[quote=Hesychios]The best one can say is that the crusades were launched with mixed motives. Some people were very idealistic.
Actually the best we can do is look at the actual motive as stipulated by Blessed Pope Urban II:
For, as most of you ave been told, the Turks, a race of Persians, who have penetrated within the boundaries of Romania even to the Medeiterranean to that point which they call the Arm of Saint George, in occupying more and more of the lands of the Christians, have overcome them, already victims of seven battles, and have killed and captured them, have overthrown churches, and have laid wast God’s kingdom. If you permit this supinely for very long, God’s faithful ones will be still further subjected. Concerning this affair, not I, but the Lord – exhort you, heralds of Christ, to persuade all of whatever class, both knights and footmen, both rich and poor, in numerous edicts, to strive to help expel that wicked race from our Christian lands before it is too late.
–Fulcher of Chartres account of Blessed Pope Urban II’s call for Crusade.
This is the only official motivation provided. To speak of “personal motivations” is very unfair. We seldom speak of the personal motivations of individuals during the October Revolution, or the personal motivations of Castro’s compatriots who took part in the Cuban Revolution. We don’t call into question the personal motivations of various British generals who fought in the US’s War of Independance, even though there can be little doubt that these generals pursued careers as soldiers for many different reasons.
Usually speaking about mixed motivations in regards to individual Crusaders is an attempt to accuse them of greed and barbarity or some other equally ignoble defect. Such accusations have credence only in popularized and less than biased accounts, and seldom stand up to objective and critical analysis. At any rate, it is often difficult to evaluate the motivations of our contemporaries, let alone historical figures separated from us by a little less than a thousand years and radical cultural differences.