In The middle of the Eleventh Century The tranquillity of the
eastern Mediterranean seemed assured for many years to come, but
little did the people know what was ahead . This, thus embark us on a
journey back into the First Crusade. In this paper I will be
discussing the events that lead up to the first in a long line of
crusades. I will also be mentioning the lives of some of the
crusaders through letters that they wrote. The crusades were a time
of confusion for most people, yet today we look back at them as a
turning point.

The Crusades were Christian military expeditions undertaken
between the 11th and the 14th century to recapture the Holy Land from
the Muslims. The word crusade, which is derived from the Latin crux
("cross") , is a reference to the biblical injunction that Christians
carry their cross . Crusaders wore a red cloth cross sewn on their
tunics to indicate that they had assumed the cross and were soldiers
of Christ.

The causes of the Crusades were many and complex, but
prevailing religious beliefs were clearly of major importance. The

Crusaders continued an older tradition of the pilgrimage to the Holy

Land, which was often imposed as a penance . Now, however, they
assumed a two roles as pilgrims and warriors. Such an armed pilgrimage
was regarded as a justifiable war, because it was fought to recapture
the places sacred to that of the Christians.

Jerusalem had been under Muslim rule since the 7th century,
but pilgrimages were not cut off until the 11th century, when the

Seljuk Turks began to interfere with Christian pilgrims. For

Christians, the very name of Jerusalem evoked visions of the end of
time and of the heavenly city. To help rescue the Holy Land fulfilled
the ideal of the Christian knight. Papal encouragement, the hope of
eternal merit, and the offer of indulgences motivated thousands to
enroll in the cause.

Political considerations were also important. The Crusades
were a response to appeals for help from the Byzantine Empire,
threatened by the advance of the Seljuk Turks. The year 1071 had seen
both the captures of Jerusalem and the decisive defeat of the

Byzantine army at Miniskirt, creating fear of further Turkish
victories . In addition, the hopes of the Papacy for the renunciation
of East and West, the nobility's hunger for land at a time of crop
failures, population pressure in the West, and an alternative to
warfare at home were major impulses.

The Crusades were equally a result of economic circumstances.

Many participants were lured by the fabulous riches of the East; a
campaign abroad appealed as a mean of escaping from the pressures of
feudal society, in which the younger sons in a family often lacked
economic opportunities . On a larger scale, the major European powers
and the rising Italian cities (Genoa, Pisa, and Venice) saw the

Crusades as a mean of establishing and extending trade routes.

Late in the year of 1095 Pope Urban announced on Tuesday,

November 27 that he would hold a public session to make a great
announcement. This was the beginning of what was to be the First

Crusade . After having painted a real grim or somber picture the Pope
made his appeal. He thought that western Christendom should march to
the rescue of the East. Rich and poor alike should go and they should
leave off slaying each other and instead fight a great war. Supposedly
they thought it was God will and that God would lead them and Take
care of them. During his speech Cries of "Dues le wolt! -- "God
wills it!" - Interrupted his speech. Just after the Pope ended his
speech the bishop of Le Puy fell to his knees and asked permission to
join the "Holy Expedition." Hundreds crowded up to later follow his

Each man involved with the expedition was to wear a cross in
symbolization of his dedication. Anyone who took this cross vowed to
go to Jerusalem . Everyone was to be ready to leave his home by

August 15 the Feast of Assumption. The armies were to meet in

Constantinople. When they were all together pope Urban wanted to make
it clear that the crusade was under the control of the church, so he
appointed Bishop Le Puy as the leader.

When Urban returned to Rome for Christmas of 1096 he could
feel assured that the Crusade was truly launched. He in fact launched
a movement greater than he would ever know.

By October 1096, The Byzantine emperor Alexious I had not
anticipated a force as large as that which the Crusaders brought.