About this Book

Religion and politics were intertwined with each other in many European empires in the years leading to the Crusades. The Christian Church was going through a power struggle which eventually led to a permanent division which exists till this day.

It was known as the East-West Schism. Also called as the Schism of 1054, it marked the division of the church into Roman Catholic churches and Eastern Orthodox churches. This break in the churches occurred because of a difference in viewpoints related to various rituals and rules among Christians, one of the most popular ones being the use of leavened or unleavened bread for the Eucharist.

This Schism of 1054 reduced the power and authority of the church among its followers. In an attempt to increase and reinforce the importance of the church, Pope Gregory VII started a reformation which would transform the church from a decentralized religious institution to a centralized one where the Pope held more power and authority.

This is known as the Gregorian Reform and played a big role in vesting greater power to the Pope. It led to a change where all disputes had to be referred to Rome and all appeals were to go through the Pope as well. This automatically reduced the amount of power vested on the Bishops. The power struggle between the Popes and the state in the 11th and 12th centuries is termed as the Investiture Controversy. The focal point of the dispute was whether it should be the Pope or the monarch who should appoint the local church officials which included the bishops and the abbots.

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Many people were against such regulations being set by Pope Gregory VII. This led to the appointment of an alternative Pope. Antipope Clement III was the archbishop of Ravenna and was elected as a Pope in 1080 against Pope Gregory VII.

While he gained a lot of popularity and had a substantial following in Rome and in other parts of Europe, he is considered to be an anti-Pope till this day with his body exhumed and his remains dumped in the Tiber.

All of these events were combined with the constant advancements of the Muslims in the Holy Land of the Christians. With the papacy going through a storm and the Christian authority being in question, it was important for Christians to protect their Holy Land. While early Arabs had been tolerant when it came to Christians visiting their holy sites as pilgrims, the Seljuk Turks who later conquered the regions started showing no mercy to the pilgrims and began to create an inhospitable environment for the Christians travelling to the holy lands.

The Christians found this to be unacceptable and wanted to recapture their Holy Land. With internal disturbances within the religion and external conflicts arising from the Muslims, the Christians felt it was important to stand their ground and reinforce the importance of the religion among all.

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