Why did the Byzantine emperor Alexius I ask the Pope for military assistance?

Alexios I asked the Pope for military assistance because he needed help in fighting off the Seljuq Turks. Twenty years after defeating the Byzantines at the Battle of Manzikert, the Seljuqs continued to make dangerous inroads into Asia Minor, threatening the Byzantines on their eastern borders.

As the Byzantine army had proved woefully inadequate in dealing with this threat, Alexios made a desperate plea to Pope Urban II for military assistance. In doing so, he inadvertently precipitated the First Crusade.

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In making his plea to the Pope, Alexios didn't expect that a full-scale Crusade would soon be underway with the express intention of liberating the Holy Land from the infidel. He simply hoped that the Pope would send him some mercenaries that he could use to keep the Seljuq Turks at bay on Byzantium's eastern borders.

Although Byzantine forces had been successful at pacifying their western borders, over in the east it was a different matter entirely. Ever since defeating Byzantium at the Battle of Manzikert in 1071 the Seljuqs had been growing increasingly stronger.

Alexios had had to deal with a number of military threats during his reign, but nothing quite like that posed by the Seljuqs. The Seljuqs, along with their allies, cut a swathe through Asia Minor before eventually capturing Jerusalem, the holiest city in Christendom. Though Alexios was deeply aware of the religious significance of Jerusalem's capture by Muslim troops, his plea of assistance to the Pope was primarily concerned...

(The entire section contains 5 answers and 959 words.)

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