Q) ’The crisis of the Byzantine Empire was the main reason for the First Crusade’
Explain why you agree or disagree with this view.
The first Crusade was the first of the many Christian expeditions to the East in order to regain land
from the Muslims and create states of their own. The crusade began with the letter from the
Byzantine Emperor (Alexius Comnenus) in early 1095 and ended with the capture of Jerusalem from the
Muslims in 1098/9. Although, the initial reason why the crusade started was because of the calling of Pope
Urban II’s speech at Clermont (1095), but there were also other reasons which led to it as well which are
Most significantly, I feel that the crisis of the Byzantine Empire was one of the main reasons for the crusade
as without the plea of help from the Byzantine Emperor Alexius, the speech at Clermont would not have even
taken place and the first Crusade would have not begun if not for this call to arms. Furthermore, this is due to
the fact that the emperor’s letter highlighted the struggles the Byzantine Empire was facing in order to show
there vulnerability and lack of control, the disaster and after effects of the battle of Manzikert and how the
Muslims (Seljuk Turks) were overtaking Christian influence/power in the East. Overall, his letter was means
to indoctrinate the people at Claremont into believing in the renewal to restore faith that the Byzantine empire
along with the muslims were damaging.
Additionally, the Byzantines always requested help from the West because Pope Gregory VII would aid them
in any crises that the Byzantine Empire faced. Therefore, the crisis of the Byzantine Empire was a credible
reason for the first crusade as Pope Urban II followed in Pope Gregory VII’s footsteps and as a result could
not decline Alexus’ plea for help and so the first crusade began. Furthermore, the problem that Urban faced
was that within Western Europe, the pope was not the automatic leader of Christendom. For example, the
Emperor Henry IV claimed supremacy over the pope, and the Investiture Crisis had begun in 1073. In 1080
Gilbert of Ravenna was made Clement III,...