried away by their victory that they slaughtered the inhabitants of the city. Blood ran down the streets and men splashed through it as they rode.

With Jerusalem won, some settlement had to be made and a ruler chosen. Godfrey de Bouillon was elected on July 22, 1099, but refusing to style himself King of Jerusalem, took the title and responsibility of “Defender of the Holy Sepulchre”.

Jerusalem was one of four states founded in Palestine under Western rulers. In this way both the religious ideal and the material motives behind the Crusade were temporarily satisfied.

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