Crusades and the Church Essay

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Crusades and the Church At the time of the Crusades, the official church had become corrupt and politically motivated. It should be noted, too, that crusaders did not take vows to "go on crusade." The very term crusade, in English or in any other language, is a much later invention. What we call "crusades," contemporaries knew as "pilgrimages" or even simply "journeys." Aside from a tiny elite, people were illiterate and even if they could read, there was no access to a Bible or any scriptural teaching. It was an age of superstition and magic, where visions, signs and wonders were claimed by many. The masses' only source of knowledge about God was whatever the often corrupt and greedy clergy decided to teach. The early crusades…show more content…
Regardless of motivation, an individual underwent a specific ceremony before he could be considered a "crusader." The ceremony evolved somewhat over the centuries, but its general outlines remained the same. A would-be crusader sought out an ecclesiastical authority (a priest, bishop or higher cleric) and swore to carry out an armed "pilgrimage" in support of the Holy Places. He then usually received a cloth cross which he could place on his clothes to signify his new status. Crusading vows were usually taken in response to official preaching of a crusade by licensed churchmen. They were supposed to be taken only by fighting men or those who could otherwise contribute to a military effort, and they were not to be taken without the permission of the crusader's wife, since his long absence would deprive her of what was delicately called "marital rights" (Pope Innocent III, in need of troops for his crusading proposals, changed this in the thirteenth century, but in doing so he violated longstanding Church tradition and the plain intentions of canon law). The crusader's property and people were then placed under the protection of the Church, and he was to begin preparing to leave. If he did not discharge his vow within a certain period of time, he might be excommunicated by the church until he kept his word. Crusaders were often offered an indulgence in return for participation in the hardships of a crusade. The indulgence was later seriously abused, and

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