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At times, smaller contingents broke off from the main body of crusaders to look for food further afield. The huge mass of people, consisting of men, women, children and old people, all moving on foot, advanced slowly. Equipping the military campaign was a huge financial sacrifice that was sponsored from home. Horses and armour such as chain mail shirts were expensive, and so were weapons such as swords and lances.
Even the basic upkeep was expensive on a campaign that lasted for years and during which people had no source of income. The everyday reality of the Crusade was a mix of genuine piety and brutal violence.
The crusaders believed that their fight was justified and also essential in order to root out the evil at the heart of Christendom. Although eyewitness accounts and secondary sources produced in the West present the Crusades as being exceptionally violent and bloody, the war was, in fact, fought according to the same conventions as back home.
If negotiations failed, the area was taken by storm and the winning side was then entitled to do as it pleased. That generally meant killing, burning, rape and pillage. Nevertheless, a merciless slaughter of the locals was atypical, and wealthy people at least were generally able to save their own lives by paying a ransom. People that no one would pay ransom for were sold as slaves in the big cities of the Middle East. There are mentions of torture, and typically of the time, the crusaders also physically punished their own deserters by whipping or mutilation.
Fighting for Christendom: Holy War and the Crusades
The crusaders who made it back generally only brought spiritual treasures with them, such as relics. Then again, the acquisition of material wealth was not considered at all to be at odds with the spiritual goal, should the occasion present itself. Citing Literature. Volume 75 , Issue 1 Spring Pages Related Information.
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Christopher Tyerman - Wikipedia
Christopher Tyerman. The image of the Crusaders--chain-mailed knights on horseback, bearing crosses on banners, fighting for their faith under an alien sun--occupies a familiar niche in modern western culture.
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Yet despite their powerful hold on our imaginations, the Crusades remain obscured and distorted by time.