By Ellie Kane
Penn History Review, Vol.15:1 (2007)
Introduction: When Jerusalem fell in the Battle of Hattin in 1187, a drastic shift occurred in Crusading mentality that had repercussions throughout Europe. Since the call of the First Crusade in 1095 by Pope Urban II, the fundamental motivator and goal of the movement was Jerusalem. Across Western Europe, mobilization occurred in kings and peasants alike. Enthusiasm swept through the classes, leading to massive, disorganized marches to the Holy Land with the purpose of liberating it from the Infidels.
Crusading ostensibly allowed men from all walks of life a chance to absolve their sins. In practicality, it was a way to amass fortune and reputation in the East. Its motivation straddled the love of God and the love of worldly pursuits found in the East. The drive of the men, and at times women, involved was astonishing when one takes into account the hardships they faced along the way: starvation, thirst and formidable enemies.
In 1099, Jerusalem fell to the Crusaders – it was moment of ultimate triumph. The former citizens of the city were slaughtered and the Crusaders believed they had achieved what God asked of them. The Second Crusade, called in 1145 in response to the fall of Edessa, shared much of the same enthusiasm as the first one did, building from the memory of that success.