Fulker of Chartres about Crusades
“In response to the defeat of the Byzantines, in section 3 of “Fulker of Chartres,” it says that the Pope had addressed Christendom saying that they need to come together to defend against the oncoming invasions of Muslim armies. This proves that the Crusades were a retaliation of lost land and Christian lives to the Muslim armies. Urban describes the horrors that the Muslims have already unleashed on Christians, and how they have laid waste to their kingdoms. Pope Urban II had commissioned the knights of Christendom to push back against the Serjuks and the Turks, and that reclaiming their previously owned land was the Lord’s will. Over the 11th and 13th centuries popes had called more Crusades to the Holy Land and also called for some in Spain and Portugal to help push back the Muslim powers. Crusades against Muslims were not called with the intention of converting Muslims to Christianity, rather to regain control of territory that was previously Christian and had fallen to Muslim armies. Jerusalem had been taken by the Muslims in 637 was considered particularly important to Western Christians as it was the site of Christ’s crucifixion, the foundation of the Christian faith. Indeed Jerusalem was considered the holiest site in the Christian nations and it was the consensus of European Christians that it be brought back under Christian rule, thus the First Crusade began.
The Crusaders were knights and footmen who were not on a quest for wealth or any sort of gain, they were there on a mission to fulfill the will of the Lord. What made a Crusade distinct was that the men who were involved in the fight had gained spiritual merits, usually being a plenary indulgence granted by the Pope. When in the 11th century news had arrived that Christian pilgrims travelling to Jerusalem were being harassed and murdered by the Seljuk Turks, this fact alone inspired many knights to join the First Crusade. Although the Crusades were called to regain lands, greed was NOT a primary motivation. Professor Jonathan Reiley Smith, the world’s foremost expert on the Crusades, has proven that crusading was a dangerous act and expensive. None of the knights who fought could have possibly gained wealth from these fights. Indeed, they often bankrupted themselves and their fiefs for the act of crusading. In section 28 of “Fulker of Chartres,” it says that even when the Crusaders could have taken wealth, they always replaced whatever they took with something of equal value. There was no gain to be had. This proves as an example that the Christians’ motive was not to gain wealth. The primary motivation for crusading was spiritual with the knights joining because they believed that they were doing God’s work by fighting to protect Christian pilgrims and to reclaim their land, and that the Crusade would win a spiritual merit. A Crusade was considered by the Western European Christians to be a holy act, an act of sacrifice and piety for the love of Christ. The Crusades were a military campaign waged by Western European Christians in the Middle Ages for the defense and expansion of Christendom.
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What the Christians had done during the Crusades were necessary to save their faith and justified. In section I of “Fulker of Chartres,” Henry saw that the faith of Christianity was being destroyed by both foreign invaders and by peace being discarded by the princes of the world. He understood that the faith of Christianity was at risk and that if the church did nothing about it, they would fall to the armies of Islam. This serves as an example as to why the Crusades were necessary by uniting the Christian nations to fight back and reconquer what had been taken from them. Henry, Philip, and Pope Urban II ultimately saved the Christian faith from imminent destruction. The Crusades to the Holy Land had failed, but also had some positive impact. The First Crusade and Third Crusade, for example were both very successful, though ultimately later at the close of the 13th century the last of the Crusader holdings in Syria and Palestine fell to the Muslim Mamluk Empire. The Crusades in Spain succeeded with the whole of Spain being reclaimed by the Christians, and its people saved.”