Why did Urban II call for a crusade in 1095?
In order to establish reasons for Urban’s call for a crusade in 1095, we need to look at many accounts of the time, and find out what was happening in the rest of the Christian world which influenced both what and when he said what he did to launch the first crusade. At the time, religion played a major role in almost everyone’s daily lives, and the belief system of the afterlife was extremely strong. It was true that every Christian had a very vivid sense of sin, and believed that if one committed an act of sin, their afterlife would be spent in hell. They all thought of this afterlife as a reality rather than an idea. It was this belief which would help Pope Urban II recruit more men. The aristocracy of the period also led a very violent lifestyle: this crusade or ‘Holy War’ justified the use of violence as a means of abolishing the threat from Islam on the Christian World. Thirdly, the papacy was very keen on consolidating its political influence in Italy, France and Germany. The papacy wanted to keep the Christian parts of the world as large as possible and they also wanted to make sure that these areas would be completely Christian. Urban wished to expand the Church’s sphere of influence to those previously Christian parts of Europe and Northern Africa which had been overrun by the Islamic world..
In March of 1095, the Byzantine emperor Alexius I Comnenus appealed to the papacy for military aid to help against increasingly hostile neighbours. In 1095 the Seljuk Turks had come within one hundred miles of Byzantium or Constantinople, and they were thought to be threatening Eastern Christians. It was at this point that Alexius summoned the pope’s help to rid the area of the ‘pagans’. It was Alexius’ call for help which provided Urban with a stable reason for launching the crusade.
Urban’s public call to launch the crusade was made when he addressed the council at Clermont. However this was not a...
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