The crusades were important events in history, but many people have misconceptions about them. One of them was that the crusades were unprovoked oppression of peaceful Muslims. The fact is, the Muslims had taken the offensive, even conquering over 2/3 of the Christian world. Among the territories they took were Asia Minor, the Middle east, North Africa, and most of Spain. Many of these places were strongly Christian at the time. One of the reasons the Crusades began was because the Byzantine emperor was begging the west for aid from Muslim invasions.
Another myth was that the Crusaders were fixated on wealth. Recent research says that many of the Crusaders were already rich, with much land in Europe. Crusading was expensive, and some crusaders impoverished themselves so that they could go. Some people sold or mortgaged lands to raise money.
Some people believed that the crusades were full of “second sons”, who were people who would not inherit land from their father. They thought that the sons who would not inherit land would be sent by their father to get land for themselves in the east on a crusade. This theory has been disproven by modern research, and it has been found that in fact the “first sons” were the ones who generally embarked on a crusade.
There is also a myth that the crusaders wanted to convert the Muslims by force. In reality, though, the Muslims in crusader states were never forced to give up their religion. There were even more Muslims than Catholics in the Crusader Kingdom of Jerusalem.
It is also a falsehood that crusades led to festering resentment among the Muslims, which culminated in 20th and 21st century terrorism. Many people think that Islamic terrorists attack the west because they have become angry with the west over the crusades, when in fact the crusades were minor episodes from the Islamic point of view. Many Muslims didn’t even consider it worth mentioning. The first Muslim book on the crusades was written in 1899. The Muslims actually learned about the crusades from the west, and then learned to use it as an example of Christian misdeeds.
To convince the people of Europe to join the first crusade, Pope Urban II gave the following reasons, among others. He told them to help their eastern brothers who had come under the oppression of the Muslims, and that they should sacrifice for them. He also said that they would be granted eternal rewards if they would go, God rewarding him. He also urged them to win back the holy city of Jerusalem, as well as many important Christian centers in Asia Minor and in the Middle East. Because of his preaching and influence, the first crusade began. It was probably the most successful crusade undertaken by the Catholics. Most of the other crusades were unsuccessful, with the partial exception of the 3rd and 6th crusades.