The Emperor Alexius Comnenus I

Alexius Comnenus - together with his brother, Isaac, joint founders of the Comneni Dynasty of Byzantine rulers. Alexius began to rule when the Byzantine Empire had already passed its zenith some few centuries earlier under Basil and now, in the last quarter of the 11th century, was struggling to defend itself against the encroachments all around but particularly from the increasing strength of the Seljuk Turks in the east. In 1071, the Empire had suffered its most humiliating and fateful defeat in its already 700-year long history, at the Battle of Manzikert and by the time Alexius ascended the throne, the Empire was in almost desperate straits.
Early in the last decade of the 11th century, Alexius wrote to Pope Urban II asking for help from the west in recovering lost territories - ostensibly for Christendom. This agenda fitted in well with the policies and developing plans of the Pope; European society, also, at that time was in flux in social, political and religious sectors: the feudal system was failing, younger sons of noble families were without inheritance, there was much violence throughout western society and it seemed like a good opportunity to direct that violence outward - not unlike many policies undertaken today by hard-pressed governments. Above all were the religious themes of the times: the end of the first millenium was on the threshhold, the anti-Christ ruled in the Holy Land and reigned supreme over sacred Christian sites in Jerusalem. What better solution for all these ills but to declare a "Holy War"?
So it was, that in the summer of 1095, Pope Urban II, during a long pastoral journey through Iberia and southern France, when he finally reached Clermont Ferrand, called upon the Christian world to answer the call of Alexius, take up the Cross and liberate the Holy Sepulchre from the hands of the Saracen. The call was answered and in the summer of 1099 - July 15th - the walls of Jerusalem were stormed, Jerusalem captured in the name of Christianity and tens of thousands of innocent Moslems, Jews and Oriental Christians slaughtered in the name of the Prince of Peace!

Read Pope Urban's call here

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