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The Crusades
Mixed reasons for and mixed
results of religious warfare
The Crusades 1096-1291
For nearly 200 years European Christian crusaders
sought to capture to the Holy Land from the Muslims
Decline of Byzantium
• Muslim Seljuks won an
important victory at
Manzikert in 1071
• The Byzantine Emperor
Alexius Comnenus asked
Pope Urban II to help
him against the Muslims
Pope Urban II
• Pope Urban responded at
Clermont, France in 1095.
He called upon Christians to
“Enter upon the road to the Holy
Sepulcher; wrest that land from the
wicked race, and subject it to
• Urban’s speech with the help
of others like Peter the
Hermit would help launch the
first of
multiple (9+)
Crusades over 200 years
Reasons for the Crusades
• Significance of Jerusalem to
the Christian religion and
the Church of the Holy
Christians throughout the
Middle Ages made holy
• Jerusalem was held by the
Saracens until 1065 when
taken by the Turks who no
longer guaranteed safe
passage to Christians
A pilgrim camp near Jericho
by David Roberts
Reasons for the Crusades
• The Byzantine Empire was
in decline and could no
longer act as a buffer
between Muslim East and
the Catholic West
• The Pope hoped to unite the
eastern Mediterranean and
Byzantine Empire and the
divided Christian faith under
Roman/Latin Church
Reasons for the Crusades
• Peter the Hermit who was
commissioned by Pope
Urban II traversed all Italy
support for a crusade
• Sincere religious piety and
conviction. "Dieu le volt!”
It is the Will of God
Reasons for the Crusades
• Italian city-states, with their
large navies, hoped for
commercial gains and to
break Muslim trade routes
• Reduction
competition and warfare
Reasons for the Crusades
• The restless spirit of the
Teutonic peoples of Europe,
who had not yet outgrown
barbarian instincts
• Feudal knights and lords,
animated by the rising spirit
of chivalry, were ready to
enlist in an undertaking
consonant with their martial
feelings and vows of
chivalry and knighthood
Mobilization of the Crusades
• In preaching the Crusade Pope Urban offered extraordinary
inducements including a plenary indulgence remitting all
punishments due to sin for those who died and guaranteed
admission to heaven
• Serfs were allowed to leave the land to which they were bound
• Citizens were exempted from taxes and religious obligations
• Prisoners were freed and death sentences were commuted by a
bold extension of Papal authority to life service in Palestine
The Crusaders: Who Were They?
• A variety of motivations resulted in a widely
varied group of Crusaders
– Men tired of hopeless poverty
– Younger sons seeking fortunes
– Adventurers seeking action
– Merchants looking for new markets
– Lords whose enlisting serfs had left them
– Sincerely religious individuals wanting to
rescue the land of Christ
The First Crusade
• The word “crusade” comes
from the Spanish cruzade
(from L. crux) which means
“marked with the cross”
• Crusaders wore red crosses
on their chests to symbolize
their purpose
The People’s Crusade
• The initial crusade or People’s
Crusade led by Peter the
Hermit and Walter the
Penniless, quickly devolved
into disorder, hunger, and illdiscipline. They were all but
annihilated by a force of
Turks at Nicea and returned to
The First Crusade 1096-99
• More organized Crusaders,
under the leadership of
moved by various routes to
• There the Emperor Alexius
gave them provisions and
bribes in exchange for a
pledge of fealty (at least)
Godfrey of Bouillon was among the
most brave, pious, competent, and
fanatical leaders of the First Crusade
The First Crusade
• The First Crusaders met a
divided Muslim force and
won victories at Nicea in
1097 and Antioch in 1098
• By June 1099, after a three
year campaign, 12,000 of
Crusaders reached
soon took Jerusalem
Siege of Antioch
The First Crusade
• July 15 1098 the Crusaders
went over the city walls of
Jerusalem and unleashed
horrific carnage
– Blood reportedly ran
– Over 70,000 Moslems
were slaughtered
– Jews were herded into
synagogues and burned
alive. 1000s killed
The First Crusade
• Administrative rule of Jerusalem
proved problematic
• Eventually the kingdom was
parceled into independent fiefs
reducing the former owners to
the condition of serfs
• The native Christian population
came to look back on the era of
Moslem rule as a golden age
Godfrey served as the first
ruler of Jerusalem
• The establishment of new orders
of military monks partially offset
these weaknesses
• The Knights Templar began by
protecting and nursing pilgrims
but gravitated to active attacks on
Muslim strongholds
• Both orders would come to play
prominent roles in the battles of
the Crusades and earned great
reputations as warriors
Seal of the Knights
Muslim Counterattack
• Most Crusaders
returned to
Europe after freeing Jerusalem,
creating a manpower shortage
• Muslim refugees retreated to
Baghdad and demanded a force
retake Jerusalem
• In 1144, Muslims under Zengi
retook the Christian’s outpost at
Edessa. Beginning of jihad (?)
• Such developments spur the
Second Crusade
The Second Crusade 1147-49
• Announced by Pope Eugene III, it was the first of the
crusades led by European kings
• Muslim forces were ready and German and French crusaders
were slaughtered
• It ultimately led to the fall of Jerusalem and the Third
Crusade at the end of the 12th century
The Second Crusade 1147-49
The Second Crusade 1147-49
• Begins with 500,000. Most lost to starvation/disease/battle
• News of the defeat of the Second Crusade shocked Europe
– Christians wondered how God would allow them to be so
humiliated by the infidel
– Defeat was viewed as punishment for sins
– Enthusiasm for the Crusades waned rapidly
• While the Latin kingdom of Jerusalem continued to be torn by
internal strife, its Muslim enemies were moving toward unity
• In 1175, Saladin brought Egypt
and Muslim Syria under one rule
• In 1185, he signed a four-year
truce with the Latin kingdom but
the Christians violated it
• He declared a holy war against
the Christians and captured
Jerusalem in 1187
– Considered far more generous
and temperate than Crusaders
Saladin was generally described
favorably by both Eastern and
Western sources
The Third Crusade 1189-1192
• The Third Crusade (aka
the Kings' Crusade), was
an attempt by European
leaders to reconquer the
Holy Land from Saladin
• Involved Richard I of
England (Lion-hearted),
Phillip II of France,
Frederick I of Holy
Roman Empire
The Third Crusade 1189-1192
The Third Crusade 1189-1192
• Richard and Saladin engaged in a “unique campaign in
which blows and battles alternated with compliments and
courtesies” (Durant, 599)
– Richard proposed his sister marry Saladin’s brother
– They each signed peace treaties then rejected them
– Richard conferred knighthood on the son of a Muslim
– Richard got sick and Saladin sent him his own
physician and some fruit
– Saladin once saw Richard unmounted in battle and sent
him a horse
The Third Crusade 1189-1192
• In the end Richard and Saladin
signed a peace for three years
beginning September 1192
– Richard would keep the
Moslems and Christians could
pass freely into and from each
other’s territory
– Christian Pilgrims would be
protected in Jerusalem
– Jerusalem would remain in
Muslim hands
The Third Crusade 1189-1192
• Richard possessed superior brilliance, courage, and knowledge
of the military art, but Saladin’s moderation, patience, and
justice had carried the day
• The relative unity and fidelity of the Muslims had once again
triumphed over the Christians’ divisions and disloyalties
The Fourth Crusade 1199-1204
• Europe was in turmoil with renewed fighting between France
and England, but the death of Saladin and the breakup of his
empire renewed hope for another Crusade
• In exchange for its financial support, Venice exacted a promise
that the Crusaders would capture the important port of Zara
and turn it over to her
• The Fourth Crusade would be marked by avarice
The Fourth Crusade 1199-1204
• The temptation to capture
Constantinople which had
derived much profit from
the Crusades was too great
• Seizing
would not only provide
financial benefit, it would
also restore it to the Western
• In 1204 the Crusaders
The Fourth Crusade 1199-1204
• The Byzantine Empire was divided into feudal dominions,
each ruled by a Latin noble
• Most Crusaders returned home, perhaps thinking that by
securing Constantinople they now had a stronger base against
the Muslims
• Only a handful continued to Palestine and had no effect there
• The Byzantine Empire never recovered and the Latin capture
of Constantinople served to prepare it for capture by the Turks
two centuries later
• In 1453, when attacked by Turks, Byzantines preferred
surrender to asking Rome for aid
Collapse of the Crusades
• The scandal of the Fourth
Crusade and the failure of
the Third quenched the
greater fire for Crusades
but several half-hearted
efforts would continue
until 1291
• In 1291, the Moslems
seized Acre. Tyre, Sidon,
Haifa, and Beirut fell soon
Among the ineffective latter crusades was
the “Children’s Crusade” of 1212 in which
thousands of children ended up drowning or
being sold into slavery
Results of the Crusades
• Negative Outcomes (from a western perspective)
– Jerusalem was in Muslim hands. Muslim civilization had
been victorious
– Christian pilgrims became fewer and more fearful than ever
– The Muslim powers, once tolerant of religious diversity,
had been made intolerant by the Crusaders’ attack
– The effort of the popes to bring peace and unity to Europe
had been thwarted by nationalistic ambitions, avarice, and
internal dissention
– The influence of the Catholic Church and the position of
the pope declined and the schism between the Eastern
Orthodox and Roman Catholic Church widened
Results of the Crusades
• Negative Outcomes (from a western perspective)
– Eastern Christians were caught in the middle between
Crusaders and Muslims, and many outraged by the
excesses of the Crusaders or who wanted to avoid
persecution by Muslim leaders converted to Islam
– Ironically the Crusades proved instrumental in making the
eastern Mediterranean predominantly Muslim
– Lasting mistrust between Christians and Muslims
Results of the Crusades
• Positive Outcomes
– Serfs used the Crusades to leave their lands and many
found new opportunities
– The Turkish capture of Constantinople was delayed (1453)
– The Muslims, though victorious, had themselves been
weakened, and fell more easily when the Mongols attacked
– Trade and exploration were enhanced
Results of the Crusades
• Italian traders benefited from
supplying the Crusades, but
they also saw an opportunity to
expand markets by establishing
direct trade with the Muslims
• This lucrative trade provided
great profit to the Italian citystates and ultimately provided
the economic basis for the
commercial revolution and the
Italian Renaissance
Lorenzo de Medici was part of a
family that ruled Florence and
served as bankers for the Crusades
and patrons of the Renaissance
Cultural Diffusion
• European Christians became exposed to new ideas as they
traveled throughout the Mediterranean basin
– The works of Aristotle and Greeks
– Islamic science and astronomy
– “Arabic” numerals which the Moslems had borrowed from
– Techniques for paper production which the Muslims had
learned from China
• While the Crusades may have largely failed as military
adventures, they helped encourage the reintegration of western
Europe into the larger economy of the world
The Reconquista of Spain
• The Christians had better
success wresting Sicily and
Spain from the Moslems in
actions separate from the
The Reconquista of Spain
• By 1150 Christians had recaptured Lisbon and controlled over
half the peninsula
• In 1492, Christian forces conquered Granada and the
Reconquista was complete
Immediate Impact of the
• After the Reconquista, the
devoutly Christian rulers of
Spain and Portugal were
eager to dominate the
Islamic states in North
Africa and to convert nonChristians
• The desire to spread
Christianity would be one
of the motives for the
European explorations –
1492 was the year of both the
completion of the Reconquista and
Columbus’ voyage to the New World