Roleof the Church during the crusades

TheRoman Catholic Church played an important role in the crusades. were military campaign in the middle ages which weresanctioned by Pope Urban II among other Popes. The first crusade wasas a result of a plea by emperor Alexios I of the Byzantine Empirewho requested the help of the church to defeat the Turks. The churchwas motivated by the desire to unite the church under one leadershipof Pope Urban II. Additionally, through the crusade, the church aimedat restoring their access to the holy lands, which were under thecontrol of the Turks Muslims. Although the church in the Middle Ageswas dominated by intense politics which could have motivated the Popeto sanction the crusade, they were largely motivated by religiousreasons. Thus, after the first crusade, the church was able tocapture Jerusalem, the holy city. However, this was not the end ofthe struggle since the Muslims also considered Jerusalem and thesurrounding region as holy land. As a result, they quickly unifiedagainst the church which resulted into subsequent wars. Therefore,according to Thompson and Johnson, crusades in the medieval Europecan be described as “a phase of the political and economicexpansions of western Europe”. The crusaders were mass movement ofnoncombatant worriers sanctioned by the church with an aim ofrecovering the holy land from the pagans. Additionally, the churchwas motivated by the need to use all means to tame Islam, which wasthreatening its moral and religious authority in the Europeancontinent (Thompson &amp Johnson, 1937).

Toappreciate the role of the church in the crusades, it is important tounderstand the political and economical power of the church in themiddle ages Europe. The church had an influence on all aspects oflife in that period. Therefore, the fact that the crusades weresuctioned by the pope meant that they were critical to the society.All individuals, both women and men in Europe were involved in thecrusade movements. Also, they dominated all aspects of life includingpolitical, religious and economic thoughts. In addition to Pope UrbanII, there were other popes who suctioned holy wars who include PopeCalixtus II, Pope Innocent II, Pope Eugenius III, Pope Gregory VIII,Pope Celestine III, Pope Honorius III, Pope Gregory IX and PopeGregory X among others (Thompson &amp Johnson, 1937).

Thereis no doubt that the church led by the Pope was determined to swaythe Christians in favored of the crusade movement. Although it hasbeen viewed as a deviation from the Christian teachings andtraditions, the Pope taught the Christians that if they fought in thecrusades, their sins would be forgiven and they would go to heavenafter death. Therefore, majority of the people who fought in thecrusade believed that they were taking a path towards salvation. Theybelieved that the crusades were holy wars instituted by God toprovide an alternative way of gaining salvation. As a result, peoplevoluntarily participated in the crusades without worrying about therepercussions of the war. The indulgence and forgiveness of sins wasthe greatest reward promised to the religious fighters in thecrusades. Some of the individuals who were convinced to join the warwere poor and hoped for apotheosis at the holy city of Jerusalem inaddition to the plenary indulgence. The church was successful inconvincing the general public that the crusade movement was initiatedby god and participation in the war was an obligation of everyChristian and demonstration of devotion to the church and god. Thechurch introduced monastic military orders which have huge impacts onthe course of the war (Tanner et al, 1926).


Tanner,J. R. et al (1926). Contestof Empire and Papacy,Brooke, New York.

Thompson,J. &amp Johnson, E. (1937). Introductionto Medieval Europe,300-1500,New York.