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Beginning of the Crusades
Request from Byzantine emperor: A Byzantine emperor asked
Pope Urban II for help against Muslim Seljuk Turks, who had
beaten them at the battle of Manzikert and then overrun
Byzantine territory in Asia Minor. In 1095, Urban responded by
calling on European Christians to join in a war to free the Holy
Land from Muslim control.
Different motivations: Many warriors of Western Europe
became crusaders out of religious fervor; others sought
adventure and wealth. Still others saw an opportunity for
engaging in trade.
Progress of the First Crusade: Although the Byzantines began to have
second thoughts about the possible actions of the crusaders, a large
army of warriors succeeded in capturing Antioch in 1098 and then
moved down the coast of Palestine toward Jerusalem.
Crusader Conquests
and Losses
• Capture of Jerusalem and
formation of crusader
states: In 1099, Christian
warriors captured Jerusalem.
By the 1140s, however,
Muslim forces began to strike
back, regaining territory taken
by Christians. Saladin, the
sultan of Egypt, later gained
command of the Muslim
armies and made them
Crusader Conquests and Losses
• Dependence on Italian ports: Italian port cities served as the only
source of supplies for the crusader kingdoms. Some of these cities—
such as Genoa, Pisa, and Venice—grew wealthy and powerful from
the trade.
• Loss of Jerusalem to Saladin: Although a Second Crusade was
launched to support the crusader kingdoms, Saladin retook Jerusalem
in 1187. The Third Crusade failed to wrest the city from Muslim
control, but Saladin agreed to allow Christian pilgrims to visit
The Later Crusades
• Fourth Crusade: During the Fourth Crusade, the crusading army
became involved in a fight for the Byzantine throne. The crusaders
sacked Constantinople, permanently weakening the Byzantine Empire
and widening the rift between the Eastern Orthodox Church and the
Catholic Church.
• Other Crusades: Later Crusades had little success. Participants in the
Children's Crusade of 1212 failed to get anywhere near the Holy Land,
with many shipwrecked or sold into slavery, and two Crusades led by
King Louis IX of France failed to conquer any Muslim territory
Impact of the Crusades
• Persecution of Jews: One effect of the Crusades was the first
extensive attacks against Jews in Europe, who were viewed by some
fanatics as greater enemies to Christianity than the Muslims were.
• Breakdown of feudalism: Feudalism was weakened as a result of the
Crusades. Nobles who joined or financed the Crusades often sold
their land and freed their serfs. The resulting loss of the nobles'
power allowed kings to create stronger central governments, paving
the way for the rise of powerful nation-states.