The Crusades were a series of intermittent Papal-sanctioned Christian military campaigns in the Muslim world, aimed at conquering and holding Jerusalem, which commenced in 1095 with a call to arms by Pope Urban II, who was responding to a request for military support for the Byzantine Empire from Byzantine Emperor Alexios I, who needed military reinforcements for the conflict with the westward-migrating Turks inAnatolia. Historians debate the primary motivations of Pope Urban and the Crusaders. One of Urban's stated aims was to guarantee pilgrims access to the holy sites in theHoly Land that were under Muslim control, while his wider strategy may have been to establish himself as head of the united Church and bringing together the Eastern and Western branches of Christendom that had been divided since their split in 1054. What is known, though, is the unprecedented response to Urban’s preaching and the basis it established for later Crusades. Hundreds of thousands of people from many different classes across Western Europe became Crusaders by taking a public vow and receivingplenary indulgences from the Church. Some were peasants hoping for Apotheosis atJerusalem. Urban preached that anyone who participated would be forgiven by God of all their sins. In addition some historians argue that participation satisfied feudal obligations and provided opportunities for economic and political gain.
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