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“The Popes and the Crusaders” by Dana Munro Essay

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Updated: Aug 23rd, 2020

The purpose of this paper is to develop an in-depth analysis of the article by Dana Munro. Published in 1916, the article attempts to develop an understanding of the role that the catholic popes played during the crusades era. It refers to the work of the popes and crusaders during the middle ages, which lasted between 1095 and 1300s.

As more and more people took part in the crusades during the spread of the Christendom, the popes became the major force behind the movements. In fact, the author argues that the popes made major decisions regarding the activities, including allowing (or disallowing) individuals to participate. They used religion to threaten those who failed to take roles or those who took roles without their consent1. However, the exact reasons for the popes’ interest in the crusades are not well understood. According to the Munro, few scholars have successfully provided an adequate analysis of this topic. Therefore, the author’s thesis is “why did the papacy take a leading role in these crusades and what did it hope to achieve in general?”2

The author explains that a number of scholars have shown that the major interest of the popes in the crusades was to bring the Greek Church under their control. It is worth noting that the papacy operated from its headquarters in the Vatican, yet the majority of the church’s force was in Greece. There was evidence that the Romans were threatened by the idea of making Greece the headquarters of Christianity. Certainly, the popes hoped that the crusades and the work of the crusaders would bring the church under the Roman control. Accordingly, their major interest was political gains for the Roman church rather than spreading Christianity.

According to the author, a number of other scholars have argued that the Popes wanted to ensure that Europe was under Christian control. They feared that any attempt to leave the church less effective in the continent would result into a weak church and a weak empire3. The political interest of the popes was to ensure that the Roman Empire, as the Greek empire before it, was in control of the populous continent4. The popes believed that they would gain significant political and social power if the church controlled the entire region. They used evidences from the bible to convince people that Christianity was the only righteous way, which gave hope to the populations.

For instance, they used the evidence of Jesus and his disciples as well as the activities of other people like Paul to convince the population that the religion had the capacity to perform miracles. For instance, it had the power to return husbands and wives to their partners, bring wealth, and a good life. Therefore, many people accepted to convert to the new religion, which gave the church and the popes a lot of political power. Thus, religious enthusiasm emerged in Europe, with most people willingly joining the crusades.

With the presence of relatively weak monarchs in Western Europe and the increasing number of converts, it was evident that the popes were becoming politically and socially strong. They wanted to control these kingdoms through spiritual and political awakening, even in cases where no force was needed. In fact, the monarchs were forced to accept the new religion in their kingdoms because more and more people were willing to convert and the increasing power of the crusaders.

To increase the power of crusaders, the popes determined those who were going to pay (or not pay) debts. Obedient crusaders, especially their leaders, were given special attention by the popes. They were assured of power and credit for their good work. Therefore, many people were willing to join the movement. In fact, since most of the creditors were Jews, the debtors readily accepted the new religion in order to avoid paying their debts, considering that the Jews were against the new religion5.

In addition, the author argues that the popes wanted to gain wealth for the church. They wanted the church to control the financial systems in most European monarchs and states, thus giving them outright political and economic powers over the weak monarchs.

Moreover, the author argues that the spread of the Muhammad’s religion in Europe was a major threat to the Roman Church. The popes were aware that most societies in Western Europe were not religious, which exposed them to Islam. Therefore, it was necessary to use any force at their disposal to prevent the spread of Islam6.

In conclusion, Munroe has attempted to develop an in-depth but brief analysis of the popes’ interest during the crusades. Contrary to the common notion that the church was interested in spreading the Good News, this article argues that papacy wanted to gain political, social and material wealth for the church. They wanted to develop a unique empire that controlled most of the monarchs and states in Europe. In addition, they were afraid of the Islamic advance to Europe, which would have weakened the Romans.

This article is important in developing basic knowledge of the history of the church as well as the role of the church in Europe. It provides an adequate basis for additional research. In fact, the article leaves a number of questions answered, which is an important ground for further studies.

Bibliography

Asbridge, Thomas. The Crusades: The Authoritative History of the War for the Holy Land. New York: HarperCollins, 2011.

Munro, Dana. “The Popes and the Crusaders.” Proceedings of the American philosophical society, 55 no. 5, (1916): 348-356.

Footnotes

  1. Dana Munro, “The Popes and the Crusaders,” Proceedings of the American philosophical society, 55 no. 5, (1916): 348.
  2. Munro, 348.
  3. Thomas Asbridge, The Crusades: The Authoritative History of the War for the Holy Land (New York: HarperCollins, 2011), 234.
  4. Munro, 349.
  5. Munro, 351.
  6. Asbridge, 234.
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IvyPanda. 2020. ""The Popes and the Crusaders" by Dana Munro." August 23, 2020. https://ivypanda.com/essays/the-popes-and-the-crusaders-by-dana-munro/.

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IvyPanda. (2020) '"The Popes and the Crusaders" by Dana Munro'. 23 August.

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