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Building Blocks for History Lab:
SS.912.W.3.7 Analyze the causes, key events, and effects of the European response to Islamic expansion
beginning in the 7th century.
Essential Question: How should historians characterize the Crusades?
Before introducing this history lab to students, they must be somewhat familiar with the Crusades, knowing that they
were a series of religious wars fought between Christians and Muslims during the Middle Ages over control of holy lands in
the Middle East. However, the source 1 map does for the most part illustrate that information. In order to accurately analyze
source 2, the excerpt from Pope Urban, students must be able to identify the cities of Jerusalem and Constantinople as
capitals located in the Middle East and the Byzantine Empire, respectively. They also must know that the term “Persians”
refers to people from the Persian Empire, located in present-day Iran. Students may also need explicit vocabulary instruction
on the following terms to be able to interpret the excerpt: accursed, pillage, circumcise, baptismal, perforate, avenging,
incumbent. In order to interpret source 3, students must know the Franks as people from western Europe who were fighting
the Muslims during the Crusades. Students must know the following terms prior to starting the history lab:
 Crusades
 Jerusalem
 Constantinople
 Persian Empire
 Franks
Name _____________________________________________
Period _____
Date _____________________
SS.912.W.3.7 Analyze the causes, key events, and effects of the European response to Islamic expansion beginning in the 7 th century.
Essential Question: How should historians characterize the Crusades?
Main Idea / Message / Important Details
How does this document answer the
essential question?
Source 1
Map illustrating The
Crusades, 1096-1204
Source 2
Excerpt from Pope
Urban on the First
Crusade (1095)
Source 3
Excerpt from Ibn alAthir’s “The Complete
History” on the First
Crusade, 1231
Source 4
Chart, “The Crusades,
Causes and Effects”
Source 1 – Map, The Crusades, 1096-1204
Source 2 – Excerpt from Pope Urban Preaching the First Crusade, 1095
From the confines of Jerusalem and the city of Constantinople a horrible tale has gone forth
and very frequently has been brought to our ears, namely, that a race from the kingdom of the
Persians, an accursed race, a race utterly alienated from God, a generation forsooth which has
not directed its heart and has not entrusted its spirit to God, has invaded the lands of those
Christians and has depopulated them by the sword, pillage and fire . . . They circumcise the
Christians, and the blood of the circumcision they either spread upon the altars or pour into
the vases of the baptismal font. When they wish to torture people by a base death, they
perforate their navels, and dragging forth the extremity of the intestines, bind it to a stake . . .
On whom therefore is the labor of avenging these wrongs and of recovering this territory
incumbent, if not upon you?
Source 3 – Excerpt from Ibn al-Athir’s account of the First Crusade, 1231
Ibn al-Athir (1160-1233) was an Arab historian who wrote a history of the first three
crusades, though he only witnessed the third one. The passage below is a modified excerpt
from his account of the siege of Jerusalem during the First Crusade.
Jerusalem was taken from the north on the morning of July 15, 1099. The population was put
to the sword by the Franks, who pillaged the area for a week. A band of Muslims barricaded
themselves into the Tower of David and fought on for several days. They were granted their
lives in return for surrendering. The Franks honored their word, and the group left by night
for Ascalon.
In the Al-Aqsa Mosque the Franks slaughtered more than 70,000 people, among them a large
number of Imams and Muslim scholars, devout men who had left their homelands to live
lives of religious seclusion in the Holy Place. The Franks stripped the Dome of the Rock of
more than forty silver candelabra and more than twenty gold ones, and a great deal more
booty. Refugees reached Baghdad and told the Caliph’s ministers a story that wrung their
hearts and brought tears to their eyes. They begged for help, weeping so that their hearers
wept with them as they described the sufferings of the Muslims in that Holy City: the men
killed, the women and children taken prisoner, the homes pillaged.
Source 4 – Chart, “The Crusades, Causes and Effects”