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The meaning of the word Crusade comes from the Latin word for cross. It refers to the
cross that Jesus Christ was crucified on. Going on a crusade meant that you were going to
fight for Christ. In 1100 this meant going to fight the Muslims in the Holy Land around
Jerusalem, the place where Jesus had lived and where he was crucified.
Muhammad and the Muslims
Muhammad was born in the city of Mecca
in the year 570. He discovered a new
faith and his followers came to be known
as Muslims. Many of his followers were
warlike and over the centuries that
followed, they went forward to conquer
land around the Mediterranean Sea.
Jerusalem was a holy city for the
Christians, as Christ had lived here and
was crucified here.
But, the city was also important for the
followers of the Muslim religion ac their
leader Muhammad had entered heaven
from Jerusalem. The problem then was
that the Christian and the Muslims
wanted to control Jerusalem.
In 637, a group of Muslims occupied the
city of Jerusalem but they allowed the
Christians to visit the city regularly. The
Christians, for a long time, had been
allowed to go pilgrimages to the city so
that they would be able to see all of the
holy sites.
But, in 1071, a group of fanatical Muslims
occupied the city and they did not like the
Christians and they would ill-treat them
and even kill them.
Pope Urban II
In 1095, Pope Urban II, head of the
Roman Catholic Church called for a
crusade to rid the Muslims from
Jerusalem. He said that God would reward
them if they tried to re-conquer the city.
It was an opportunity for many to gain a
great victory and to become rich. So,
many decided to join.
First Crusade (1097)
The First Crusade started in 1096.
Around 30,000 foot soldiers and 10,000
knights on horseback had decided to take
the cross and went to fight. In their
midst was Robert, the eldest son of
William the Conqueror. They went on their
travels across Europe and into Turkey and
reaching Jerusalem in 1099, three years
after setting off. With a lot of fighting,
the Christians managed to conquer the
city and they held it for the next 87
years, which included land around
Jerusalem. Even though they had
conquered the Holy Land, many Crusaders
decided to stay there, and built castles to
defend themselves. The Knights Templar
was also there to ensure that Christians
and Jerusalem were defended. Despite
this, there was no peace to be had from
the Muslims and they fought back many
times during the Crusaders occupation of
Second Crusade (1147)
Even though the city of Jerusalem stayed
in the hands of the Crusaders until 1187,
the Muslims had started to win back some
of the land around the Holy Land. When
the city of Edessa fell in 1147, some
European leaders decided to go on a
Second Crusade. Emperor Conrad of
Germany and King Louis VII of France
were responsible for this crusade. They
took their soldiers towards the east in
order to try and reclaim Edessa.
Unfortunately for the crusaders, they
were destroyed in Damascus and as a
result, the Christians decided to abandon
the crusade and the Muslims kept their
control on all of the lands.
Third Crusade (1189)
In 1187, a new leader appeared. His name
was Saladin. He was an experienced
soldier and a fierce leader. The crusaders
built strong castles to defend themselves,
but the Muslims, under Saladin, managed
to conquer the city in 1187.
This led to the start of the Third
Crusade. Many European Kings led this
attack, which included, Richard I of
England, Philip II of France and Frederick
Barbarossa, the Emperor of Germany. On
the way to Jerusalem, Frederick drowned
when trying to cross a river, and Richard
and Philip spent most of their time
Obviously, Richard was in charge of the
English army, but he failed along with
other attacks. Richard never managed to
get close to Jerusalem, so he and Saladin
agreed a truce. Richard agreed that he
would leave the Holy Land while Saladin
agreed that he would allow the Christians
to go on pilgrimages to the city to visit
the holy places.
During the years that followed there
were four other Crusades on Jerusalem,
but none managed to re-take the city. The
Crusades caused a lot of suffering and
deaths and it failed in its mission of
uniting the Christians of the east with
those of the west.
The Crusaders used the word ‘Saracen’ to describe all Muslims in the Holy Land. Muslims
used the word ‘Franks’ to describe all Crusaders. The crusades were known as a ‘holy war’
because each side was fighting for what they believed their God wanted.
So, what did the Franks and the Saracens think of each other? Some of the following
sources have been written by Christians with others from the Muslims. The sources explain
what kind of people they saw each other as.
Source A
Source B
If they thought that a Christian had
eaten the gold or silver to hide it then
they forced them to vomit or tear open
their stomachs with a blade.
Saladin thought of nothing but the holy
war. He did not spend a single gold coin
on anything else. He made sure his men
were fed and cared for. He never said
bad things about people.
Count Robert was captured near
Damascus. His head was cut off and his
body fed to the dogs. His skull was used
as a drinking cup and was covered in
A man accused of a crime was dropped
into water. If he was innocent he would
sink, but he would float if he was guilty.
He tried his best to sink, he was found
guilty and his eyes were pierced with a
red-hot metal – may Allah’s curse be upon
Source C
Source D
Richard the Lionheart
Richard I was King of England from 1189 until 1199, even though his
favourite lands were in France. He spoke very little English and spent very
little time in England. But he is regarded as an English hero. There is a
statue dedicated to him outside the Houses of Parliament in London.
Richard twice led his army towards Jerusalem in 1192, but he decided not
to attack. He knew his army was not strong enough to hold the city for
long. Finally he agreed a truce with Saladin and sailed home.
This King was courageous, energetic and daring in combat. When he arrived in Acre the Franks let out
cries of joy. The Muslims filled with fear. . . The English king broke his word to the Muslim prisoners
who had surrendered the city in return for their lives. If Saladin paid their ransom they were freed. If
he did not they were to become slaves. When he saw that Saladin delayed payment he secretly changed
his mind. Even after he received the money he ordered the cold-blooded slaughter of more than 3,000
Saladin re-conquered large areas of the Crusader kingdom. His greatest victory came in the
Battle of Hattin in 1187. Among the prisoners was
King Guy of Jerusalem. A few months later
Saladin re-captured the city of Jerusalem. The
Muslims took Christian crosses down from the
mosques but there was no other looting or
destruction in the city. There was no revenge for
the way that the Crusaders had treated the
Muslim holy places in 1099. Rich prisoners were
released after paying ransoms. Some of the poor
were released without ransoms, but others were
made slaves. Christians were not forced to leave
Jerusalem. The native people who were Christians
were allowed to stay and worship in their churches.
Saladin also invited the Jews to return to the city of Jerusalem.
Once, when i was walking with Saladin, a woman came towards us. She said that a Muslim thief had
taken her daughter. She said that she had been crying all night and that one of the men told her to
visit Saladin, as he was a merciful person and to ask if she could have her daughter back. Saladin was
touched and tears came to his eyes. He sent someone to the slave market to look for the girl, and later
a horseman arrived with the child on his shoulders. All those that were present wept.
The Crusaders and the Saracens did not fight all the time. There were long periods when
they held a truce and were able to mix and learn from each other. Without a doubt, the
Crusaders learned the most:
 Christians and Muslims fought during the
Crusades for control of Jerusalem and the Holy
 After nearly 200 years of fighting, the Muslims
kept the Holy Land.
 Some of the things the Crusaders learned in
the Holy Land were very important.
Your task is to work with a partner to create an A3 sheet that will help people understand
the Crusades. You should include information on the following topics:
What were the Crusades and why was Jerusalem important?
Who fought and why?
What kind of relationship did the Christians and the Muslims have?
King Richard and Saladin
 What were the consequences of the Crusades?