Christians are embarrassed over the Crusades. They seem very odd, almost comical to us. Oh sure, no one takes responsibility for them now, “It wasn’t my church, man.”
The Crusades kicked off in about 1080 and the crusader period ran several hundred years. The initial concern was for heathens taking over Jerusalem.
Eventually the crusades developed a feel of their own. When crusades failed the blame was shared among the soldiers as well as the “believers” back home. Someone had dropped the ball and God was mad.
Crusades became expensive and took men from their families for long periods of time, sometimes even forever. It became harder to convince guys to do it. The church began taxing its members to pay for war.
To convince guys to go, crusades were chalked up as a way to get saved. Some popes went on preaching circuits for recruits. Popes like Urban II, Innocent III along with other Catholic officials made the rounds, preaching “the cross,” which was code word for crusading.
These guys would work the crowds up with emotional appeals and how much Jesus needed them to restore Him to His Land. Your sins will be forgiven if you join us. Here is a description of one of these services.
“So as a preacher bellowed out his passionate appeal a choir would strike up and would presumably continue singing as men came forward to commit themselves publicly.”
Hmm, makes a guy wonder. All we leave out today is the war.
(Info and quote taken from The Crusades, Christianity, and Islam by Jonathan Riley-Smith.)