Remembering the Crusade for the Holy Land
In the year of our Lord, 1095, Alexios I appealed to Pope Urban II to send soldiers to the Holy Land. The Pope sought to regain the Holy Lands for Christian use, such as preserving the religious monuments of the Christian faith, for Jerusalem had been overtaken by extremists of the Islamic religion. A crusade would also help the Pope establish his power and prestige, so Pope Urban II had no objections to taking back the Holy Lands. After all, the warriors were fighting for the liberation of Christ’s home, not personal gain.
In the same year, the Pope called knights to join the proposed Crusade during his speech at the Council of Clermont. Urban II claimed all the sins of the knights would be cleansed, and the Crusade would count as a pilgrimage to the Holy Lands. The Pope claimed that Christians in the Holy Land were being persecuted, mistreated, and tortured. In 1096, a total of 60,000 volunteers embarked on a journey to Jerusalem. Though the Pope had only intended knights to go, knights only made up a measly ten percent of the volunteers.
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Unfortunately, not all the volunteers were suited for fighting. When the first groups of Crusaders arrived, they were unarmed, and had brought their families with them. They were later ambushed and killed in Nicaea. The second group, however, was a more fitted composition. Most of the people comprising the group were warriors and knights. These warriors held a siege on Antioch for eight months. It was captured in June of 1098.
In 1099, the remaining 12,500 crusaders attacked Jerusalem, slaughtering ten percent of the city’s occupants. A large Egyptian army attempted to retake the city but failed. Though Jerusalem had been recaptured, the fighting still continued. The warriors that fought in the Crusade were not necessarily holy men. These men spread out and began terrorizing nearby villages, towns, and kingdoms. Other groups used their religion as an excuse to persecute other religions. Though the Crusade is over now, there are rumors of another Muslim attempt to retake Jerusalem, and all of Europe prays it will not be so.