This defeat made Christian pilgrim routes to Holy places throughout the Middle East dangerous and this situation could not be allowed to stand from a Christian perspective.
And so it began, Many military expeditions to the Holylands followed which became known as ‘The Crusades’.
The Crusades and Pope Urban II
After the Byzantine emperor’s 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.
First Crusade (1095-1099)
There were many Crusades to the Holy lands during the middle ages, the first Crusade started in 1095, the intention of this crusade was to drive out the Muslims from the Holy Land.
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 journey to the Holy Lands was long, hard and 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.
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.
Muslim Fight Back – Saladin
This victory by the crusaders was 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 and led by the king of France did not even make it to Edessa – they were defeated at the city of Damascus with the Muslim army sending them back retreating to France.
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
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 locationssuch 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.
Third Crusades Saladin attacks Jaffa crusades
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.
Timeline of the Crusades with dates of seventh Crusade
The end of the Crusades
The fourth 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. Other Crusades followed but they were not deemed as historically important as the first four Crusades.
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 Fast 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
Crusade Fast Facts:
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
Crusade Fast Facts:
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
Crusade Fast Facts:
Richard The Lionheart got his name because of its bravery in battle
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
Crusade Fast Facts:
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 main Crusades finally ended in 1291 when the Muslims recaptured Acre.