Gr. 9 Pr.2 W.Civ
To What Extent Were the Crusades Justified?
The Crusades were Christian military expeditions to recapture the Holy Land
from the Muslims. The expeditions were to gain back Palestine or the Holy Land and Jerusalem
because it was the region where Jesus lived. The region was also important to the Muslims
because Jerusalem was the place where the Islamic prophet, Mohammed once lived. This
meant that the Holy Land was holy to both the Muslims and Christians. Kings, nobles,
thousands of knights, peasants, and townspeople all took part in the Crusades. The Christians’
primary goals were to gain permanent control of the Holy Land and to protect the Byzantine
Empire from the Muslims. The secondary goals of the Crusades were to increase their power,
territory, and riches. Although the Muslims and the Christians have different perspectives
about the Crusades, there is still more evidence that the Crusades were unjustified.
From the perspective of the Christians, their actions were justified for many
reasons. They started the Crusades because the Byzantine emperor, Alexius I asked Pope Urban
II to send help against the Muslim attacks. In the late 1095 at the town of Clermont in southern
France, Pope Urban II urged the knights, peasants, and churchmen to rise up, take the cross,
and join in a crusade to gain back the Holy Land from the Muslims. Pope Urban II in 1095
supported the cause for the Crusades very well. The Pope said that their relatives who were
living in the east were in a treacherous situation. They badly need help because of the Turks
who are attacking them, so every single knight must give them the support that was promised
(qtd. in Halsall). One of the reasons why the Crusades started was because the Crusaders
promised help to the East and their help would be there anytime needed. Another fact stated
by the Pope is, “They have killed and captured many and have destroyed the churches and
devastated the empire…On this account I, or rather the Lord, beseech you…to carry aid
promptly to those Christians and to destroy that vile race from the lands of our friends…,” (qtd.
in Halsall). This shows that the Christians thought that the Lord was on their side and that the
Lord would guide them to the destruction of the Muslims. They organized their knights for the
expedition. As a result, numerous people joined the Crusades because their life will end up in
heaven if they die on this holy war. The Pope also said, “All who die by the way, whether by
land or by sea, or in battle against the pagans, shall have immediate remission of sins. This I
grant them through the power of God with which I am invested” (qtd. in Halsall). The evidence
proves that Christians were certain that God will give them an eternal life and forgiveness of
their sins if the Crusaders died in the battle. From the Christian’s perspective, the Crusades
were justified without a doubt.
On the contrary, the Muslims consider the Crusades to be unjustified. Their
views about the Crusades are that the Crusaders were concerned about the rising of the
Muslim’s power. The Crusaders wanted to limit the Muslim power and along with gaining back
the holy land. Leila Juma also agrees with this idea by saying, “...the Crusades were concerned
as much with countering the rise of Muslim power as with ‘liberating’ any holy lands” (Juma).
The second reason that made the Muslim thinks the Crusades were unjustified is that the
Crusaders fought for their own personal desires. The knights who lived in Spain and Italy were
fighting the Muslims in Europe instead of fighting in the Holy Lands. This confirms that the
Crusaders were making war with them because the Pope wanted every pieces of land that the
Muslims owned and Pope Urban II told the knights that the land was just as holy as in
Jerusalem, even though it was not in the holy land. This, however, was not the original attempt
or goal of the Crusaders which was to recapture Jerusalem from the Muslims. Like the
Christians, Muslims also believed that the Lord was on their side and always leading them. They
believe that Allah will grant them the victory against the Christians. Those who did not believe
in their Lord, would be punished. Qur’an, the Muslim holy book supports this point by stating
that, “O you who believe ! if you help (the cause of) Allah, He will help you and make firm your
feet. And (as for) those who disbelieve, for them is destruction and He has made their deeds
ineffective” (“Translation of the”). These are the main reasons that make the Muslims think the
Crusades were unjustified.
From the two perspectives of the Muslims and the Christians, the Muslims have
more evidence to prove that the Christians were wrong and that the Crusades were unjustified.
This is because the Christians’ main purpose was to gain control of the holy land, Palestine.
They were only battling against the Muslims because of their faith in God and the needed
protection of the Byzantine Empire during the First Crusade. It was considered a very
triumphant Crusade because the Christians had some pieces of land and Jerusalem. The
evidence that changes the view of the Crusades completely was the later Crusades that were
judged as a failure and faithless. The later Crusades turned out to be a personal desire for war.
They were not as fortunate as the First Crusade at all. This was because the event in the Fourth
Crusade which the knights ended up fighting the Christians living in Constantinople themselves.
The cause of this was that they were tricked by the merchant living in Venice. This was because
Venice and Constantinople were trading opponents at that time; therefore, they tricked the
knights by shipping them to Constantinople instead of Jerusalem. The incident pointed out that
Christians were not fighting for their Lord anymore, but for the power and money that they will
receive from this warfare (Juma). Muslim view toward the Crusade was that Christians only
wanted to keep the Islamic power in good shapes so that they would not be capable of rising
over the Christian. From the religious view, the Crusades were not justified. The reason for this
is that the Muslims and Christian both believed in the same god as explained by the fact that,
“To Muslims, Allah is the same God that is worshiped in Christianity and Judaism...The Muslims
trace their ancestry to Abraham, as do the Jews and Christians” (Beck 268). This shows that
both the Muslims and Christians thought that God is on their side and they will fight for the
Lord. It is true that, “...Allah is the same God that is worshiped in Christianity...,” (Beck 268). So
why did the Christians and Muslims fight against each other for the same God? This is another
reason that the Crusades are unjustified in the Crusades.
In conclusion of two different perspectives, the Crusades were not justified for
many reasons. Although the Christians thought that the Crusades were justified because they
needed to protect the Byzantine Empire, but some of the actions such as fighting for the power
over Islamic Empire and killing innocent people living in the Muslim land were considered to be
unjustified. Another unjustifiable reason is when the Muslims destroyed the Christian Church
which meant that they did not believe in Allah because the Christians and Muslims worshiped
the same God. These factors are important to the modern world because there are many
conflicts between Christians and Muslims today. The quarrel between them might clash and
lead to another religious war like the Crusades. Therefore, people should focus more on the
reasons why the Crusades happened and this will naturally prevent the start of the next
Beck, Roger B., et al. Ancient World History: Patterns of Interaction. Evanston, IL:
McDougal Littell, 2005.
Halsall, Paul. “Urban II: Speech at Council of Clermont, 1095, according to Fulcher of Chartre”
Internet Medieval History Sourcebook. March 1996. Fordham University. 27 February.
Juma, Leila. “Muslim perspectives on the Crusades – Through Western Eyes.” Muslimedia.com
16 Sept. 1999. Crescent International Institute of Contemporary Islamic Thought. 19
“Translations of the Qur’an Chapter 47.” USC-MSA Compendium of Muslim Texts. University of
Southern California. 28 February 2007.