Ideology and Motivations in the First Crusade

Ideology and Motivations in the First Crusade

By Jean Flori

Palgrave Advances in the Crusades, ed. Helen J. Nicholson (Basingstoke: Palgrave Macmillan, 2005)

Introduction: The ideology of crusade did not suddenly appear with Pope Urban II’s appeal at Clermont in November 1095. Scholars now acknowledge that it resulted from a slow evolution that, in the course of one millennium, led the church from its original pacifism preached by Jesus of Nazareth to the concept of holy war that blossomed before the end of the eleventh century. Pope Urban II, however, added to this ideology a new sacral dimension which derived from the distinctive objectives of the crusade, the liberation of Jerusalem and the holy places. The new dimension explains its immense success. It transformed the former ‘ordinary’ holy war into a ‘most holy’ war, the crusade, whose ideology would dominate the western mind for several centuries, reactivate the jihad in the Muslim Near East and, in its turn, arouse other ideologies against it, which would lead on the one hand to the Protestant Reformation and on the other to the birth of secular thought.

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