Different times in history, in accordance to prevailing conditions, can be inferred as inspiring different forms of revolution that have served to promote or derail progress and/or development in various aspects of human activity. This highlights the circumstances in which Catholicism’s rose into prominence during the 11th and 12th century where the Church, through the persuasive speech of Pope Urban II at Clermont, urged Christians to take up arms and reclaim the city of Jerusalem. With many number of people taking up the cause, the question remains, why Christians in the West would be moved to embark on a dangerous journey to fight in the Holy Land after hearing Pope Urban’s speech at Clermont. The overriding reason as reported in a firsthand account of the speech by Robert the Monk, seems to be the promise of ‘remission of your sins, with the assurance of the imperishable glory of the kingdom of heaven’ (Munro 7-8). It is reported that the speech was so influential (as can be gathered by Urban II’s use of ethos and pathos), that all “who were present…cried out, ‘It is the will of God! It is the will of God!’” (Munro 7-8). For further support, he goes further to quote the gospel about the presence of God in a situation where two or three are gathered in His name while empowering them to go forth and fight for Christ who will surely ensure their glory.
Despite the promise of remission of sins and the guarantee of the Kingdom of Heaven can be inferred as sealing the deal in the recruitment of Christians to deal with the spread of Islam close to the gates of the Byzantine Empire and Jerusalem, other issues also contributed. Primarily, the persecution of Christians on pilgrimage to the Holy City of Jerusalem through Muslim attacks laid the foundation towards inspiration of all Christians by the Pope into raising arms against the enemies of the church by divine decree. Additionally, other atrocities like the rape of women, killing with swords as well as torture which the Pope colorfully narrated, also served to ignite the spark that would fuel a revolution towards halting a seemingly power-hungry and growing race of heathens. Further, the reference to the conquest of the Greeks which Robert the Monk indicates was dismembered ‘and deprived of territory so vast in extent that it cannot be traversed in a march of two months’ served to heighten the fear with which to regard the enemy before providing assurances of victory. In summary, it is evident that Christians in the West were moved to embark on a dangerous journey to fight in the Holy Land after hearing Pope Urban’s speech at Clermont by the promise of remission of sins and the Kingdom of Heaven founded on rising anger regarding negative treatment of Christians by the ever-growing, powerful Muslims.
- Munro, Dana C. “Urban and the Crusaders.” Translations and Reprints from the Original Sources of European History 1.2, (Philadelphia: University of Pennsylvania, 1895), 5-8.