Another question that I need to answer in my paper is: How did the people respond to the western Church [when it called upon them to gain control of the Holy Lands]?
From what I have read, my understanding is that there were many people, including prominent nobles, who took up the cause with great enthusiasm. The promises of eternal salvation and the potential to seize treasure were enticing lures; likewise, the barely concealed threat of damnation for those who chose not to support the Church in its cause a discouragement for opting out.
Of course, getting to the Holy Land was not a straightforward task. Landowners needed to make arrangements for the care of their property during what would be a prolonged absence. Wives and children were compelled to assume new responsibilities in maintaining property and meeting their financial obligations, and were left without their primary protector. Concerns about their domestic situation must have weighed heavily on the minds of landowners who joined the Church’s cause.
Even for those without means, the domestic difficulties must have been difficult to surmount. Lacking the financial resources to care for their families, these men were faced with a decision of tremendous complexity. The lure of treasure would certainly have been important to this class.
Once the domestic situation was decided, men who took the cross then needed to prepare for the journey to the Holy Land. Lacking modern transportation conveniences, this alone was a daunting undertaking. Transporting food, adequate clothing and weapons, and money to replenish supplies during the journey, required some coordination. Those with limited financial resources would have been compelled to join a nobleman’s army in order to have confidence that they would survive; even so, the journey itself took a great toll on men, who died of various illnesses, some of which were likely caused by poor nutrition.
After all these preparations, the army confronted challenges in executing their journey, and had only battles ahead. Lacking a strong military strategy and reliable methods of communicating with brother armies, it is a wonder they continued! Though I do not admire the motivations or the methods, I do admire the determination to follow through on the commitment made to the Church under these adverse circumstances.