“Since the period of Constantine, Christians from all works of life and every place had gone on pilgrimages to the Holy Land, Jerusalem. Even though Moslems had ruled Jerusalem since 638, Christians were still allowed to visit the city” (Runciman, 13). Runciman, (45) illustrates that, by the 11th century, Muslims adherence changed the situation. By the time the number and frequency of pilgrimages to the holy land went up, the Seljuk Turks took over control of Jerusalem and stopped pilgrimages activities. This acted angered all Christians and prompted the need for the crusade. This point in time Pope Urban inspired the people to fight and regain the holy land.
I write this letter with both pride and humility. This is because as a Knight who survived and reached Jerusalem I give thanks to almighty God for the great protection He gave me during this dangerous period of crusade. The history of crusade is vividly clear in both my mind and soul. As night survivor I have mixed reaction on the happening during this trying periods in Christian calendar. This is because I dearly cherish the fact that I participated on the event and at the same survived. “The crusade was so much inevitable since in the 7th century the Muslims took control of the holy city, Jerusalem and in the 11th century they started to hassle and interfere with Christian pilgrims and teaching in the Jerusalem area” (Edgington, 39). To the Christians in Europe, Jerusalem was a heavenly city, the center of their existence and they did not take lightly to being pushed out. In this regard, Popes encouragement, religious indulgences, and promise of eternal merit provoked thousands of Christians in Europe to enroll in this inevitable holy military to fight for the cause and that why I was part of this event. The European involved so much because Israel is part of Europe and since Christianity has its strong base in Israel and Jerusalem is a holy city. In this regard, the interference of the Christians in Israel by the Muslim prompted the intervention of Christians from Europe. It was a scaring scene to witness since people killed each other like wild animals.
A large group of Christians formed a small organized military which was called the Crusaders. They were out to recapture the Holy land from the Muslims, and dedicated their lives to this. They were identified by red cloth that was sewn on their garments in the form of a cross. This showed that crusaders were the soldiers of Christ. The name crusaders was derived from the Latin word crux meaning cross and form the basis why Christians always carry a cross (Runciman, 1951, p.39).
The Crusaders action and commitment was purely based on strong Christian beliefs more than any reasons (Runciman, 1951, p.24). The Crusaders on the other hand resurrected an older tradition of the pilgrimage to the Holy Land, which was often imposed as a reconciliation of ones-self. They assumed two roles: pilgrims and soldiers. “Armed pilgrims would normally not be accepted, but in this case they were, because they were fighting for the Christian Holy Land” Runciman (93). “Groups of crusaders rampaged through the streets of Jerusalem, killing everyone they came upon” (Runciman 112). “Some of the locals in Jerusalem took shelter in the Dome of the Rock where Tancred, with an eye towards the ransom money, promised them his protection” Runciman (113). Even though it was difficult, men not under his command tore through the al-Aksa Mosque and slaughtered its occupants (Runciman, 113).
The crusade was ultimately justified in that period in time since religion is quite important to human life and therefore any person who denies one of these rights is equivalent to killing him or her. Towards this it is worth fight for.
Edgington, Susan. The first crusade: the capture of Jerusalem in AD 1099. The library of the Middle Ages .London: The Rosen Publishing Group, 2004
Runciman, Steven. A History of the Crusades: The First Crusade and the foundation of the Kingdom of Jerusalem. Volume 1 of A History of the Crusade. New York: CUP Archive, 1951
Runciman, Steven. The First Crusade. New York: Cambridge University Press, 2005