Church Reforms and the Crusades

Describe reforms in the Church, Gothic architecture, and the causes and effects of the Crusades.

Gothic Architecture

By: ely

Beginning around 1150, the styles changed and formed what historians later termed the Gothic period. This change is characterized by a synthesis of religion, philosophy, and art. Most representative of the Gothic city are the soaring cathedrals.

The meaning of the word cathedral is "bishop's throne." The Gothic cathedral consisted of flying buttresses, stone beams extending from the walls. These beams took the weight of the building off the walls. Therefore, the walls could be thinner, allowing space for stained-glass windows. Most characteristic of these cathedrals were the narrow pointed stone arches extending from tall pillars. These arches allowed the architects to build higher ceilings than the rounded arches of the Romanesque period, thus producing more open interiors.

The development of these exterior buttresses also created large open spaces in the interior. These new dimensions deleted anything human and petty in the minds of the people who entered the cathedrals. They brought the minds of the people from earthly concerns and raised them towards the sky to heavenly matters. The people regarded the cathedrals as the real images of the city of God; the Heavenly Jerusalem represented on Earth. Revelations XXI describes the Heavenly Jerusalem as having gates of pearls, priceless jewels, streets of pure gold and transparent glass (Gombrich, 134). The magnificence of the cathedrals in combination with the intricate stained glass symbolized this Heavenly Jerusalem. For the people of the thirteenth century, these cathedrals acted as symbols of their faith.

Architecture was made to appear light and weightless, as opposed to the dark and bulky forms of the previous Romanesque style. Saint Augustine of Hippo taught that light was an expression of God. Architectural techniques were adapted and developed to build churches that reflected this teaching. Colorful glass windows enhanced the spirit of lightness. As color was much rarer at medieval times than today, it can be assumed that these virtuoso works of art had an awe-inspiring impact on the common man from the street.

Cathedrals were the main source of work for northern sculptors in this period. The sculptures recaptured the Roman style of showing the form of the body underneath the drapes and capturing facial expressions. The artists were no longer interested simply in what they represented, but in how they represented it. They wished to tell these religious stories in a manner that was both more convincing and that bore more emotional impact.

This more natural form is evident in the sculptures of the Saints on Notre Dame's West Transept Portal. The gestures have more variances, and the faces have more expression. These sculptures possess more relaxed poses, and the form of the body is evident underneath the drapes. These sculptures give natural human qualities to the Saints — qualities that the artists had previously portrayed in pattern form.

In the thirteenth century the most frequent tasks of the northern painters were illuminated manuscripts. Yet, the artists of this century chose to show the feelings of the figures. They focused more on the expression of the intense feelings of the characters than on the placement of traditional sacred symbols. The distribution of the figures on the page was more important than life-like figures or the representation of real scenes.…/Crusades/topics/art/art-article.html

Causes and Effects of the Crusades

Towards 1071 AD, Seldjuk Turks had grown powerful and had started conquering the East. Christians began to find it difficult to reach the holy places during their pilgrimages. The military expeditions planned and fought by western European Christians that began around 1095 AD, are known today as the Holy Wars, or the Crusades. The purpose of these expeditions was to overtake and gain control of the holy land of Jerusalem, from the Muslims. Deus Vult, meaning God Wills It, was the battle cry of the thousands of Christians who took part in the event of the Crusades. It was Christian belief that fate was to gain control of the Holy Land for the glory of God.


BY:Luis Restituyo

The reason and cause of the Crusades was always because of a constant war between the Christians and the Muslims which was centered around the city of Jerusalem and the Holy places of Palestine. Jerusalem was always a very important location for the Christians due to the fact that the Holy Sepulchre in Jerusalem honored the hill of crucifixion and the tomb of Christ's burial. In 1065 Jerusalem was taken by the Turks, who came from the kingdom of ancient Persia. Many Christians were massacred and the remaining Christians were treated so badly that throughout Christendom people were stirred to fight in crusades.

Cause of the Crusades - 3000 Christian Pilgrims massacred in Jerusalem

Among the early Christians it was thought a pious and meritorious act to undertake a journey to some sacred place. Especially was it thought that a pilgrimage to the land that had been trod by the feet of the Saviour of the world, to the Holy City that had witnessed his martyrdom, was a peculiarly pious undertaking, and one which secured for the pilgrim the special favor and blessing of Heaven. The Saracen caliphs, for the four centuries and more that they held possession of Palestine, pursued usually an enlightened policy towards the pilgrims, even encouraging pilgrimages as a source of revenue. But in the eleventh century the Seljukian Turks, a prominent Tartar tribe and zealous followers of Islam, wrested from the caliphs almost all their Asiatic possessions. The Christians were not long in realizing that power had fallen into new hands. 3000 Christian Pilgrims were insulted and persecuted in every way. The churches in Jerusalem were destroyed or turned into stables.

Cause of the Crusades - Religious Conviction
This was the conviction that changed the pilgrim into a warrior, this was the conception that for two centuries and more stirred the Christian world to its deep depths, and cast the population of Europe in wave after wave upon Asia.

Cause of the Crusades - The Instinct to Fight
This was the restless, adventurous spirit of the Teutonic peoples of Europe, who had not as yet outgrown their barbarian instincts.

Cause of the Crusades - The Preaching of Peter the Hermit
According to, the immediate cause of the First Crusade was the preaching of Peter the Hermit, a native of Picardy, in France. He was sent by Pope Urban II to preach a crusade, the Hermit traversed all Italy and France, addressing everywhere, in the church and in the street, he moved all hearts with sympathy or firing them with indignation.

Cause of the Crusades - The Threat of the Turks

While Peter the Hermit had been arousing the warriors of the West, the Turks had been making constant advances in the East, and were now threatening Constantinople itself. The Greek emperor (Alexius Comnenus) sent urgent letters to the Pope, asking for aid against the infidels, representing that, unless assistance was extended immediately, the capital with all its holy relics must soon fall into the hands of the barbarians.

Erialbania Lopez

Goals of the Crusades

The crusades had economic, social, and political goals and they also had religious motives. The Muslims controlled Palestine or The Holy Land and threatened Constantinople, so the Byzantine emperor of Constantinople asked the Christians to stop the Muslim attacks. The pope also wanted to reclaim Palestine to reunite Christendom, which had separated into Eastern and Western branches in 1054.

These are some benefits of the Crusades:
 It was an opportunity for kings to get rid of then angry knights who fought each other.
 Because younger sons didn’t inherit their father’s property, unlike elder sons they participated in the crusades: to look for lands and a position in society or just for the adventure.
 Merchants profited by making cash loans to finance the journey, they also leased their ships to transport armies across the Mediterranean Sea.

This is how a crusade knight would look like.


Church Reform

By: Claudia

During the 900s church leaders realized that reforms had to be done in the church. Some problems had been surrounding this institution, priests were marrying, some bishops and popes didn’t have appropriate behaviors; for example they sold church positions and gave more importance to their properties and riches than to their church duties.

The reforms were begun by a monastery at Cluny, France. Other church leaders got inspired by these reforms and began to apply them at their own monasteries. Popes such as Leo IX reorganized the church and imposed laws that banned the selling of church positions and priest marriage among other things that at the end regulated the behavior and actions of the clergy. These reforms served for a religious revival, or Age of Faith. Some of the reforms made were:

  • The creation of the Papal curia that advised the pope, created the canon law, and acted as court.
  • Collection of taxes to perform social works.
  • Creation of the College of Cardinals which elected the Pope- political leaders didn’t elect church leaders anymore.
  • New churches were built.
  • Orders of Friars are established. Friars move from place to place spreading church teachings.
Medieval Cathedral- Chartres Cathedral

The Nobility's Reform of the Medieval Church

The first ‘‘reformation’’ began in the mid-eleventh century. A small group of clergymen, whose ranks included the future Pope Gregory VII (1073-85), decided that reform of the church required not only interior changes in individuals, a shifting of hearts toward God, but also external changes in corporate structure, a return to the early church, or at least to selected Constantinian and Carolingian practices. They sought to recover ecclesiastical property, to restore religious discipline, and to establish a purified priesthood free from the buying and selling of church offices (simony) and clerical marriage (nicolaitism), a goal that ultimately led to attacks on lay investiture and lay involvement in episcopal elections. These reformers never completely achieved a renewed, liberated church in a just society. Nevrtheless, their calls for right order in the world had momentous consequences: papal power and prestige were vastly increased, kingship in the style of the Old Testament received a severe blow, cathedral chapters began to choose their own bishops, simony and nicolaitism became far less acceptable, the Benedictine ascetical monopoly was broken, and revived legal and theological debate brought rational enquiry and dispute back to the center of Western thought.

By: Steven Alvarez

Legacy of the Crusades

The Crusades had a great influence on the European Middle Ages. Sometimes, much of the continent was united under a powerful Papacy (ruling by the Pope), but by the 14th century, the development of centralized bureaucracies (the foundation of the modern nation-state) was in development in France, England, Spain, Burgundy, and Portugal, and partly because of the dominance of the church at the beginning of the crusading era.

Although Europe had been exposed to Islamic culture for hundreds of years through contacts in Iberian Peninsula and Sicily, much knowledge in areas such as science, medicine, and architecture was transferred from the Islamic to the western world during the crusade era.

The military experiences of the crusades also had a limited degree of influence on European castle design; for example, Caernarfon Castle, in Wales, begun in 1283, directly reflects the style of fortresses Edward I had observed while fighting in the Crusades.

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