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Western Civilization 10, Lesson 115, Essay 1 – Misconceptions About the Crusades

The Crusades was “a series of religious wars initiated, supported, and sometimes directed by the Latin Church in the medieval period.”[i]  It was a war between the Christian and Muslim worlds to obtain the Holy Land (aka. Jerusalem).  The wars lasted between the years 1095 and 1291.  Everyone, even those who have not studied history, have heard of the Crusades.  However, despite many people hearing about the Crusades, there are many misconceptions about it and what happened.

One of the misconceptions was that the Christians attacked for no reason.  This is an incorrect idea.  The Christians decided to fight back when the Byzantine emperor asked for help when the Muslims started threatening Constantinople after they had already taken over two-thirds of the Christian world (Asia minor, Middle Easy, North Africa, and most of Spain).

Another common misconception was that the crusaders were fixated on wealth and the only reason they joined the fight was to gain wealth.  Many crusaders that supported the many wars ended up bankrupt by the time they came back home.  Majority of the men who chose to join the fight wanted to fight for their religion, not their greed.

Muslims were also never forced into Christianity, unlike what many people would assume.  This never happened, though it I can understand why people would think that.  Whenever the crusaders captured a Muslim city, the Muslims always outnumbered the Christians.  Trying to force them to join a different religion would have been a suicide mission.

The Children’s Crusade, despite its incredibly misleading name, was not a crusade made of children.  It was an uprising that happened in 1212.  A young man named Nicholas started a mass movement against the crusades.  People joined his parade, but eventually dispersed when they reached the sea and Nicholas realized it would not part for him like it did for Moses.

The final, and very interesting misconception, is the “Second Son Theory.”  During the time of the crusades, it was very common for the first son of a lord to get all of the land and wealth.  For some time, historians speculated that majority of the crusaders were “second sons” who wanted a chance to get land and wealth that their elder brothers had got from their father.  Going back to the second misconception, crusaders were made up of first and second sons, and all of them pawned their wealth away for the cause.

As you can see, the Crusades are commonly known by name, but not many realize that a lot of the assumptions we make about them are incorrect.  The men who joined and supported the Crusades had the idea of fighting for God.  Not all of them were greedy lords who wanted land and money.  However, there is no doubt in my mind that there had to have been a few of those characters.

Thanks for reading!

[i] Wikipedia contributors. “Crusades.” Wikipedia, The Free Encyclopedia. Wikipedia, The Free Encyclopedia, 20 Sep. 2022. Web. 27 Sep. 2022.


Author: sophiaelahirpc

10th Grade student in the Ron Paul Curriculum. Full-time teen writer living in Singapore.

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