The Crusades were a series of wars fought between 1095 to 1291. These were often sanctioned by popes for the main purpose of taking Jerusalem and other territories near the Holy Land and the Levant from Muslims. It was mainly fought between the European powers and Muslim sultanates in the area.
Nine crusades were launched in all, not counting the Crusade of 1101, the Norwegian Crusade, the Venetian Crusade, the Crusade of 1197, and the Barons’ Crusade.
The first Crusades
The first Crusade called for by Pope Urban II in 1095 succeeded in capturing the Holy Land in 1099.
The Crusade of 1101 was a minor crusade mostly participated in by those who quit from the First Crusade.
The Norwegian Crusade led by Norwegian King Sigurd I from 1107 to 1111, resulted in the establishment of the Lordship of Sidon.
The Venetian Crusade launched by the Doge of Venice Domenico Michiel from 1122-1124 resulted in the capture of Tyre.
The Second Crusade from 1147-1149 was called for by Pope Eugene III to retake the County of Edessa from Muslims.
The Third Crusade from 1189 to 1192 was called for by Pope Gregory VIII to retake Jerusalem from the Muslims who reconquered it in 1187.
The Crusade of 1197 saw Beirut being taken back by the Kingdom of Jerusalem from the Muslims.
From 1200 to 1291
The Fourth Crusade from 1202 to 1204 was called for by Pope Innocent III to again retake Jerusalem from the Muslims.
It was still Pope Innocent who called for The Fifth Crusade, from 1217 to 1221, for the same purpose. An eight-year truce was declared after the Muslims won.
The Sixth Crusade led by the Holy Roman Empire from 1228 to 1229, succeeded in regaining some of the areas in Jerusalem.
The Barons’ Crusade from 1239 to 1241, called for by Pope Gregory IX, saw the successful negotiation of Jerusalem and other territories.
The Seventh Crusade from 1248 to 1254 was called to reconquer Jerusalem from Muslims again, but it resulted in the capture of Louis IX of France instead.
It was still Louis IX who launched the Eighth Crusade in 1270 to conquer Tunis, but he died shortly after arriving in Tunisia.
The Ninth Crusade from 1271 to 1272 saw a string of victories for Price Edward of England, but Jerusalem remained under Muslim control.
By 1291 the last of the Catholic outposts in the Levant would fall to Muslims, resulting in the expulsion of all crusader forces there.
Interesting facts about the Crusades
- The word “Crusade” is an invention of modern historians. The term was never used by anyone who participated in the crusades. The term Pope Urban II used was “armed pilgrimage”.
- “Crusade” is now also used to mean an energetic and organized campaign concerning a social, political, or religious issue.
- During the Fourth Crusade, the Crusader army attacked and sacked Constantinople, deepening the divide between the Latin and Greek churches.
- The Barons’ Crusade was the most successful. The Kingdom of Jerusalem was returned to its largest size since 1187.
- The most famous Muslim leader to come out of the crusades in Saladin, the Sultan of Egypt, who took Jerusalem in 1187.
- Jews communities living in the path of crusading routes often became targets of overzealous crusader armies.
- The years of the Crusades had periods of peace and even prosperity between Christians and Muslims.
- The Christian warrior-monks called the Templar Knights, often associated with the Crusades, was formed only after the first Crusade to protect pilgrims visiting the Holy Land.
What is the Levant?
It’s a geographical term referring to a large area in the Eastern Mediterranean, primarily in Western Asia. It’s still in use today.
Why was the allure of a crusade so strong?
Many of those who joined it were promised the forgiveness of their sins, and even the guarantee of entering heaven if they died in battle.
Why did the Christians and Muslims keeping fighting over Jerusalem?
Both religions consider it holy. For Christians it was where Jesus was crucified and resurrected. For Muslims it was where Mohammed ascended into heaven.
What is the Children’s Crusade?
It was a crusade led by a French Child and a German child in 1212. They never made it to Jerusalem as most of them were sold into slavery.
Was a call to a crusade meant for everyone?
The call to a crusade was meant for nobles and their professional armies, but this didn’t stop common people from joining. Women even dressed up as men to join a crusade.
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