A group of nomadic Muslims called Turks came together to unite a large portion of the Islamic world (Acrobatiq, 2014). This followed in a series of wars that broke out called the Crusades. These religious wars happened during the medieval time period that spanned out through several years. In 1030 CE a group of Seljuk Turks started to move west in search of new lands and began to settle in different parts. Romanus IV the Byzantine emperor gathered his troops in hope to stop the Turk invaders but was tremendously unsuccessful in his attempt. The Byzantine army was destroyed and their emperor Romanus was killed by the Seljuk Turks during this battle. Then the Turks moved further to invade Anatolia and then eventually made their way south into the rest of the Holy Land and Jerusalem (Acrobatiq, 2014), where the Turks started to prohibit the Christian people from traveling to religious sites.
Emperor Alexius I Comnenus was in fear for his emperor and sought out support from a rival Pope Urban II because he was afraid that he would be unable to stop further advancement of the Turks. Comnenus was hoping that the Pope would come to their aid by assembling an army to help keep his people and empire stay safe. Pope Urban II called a large council that included kings, bishops, and lords to seek advice on the matter at hand and a plea to help free the Holy Land from the invading Turk army. An army was assembled from this council to head to Jerusalem and so began the Holy War known as the crusade. The Pope even promised the men that whoever should die on this valent quest so go directly to heaven (Acrobatiq, 2014).
Peter the Hermit and Walter the Penniless were well-known preachers that supported the Popes claim and with them came their followers in Germany and France. The people were convinced that they were protected by a greater being and that the Messiah would appear in their time of need and free the Holy Land by destroying the Muslims. This holy belief in their religion inspired many people to join the cause, people that were untrained and unarmed into combat. Many of these commoners died of starvation or were killed by the Turks all in the name of religion. After this attempt, an actual well organized disciplined army was formed led by an actual commander to Constantinople where they defeated the Turks. This army then advanced on to Jerusalem killing Muslims, Jews, and even fellow Christians in the city. “The First Crusade resulted in the formation of four Latin Kingdoms: Edessa, Tripoli, Antioch, and Jerusalem” (Acrobatiq, 2014).
Many methods were used by the Roman Catholic Church in a variety of different ways to encourage the Crusades. A lot of nations in Europe were Christians based and it made it easier for the Pope to rally the people together. The Pope promised his people that whoever fought in this war would gain direct access to heaven and it led them to believe that all their sins would be forgiven. The Pope also had a strong influence not only in religious aspects but also political it was easier for him to convince other priest and bishops to support his cause. This made other religious leaders preach about the rewards that awaited the people and how God wanted this to happen. Also, the Pope was hoping to convert the Eastern Orthodox Christians to Roman Catholicism and this would unite them under his authority (Acrobatiq, 2014).
The Expansion of the Umayyad and Abbasid dynasties were drastically different, but both dynasties had the desire to spread the Islamic civilization into other countries. In 661 CE the Umayyad dynasty emerged and was led by Mu’awiya as the first Islamic dynasty. Mu’awiya was a very clever leader that preferred to bribe others than confront his enemies and wage expensive wars. Mu’awiya was also very careful when choosing his subordinates for important political positions. While he was in charge the empire was moderately peaceful and free from major civil wars. The Umayyad dynasty expanded through bribery, threats, and promises made to others or through the death of others. Mu’awiya also relied heavily on the Arab army that was extremely loyal to him and moved his capital to Damascus (Acrobatiq, 2017). He also set out to establish the first Muslim navy and then went on to defeat the Byzantines. Mu’awiya nominated his son Yazid before his death and made sure that his transfer of power would go smoothly to his son. However his dynasty was divided between to specific classes of Arab and non-Arab Muslims, it was also full of corruption, followed by incapable rulers all which led to the Umayyad’s downfall.
The Abbasid dynasty expanded more peacefully and revolted against the Umayyad’s leadership for the Islamic community (Acrobatiq, 2017). This revolution was successful because of how simple it was for them to gain control over power through propaganda and organization of the Islamic community. This dynasty continued its expansion through trade routes and urban growth. They reduced trading taxes and promoted new goods to inspire trade outside of the empire. The trade route allowed them to establish positive relationships from the Iberian Peninsula to North Africa, Egypt and India (Acrobatiq, 2017). They moved the capital city once again but this time to Baghdad which was located right on the river. This move caused an increase in growth along with the government’s new policy of equality for all not just certain groups of people. The expansion of the trade route also helped their religion spread to different areas faster.
These two dynasties not only differ in their efforts to expand their kingdoms but the way they view their religious and political structures as well. Unlike the Umayyad dynasty, the Abbasids were very accepting of non-Muslims, this caused the Abbasid dynasty to gain well over 200,000 followers and establish a more class. Since the arrival of many new people into the emperor, they Abbasids were able to create different political and economic positions as well. While the Umayyad dynasty kept his position of power very limited and was very careful who he selected for each post. Also contrasting to the Umayyad Empire, Abbasids allowed non-Muslims to join the military, own property, practice their religion, and participate in political offices. The Abbasid dynasty also adopted royal rulers with sophisticate ceremonies and rituals. They believed that the ruler’s power derived from God himself, rather than from clergymen or the local people. The Umayyad faced a huge social gap between the two classes and the people realized how unfair this system was. The Muslim leaders lived there lived in luxury while most of the people suffered in poverty.