Wednesday, June 15, 2022

The First Crusade Announced

Christianity in the Middle Ages did not approve of Islam and its swift growth. It was not many years after the death of Muhammad in 632 CE that the Islamic occupation of Jerusalem was established in 638. Even though Jews and Christians were allowed in the city, and a treaty was signed between the caliph and the Patriarch of Jerusalem guaranteeing protection of Christian holy places, Western Europe and the papacy saw Jerusalem as a problem to solve.

Pope Urban II decided it was important to restore Jerusalem to Christian rule, and to that end he announced there would be a special gathering at Clermont in France in 1095. Clermont was the site of a couple religious councils. He was holding one on 18 November, 1095. Urban had received a request for aid from Byzantine emperor Alexius I Comnenus against the Muslim Turks

On 27 November he spoke from a wooden platform to a crowd of thousands of the faithful that had gathered. On each of four sides of the platform were men with leather conical "megaphones" who repeated his words so that they could reach as far as possible to the crowds. (I have read this in the past, but cannot now find a reference for it, so take it as literary license for now.)

In short, he called all Christians to join in a war against the Muslims to free the Holy Land. This would also be an important pilgrimage for any involved, and would include a plenary indulgence (a remission of all penance for sins) to those who partook. When Urban finished his announcement, he concluded Deus vult! (Latin for "God wills it.") The crowd erupted, repeating his Deus vult.

The result of all this? We'll see tomorrow whether they succeeded.

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