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Ognibeni 1
Subject: History
Research Question:
Were the Crusaders Effective in Achieving Their Goals?
Lorenzo Ognibeni
2013/ 12/16
Mr. Neema
9th Grade Geography
Research Project
Word Count: 2913
Ognibeni 2
Table of Contents
Title Page
Table of Contents
What the Crusaders achieved
How the Crusaders slowed down Islamic expansions
Were they effective?
Reasons for why the Crusades weren’t effective
Works Cited Page
Ognibeni 3
This essay examines whether the Crusaders were effective in achieving their goals.
Answering the question involved secondary research on the history and motives of the
Crusades and various impacts and effects of the Crusades. It also involves research of
reasons that make us consider the Crusades as a failure or as a success. The essay
explores the historical background of the Crusades and motives for launching the
Crusades. Building on the historical background, the essay attempts to determine the
various impacts and the effects of the Crusades. The essay also explores the historical
importance of the Crusades by evaluating its impacts on the world. The essay also
examines reasons that make us consider the Crusades as a failure or as a success.
After reaching a conclusion on whether the Crusaders were effective or not, the essay
determines key reasons to their failure or success. An analysis of the information is
carried out to reach a conclusion to determine if the Crusaders were effective in
achieving their goals. The conclusion arrived at is that the Crusaders were not
effective in achieving their goals and had little success, however they still had some
positive outcomes and impacts , thus making them not a total failure.
Word Count: 203
Ognibeni 4
The Crusades were very important events in history that helped shape the world we
live in today. Imagine a world without Islam; it would be quite a different story than
what we see today. The Crusaders were trying to accomplish that while trying to
conquer the Holy Land. However they didn’t eliminate the Islamic world, nor did they
conquer the Holy Land. They did not achieve their primary goals; however there were
other things that they achieved. Overall, were the Crusades effective? This is an
important subject to study because 1,000 years after the Crusades, there still is a
religious conflict in the land of Palestine. After research, my conclusion is that the
Crusades were not effective in achieving their goals.
The Crusades were a series of military expeditions to the Islamic Middle East during
the early middle ages. They lasted from 1096 A.D. to 1272 A.D. They were mostly
launched by the Roman Catholic Church and its popes and were fought in the name of
the Holy Land. However, the Crusaders came from all over Europe, mostly from the
Holy Roman Empire, the Kingdom of France, the Kingdom of England, the Kingdom
of Portugal and the County of Holland. (Madison) They fought against the Muslims,
Ognibeni 5
the Seljuk Turks and the Byzantine Empire with the purpose of conquering Jerusalem
and the Holy Land for the church and keeping it under Christian control. There were
eight major crusades that were sent to the Holy Land over the span of around 200
years. (Zahoor)
Pope Urban II formed the First Crusade in 1096; it was also called the People’s
Crusade. It was formed mostly of thieves and criminals as the pope proclaimed that
anyone who joined the Crusades would be relieved of all his sins and criminal
penance. Around 60,000 men and women pillaged across Europe. (Zahoor) In
reaching Hungary, the Crusaders encountered Paulicians in a major battle. Some twothirds of the Crusaders were killed. Reinforcements of better-trained soldiers led by
Godfrey were sent to join the remnants of the first Crusaders. (Zahoor) Godfrey
eventually reached and conquered Jerusalem in 1099. (Edmonds) The Second
Crusade was undertaken forty-eight years after the conquest of Jerusalem in 1147 in
order to support the survivors of the First Crusade. The Crusaders ate the poorest
quality of food which was let down to them from the walls in baskets as city gates in
Asia and Europe were closely barred against them.(Edmonds) The Crusaders were
plagued by famine and many of them died before they reached Palestine. The
survivors were killed in battle. Jerusalem was reconquered by the Muslims in 1187.
Ognibeni 6
The Third Crusade was led by Richard the Lion Heart of England, yet they failed to
recapture Jerusalem. Richard returned to England in 1192 with the remnants of an
army which had been destroyed by shipwrecks and war. (Zahoor)The Fourth Crusade
chose an easier object of conquest, Constantinople. In 1203, they pillaged and
plundered the ancient capital of the East. The booty ransacked from Constantinople
greatly increased the wealth of the Roman Catholic Church. (Madison) However, they
did not capture the Holy Land. The Fifth Crusade initially directed the main force
against Egypt. The Crusade’s forces were trapped in the Nile flooding, eventually
causing them defeat.(Madison) Led by King Louis IX of France, the Sixth Crusade
proved to be another failure, never getting anywhere near the Holy Land. In the
seventh crusade, led again by King Louis IX of France, the same thing happened as
the crusaders were defeated in Egypt. The eighth crusade lasted only a year, led once
again by King Louis IX of France. The project was another failure after King Louis
IX died of disease while attacking Carthage (modern day Tunis). The ninth and last
crusade was led by future English King Edward I. Edward reached the Holy Land but
got no where further in conquering it either. (Edmonds)
One out of nine of the major Crusades was truly successful, the first. The Crusaders
were defeated time after time in Palestine, Egypt, Tunisia and at times even inside
Europe while the death toll reached an astonishing three million. (Madison)
Ognibeni 7
After the Holy Land was conquered during the First Crusade, many of the Crusaders
returned to Europe. In order to protect the Christians settlements in the Holy Land, the
Knights Templar and Knights Hospitalers were created. (Bocchieri) Knights Templar
was the most powerful military monastic order which took part in the Crusades. It was
formed from several groups of knights to protect Christian pilgrims in the Holy Land.
They kept under their control many key castles in the east and participated in every
major battle. (Bocchieri) The Knights Hospitalers was another powerful military
order; its primary purpose included caring for sick and wounded knights of the
Crusading Army. (Bocchieri) Together, they became the pillar that kept Christian
activities in the east still active.
What the Crusaders achieved
The Crusades’ main purpose was to take the Holy Land back into Christian hands and
eliminate Islam. They didn’t succeed in anyone of those two; however there were
some other benefits that the Crusades brought to the Christian world. First of all, the
Crusaders did conquer and keep the Holy Land in Christian control for a short period
of time, around 88 years. The Crusaders liberated old sea and land trade routes.
(Mahorney) Crucial maritime trade routes such as the Mediterranean, Black and Red
Seas reopened trades between the East and the West. The Crusaders were able to
grasp hold of Constantinople, a link between the Mediterranean and Black Seas. They
Ognibeni 8
also established a trade route between the Mediterranean and Red Sea by taking
control of the Holy Land for a period of time. (Edmonds)
Land trade routes were reopened as well. Old roads built during the Roman Empire
were rebuilt to transport the Crusaders. Trade also followed their footsteps. With new
trade routes, goods from the East such as exotic fruits, spices and silk poured into
Europe. (Cline) The increase in demand of those goods greatly increased the wealth of
merchants. New ideas and technologies came to Europe as well. Chinese paper
printing technologies and Arabic advancements in mathematics, medicine and science
were just some of them. (Cline)
How the Crusaders slowed down Islamic expansions
The Crusaders weren’t very effective in conquering the Holy Land and eliminating
Islam. However, they did manage to slow down the expansion of the Islamic world.
During the period of the Crusades, Europe was experiencing its dark ages while the
Arab world was at its pinnacle. They flourished culturally, scientifically and in every
possible way. (Cline) It was also conquering Christian territories and expanding at an
incredible rate. Islam had already taken over North Africa and was reaching into the
Iberian Peninsula (modern day Spain and Portugal). The Muslim Empire defeated the
Byzantine Empire and was reaching into Eastern Europe through Constantinople. It
fhas also swallowed Asia Minor (modern day Turkey), which was the only Christian
Ognibeni 9
territory in the Middle East. (Mahorney) The Muslim Empire covered as much as 15
million square kilometers of land at its peak in 750 AD. The Muslim Empire grew
from almost nothing to 15 million square kilometers of land in just 120 years.
(Madison) Islam seemed unstoppable, Europe had to defend its self, or convert to
Islam, but that was not a solution. That’s where the Crusaders stepped in. The
Crusades happened around 1,100 AD, after the Muslim Empire’s expansion in the 8th
Century. The Muslim Empire maintained its peak from the 8th Century to the 12th
Century. (Mahorney) However, there is no major expansion from the Muslim side
during that time. The Muslim Empire reached its peak and just froze for four centuries
before it gradually decreased in size. This freeze in Muslim expansion wasn’t just all
works of the Crusaders of course, but they certainly contributed.
Were they effective?
The First Crusade was truly successful. Considering the limited circumstances of
transportation and communication, and having the need to constantly defend the land
from Muslim Invaders, keeping a piece of land that far from home, like the Holy land,
in Christian hands for 88 years is impressive. However, considering that over three
million crusaders died in the crusades, they should have achieved more. The booty
ransacked from cities in the east like Constantinople, Carthage and Nicaea was
nowhere near to the amount that was spent on the Crusades. (Cline) The Crusades
eventually were such a costly business, both financially and in terms of lives that the
Ognibeni 10
Roman Catholic Church stopped dedicating all of its money and time to the Crusades,
which further weakened the Crusades. (Madison) Considering the benefits it brought
to the Christian world and what was spent on the Crusades, the Crusades were a
“successful failure”.
Reasons that made the Crusades ineffective
Many factors contributed to the failure of the Crusades, such as bad decision making,
lack of basic knowledge of the land, their greediness and lack of unity. In the Fifth
Crusade, the Catholic Church started diverting its attention to defeating Muslims in
Spain and North Africa and defeating anti-church movements in Europe. (Cline) Since
it was impossible to keep offensives on all fronts, the Church had to focus on targets
that were closer and a bigger threat to Rome, therefore making the Crusades a
secondary mission. Less time, men and money were put into the Crusades, making it
even harder to conquer the Holy Land. (Edmonds)
During the Sixth and Seventh Crusades, troops led by King Louis IX of France were
defeated twice in Egypt; King Louis IX lacked a basic understanding of the land the
Crusaders were marching on, which caused them to end up in very disadvantageous
locations. For example, King Louis‘s troops traveled up the Nile river by boats during
the annual Nile flooding. The Crusaders never knew that the waters would soon
Ognibeni 11
retrieve, so their boats were left stranded in the Nile River, making them extremely
easy targets for Egyptian troops. (Edmonds)
Bad decision making also hurt the Crusaders. During the Sixth and Seventh Crusades
to Egypt, the Crusaders conquered the region of Damietta (the region of the Nile
delta). The Egyptians offered a deal that the Crusaders would leave Damietta in
exchange for the control of Jerusalem. King Louis turned down the deal; the
Egyptians took back Damietta by force and the Crusaders lost everything. (Bocchieri)
Secondly, the Christians were offered a chance to work with the Mongols against the
Muslims. The Mongols were fighting Islam in the East, while the Christians were
fighting Islam in the West. As some of the Mongol leaders were Orthodox Christians,
when they saw the Crusaders struggling, they offered to help. As the Mongol empire
was also flourishing, their combined forces would have almost definitely eliminated
Islam. The deal was turned down by the Christians and they never succeeded in
anything again. (Cline)
Many other factors led to Christian defeats in battles. One of them was the lack of
unity between the troops and leaders. The Crusaders came from different countries
and backgrounds and many of them untrained. Therefore there was a lack of unity and
trust among them that made them more vulnerable. The leaders often had disputes and
could not agree on strategies, tactics, etc. During the Third Crusade, King Richard I of
England joined his close friend King Philip II of France. Unsettled disputes in their
Ognibeni 12
personal lives made them unhappy about working with each other. The two armies
never worked closely together and led to many unnecessary losses. (Zahoor) The
Crusaders’ greediness was also one of their weaknesses. Many Crusaders joined the
marching armies in order to ransack booty from wealthy capitals of the east and get
rich the easy way, even if they rarely succeeded in that. (Mavromatis) This cost them
a major defeat in the Battle of Al Mansurah. During the Seventh Crusade, King Louis
IX’s troops were attacking the royal city of Al Mansurah in Egypt. The Egyptians
purposely opened the city gate. Naturally, 70,000 Crusaders rushed inside the city,
only to find themselves trapped. 15,000 Muslim troops slaughtered and defeated the
Crusaders even when they were grossly outnumbered. (Smail)
The two armies had different troops and tactics, which had a huge impact on the
outcomes. The Islamic armies were mostly made up of light cavalry who fought with
bow and arrow from horseback. They used mobility to exhaust their opponents in
order to break their formation. Once their opponents were separated, they would
launch a final attack together with heavy cavalry. (Mavromatis) The Crusaders fought
mostly with heavy cavalry, but they were forced to adapt their opponent’s tactics.
Their response to archers on horseback was their own archers and crossbows. (Smail)
They created the fighting march in order to cover up their weaknesses. The goal was
to have the infantry shield the cavalry from enemy fire while keeping the enemy at a
distance with their own crossbows. When it was time to counter attack, the infantry
shield would open to allow the heavy cavalry to come out of the formation and go into
Ognibeni 13
battle. It was described by Muslims as “the moving castle”. (Bocchieri) Discipline
was extremely important when using this tactic. Crusaders were given a specific place
to stand and were ordered not to move unless they were told to; the soldiers had to
stand their ground even if they were attacked by heavy fire. (Bocchieri) The Arabs
utilized their speed and mobility to tire the heavily armed Crusaders. And the fact that
the Crusaders’ strategies were created for small confrontations in Europe, which were
totally different from large scale battles in the Middle East, meant that the Crusaders
had to change strategies at the last minute, making them unprepared for battle.
(Bocchieri) The Arabs also had better knowledge of the terrain and geography of the
region, and the Arab troops with their high mobility were more suitable for the rough
terrains of Asia Minor and Palestine. (Smail)
In conclusion, the Crusades were not effective because they did not achieve their
primary goals. They did control Jerusalem for 88 years and contributed to the freeze
in Islamic expansion. However, they were not able to keep the Holy Land under
Christian control. They were also too costly in terms of money and lives. The
Crusaders could have achieved better results with the resources they had at hand.
However, bad decision making, lack of knowledge of the region, greediness, lack of
unity and not enough preparation for battles made them unsuccessful. Only King
Louis and his “great” decision making are able to mess up so badly. He turned down a
Ognibeni 14
deal which was in favor of the Crusaders; the exchange of Damietta for Jerusalem,
twice. He also managed to turn down a chance to work with the powerful Mongols.
These three decisions greatly influenced the history of the Crusades; it made them
more of a failure than they already were. Overall, the Crusades were a “successful
Ognibeni 15
Works Cited Page
1. Cline, Austine. "Military, Political, Religious, and Social Consequences of the
Crusades.", 2013. Web. 2 Dec. 2013.
2. Bocchieri, Andrew. "Crusades Headquarters." ThinkQuest. Oracle Foundation,
1998. Web. 2 Dec. 2013. <>.
3. Edmonds, Molly. "How the Crusades Worked." HowStuffWorks, 2013. Web.
24 Dec. 2013. <>.
4. Madison, James. "The Crusades (1095-1798)." The Free Resource RSS, 2013.
Web. 7 Dec. 2013. <>.
5. Mahorney, David. "What Did the Crusades Accomplish?" Web log post.
Selfinterestss Weblog. WordPress, 2008. Web. 10 Dec. 2013.
6. Mavromatis, O. "Crusades and Crusaders." Crusades. Medievalwarfare, 2010.
Web. 24 Dec. 2013. <>.
Ognibeni 16
7. Smail, R.C. "What Sort of Tactics Did the Muslim Armies Use during the
Crusades?" AskHistorians. Reddit, 2012. Web. 28 Nov. 2013.
8. Zahoor, A., Dr. "A Brief Account of the Crusades." Cyberistan, 1996. Web. 10
Dec. 2013. <>.