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The Crusades A Brief Overview The Crusades As Western European economies grew (Europe was beginning to emerge from the “Dark Ages”), merchants, travelers, diplomats, and missionaries brought European society into more intensive contact with more distant peoples and with Eurasian commercial networks. By the end of the post-Classical period (c. 1500), Europeans had direct, though limited, contact with India and China. The Crusades Nothing revealed European expansiveness, and the religious passions propelling it, more than the Crusades, a series of “holy wars” that captured the imagination of Western Christendom for more than two hundred years, beginning in 1095. The Crusades The growth and expansion of Islam into areas the Christian world considered “sacred” because they were associated with the life of Jesus (even though these areas had been under Muslim control for centuries) caused the Catholic Church to propose the Islamic idea of jihad. By translating the Islamic idea of a “holy warrior” into Christian terms, the medieval Church created the crusader, the “knight for Christ.” The Crusades “Christ leading the Crusaders” (14th century) The Crusades By 1000 CE (or so) all the barbarians/pagans in Europe were checked and mostly Christianized. The only threat to (Christian) Europe’s east (and south) was from Islam. The Crusades Even though the power of Islam in Spain was declining, the Christian struggle with Islam there would continue until the end of the fifteenth century (the climax of the Reconquesta came in 1492 when the last Muslim capital of Spain, Granada, fell to the Catholic armies of Ferdinand and Isabella). The Crusades In European thinking and practice, the Crusades were wars undertaken at God’s command and authorized by the pope as the Vicar of Christ on earth. Pope Urban II, who called for the Crusades in 1095. The Crusades Participants were required to swear a vow and in return were given an indulgence, which removed the penalties for any confessed sins. The Council of Clermont. The Crusades This struggle with Islam gave European men a sense of unity and religious fervor. Christianity bound European warriors together in a great moral and spiritual adventure but it also promoted the predatory appetites of the military class (knights) as they could kill the pagans with clear consciences. The Crusades The Muslims, in the eyes of the Europeans, were infidels who had by conquest installed themselves in Christianity’s most sacred shrines. The Pope called them “the wicked race.” The Crusades Crusaders were also offered various material benefits as an incentive, such as immunity from lawsuits and freedom from the repayment of debt. The idea of automatic entrance into Heaven while attacking Islam also had great appeal (and if killed, you became a hero and Christian martyr). The Crusades Even though Jerusalem had fallen to the conquering Arabs in 637, their initial tolerance had allowed Christians to make pilgrimages to the holy shrines of their faith. But that began to change after the Turks soundly defeated the Byzantines (Greeks) in 1071. The Crusades So the attraction of winning spoils from the wealthy Arab lands added to the inducement, as did the thirst for excitement among the West’s feudal warriors. The Crusades Three great armies (one from France, Germany, and Italy), with tens of thousands of crusaders assembled in Constantinople in 1097, much to the distress of the Byzantine government. The Crusades Within Europe, the amazing support for the Crusades reflected an understanding of them “as providing security against mortal enemies threatening the spiritual health of all Christendom and Christians.” Crusading drew upon both Christian piety and the warrior values of the elite, with little sense of contradiction between the two. The Crusades The European armies were not an organized military force but a series of separate militias, each following a different commander and often speaking different languages. The Crusades One militia, not commissioned by the pope, consisted of commoners led by Peter the Hermit of Amiens called the “People’s (or Peasants) Crusade.” The Crusades An estimated 100,000 ordinary people (not knights) took part in the “People’s Crusade.” On its way to the Holy Land, the band made a deliberate detour to attack and murder Jews living peacefully in Germany, because they were now also perceived as infidels. The Crusades This was the first organized violence against Jewish communities in Europe. Some historians refer to this as “the first Holocaust.” The Crusades Supplies were always problematic and about 25% of Peter’s followers died en route. Most of the rest of the participants in the “People’s Crusade” were slaughtered once they entered Seljuk (Turkish)-controlled Asia Minor. The Crusades After seizing Antioch (1098) and killing every Turk in the city, the crusaders went on to take Jerusalem in 1099. The initial conquest of the Holy Land was facilitated by Muslim disunity. The Crusades The seizure of Jerusalem in 1099 was accompanied by the slaughter of thousands of Muslims, Jews, and Orthodox Christians as the Crusaders made their way through streets “littered with corpses and ankle deep in blood to the Sepulcher of Christ.” The Crusades The “Christian” Europeans then slaughtered all prisoners, including innocent women and children. The Crusades Crusaders believed that Angels and Saints intervened on their behalf as they fought. The Crusades The victorious Europeans established feudal “Crusader States” where fiefs were granted to vassals. Most Europeans returned home, but those that stayed learned to coexist and trade with the indigenous Muslims. A new militaristic Christian group, the Knights Templar, emerged (named after the part of Jerusalem near the Temple where they lived). The Crusades The missions of the Knights Templar included protecting the pilgrimage routes from Palestine to Jerusalem, manning town garrisons of the crusader states, and transporting money from Europe to the Holy Land (which made them very wealthy). The Crusades Led or supported by an assortment of kings, popes, bishops, monks, lords, and merchants, the Crusades demonstrated a growing European capacity for organization, finance, transportation, and recruitment, without any centralized direction. The Crusades The fall of the city of Edessa in 1144 to the Turks launched the ineffectual (and short lived) Second Crusade (1147-48). European leaders chose to fight the Turks in Damascus, but after five days they gave up, ending the Second Crusade. The Crusades For nearly a century, Western knights ruled the “kingdom of Jerusalem,” eventually losing it to the great Muslim general Saladin during the Third Crusade in 1187. The Crusades A lack of any clear or coordinated plan kept the English, French, and German groups from working together, and all were badly beaten by the Turkish armies under Saladin. The Crusades Several later Crusades tried to win back the Holy Land, but they were all failures. The Crusades The Third Crusade (1189-1192) led to the death of the German emperor Barbarossahe drowned in the River Saleph on his way to Antioch—while the kings of England and France led troops against the Muslims. The Crusades But the kings of England and France quarreled and the Crusaders failed to recapture Jerusalem. Here King Richard I and Saladin are locked in an imaginary battle. The Crusades The Europeans eventually surrendered, but Saladin was so impressed with King Richard I that he was able to produce a brief truce with the Muslims to allow Christian pilgrims to visit Jerusalem without fear of reprisal. The Crusades On his way home to England, King Richard I (the Lionhearted) was captured and held for ransom in Austria. The Crusades The fourth Crusade (1202-1204) was manipulated by the merchants in Venice, who turned it into an attack on their commercial rivals in Constantinople, causing the city to be sacked (1204 CE). This further weakened the already weak Byzantine Empire, leaving them more vulnerable to Turkish (Muslim) conquest (which finally happened in 1453). The Crusades The Bronze (actually copper) Horses of St. Marks Cathedral in Venice, which were stolen from Constantinople by the crusaders and carried back to Venice. The Crusades An interesting, but little known crusade was the Children’s Crusade. In 1212, after the Fourth Crusade ended in disaster, children from France and Germany set off on their own crusade to the Holy Lands. They were convinced that they would be protected by God, and that because of this protection, they would get to the Holy Lands and take back Jerusalem for the Christians. The Crusades The Crusades The Children's Crusade was never officially a crusade since it was never blessed by the Pope. It is believed that the Church hoped that the actions of the children would shame kings and emperors into getting a proper crusade and going back to capture Jerusalem. But it ended in complete disaster, as many children died of exhaustion and exposure before they even left Europe. The Crusades Those who boarded ships never returned. Some believe the ships sank in the Mediterranean and all aboard were drowned. Others believe that pirates captured the ships and sold the children into slavery. No one really knows what happened to the children. The Crusades Several more crusades set out in the thirteenth century, but the idea of recapturing the Holy Lands was essentially dead. The Crusades The Crusades had little lasting impact, either politically or religiously, on the Middle East. European power wasn’t strong enough to induce much conversion and the small European foothold came back under Muslim control by 1300. The Crusades Before the Crusades, the split between Sunni and Shi’ite Muslims was far more serious than the rift between Muslims and Christians. The Mongol invasions of the 13th century would be much more significant in Islamic history than the temporary incursions of European Christians. The Crusades But interaction with the Islamic world had very significant long-term consequences for Europe. Spain, Sicily, and the Baltic region were brought permanently into the world of Western Christendom. Tens of thousands of Europeans came in contact with the Islamic world, where they picked up a taste for Asian luxury goods. The Crusades Trade expansion would lead to urban growth, especially along the great trade routes from Genoa or Venice and along the Rhine River to Bruges (in today’s Belgium). Christian missionaries and travelers began exploring further east, eventually opening up Asian trade routes to European discovery and increasing European curiosity about other cultures. The Crusades The Crusades were also an episode in the history of taste. Europeans came in contact with cane sugar (which they went crazy over) and they learned the techniques for plantation sugar production using slave labor (consequences later???). Lemons and melons, black pepper, cinnamon, ginger, cloves, cotton, muslin and damask fabrics, glass mirrors, chess, paper, and even the rosary made the journey from east to west. The Crusades The Crusades Muslim scholarship, and the Greek learning it was based on, flowed back into Europe, largely through Spain, Italy, and Sicily. European military technology took a giant leap forward because of advanced techniques in fortification and castle building learned from both the Muslims and the Greeks. And European governments increased in scope and ambition because of the experience of raising taxes to pay for the Crusades. The Crusades But the rift between Eastern Orthodoxy and Roman Catholicism deepened further (especially after the sacking of Constantinople) and remains to this day a fundamental divide in the Christian world. Christian anti-Semitism was evident as Crusaders massacred Jews in several European cities on their way to Jerusalem. The Crusades European empire building, especially in the Americas, continued the crusading notion that “God wills it.” And over the last two centuries, as the worlds of Europe and Islam have increasingly collided, both sides have found many occasions where images of the Crusades, however distorted, have been politically or ideologically useful.