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The First Crusade - 1096 - 1099
A brief description and outline of the Cause of the Crusades is as follows:
The massacre of 3000 Christian Pilgrims in Jerusalem prompted the first crusade
Religious Conviction of crusaders
The Instinct to Fight
The Preaching of Peter the Hermit
The Threat of the Turks
The Council of Clermont led by Pope Urban II - "It is the will of God"
Leaders of the First Crusade
The leaders of the First Crusade included some of the most distinguished representatives of
European knighthood. Count Raymond of Toulouse headed a band of volunteers from
Provence in southern France. Godfrey of Bouillon and his brother Baldwin commanded a
force of French and Germans from the Rhinelands. Normandy sent Robert, William the
Conqueror's eldest son. The Normans from Italy and Sicily were led by Bohemond, a son of
Robert Guiscard, and his nephew Tancred.
The First Crusade - The People's Crusade
The months which followed the Council of Clermont were marked by an epidemic of
religious excitement in western Europe. Popular preachers everywhere took up the cry
"God wills it!" and urged their hearers to start for Jerusalem. A monk named Peter the
Hermit aroused large parts of France with his passionate eloquence, as he rode from town
to town, carrying a huge cross before him and preaching to vast crowds. Without waiting
for the main body of nobles, which was to assemble at Constantinople in the summer of
1096 a horde of poor men, women, and children set out, unorganized and almost unarmed,
on the road to the Holy Land. This was called the Peoples Crusade, it is also referred to as
the Peasants Crusade. Dividing command of the mixed multitudes with a poor knight,
called Walter the Penniless, and followed by a throng of about 80,000 persons, among
whom were many women and children, Peter the Hermit set out for Constantinople leading
the Peoples Crusade via an overland route through Germany and Hungary. Thousands of
the Peoples Crusade fell in battle with the natives of the countries through which they
marched, and thousands more perished miserably of hunger and exposure. The Peoples
Crusade was badly organised - most of the people were unarmed and lacked the command
and discipline of the military crusaders. The Byzantium emperor Alexius I sent his ragged
allies as quickly as possible to Asia Minor, where most of them were slaughtered by the
Turks. The daughter of Alexius, called Anna Comnena wrote a book about her father and
the crusaders called the Alexiad which provides historical details about the first crusaders.
Those crusaders who crossed the Bosphorus were surprised by the Turks, and almost all of
the Peoples Crusade were slaughtered. Peter the Hermit did survive and eventually led the
Crusaders in a procession around the walls of Jerusalem just before the city was taken.
The Main Body of the First Crusade
Meanwhile real armies were gathering in the West. Recruits came in greater numbers from
France than from any other country, a circumstance which resulted in the crusaders being
generally called "Franks" by their Moslem foes. They had no single commander, but each
contingent set out for Constantinople by its own route and at its own time.
The First Crusade - The Siege of Antioch
Godfrey of Bouillon, Duke of Lorraine, and Tancred, "the mirror of knighthood," were
among the most noted of the leaders of the different divisions of the army. The expedition
numbered about 700,000 men, of whom fully 100,000 were mailed knights. The crusaders
traversed Europe by different routes and reassembled at Constantinople. Crossing the
Bosphorus, they first captured Nicaea, the Turkish capital, in Bithynia, and then set out
across Asia Minor for Syria. Arriving at Antioch, the survivors captured that place, and
then, after some delays, pushed on towards Jerusalem. The Siege of Antioch had lasted
from October 1097 to June 1098.
The First Crusade - The City of Jerusalem
Reduced now to perhaps one-fourth of their original numbers, the crusaders advanced
slowly to the city which formed the goal of all their efforts. When at length the Holy City
burst upon their view, a perfect delirium of joy seized the crusaders. They embraced one
another with tears of joy, and even embraced and kissed the ground on which they stood.
As they passed on, they took off their shoes, and marched with uncovered head and bare
feet, singing the words of the prophet: "Jerusalem, lift up thine eyes, and behold the
liberator who comes to break thy chains." Before attacking it they marched barefoot in
religious procession around the walls, with Peter the Hermit at their head. Then came the
grand assault.
The First Crusade - The Capture of Jerusalem
The first assault made by the Christians upon the walls of the city was repulsed; but the
second was successful, and the city was in the hands of the crusaders by July 1099. Godfrey
of Bouillon and Tancred were among the first to mount the ramparts. Once inside the city,
the crusaders massacred their enemies without mercy. A terrible slaughter of the infidels
took place. For seven days the carnage went on, at the end of which time scarcely any of the
Moslem faith were left alive. The Christians took possession of the houses and property of
the infidels, each soldier having a right to that which he had first seized and placed his
mark upon.
The Second Crusade
The Second Crusade - 1147 - 1149
The Second Crusade and the Origin of the Religious Orders of Knighthood
The Cause of the Second Crusade - The Fall and Massacre at Edessa
The Preaching of St. Bernard
The Second Crusade & King Louis VII of France and Conrad III of Germany
The Failure of the Second Crusade
The Second Crusade - 1147 - 1149
The success of the Christians in the First Crusade had been largely due to the disunion among their
enemies. But the Moslems learned in time the value of united action, and in 1144 A.D. succeeded in
capturing Edessa, one of the principal Christian outposts in the East. The fall of the city of Edessa,
followed by the loss of the entire county of Edessa, aroused western Europe to the danger which
threatened the Latin Kingdom of Jerusalem and led to another crusading enterprise.
The Second Crusade and the Origin of the Religious Orders of Knighthood
In the interval between the Second and the Third Crusade, the two famed religious military
orders, known as the Hospitallers and the Templars, were formed. A little later, during the
Third Crusade, still another fraternity, known as the Teutonic Knights was established.
The objects of all the orders were the care of the sick and wounded crusaders, the
entertainment of Christian pilgrims, the guarding of the holy places, and ceaseless battling
for the Cross. These fraternities soon acquired a military fame that was spread throughout
the Christian world. They were joined by many of the most illustrious knights of the West,
and through the gifts of the pious acquired great wealth, and became possessed of
numerous estates and castles in Europe as well as in Asia.
Religious Knights
Teutonic Knights
Knights Hospitaller
Templar Knights
The Cause of the Second Crusade - The Fall and Massacre at Edessa
In the year 1146, the city of Edessa, the bulwark of the Latin Kingdom of Jerusalem on the
side towards Mesopotamia, was taken by the Turks, and the entire population was
slaughtered, or sold into slavery. This disaster threw the entire West into a state of the
greatest alarm, lest the little Christian state, established at such cost of tears and suffering,
should be completely overwhelmed, and all the holy places should again fall into the hands
of the infidels.
The Second Crusade - The Preaching of St. Bernard
The apostle of the Second Crusade was the great abbot of Clairvaux, St. Bernard. Scenes of
the wildest enthusiasm marked his preaching. The scenes that marked the opening of the
First Crusade were now repeated in all the countries of the West. St. Bernard, an eloquent
monk, was the second Peter the Hermit, who went everywhere, arousing the warriors of the
Cross to the defence of the birthplace of their religion. When the churches were not large
enough to hold the crowds which flocked to hear him, he spoke from platforms erected in
the fields.
The Second Crusade & King Louis VII of France and Conrad III of Germany
The contagion of the holy enthusiasm seized not only barons, knights, and the common
people, which classes alone participated in the First Crusade, but kings and emperors were
now infected with the sacred frenzy. St. Bernard's eloquence induced two monarchs, Louis
VII of France and Conrad III of Germany, to take the blood-red cross of a crusader.
Conrad III., emperor of Germany, was persuaded to leave the affairs of his distracted
empire in the hands of God, and consecrate himself to the defence of the sepulchre of
Christ. Louis VII., king of France, was led to undertake the crusade through remorse for
an act of great cruelty that he had perpetrated upon some of his revolted subjects.
The Failure of the Second Crusade
The Second Crusade, though begun under the most favorable auspices, had an unhappy
ending. Of the great host that set out from Europe, only a few thousands escaped
annihilation in Asia Minor at the hands of the Turks. Louis and Conrad, with the remnants
of their armies, made a joint attack on Damascus, but had to raise the siege after a few
days. This closed the crusade. As a chronicler of the expedition remarked, "having
practically accomplished nothing, the inglorious ones returned home." The strength of
both the French and the German division of the expedition was wasted in Asia Minor, and
the crusade accomplished nothing.
The Third Crusade
Not many years after the Second Crusade, the Moslem world found in the famous Saladin a
leader for a holy war against the Christians. Saladin in character was a typical
Mohammedan, very devout in prayers and fasting, fiercely hostile toward unbelievers, and
full of the pride of race. To these qualities he added a kindliness and humanity not
surpassed, if equaled, by any of his Christian foes. The Third Crusade was caused by the
capture of Jerusalem in 1187 by Saladin, the sultan of Egypt.
The capture of Jerusalem by Saladin in 1187
Having made himself sultan of Egypt, Saladin united the Moslems of Syria under his sway
and then advanced against the Latin Kingdom of Jerusalem. The Christians met him in a
great battle near the lake of Galilee. It ended in the rout of their army and the capture of
their king. Even the Holy Cross, which they had carried in the midst of the fight, became
the spoil of the conqueror. Saladin quickly reaped the fruits of victory. The Christian cities
of Syria opened their gates to him, and at last Jerusalem itself surrendered after a short
siege. Little now remained of the possessions which the crusaders had won in the East.
The Third Crusade is organised
The news of the taking of Jerusalem spread consternation throughout western
Christendom. The cry for another crusade arose on all sides. Once more thousands of men
sewed the cross in gold, or silk, or cloth upon their garments and set out for the Holy Land.
When the three greatest rulers of Europe - King Philip Augustus of France, King Richard I
of England, and the German emperor, Frederick Barbarossa assumed the cross, it seemed
that nothing could prevent the restoration of Christian supremacy in Syria. These great
rulers set out, each at the head of a large army, for the recovery of the Holy City of
King Richard raises Money for the Third Crusade
King Richard I of England (afterwards given the title of 'Coeur de Lion', the "Lionhearted," in memory of his heroic exploits in Palestine) was the central figure among the
Christian knights of this crusade. He raised money for the enterprise by: the persecution
and robbery of the Jews, the imposition of an unusual tax upon all classes and the sale of
offices, dignities, and the royal lands. When someone “Called him out” on the means
employed to raise money, he declared that "he would sell the city of London, if he could
find a purchaser."
The Death of Frederick Barbarossa, the German Emperor
The German crusaders, attempting the overland route, was consumed in Asia Minor by the
hardships of the march and the swords of the Turks. The Germans under Frederick
Barbarossa were the first to start. This great emperor was now nearly seventy years old,
yet age had not lessened his crusading zeal. The Emperor Frederick, according to the most
probable accounts, was drowned while crossing a swollen stream, and the most of the
survivors of his army, disheartened by the loss of their leader, returned to Germany.
The Third Crusade - the Siege of Acre
The English and French kings finally mustered their forces beneath the walls of Acre,
which city the Christians were then besieging. It is estimated that 600,000 men were
engaged in the investment of the place. After one of the longest and most costly sieges they
ever carried on in Asia, the crusaders at last forced the place to capitulate, in spite of all the
efforts of Saladin to render the garrison relief.
The Third Crusade - the Capture of Acre in 1191
The expedition of the French and English achieved little, other than the capture of Acre.
Philip and Richard, who came by sea, captured Acre after a hard siege, but their quarrels
prevented them from following up this initial success. King Philip soon went home, leaving
the further conduct of the crusade in Richard's hands.
The Third Crusade - King Richard and Saladin
The knightly adventures and chivalrous exploits which mark the career of Richard in the
Holy Land read like a romance. Nor was the chief of the Mohammedans, the renowned
Saladin, lacking in any of those knightly virtues with which the writers of the time invested
the character of the English hero. At one time, when Richard was sick with a fever,
Saladin, knowing that he was poorly supplied with delicacies, sent him a gift of the choicest
fruits of the land. And on another occasion, Richard's horse having been killed in battle,
the sultan caused a fine Arabian steed to be led to the Christian camp as a present for his
rival. For two years did Richard the Lion-hearted vainly contend in almost daily combat
with his generous antagonist for the possession of the tomb of Christ.
King Richard in the Holy Land 1191 - 1192
The English king remained in the Holy Land. His campaigns during this time gained for
him the title of "Lion-hearted," by which he is always known. He had many adventures
and performed knightly exploits without number, but could not capture Jerusalem.
Tradition declares that when, during a truce, some crusaders went up to Jerusalem,
Richard refused to accompany them, saying that he would not enter as a pilgrim the city
which he could not rescue as a conqueror.
The Truce between King Richard and Saladin
The English king remained for longer in the Holy Land than the other leaders. King
Richard and Saladin finally concluded a truce by the terms of which Christians were
permitted to visit Jerusalem without paying tribute, that they should have free access to the
holy places, and remain in undisturbed possession of the coast from Jaffa to Tyre. King
Richard then set sail for England, and with his departure from the Holy Land the Third
Crusade came to an end.
The Ransom of King Richard
King Richard on his return from the Holy Land was shipwrecked off the coast of the
Adriatic. Attempting to travel through Austria in disguise, he was captured by the duke of
Austria, whom he had offended at the siege of Acre. The king regained his liberty only by
paying a ransom equivalent to more than twice the annual revenues of England.
The Fourth Crusade
The Fourth Crusade - 1202 - 1261
The real author of the Fourth Crusade was the famous pope, Innocent III. Young,
enthusiastic, and ambitious for the glory of the Papacy, he revived the plans of Pope Urban
II and sought once more to unite the forces of Christendom against Islam. No emperor or
king answered his summons, but a number of knights (chiefly French) took the crusader's
vow. None of the Crusades, after the Third, effected much in the Holy Land; either their
force was spent before reaching it, or they were diverted from their purpose by different
objects and ambitions. The crusaders of the Fourth expedition captured Constantinople
instead of Jerusalem.
The Fourth Crusade - The Crusaders and the Venetians
The leaders of the crusade decided to make Egypt their objective point, since this country
was then the center of the Moslem power. Accordingly, the crusaders proceeded to Venice,
for the purpose of securing transportation across the Mediterranean. The Venetians agreed
to furnish the necessary ships only on condition that the crusaders first seized Zara on the
eastern coast of the Adriatic. Zara was a Christian city, but it was also a naval and
commercial rival of Venice. In spite of the pope's protests the crusaders besieged and
captured the city. Even then they did not proceed against the Moslems. The Venetians
persuaded them to turn their arms against Constantinople. The possession of that great
capital would greatly increase Venetian trade and influence in the East; for the crusading
nobles it held out endless opportunities of acquiring wealth and power. Thus it happened
that these soldiers of the Cross, pledged to war with the Moslems, attacked a Christian city,
which for centuries had formed the chief bulwark of Europe against the Arab and the
The Fourth Crusade - The Sack of Constantinople in 1204
The crusaders, now better styled the invaders, took Constantinople by storm. No "infidels"
could have treated in worse fashion this home of ancient civilization. They burned down a
great part of it; they slaughtered the inhabitants; they wantonly destroyed monuments,
statues, paintings, and manuscripts - the accumulation of a thousand years. Much of the
movable wealth they carried away. Never, declared an eye-witness of the scene, had there
been such plunder since the world began.
The Fourth Crusade - The Wealth of Constantinople
The victors hastened to divide between them the lands of the Roman Empire in the East.
Venice gained some districts in Greece, together with nearly all the Aegean islands. The
chief crusaders formed part of the remaining territory into the Latin Empire of
Constantinople. It was organized in fiefs, after the feudal manner. There was a prince of
Achaia, a duke of Athens, a marquis of Corinth, and a count of Thebes. Baldwin, Count of
Flanders, was crowned Emperor of the East. Large districts, both in Europe and Asia, did
not acknowledge, however, these "Latin" rulers. The new empire lived less than sixty
years. At the end of this time the Greeks returned to power.
Consequences of the Fourth Crusade
Constantinople, after the Fourth Crusade, declined in strength and could no longer cope
with the barbarians menacing it. Two centuries later the city fell an easy victim to the
Turks. The responsibility for the disaster which gave the Turks a foothold in Europe rests
on the heads of the Venetians and the French nobles. Their greed and lust for power turned
the Fourth Crusade into a political adventure.
The Fourth Crusade
Interesting Facts and information about the Fourth Crusade in the Middle Ages
The Fourth Crusade - 1202 - 1261
The Crusaders and the Venetians
The Sack of Constantinople in 1204
The Wealth of Constantinople
Consequences of the Fourth Crusade
The Fourth Crusade
The Children’s Crusade
The Children’s Crusade - 1212
The so-called Children's Crusade illustrates at once the religious enthusiasm and
misdirected zeal which marked the whole crusading movement. During the interval
between the Fourth and the Fifth Crusade, the epidemical fanaticism that had so long
agitated Europe seized upon the children, resulting in what is known as the Children's
The Childrens Crusade - Stephen of Cloyes
The preacher of the Children's crusade was a child about twelve years of age, a French
peasant lad, named Stephen of Cloyes, who became persuaded that Jesus Christ had
commanded him to lead a crusade of children to the rescue of the Holy Sepulchre. The
children became wild with excitement, and flocked in vast crowds to the places appointed
for rendezvous. Nothing could restrain them or thwart their purpose. "Even bolts and
bars," says an old chronicler, "could not hold them." The movement excited the most
diverse views. Some declared that it was inspired by the Holy Spirit, and quoted such
Scriptural texts as these to justify the enthusiasm: "A child shall lead them;" "Out of the
mouth of babes and sucklings thou hast ordained praise." Others, however, were quite as
confident that the whole thing was the work of the Devil. The great majority of those who
collected at the rallying places were boys under twelve years of age, but there were also
many girls.
The French Childrens Crusade
During the year 1212 A.D. about 30,000 French children assembled in bands and marched
through the towns and villages, carrying banners, candles, and crosses and singing, "Lord
God, exalt Christianity. Lord God, restore to us the true cross." The French children, set
out from the place of rendezvous for Marseilles. Those that sailed from that port were
betrayed, and sold as slaves in Alexandria and other Mohammedan slave markets. The
children could not be restrained at first, but finally hunger compelled them to return home.
The German Childrens Crusade
In Germany, during the same year, a lad named Nicholas really did succeed in launching a
crusade. He led a mixed multitude of men and women, boys and girls totalling 50,000 in
number,over the Alps into Italy, where they expected to take ship for Palestine. From
Brundusium 2000 or 3000 of the little crusaders sailed away into oblivion. Not a word ever
came back from them. Many other children perished of hardships, many were sold into
slavery, and only a few ever saw their homes again. "These children," Pope Innocent III
declared, "put us to shame; while we sleep they rush to recover the Holy Land."
The Childrens Crusade marked the decline of the Crusades
This remarkable spectacle of the children's crusade affords the most striking exhibition
possible of the ignorance, superstition, and fanaticism that characterized the period. Yet we
cannot but reverence the holy enthusiasm of an age that could make such sacrifices of
innocence and helplessness in obedience to what was believed to be the will of God. The
children's expedition marked at once the culmination and the decline of the crusading
movement. The fanatic zeal that inspired the first crusaders was already dying out. "These
children," said the Pope, referring to the young crusaders, "reproach us with having fallen
asleep, whilst they were flying to the assistance of the Holy Land."
Minor Crusades
Minor Crusades
None of the Crusades, after the Third, effected much in the Holy Land; either their force
was spent before reaching it, or they were diverted from their purpose by different objects
and ambitions. The crusaders of the Fourth expedition captured Constantinople instead of
Jerusalem! The children's crusade affords the most striking exhibition possible of the
ignorance, superstition, and fanaticism that characterized the period. The fanatic zeal that
inspired the first crusaders was already dying out. But other Crusades were mounted referred to as the Minor Crusades
The Minor Crusades Timeline
The Minor Crusades include the following dates and events
Minor Crusades Dates of Crusade
Fifth Crusade
1217 - 1221
Sixth Crusade
1228 - 1229
Seventh Crusade
1248 - 1254
Eighth Crusade
Ninth Crusade
1271 - 1272
Minor Crusades Timeline of Events
The 5th Crusade led by King Andrew II of
Hungary, Duke Leopold VI of Austria, John
of Brienne
The 6th Crusade led by Holy Roman
Emperor Frederick II
The 7th Crusade led by King Louis IX of
The 8th Crusade led by Louis IX
The 9th Crusade led by Prince Edward (later
Edward I of England)
The Minor Crusades
The last four expeditions, the Fifth, Sixth, Seventh, Eighth and Nineth crusades were
undertaken by the Christians of Europe against the infidels of the East, may be
conveniently grouped as the Minor Crusades. The Minor Crusades were marked by a less
fervid and holy enthusiasm than that which characterized the first movements, and exhibit
among those taking part in them the greatest variety of objects and ambitions.
The Fifth Crusade
The Fifth Crusade (1216-1220) was led by the kings of Hungary and Cyprus. Its strength
was wasted in Egypt, and it resulted in nothing
The Sixth Crusade
The Sixth Crusade (1227-1229), headed by Frederick II. of Germany, succeeded in securing
from the Saracens the restoration of Jerusalem, together with several other cities of
The Seventh Crusade
The Seventh Crusade (1249-1254) was under the lead of Louis IX. Of France, surnamed the
The Eighth Crusade
The Eighth Crusade ( 1270 ) was incited by the fresh misfortunes that, towards the close of
the thirteenth century, befell the Christian kingdom in Palestine. The leader of the eighth
crusade was King Louis IX of France. King Louis IX directed his forces against the Moors
about Tunis, in North Africa. Here the king died of the plague. Nothing was effected by this
The Ninth and Last Crusade
The Ninth Crusade (1271 - 1272) was also incited by the misfortunes that, towards the close
of the thirteenth century, befell the Christian kingdom in Palestine. The leader of this
crusade was Prince Edward of England, afterwards King Edward I. The English prince,
was, however, more fortunate than the ill-fated King Louis IX. Edward succeeded in
capturing Nazareth, and in compelling the sultan of Egypt to agree to a treaty favorable to
the Christians in the Last Crusade .
The Last Crusade
The flame of the Crusades had burned itself out leading to the Last Crusade. The fate of
the little Christian kingdom in Asia, isolated from Europe, and surrounded on all sides by
bitter enemies, became each day more and more apparent. Finally the last of the places
(Acre) held by the Christians fell before the attacks of the Mamelukes of Egypt, and with
this event the Latin Kingdom of Jerusalem came to an end (1291). The second great combat
between Mohammedanism and Christianity was over, and "silence reigned along the shore
that had so long resounded with the world's debate."