The Crusades

The Crusades and Pope Urban II

After the defeat at Manzikert the Byzantine Emperor asked Pope Urban II for help and he set the crusades in motion with his cry of “Dues vult!" translated as God wills it, or it is Gods will.

On November 27 in the year 1095 Christians from all over Europe heard the Pope’s cry and were united in their mission to return the Holy lands to Christian rule.

The crusades were ordered by the Pope Urban II and took place in the high and late medieval period, the goal was to return the Holy Lands to Christian rule using military force by driving out the Muslims who currently controlled it.

The Crusades and the Holy Lands – Location

The Holy Lands are the names given to describe the religious lands claimed by Christians, Jews and Muslims. The Holy Lands position is between the Jordan River and Mediterranean Sea, The Holy Land is divided between Palestinian and Jewish lands and incorporates parts of the river Jordan.

Today the Holy Lands are part of Land of Israel and Palestine and currently the area is considered part of Israel, Jordan, Lebanon, Palestine and Syria.

The Call | First Crusade (1095-1099)

There were three main Crusades in all, the first Crusade started in 1095, the intention of this crusade was to drive out the Muslims from the Holy Land. Pope Urban II instructed medieval knights across Europe such as the Knights Templar to recapture the Holy Lands for the Christians.

Nobles from France, Germany and Italy brought together their armies of knights and set off on a journey that would take three years. The Pope had called on Christians from all over Europe to fight to take the Holy Lands back from the Muslims, the church was highly respected in medieval times and people were eager to answer the Popes call.

Many ordinary people even women and children joined medieval knights in this quest.

The Crusades | Crusaders Journey

The journey to the Holy Lands was long and hard and was very treacherous, as the crusaders had to travel through many different lands, the knights Templar offered protection to many people making the journey but people who joined the Crusades still died before even reaching the Holy Lands.

People would also die of starvation, disease and were victim to the harsh weather conditions on the long journey to the Holy lands which could take years.

The First Crusades | Holy Land is captured (1095 -1099)

In the first crusade, up to 30,000 crusaders led by four noblemen made the three-year journey to the Holy Lands, they initially battled through Anatolia heading southwards towards Palestinian lands. By June 1098, the Christian crusaders attacked the Syrian city of Antioch.

Antioch eventually fell to the Christians when a traitor opened the gates to the city and let them in, the Following year the Christian crusaders surrounded the Holy city of Jerusalem, scaling the cities walls and finally in the summer of 1099 the city surrendered to the invading christian army.

The Muslim Fight Back | Saladin

This victory by the crusaders was however to be short lived as many of them had returned home leaving Outremer vulnerable to Muslim attacks. The Seljuk Empire was already breaking up, the Muslims armies had decided to join forces to fight the common enemy the Christian crusaders and in 1144 the Muslim armies managed to capture Edessa, which was at the time the capital of the most northern part of the crusaders kingdom.

The Second Crusade (1147-1149)

The Christians responded to the Muslims capture of Edessa by mounting a second crusade. The second crusade was a disaster, both armies sent were badly beaten and the second army sent that was led by the king of France did not even make it to Edessa and they were defeated at the city of Damascus, the Muslim army sending them back retreating to France.

Saladin was the legendary Muslim leader who was a very courageous and clever warrior; he led the Muslim troops to victory repeatedly, finally capturing the prized city of Jerusalem.

Pope Gregory VIII & Third Crusade | Kings Crusade (1189 to 1192)

The new pope Gregory VIII instigated the third crusade also known as the king’s crusade. Pope Gregory had made it a priority to recapture Jerusalem and had ordered yet another crusade against the Muslim occupiers.

Pope Gregory has masterfully managed to persuade the newly crowned King Richard (Richard the Lionheart) to join the third Crusade; King Richard had a brilliant military brain and was held in the same esteem as the Muslim leader Saladin.

Third Crusade | Richard The Lionheart & Saladin

Richard the Lionheart set off immediately to confront Saladin in the Holy Lands, Both were military masters, both were well respected men considered to be military geniuses, in fact they had so much mutual respect for each other that it almost led to the negotiation of a truce before the battle even began.

Richard the Lionheart was having some great victories during the third Crusade battles against Saladin; however, his progress was suddenly halted when news from England came that his brother John had started rebelling against him in England, this meant that Richard had to leave the Crusades and return to England to take care of business at home.

Saladin retains the biggest Prize | Third Crusade

The Christian armies led by King Richard in their conquest to recover the Holy Lands made great advances during the third Crusade as Saladin’s armies lost many strategic locations such as Acre Jaffa. Saladin and the Muslim armies had managed to retain the most important prize of all however, the spiritual city of Jerusalem that the Christian armies had wanted and this led to the last and final fourth crusade being launched.

The Fourth Crusade (1202 – 1204)

The focus of the fourth Crusade was as before to recapture the Holy city of Jerusalem from the Muslim armies, many strategic gains in the previous Crusades strengthened the Christians resolve and this was a final push to recapture the spiritual city of Jerusalem.

Initially the crusaders had intended to take back Jerusalem via Egypt however for whatever reason these plans were changed and the crusaders of western Europe decided to invade the city of Constantinople instead which at that time was the capital of the Byzantine Empire, these peoples were on the same side as the crusaders before this attack.

The crusaders were not able to hold this territory that they had captured for long due to its location and the resistance from surrounding countries and this bad mistake eventually led to the end of the crusades altogether.

The end of the Crusades

The fourth and final Crusade weakened the crusaders armies and led to their eventual decline, morale was low and this led to the collapse of any serious attempts by the crusaders to capture the Holy Lands again during medieval times.

The Muslim armies continued to defeat the crusaders and they managed to win back Acre in 1291 which was the last Crusader held city and the medieval period of the crusades came to a complete end.

Crusade Facts:

  • The Crusades encourage religious hatred in England against Jewish people living in London
  • Crusaders learned new skills and ideas that they brought back from the Muslim Lands
  • New materials and products like silk and were brought back from the Crusades
  • The Crusades were a war of religions, Christians against Muslims
  • The Christian Crusaders won the First Crusade Battles and Took Jerusalem
  • The Muslims recaptured Edessa and a Second Crusade was Launched
  • The Second Crusade was a disaster and Saladin Captured Jerusalem for the Muslims
  • The Crusaders captured Acre in the Third Crusade but the Muslims retained Jerusalem
  • The Fourth Crusade led to the end of the Crusades and the Crusaders were defeated
  • Saladin was a great Muslim military leader who captured the Holy city of Jerusalem
  • King Richard was a great warrior and leader known as Richard the Lionheart
  • King Richard made great progress in his attempts to recapture Jerusalem
  • The first Crusade started in 1095
  • Pope urban II called on medieval knights to drive out the Muslims from Jerusalem
  • The crusaders captured Jerusalem briefly in 1099 in the third crusade
  • Richard The Lionheart got his name because of its bravery in battle
  • There were a total of four Crusades to recapture Jerusalem
  • The fourth Crusade was the final Crusade to recapture the holy city of Jerusalem
  • The Muslim armies retained control of Jerusalem after the final fourth crusade
  • The Knights Templar offered protection to travelers to the Holy Lands
  • Groups of Knights who were also Monks formed groups to fight the Muslims
  • The main groups of Monks who were knights were the Knights Templar, Teutonic knights and Knights Hospitaller
  • The Crusades finally ended in 1291 when the Muslims recaptured Acre.

Learn More about Crusades at wikipedia

The Crusades: The Authoritative History of the War for the Holy Land Paperback – March 8, 2011




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