The First Crusade In Medieval Times History

  • Category: History,
  • Words: 649 Pages: 3
  • Published: 15 March 2021
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After the First Crusade, the relationships between the Western Christians, the Byzantines, and the Muslims were somewhat strained in the Crusader States. During this Crusade, the Western Christians defended the Byzantines against their assailants, the Muslims. This took place after the great rift between the Eastern and Western Churches, commonly known as the Great Schism of 1054. Pope Urban II called for the First Crusade to win back the Holy Land from the Muslims, but also to defend the Byzantine Christians, for he hoped to return the unity that once was present between the Catholics and the Eastern Orthodox Churches. However, once the Western Christians won this Crusade, unity between the two churches remained nonexistent. The Western Christians and the Byzantines saw the Muslims as a common enemy, each other as untrustworthy, and the Muslims saw the Christians as unintelligent soldiers, each group’s strengths were in their pride and faith, but their weakness in greatly distrusting each other led to their strengths amounting to almost nothing. 

Although the Western Christians, Byzantines, and Muslims all had different opinions of each other, each opinion followed a common theme of distaste and distrust. Usamah gives an account regarding the Muslim Arabs, who said that the Christians were like “animals possessing the virtues of courage and fighting, but nothing else” (Viking Reader 447). The Muslims thought the Christians were stupid and insensitive; they had a strong military, but lacked in all other virtues. Ibn Jubair showed his conflicted judgments on the Christians. He saw that they were good rulers and prosperous, but he shunned them for their infidels. 

King Louis VII of the Franks had a great zeal for the faith, and he saw the Muslims as formidable enemies. This can be seen when he “received the insignia of the cross which the Supreme Pontiff had sent to him” (Kolbe Reader 300) and took great joy in spreading the Christian faith. He also sent ambassadors to kings in many other regions to form allies in the army he was building to defend the Eastern Christians, the Byzantines, from the Muslims. Additionally, on behalf of the Western Christians, Odo of Deuil stated that the Byzantines were untrustworthy and bedraggled. After the First Crusade, when he and his army entered the land of the Byzantines, Odo claimed, “The city is rather squalid and smelly and many places are afflicted with perpetual darkness” (304). He then went on to criticize the Byzantine’s incompetent practices of upholding the law; for many criminals never felt shame because their crimes were never punished nor brought to light. 

Western Christendom and its Christians proved to be powerful and beautiful, which can be seen by the architecture of Mon Saint-Michel, called, “The Tower of the Great Soldier Angel” (Kolbe Reader 311) and the Chartres, titled, “The Castle of the Queen of Heaven and Earth” (316). However, because of the Western Christians’ tension and disunity with the Byzantines, their great power was stripped from them during the strife of the investiture controversy. The Eastern Christians also had beautiful churches, such as the Hagia Sophia, which gave them great renown and respect. Nonetheless, these churches continued to defy Western attempts at reconciliation and furthered the schism between the two. The Muslims were of great strength, which gave them the upper hand in wars. However, the Muslims always had “reason to complain under their own government, of the injustice of the chiefs” (286). This is the weakness that drove the people to willingly subject themselves to the rule of the Franks, the Western Christians. 

After the First Crusade, there was a delicate tolerance between the three religious groups: the western Catholics, the eastern Orthodox Byzantines, and the Muslims. Each group proved their individual strengths in the practice of their own ways, but it cannot be denied that they each had some influence on one another. If these three groups had formed together in trust, then they could have become an impenetrable force; their disunity was perhaps their greatest weakness of all. The western Christians, the Byzantines, and the Muslims were filled with great distrust and animosity on different levels for each other; however, neither was so great so as to prevent them from getting along and making things work in the Crusader States.

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