Today on the 27th of November in 1095 CE, Pope Urban II declared the First Crusade at the Council of Clermont. Pope Urban seeing an opportunity to reunite the Eastern and Western churches, called for a Truce of God among the rulers of Europe and urged them to take the Holy Land (Jerusalem) from the Muslims.
One of the key reasons that the Crusade took place was the rise of the Seljuqs in Anatolia. Previously in the Battle of Manzikert, Seljuq Sultan Alp Arsalan crushed the Byzantines in 1071 CE. Soon after, major Byzantine cities including Nicaea were also taken by the Seljuqs of Rum.
The Byzantines could not stop Seljuqs to establish their power in Anatolia. Therefore, Emperor Alexios I Komnenos appealed to the west in the spring of 1095 CE to help kick the Seljuqs out of not just the Holy Land but also all those parts of the Byzantine Empire they had conquered.
Eventually, Pope Urban II (r. 1088-1099 CE) received Alexios’ appeal in 1095 CE. On 27 November 1095 CE, Urban II called for a crusade in a speech during the Council of Clermont, France. The message was loud and clear:
Those who defended Christendom would be embarking on a pilgrimage, all their sins would be washed away and their souls would reap untold rewards in the next life.
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