Integrated Wisdom

Historical Tidbit — The Fourth Crusade

For the Crusaders to get to the Holy Land,Venice first had to be paid.

We all know a little something about the crusades, the fight for the Holy Land that ran on and off for over 200 years. The debate rages on today as to who was responsible for that mess, the Muslims or the Christians. The truth is there were lots of issues on both sides that made these conflicts inevitable, little of which had to do with religious ideals. So, the quick answer is… everyone. The crusades advanced the specific ulterior motives for all who participated:

  • Pope Urban II wanted to centralize authority over a fractious Catholic Church. The crusades offered a perfect opportunity to unite all Christians under the papacy and the Vatican.
  • The Franks, meaning the Europeans, practiced primogeniture, whereby all inheritance of royalty passed to the first-born son. Younger siblings were left with little, and so the Middle East was a great opportunity for them, and lesser knights, to grab some plunder, prestige, glory, and a little kingdom of their own.
  • All participants, from the knights down to the peasants, were granted forgiveness of their sins if they fought and died in a crusade, easing their way into heaven.
  • The Byzantine Emperor Alexius I was having trouble with the Seljuk Turks (Muslims) who had expansionist ideas and wanted the wealth of Byzantium. The Crusaders fighting in the Middle East took the pressure off the Emperor.
  • The crusades gave birth to the various orders of warrior monks, such as the Templars, Hospitallers, and the Teutonic Knights. While they didn’t get the conflict started, it was in their interests to keep it going.

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