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History 1500
World History to 1500
The Crusades
Joshua Gibson
The Crusades were a time for Christians to do what they believed was right. In 1095 men
were assembled to start one of the most debated topics of our day. What were the Crusades?
Who started, and who finished? What were motives of these men? These questions are asked
about the Crusades and often are not known. Then leads to the question everyone has. Were
the Crusades Just pointless battles? Were they really Gods will? And after all these have been
answered, the main question still remains. Were the Crusades a Success or were they a Failure?
Key words to cover are Crusade- exert oneself continuously, vigorously, or obtrusively to gain an end
or engage in a crusade for a certain cause or person; be an advocate for. Byzantine- the Byzantine
Empire or Eastern Roman Empire was the Roman Empire during the Middle Ages. Christian- a religious
person who believes Jesus is the Christ and who is a member of a Christian denomination. Muslim- a
believer in or follower of Islam. Throughout this paper I will be discussing the topic of The
Crusades, the timeline of The Crusades, and possibly find the facts and ability to answer the
question. Were The Crusades a Success or were they a Failure? My belief is to be that The
Crusades were a Failure. Not so much as the Christians always lost battles, but looking in on the
purpose and the reasoning for doing it, the heart of the leaders and people of that time. Did
they succeed or fail? In the body of this discussion we will go over some main parts of The
Crusades. First we will discuss what they were, who was the first to start them, how they
started and why they started. Then we will go through the Crusades themselves, a timeline of
important events, covering the battles, the successes and failures and the areas fought. Finally
to end we will go over the main question, if the Crusades were a success of a failure.
The Beginning
In 1095 an assembly of churchmen called by Pope Urban II met at Clermont, France.
Messengers from the Byzantine Emperor Alexius Comnenus had urged the pope to send help
against the armies of Muslim Turks. On November 27 the pope addressed the assembly and
asked the warriors of Europe to liberate the Holy Land from the Muslims. The response of the
assembly was overwhelmingly favorable. Then was launched the first and most successful of at
least eight crusades against the Muslim caliphates of the Near East. The word Crusade means in
a literal sense, going to the Cross. The idea at the time was to urge Christian warriors to go to
Palestine and free Jerusalem and other holy places from Muslim domination.
A speech was given by Pope Urban II at Clermont. “O race of Franks…race chosen and
beloved by God! From the confines of Jerusalem and from Constantinople a grievous report
has gone forth… that a race from the kingdom of the Persians, an accused race, a race utterly
alienated from God… has invaded the lands of [Eastern] Christians and has depopulated them
by the sword, pillage, and fire…. The labor of avenging these wrongs [is placed]… upon you…
Enter upon the road to the Holy Sepulchre; Wrest that land from the wicked race, and subject
it to yourselves…..”
Robert the monk, “The speech of Pope Urban II at Clermont,” trans. D. C. Munro, Translations and Reprints from
the original Sources of European History, rev. ed. Series I, vol. 1, no. 2 (Philadelphia: University of Pennsylvania
Press, 1902), pp. 5-8
After that speech was given in 1095 all of France were shouting, “It is the will of God! It
is the will of God!” The response to his speech, to attack the Muslims in the Holy Land was
tremendous. The Crusades were the result of this response given to the Byzantine emperor
after he made an appeal to assist him against the Muslims. The Crusades worsened the
European-Muslim relations, all it was doing was intensifying the religious fanaticism and
producing a long lasting cultural prejudices.
Reasons of why the crusades were started are as follows. First, the Pope hoped to unite
the entire eastern Mediterranean and the divided Christian faith under the banner of the Latin
Church. Second, the Italian city-states, with their large navies, hoped for commercial gains and
were therefore keen supporters of the crusades. Third, the Byzantine Empire was in a severe
decline and could no longer act as a buffer between the Muslim East and the Catholic West.
And fourth, the Seljuk Turks, declining in military power, were no longer able to ensure the
safety of the Christian pilgrims visiting the holy sites. By 1097 there were 30,000 knights ready
to go on this crusade and secure the Holy Land for all Christendom while also reaping their
share of money and glory. All reasons leading into the Crusades.
The timeline of The Crusades is a lengthy one. There were few Wins and great Losses.
Dates of Crusade
First Crusade
1096 - 1099
Second Crusade
1144 -1155
Third Crusade
1187 -1192
Crusades Timeline of Events
The People's Crusade - Freeing the Holy
Lands. 1st Crusade led by Count Raymond
IV of Toulouse and proclaimed by many
wandering preachers, notably Peter the
Crusaders prepared to attack Damascus. 2nd
crusade led by Holy Roman Emperor Conrad
III and by King Louis VII of France
3rd Crusade led by Richard the Lionheart of
Fourth Crusade
1202 -1204
The Children's
Fifth Crusade
1217 - 1221
Sixth Crusade
1228 - 1229
Seventh Crusade
Eighth Crusade
1248 - 1254
Ninth Crusade
1271 - 1272
England, Philip II of France, and Holy
Roman Emperor Frederick I. Richard I
made a truce with Saladin
4th Crusade led by Fulk of Neuil
French/Flemish advanced on Constantinople
The Children's Crusade led by a French
peasant boy, Stephen of Cloyes
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 Louis IX of France
The 8th Crusade led by Louis IX
The 9th Crusade led by Prince Edward (later
Edward I of England)
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 son. The Normans from Italy and Sicily were led by Bohemond, and his
nephew Tancred.
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. 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 through
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 organized - 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. 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.
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. 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, almost 4 years later. Once inside the city, the crusaders massacred
their enemies without mercy. For seven days the slaughter went on, at the end of which time
scarcely any of the Muslim faith were left alive. The Christians took possession of the houses
and property of the Muslim, each soldier having a right to that which he had first seized and
placed his mark upon.
This first Crusade was a success to the people leading the attack, yet the peoples
Crusade was highly full of casualties. Many events took place to take the city Jerusalem. And
countless People Perished, for the cause of “Gods Will” and for the cause of the Pope and
leaders who were desiring to get rid of the “Muslim Infidel” There were many more crusades,
and few that were actually successful. Jerusalem was eventually taken again and leads to a
second crusade, and then a third where it didn’t end in a success or failure.
The Third Crusade
The Third Crusade began in 1189 as an attempt to reconquer the Holy Land from
Saladin. Egypt after 1169 was ruled by Saladin, who made it the object of his life to drive the
Christian power from the eastern Mediterranean coast. Frederick Barbarossa who was the
leader of this Crusade faced opposition from the Byzantine Emperor Isaac II Angelus, who had
made a secret treaty with Saladin. Frederick passed through Byzantine land as quickly as
possible, and captured the Seljuk capital of Iconium on May 18, 1189. Unfortunately for his
crusade, the third crusade, the emperor drowned in the Saleph River on June 10, 1190.
Although he had a larger army than Saladin, without his leadership his troops immediately
began to break up, and those who remained were quickly defeated in battle when they reached
Richard and Philip travelled by sea to the Holy Land in 1191. Philip had arrived at Tyre
and allied himself with Conrad of Montferrat, who claimed the kingship of Jerusalem. The two
besieged Acre in April, 1191, with help from the remnants of Frederick's army, and Richard
arrived to take charge of the siege in June. Saladin's armies attempted to break the siege, but
were turned away, and the city was taken on July 12. The three Christian commanders fought
for power amongst themselves; Leopold V of Austria, the German commander, wanted to be
recognized equally with Richard and Philip, but Richard removed Leopold's banner from the
city. Philip, also frustrated with Richard, left the Holy Land in August.
On August 22, Richard executed the 3000 Muslim prisoners he still had in his custody at
Acre, when he felt Saladin was not honoring the terms of Acre's surrender. Richard then
decided to take the port of Jaffa, which he would need to launch an attack on Jerusalem; while
on the march, Saladin attacked him at Arsuf in September, but Richard won. By January of
1192, Richard was ready to march on Jerusalem, but Saladin had reinforced his army and
fortified the city. Richard came within sight of Jerusalem twice, but each time retreated in the
face of Saladin's larger army. Saladin then attempted to retake Jaffa in July, but was defeated
by Richard's now much smaller force on July 31.
On September 2, 1192, Richard and Saladin finalized a treaty by which Jerusalem would
remain under Muslim control, but which also allowed unarmed Christian pilgrims to visit the
city. Richard left for England at the end of September, ending The Third Crusade.
The Result in the Third Crusade was a success because a treaty was signed and the war
stopped. They let the Pilgrims still come into the holy sites unharmed. But they were a failure in
the eyes of the leaders, the reason that brought on the fourth crusade 6 years later. The fourth
Crusade happened and was a failure once more. Then another Crusade after the fourth
procceeded that was most horrible to the parents all over France and other countries.
The Children’s Crusade
One day in May 1212 there appeared at Saint-Denis, where King Philip of France was
holding his court, a shepherd-boy of about twelve years old called Stephen, from the small
town of Cloyes in the Orléannais. He brought with him a letter for the King, which he said, had
been given to him by Christ in person, who had appeared to him as he was tending his sheep
and who had bidden him go and preach the Crusade. King Philip was not impressed by the child
and told him to go home. But Stephen, whose enthusiasm had been fired by his mysterious
visitor, saw himself now as an inspired leader who would succeed where his elders had failed.
For the past fifteen years preachers had been going round the country-side urging a Crusade
against the Muslims of the East or of Spain. It was easy for a young boy to be infected with the
idea that he too could be a preacher and could emulate Peter the Hermit. Undismayed by the
King's indifference, he began to preach at the very entrance to the abbey of Saint-Denis and to
announce that he would lead a band of children to the rescue of Christendom. The seas would
dry up before them, and they would pass, like Moses through the Red Sea, safe to the Holy
Land. He was gifted with an extraordinary eloquence. Older folk were impressed, and children
came to his call. After his first success he set out round France summoning the children; and
many of his converts went further to work on his behalf. They were all to meet together at
Vendôme in about a month and start out from there to the East. Towards the end of June the
children arrived at Vendome. There were thirty thousand, not one over twelve years of age,
collected from all parts of the country, some of them simple peasants, whose parents in many
cases had willingly let them go on their great mission. But there were also boys of noble birth
who had slipped away from home to join Stephen and his following of "minor prophets" as the
chroniclers called them. There were also girls amongst them, a few young priests, and a few
older pilgrims, some drawn by kindness, others, perhaps, from pity. The bands came crowding
into the town. The town could not contain them all, and they encamped in the fields outside.
The expedition split into two parties. The first twenty thousand was led by Stephen
himself. It set out up the Rhine to Basle and through western Switzerland, past Geneva, to cross
the Alps by Mont Cenis pass. It was an arduous journey for the children, and their losses were
heavy. Less than a third of the company that left Cologne appeared before the walls of Genoa,
at the end of August, and demanded a night's shelter within its walls. The Genoese authorities
were ready at first to welcome the pilgrims, but on second thoughts they suspected a German
plot. They would allow them to stay for one night only; but any who wished to settle
permanently in Genoa were invited to do so. The children, expecting the sea to divide before
them next morning, were content. But next morning the sea was as impervious to their prayers
as it had been to the French at Marseilles. In their disillusion many of the children at once
accepted the Genoese offer and became Genoese citizens, forgetting their pilgrimage, But
Nicholas and the greater number moved on. The sea would open for them elsewhere. A few
days later they reached Pisa. There two ships bound for Palestine agreed to take several of the
children; nothing is known of their fate. Nicholas, however, still awaited a miracle, and trudged
on with his faithful followers in Rome. At Rome, the Pope received them. He was moved by
their goodness but embarrassed by their foolishness. With kindly firmness he told them that
they must now go home.
Little is known of the return journey. Many of the children, especially the girls, stayed
behind in some Italian town or village. Only a few stragglers found their way back next spring to
the Rhineland, but the angry parents whose children had perished insisted on the arrest of
Stephens his father, who had, it seems, encouraged the boy out of vainglory. He was taken and
hanged. Many from this Crusade were devastated. They lost their children and not just from
death. This was yet not the end of the Crusades. There have yet to be four more in a failing
effort to happen.
The following description of the Children's Crusade is taken from Steven Runciman's classic three volume work, A
History of the Crusades (Cambridge, 1951), Volume III: The Kingdom of Acre and the Later Crusades, pp.139-144.
Paul Halsall has included an excerpt from the Chronica Regiae Coloniensis at the Internet Medieval Source Book.
The Last Chapter in the Crusades
The next 5 Crusades were all in vain. They were well fought battles but a failure. Leopold
VI of Austria and Andrew II of Hungary participated in the Fifth Crusade. They captured the city
of Damietta, but after their devastating loss at the Battle of al-Mansura, they were forced to
return it. Ironically, before their defeat they were offered control of Jerusalem and other
Christian sites in Palestine in exchange for the return of Damietta, but Cardinal Pelagius refused
and turned a potential victory into a stunning defeat. The sixth Crusade was a failure as in
military status, but a success by a peace treaty giving Christians control over some of Jerusalem.
It was led by Holy Roman Emperor Frederick II of Hohenstaufen, King of Jerusalem through his
marriage to Yolanda, daughter of John of Brienne, King of Jerusalem. Led by King Louis IX of
France, the Seventh Eighth and Ninth Crusades were very much a failure. In the Seventh
Crusade Louis sailed to Egypt in 1248 and recaptured Damietta, but after he and his army were
routed he had to return it as well as a massive ransom just to get free. In 1270 he set off on the
Eighth Crusade, landing in North Africa in the hope of converting the sultan of Tunis to
Christianity but died before he got far. Led by King Edward I of England in 1271 who tried to join
Louis in Tunis, the Ninth Crusade would fail in the end. Edward arrived after Louis had died and
moved against the Mamluk sultan Baibers. He didn't achieve much, though, and returned home
to England after he learned that his father Henry III had died.
Success or Failure
All in all, and in the whole grand scheme of things. The Crusades were a complete and
utter failure. As far as the reasons they were doing it. The result of acting gin those reasons and
the basically stupid things they did in the midst of the whole thing. They acted in the “Will of
God” but acted by the “Will of Man.” They killed when there wasn’t a reason to kill. They
plundered and stole and wanted land and other people’s things to themselves. That is not
acting in any will of God. In the eyes of them who led attacks and wanted all these things for
themselves, the crusades were a fantastic failure. There were at least two crusades that
actually won, or did anything worth celebrating about. Some of the successes were treaties and
not actual wins in battles. And although all the failures were happening people found time to
plunder and steal. So in conclusion to the failures, the leaders and the religion and people of
importance saw a failure.
Successes that came from the Crusades were few but also had a lasting effect on the
people and culture of both sides. Though the Crusades lasted for many years, the actual
amount of fighting was reasonably small. Of the 174 years of the Crusades, only 24 involved
fighting and not all of the 24 years were spent fighting. Therefore, there was much to be made
by trading with each other. The below list gives an indication of how Western Europe benefited.
The Muslim obtained from the west linen and woolen cloth. There were years when trade
between the two sides was very good
Rice, coffee, sherbet, dates, apricots, lemons, sugar, spices such as
Food products
ginger, melons, rhubarb and dates.
Mirrors, carpets, cotton cloth for clothing, ships compasses, writing
Household goods
paper, wheelbarrows, mattresses and shawls.
chess, Arabic figures 0 to 9, pain killing drugs, algebra, irrigation,
New ideas
chemistry, the colour scarlet, water wheels and water clocks
The Crusades had a major impact on the building of castles. Many large castles were
built in Wales (such as Beaumaris, Conway and and Caernarvon) by Edward I. He had been on a
crusade and it is probable that he learned about castle improvements as a result of his
experiences. The Muslims built in a scientific manner using the area a castle was built in for its
maximum potential.
The conclusion of this whole subject is that, The Crusades didn’t need to happen. As I
see it, and as I have read over the information. The Crusades were a failure, though had some
good things come out of the results and in the end. Too many innocent lives were lost that had
no reason to be lost. It seemed the real reason was to gain power, gain stature, gain more
money and to show the “Muslim Infidel” who was boss. The leaders of the whole thing would
have been better off leaving the name of God out of this. And to just say they were greedy. For
how many Crusades there were and how many of them were actually a success, you can see
that they had some different plan in mind than to “free the holy Land”. People say that it was
strictly because of Power and Money. Some people believe it was for the safety of the pilgrims
coming into the country, to help them get to the holy sites. And you always have the belief that
God Will it. But in my eyes, I see it as the power seeking people not being satisfied by their own
estate, insomuch that they desired others. And doing what they can to take it, and Failing.