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History A2 Crusades - Economic Factors

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Submitted By Neelum123
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This extract illustrates a clear example of economic and cultural motives from the first crusade, as the knights “motives were in part genuinely religious,” which then brings in the concept of holy war. In Pope Urban II’s speech in Clermont he had given a cultural motive of “whoever goes to liberate the church of God can substitute this journey for all penance,” this simply states, in return for fighting God’s enemies on earth, a person would receive a spiritual reward, which again supports the cultural motive from this extract. The economic benefits may include “possession of the land they re-conquered.” The historian also explores the contrast between the Byzantine Empire whom respect the Arabs due to similar cultures and way of life, to the ‘Turkish barbarians.’ Another brief point that is mentioned is the threat Muslims had on the Western Christians, as they “could not share the Byzantine’s tolerance and sense of security.”

The main argument in this extract is that the motives for the first crusade were for economic and cultural motives. The historian briefly discusses “land-hunger.” The inducement of land and profit being held out in the account of Pope Urban’s speech and this broad principle must have motivated some crusaders. There were also economic motives from families, where the inheritance would go to the elder sons, which meant “younger sons had to seek their fortune elsewhere,” this is supported by historian Bryd who also believed this. However historians Riley Smith and Giles had researched on economic data and found that this was incorrect. Riley Smith used primary evidence, through an extensive study of monastic charters, he highlighted the sacrifices made by crusading families and “crusading was not profitable. It did not relieve a family of costs but added to them,” and heads of families took part in the crusade (due to this, one could argue the extract is outdated.) On the other hand, the knights had been involved for cultural motives, “they wanted to fight for the cross,” as a holy war. This is where we can see the gradual development of holy war.

From this extract one can infer that the historian has looked at a broad number of sources. One can suppose he has been to see church archives, as there are papal documents by Alexander, also whilst he briefly comments on “Pope Urban II… anxious support,” this is likely to have been a letter source. The extract is evidently justified by facts yet often the historian’s implications seem primitive. When discussing the holy war in response to the knights, the historian does not take the opportunity to confer primary reasons; hence no real primary sources are used in this extract. Nevertheless, the methods the historian uses is non-judgmental and as Madden argues, “they were medieval, not modern people,” it is significant not to judge, based on modern day perception.

The historian uses a top down approach, whilst focusing on the elite. Historian Bryd states the individuals choice played little role in the pragmatic success of the crusades. “A military expedition was essential…” they were driving the crusades and paid for everything. In this extract, the historian argues, “Papacy was taking over the direction of holy war,” therefore supporting Bryds view on the elite crusade.

To conclude, the extract gives a brief detailed explanation of the two different motives (economic and cultural,) as well as an introduction into the first crusade (when mentioning the Byzantine Empire alongside the Arabs.) From the extract one can perceive that there was a more economic motive towards the first crusade, although Pope Urban’s speech did give a cultural motive to some, as they were looking at the title that they would be given (mainly knights.) Ultimately, this extract gives an overview on the intentions of the first crusades and the historical context of holy war.

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