Crusades, Holy Wars


The First Crusade was a penitential Holy War to aid the Byzantine Empire and to liberate Jerusalem from the perceived threat of Muslim occupation. The Second Crusade was also a penitential war, but this time it was to support the territory reclaimed by the First Crusade. Many scholars believe that these were the only relevant goals of these crusades. My focus in this paper is to contextualize the many possible goals for the early crusades, and to understand the necessary and complex rationalization of ecclesiastical leadership. This research is intended to contribute to the development of a more nuanced understanding of the crusades, which in turn may support more productive ways to understand the continuing conflict between Western Civilization and Islam.