Were the original Crusades mercenary as well? - Politics Forum.org | PoFo

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End of Roman society, feudalism, rise of religious power, beginnings of the nation-state, renaissance (476 - 1492 CE).
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Crusades: meaning, an international military land-grab that's premised on the idea of "taking back" a holy land

It's hard to imagine that the business community dreamed up the 11th Century Crusade. For one thing, commerce didn't occupy nearly as much social space in that period as it does today. It was insignificant compared to farming or monarchy or the church as a social force. Likewise, international financiers didn't exist yet. Banking was local.

But those first Crusades - where Christians went to "get their land back" from infidels... Were they also about land deals and turning a profit, import/export and new colonies? Perhaps it was for the private interest of the Roman Catholic Church - the original multinational corporation?

Or were they about distracting an oversized military class that was always creating mischief both at home and abroad?

What are some other parallels/differences between Medieval Crusades (11th - 16th Centuries) and Modern Crusades (1948 - present)?
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By Cookie Monster
(11th - 16th Centuries) and Modern Crusades (1948 - present)?

And according to you, what happened between the 17th century and 1947?
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By QatzelOk
And according to you, what happened between the 17th century and 1947?

Colonialism. Same great xenophobia, but without all that religious indigestion and blasphemous aftertaste.
By pugsville
The crusades were thought up by the pope in order to support the eastern roman "byzantine" empire after the battle of Manzikert which the eastern empire had lost badly and led to the over running of anatolia, (most of modern turkey except for the coasts). The loss of the field army left a real shortage of troops. The Popes plan was to organize a western force to help out the eastern empire, and help bring about closer ties in christaldom (particularly the churches). The stuff about the holy places was mentioned but more as motivational rather than realistic goal. The breakdown of law and order had been going on in the levant after the infux of turks and the destbilization and fragmentation of authority.

While there were many who had religionious motivation (and here you must understand in this period the feudal nobles warfare was their only function, and sincere religionous belief it was still with intent to smite they were going) as big (and most likely bigger especially amongst the Norman who were restless and always out for what they could get much likes the turks in the levant) was the prospect of founding some sort of states that were looking less availialble in europe (land = wealth, sucess, status), the Normans were like a plague across europe estblishing their own states where ever the locals were weak.

The pope had no idea of the forces unleashed that swept away his tidy plans. There was a pretty doomed "peoples" crusade. Disturbances and particularly massacres of Jews followed the mustering of the more rowdy elements.It escaped the popes control from the start and the papal "legate" had little control over the crusaders as events unfolded.

The Byzantines were horrified when this motley crew showed up on their borders (as tales of their misdeeds had preceded them) there were plenty of misunderstandings and mutual dislike, several violent incidents , pillaging, massacres as the crusaders trekked across the empire. The Empire trying to minimize the damage, manage the problem and try and use it to consolidate the empire rather than grand schemes many crusaders were thinking of.

The crusaders were sucessful was in part to the disunity , fragmentation of the various Arabo-Turkic ( and the others like Armenians) regiemes and their inability to work together. Most of the great crusader victories were accompanied by extreme brutal massacares mainly moslems and jews.

I would not catagorizse the motivation of the Crusaders as mercenary, it was a mixture of Conquistador and Relgionous. Mercenary if fighting for money, the crusaders were often out to establish states of their own.
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By QatzelOk

What does this word mean? Isn't it about easy gold and raping exotic women?
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By GandalfTheGrey
I think the first crusade started off as ideological/religious, but almost certainly the crusades that followed were mercenary. One only has to look at the 4th crusade - where the crusaders en-route to Jerusalem, stopped at Constantinople and discovered the loot there was good enough - and proceeded to sack the city.
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By QatzelOk
I think the first crusade started off as ideological/religious

Did it "start off" as these things, or was it simply branded as these things in order to sell it to the people who would die in it?
By pugsville
The Pope (Urban dont recall the number) wanted to aid the eastern roman empire, he definitely stressed the Islamic occupation of Holy places. The Eastern Roman Empire was not well regarded (and with increased contact it was really disliked) and his appeal was based on religion. At least half of the leading nobles had pretty material motivation right off the bat. The Normans were involved, pretty much vikings on horses, but more greedy always keen to impose themselves in anyone looking weak. Some of the leaders had strong religionous motivation but not most. There was a massive popular support for the idea, notably the ill fated "peoples crusade" (basically a rabble who after much hardship, a few massarces along the way got wiped by the first turks they bumped into. The Fourth crusade sacking constaninople (and setting the "Latin Empire" and various crusader states in Greece) was hardly a accident , most crusaders who passing through seeing the vast wealth of the eastern empire and it's apparent weakness were considering it right from the moment the first crusader saw the place. Add a civil conflict in the eastern empire and a scheming Doge of Venice and slash, burn pillage. Almost all the crusades featured some pogroms against Jews in europe before they got underway.
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By GandalfTheGrey
Did it "start off" as these things, or was it simply branded as these things in order to sell it to the people who would die in it?

I guess you are right in the sense that it was always a geo-strategic exercise - curbing the muslim expansion and re-conquering Christendom's "heartland". Like most military adventures in that time it was branded in ideological/religious terms. I guess what I would point out is that there was very little distinction between what we would term as "mercenary" and ideological motives. Early Christians happily raped and pillaged heathen communities because they genuinely believed God wanted them to. Or rather what I should say - it was easy for them to convince themselves that God wanted them to.
By Varilion
1st crusade: They were skilled soldiers, veterans unemployed and Nobles seeking for more land. (Pope don't said to conquest Jerusalem, but only to fight for chistianity...so defend Byzantine Empire). The kingdom of Jerusalem was flew more than the 3rd "norman" kingdom, after England and Sicily...

2nd crusade: Crusaders moved to help Jerusalem Kingdom, some for faith, others for fortune. I think that this is the LAST "genuine" crusade.

3rd crusade: Now we have nations (HRE, France, England) that move their army to defend an alleied kingdom that has been invaded.

4th crusade: Some nobles got bored. So they decided to do a new crusade. They made huge debts to fund an army and then moved to east seeking glory and money to repay their debts. They found both in Byzantium.

God doesn't fund wars, Gold does it!
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