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Pope Urban Ii's Crusade

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History in its essence, is about change and its documentation. Throughout the ages, mankind has witnesses countless changes in the world be it political, social, religious, or physical. It is change, for good or for bad, that breeds a sense of skepticism for the world around us. One such period of change was during the early to mid-eleventh century. During this era the institution of Christianity had fallen out of favor with the people, both noble and common alike. The feud between Pope Gregory VII and King Henry IV had come to a close, but the aftermath was still thick in the air. The act of simony was still quite common, as was as the lack of celibacy in the church. Both items were points the Reformationists tried to alter, but never truly succeeded in obtaining. Christianity teetering off the path the papacy had sought for it. Come the late eleventh century, a new leader in Pope Urban II emerged. As witnessed by many, he had significant reasons for trying to draw the Christian masses back together, back to his alter after the lay investiture controversy. During a summoned council of peace, Urban II presented the idea to the clergy to retake Jerusalem, the holy land of the Christian faith. The only thing lacking was a cause. It is my belief that the First Crusades were born from this notion. That Pope Urban II needed a cause to rally his flock around. Also, in doing so, Pope Urban II tried to regain control of one of the most sacred places of both the physical and spiritual world as well as exert his power as a leader.

The initial introduction of Urban II's peace council was concerning the matter of social purity, more specifically the purity of his clergy. Simony, the act of buying and selling clerical offices was still a popular practice. From the time of Gregory VII, the mingling of church and state was very common. People of high social stature would use their influence and markedly greater wealth to slide themselves or a family member among the clerical ranks. Urban II, being of the reform mindset viewed this as a terrible act, one that would lead to the damnation of those involved, and the impurity of their teachings. As recorded by Fulcher of Chartres:

"You must especially let all matters that pertain to the church by controlled by the laws of the church. And be careful that simony does not take root among you, lest both those who buy and those who sell [church offices] be beaten with the scourges of the Lord through narrow streets and driven into the place of destruction and confusion. Keep the church and the clergy in all its grades entirely free from the secular power."2

Another item discussed at this council was the matter of the Turkish invasion of Byzantine, or the Eastern Church. A series of battles had raged in the region and in a personal declaration of good faith, Pope Urban II beseeched the clergy to spread word of a crusade to the East to fight the Turks and the Arabs. He cited this as a way to not only help the Church, but for the knights and social leaders of the area to go out and redirect their hostilities toward a noble cause instead of the continuation of infighting. To almost guarantee that a large number of followers would indeed make their way to the East on this Crusade for the Lord, Urban II promised the remission of all sins for all those involved. What made this offer even more enticing was the fact that one did not need to even necessarily make it to, or partake in battle in the holy land for this decree to take action. The initial departure and a good, solid



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