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Cause of the Crusades
The reason and cause of the crusades was a war between Christians and Moslems which centered on
the city of Jerusalem and the Holy places of Palestine. The City of Jerusalem held a Holy significance
to the Christian religion. The Church of the Holy Sepulchre in Jerusalem commemorated the hill of
crucifixion and the tomb of Christ's burial. Pilgrims throughout the Middle Ages made sacred
pilgrimages to the Holy city of Jerusalem and the church. Although the city of Jerusalem was held by
the Saracens the Christian pilgrims had been granted safe passage to visit the Holy city. In 1065
Jerusalem was taken by the Turks, who came from the kingdom of ancient Persia. 3000 Christians
were massacred and the remaining Christians were treated so badly that throughout Christendom
people were stirred to fight in crusades. These actions aroused a storm of indignation throughout
Europe and awakened the desire to rescue the Holy Land from the grasp of the "infidel."
Cause of the Crusades - 3000 Christian Pilgrims massacred in Jerusalem
Among the early Christians it was thought a pious and meritorious act to undertake a journey to
some sacred place. Especially was it thought that a pilgrimage to the land that had been trod by the
feet of the Savior of the world, to the Holy City that had witnessed his martyrdom, was a peculiarly
pious undertaking, and one which secured for the pilgrim the special favor and blessing of Heaven.
The Saracen caliphs, for the four centuries and more that they held possession of Palestine, pursued
usually an enlightened policy towards the pilgrims, even encouraging pilgrimages as a source of
revenue. But in the eleventh century the Seljukian Turks, a prominent Tartar tribe and zealous
followers of Islam, wrested from the caliphs almost all their Asiatic possessions. The Christians were
not long in realizing that power had fallen into new hands. 3000 Christian Pilgrims were insulted and
persecuted in every way. The churches in Jerusalem were destroyed or turned into stables.
Cause of the Crusades - Religious Conviction
If it were a meritorious thing to make a pilgrimage to the Holy Sepulchre, much more would it be a
pious act to rescue the sacred spot from the profanation of infidels. This was the conviction that
changed the pilgrim into a warrior, this was the sentiment that for two centuries and more stirred
the Christian world to its profoundest depths, and cast the population of Europe in wave after wave
upon Asia.
Cause of the Crusades - The Instinct to Fight
Although this religious feeling was the principal cause of the Crusades, still there was another
concurring cause which must not be overlooked. This was the restless, adventurous spirit of the
Teutonic peoples of Europe, who had not as yet outgrown their barbarian instincts. The feudal
knights and lords, just now animated by the rising spirit of chivalry, were very ready to enlist in an
undertaking so consonant with their martial feelings and their new vows of knighthood.
Cause of the Crusades - The Preaching of Peter the Hermit
The immediate cause of the First Crusade was the preaching of Peter the Hermit, a native of Picardy,
in France. Having been commissioned by Pope Urban II. to preach a crusade, the Hermit traversed
all Italy and France, addressing everywhere, in the church, in the street, and in the open field, the
crowds that flocked about him, moving all hearts with sympathy or firing them with indignation, as
he recited the sufferings of their brethren at the hands of the infidels, or pictured the profanation of
the holy places, polluted by the presence and insults of the unbelievers.
Cause of the Crusades - The Threat of the Turks
Whilst Peter the Hermit had been arousing the warriors of the West, the Turks had been making
constant advances in the East, and were now threatening Constantinople itself. The Greek emperor
(Alexius Comnenus) sent urgent letters to the Pope, asking for aid against the infidels, representing
that, unless assistance was extended immediately, the capital with all its holy relics must soon fall into
the hands of the barbarians.
Cause of the Crusades - Pope Urban II & the Council of Clermont
Pope Urban II called a great council of the Church at Placentia, in Italy, to consider the appeal
(1095), but nothing was effected. Later in the same year a new council was convened at Clermont, in
France, Pope Urban purposely fixing the place of meeting among the warm tempered and martial
Franks. Pope Urban II himself was one of the chief speakers. He was naturally eloquent, so that the
man, the cause, and the occasion all conspired to achieve one of the greatest triumphs of human
oratory. Pope Urban II pictured the humiliation and misery of the provinces of Asia; the profanation
of the places made sacred by the presence and footsteps of the Son of God. Pope Urban II then
detailed the conquests of the Turks, until now, with all Asia Minor in their possession, they were
threatening Europe from the shores of the Hellespont.
Cause of the Crusades - "It is the will of God"
"When Jesus Christ summons you to his defense," exclaimed the eloquent pontiff, "let no base
affection detain you in your homes; whoever will abandon his house, or his father, or his mother, or
his wife, or his children, or his inheritance, for the sake of my name, shall be recompensed a
hundred-fold, and possess life eternal." Here the enthusiasm of the vast assembly burst through
every restraint. With one voice they cried, "Dieu le volt! Dieu le volt!" meaning "It is the will of God!
It is the will of God!" Thousands immediately affixed the cross to their garments as a pledge of their
sacred engagement to go forth to the rescue of the Holy Sepulchre. The fifteenth day of August of the
following year (1096) was set for the departure of the expedition - the Crusades had begun.
Holy Land Pilgrimage
The crusades were first and foremost a spiritual enterprise. They sprang from the pilgrimages which
Christians had long been accustomed to make to the scenes of Christ's life on earth. Men considered
it a wonderful privilege to see the cave in which He was born, to kiss the spot where He died, and to
kneel in prayer at His tomb. The eleventh century saw an increased zeal for pilgrimages, and from
this time travelers to the Holy Land were very numerous. For greater security they often joined
themselves in companies and marched under arms. It needed little to transform such pilgrims into
Holy Land Pilgrimage - Abuse of the pilgrims by the Turks
The Arab conquest of the Holy Land had not interrupted the stream of pilgrims, for the early caliphs
were more tolerant of unbelievers than Christian emperors of heretics. But after the coming of the
Seljuk Turks into the East, pilgrimages became more difficult and dangerous. The Turks were a
ruder people than the Arabs whom they displaced, and in their fanatic zeal for Islam were not
inclined to treat the Christians with consideration. Many tales floated back to Europe of the outrages
committed on the pilgrims and on the sacred shrines venerated by all Christendom. Such stories,
which lost nothing in the telling, aroused a storm of indignation throughout Europe and awakened
the desire to rescue the Holy Land from the grasp of the "infidel."
Holy Land Pilgrimage - The Christian and Infidel in the Holy Land
The ranks of the crusaders were constantly filled by fresh bands of pilgrim knights who visited
Palestine to pray at the Holy Sepulcher and cross swords with the infidel. In spite of constant border
warfare much trade and friendly intercourse prevailed between Christians and Moslems. They
learned to respect one another both as foes and neighbors. The crusaders' states in Syria became a
meeting-place of East and West.
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 Province in
southern France. Godfrey of Bouillon and his brother Baldwin commanded a force of French and
Germans from the Rhineland. 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
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
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. 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 - 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 defense 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 defense of the sepulcher 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
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 1189 - 1192
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 organized
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 Jerusalem.
Biography of Richard the Lionheart
King Richard raises Money for the Third Crusade
King Richard I of England (afterwards given the title of 'Coeur de Lion', the "Lion-hearted," 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
the sale of offices, dignities, and the royal lands
When some one expostulated with him 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 - 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 Turk.
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 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 Crusade.
The Children’s 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 Children’s 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 Children’s 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 totaling 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 Children’s 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
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 France
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 Ninth 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 Palestine.
The Seventh Crusade
The Seventh Crusade (1249-1254) was under the lead of Louis IX. Of France, surnamed the Saint.
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 crusade.
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."
he End of the Medieval Crusades
The crusading movement came to an end by the close of the thirteenth century. The emperor
Frederick II for a short time recovered Jerusalem by a treaty, but in 1244 A.D. the Holy City
became again a possession of the Moslems. They have never since relinquished it. Acre, the last
Christian post in Syria, fell in 1291 A.D., and with this event the Latin Kingdom of Jerusalem ceased
to exist. The Hospitallers, or Knights of St. John, still kept possession of the important islands of
Cyprus and Rhodes, which long served as a barrier to Moslem expansion over the Mediterranean.
The Results of the end of the Medieval Crusades
The crusades, judged by what they set out to accomplish, must be accounted an inglorious failure.
After two hundred years of conflict, after a vast expenditure of wealth and human lives, the Holy
Land remained in Moslem hands. It is true that the First Crusade did help, by the conquest of Syria,
to check the advance of the Turks toward Constantinople. But even this benefit was more than
undone by the weakening of the Roman Empire in the East as a result of the Fourth Crusade.
Reasons why the Crusades Failed
Reasons why the crusades failed. Of the many reasons for the failure of the crusades, three require
special consideration. In the first place, there was the inability of eastern and western Europe to
cooperate in supporting the holy wars. A united Christendom might well have been invincible. But
the bitter antagonism between the Greek and Roman churches effectually prevented all unity of
action. The emperors at Constantinople, after the First Crusade, rarely assisted the crusaders and
often secretly hindered them. In the second place, the lack of sea-power, as seen in the earlier
crusades, worked against their success. Instead of being able to go by water directly to Syria, it was
necessary to follow the long, overland route from France or Germany through Hungary, Bulgaria,
the territory of the Roman Empire in the East, and the deserts and mountains of Asia Minor. The
armies that reached their destination after this toilsome march were in no condition for effective
campaigning. In the third place, the crusaders were never numerous enough to colonize so large a
country as Syria and absorb its Moslem population. They conquered part of Syria in the First
Crusade, but could not hold it permanently in the face of determined resistance.
Why the Crusades ended
Why the Crusades stopped. In spite of the above reasons the Christians of Europe might have
continued much longer their efforts to recover the Holy Land, had they not lost faith in the
movement. But after two centuries the old crusading enthusiasm died out, the old ideal of the crusade
as "the way of God" lost its spell. Men had begun to think less of winning future salvation by visits to
distant shrines and to think more of their present duties to the world about them. They came to
believe that Jerusalem could best be won as Christ and the Apostles had won it "by love, by prayers,
and by the shedding of tears."
The Founding of the Latin Kingdom of Jerusalem
In 1099 Crusaders led by Godfrey of Bouillon, Duke of Lower Lorraine, took Jerusalem back from
the Turks. No sooner was Jerusalem in the hands of the crusaders than they set themselves to the
task of organizing a government for the city and country they had conquered. The government which
they established was a sort of feudal league, known as the Latin Kingdom of Jerusalem. The
Kingdom of Jerusalem came into being with the capture of Jerusalem in July of 1099. The new
kingdom contained nearly a score of fiefs, whose lords made war, administered justice, and coined
money, like independent rulers. The main features of European feudalism were thus transplanted to
Asiatic soil.
The Latin Kingdom of Jerusalem and other Crusader States
The winning of Jerusalem and the district about it formed hardly more than a preliminary stage in
the conquest of Syria. Much fighting was still necessary before the crusaders could establish
themselves firmly in the country. Instead of founding one strong power in Syria, they split up their
possessions into the three principalities of
These small states of Tripoli, Edessa and Antioch owed allegiance to the Latin Kingdom of
Godfrey of Bouillon and the Kingdom of Jerusalem
At the head of the Latin Kingdom of Jerusalem was placed Godfrey of Bouillon, the most valiant and
devoted of the crusader knights of the Knights Templar order. Godfrey of Bouillon refused the title
and vestments of royalty, declaring that he would never wear a crown of gold in the city where his
Lord and Master had worn a crown of thorns. The only title he would accept was that of "Defender
of the Holy Sepulchre." Many of the crusaders, considering their vows fulfilled, now set out on their
return to their homes, some making their way back by sea and some by land. Godfrey, Tancred, and
a few hundred other knights, were all that stayed behind to maintain the conquests that had been
made, and to act as guardians of the holy places.
Baldwin of Boulogne the first King of Jerusalem
Baldwin of Boulogne was one of the leaders of the First Crusade, who became count of Edessa and
then the first titled king of Jerusalem. He was the brother of Godfrey of Bouillon. After Godfrey's
death, in July of 1100, Baldwin was invited to Jerusalem by the supporters of a secular monarchy.
Baldwin was crowned the first king of Jerusalem on Christmas Day. The coronation took place in
Bethlehem. Baldwin the first crowned ruler of the Kingdom of Jerusalem died on April 2, 1118. His
cousin Baldwin of Bourcq was chosen as his successor, although the kingdom was also offered to
Eustace III, who did not want it.
The Fall of the Kingdom of Jerusalem
On July 4, 1187, the army of the Kingdom of Jerusalem was utterly destroyed by Saladin at the
Battle of Hattin. Saladin then overran the entire Kingdom, except for the port of Tyre. Richard the
Lionheart recaptured many of the cities in the Kingdom but the Kingdom of Jerusalem was forced to
move its capital from Jerusalem to Acre. The Kingdom included the cities of Beirut, Tyre, Tripoli
and Antioch. The Mamluks under Sultan Baibars took all of the cities of the Kingdom of Jerusalem
one by one until, in 1291, Acre, the last stronghold, was taken by the Sultan Khalil. The Kingdom of
Jerusalem ceased to exist.
The Rulers of the Kingdom of Jerusalem
Between 1099 and 1291 the Kingdom of Jerusalem was ruled by many Europeans. The Kings and
Queens who ruled the Kingdom of Jerusalem often appointed regents for the role. The names of the
rulers of the Kingdom of Jerusalem were as follows:
Godfrey of Bouillon - Protector of the Holy Sepulchre (1099 -1100)
Baldwin I (1100 - 1118)
Baldwin II (1118 - 1131)
Melisende and Fulk (1131 - 1153)
Baldwin III (1143 - 1162)
Amalric I (1162 - 1174)
Baldwin IV (1174 - 1185)
Baldwin V (1185 - 1186)
Sibylla and Guy of Lusignan (1186 - 1187)
Isabella I (1192 - 1205)
Maria of Montferrat (1205 - 1212)
John of Brienne (1210 - 1212)
Yolande (Isabella II) and Frederick II, Holy Roman Emperor (1212 - 1228)
Conrad of Hohenstaufen, Conrad II (1228 - 1254)
Conrad III of Jerusalem (1254 - 1268)
Hugh I (1268 - 1284)
Charles of Anjou (1277 - 1285)
John II (1284 - 1285)
Henry II (1285 - 1291)
Many European rulers claimed to be the rightful heirs to the Kingdom of Jerusalem, however none
of these, have ever actually ruled over any part of the Kingdom.
Effects of the Crusades
The Crusades kept all Europe in a tumult for two centuries, and directly and indirectly cost
Christendom several millions of lives (from 2,000,000 to 6,000,000 according to different estimates),
besides incalculable expenditures in treasure and suffering. They were, moreover, attended by all the
disorder, license, and crime with which war is always accompanied. On the other hand, the Holy
Wars were productive indirectly of so much and lasting good that they form a most important factor
in the history of the progress of civilization. The effects of the crusades influenced:
The role, wealth and power of the Catholic Church
Political effects
Effects of the Crusades on Commerce
Effects of the Crusades on Feudalism
Social development
Intellectual development
Social Effects of the Crusades
Effects of the Crusades - Intellectual Development
Effects of the Crusades - Material Development
Effects of the Crusades - Voyages of Discovery
Effects of the Crusades on the Catholic Church
The Crusades contributed to increase the wealth of the Church and the power of the Papacy. Thus
the prominent part which the Popes took in the enterprises naturally fostered their authority and
influence, by placing in their hands, the armies and resources of Christendom, and accustoming the
people to look to them as guides and leaders.
As to the wealth of the churches and monasteries, this was augmented enormously by the sale to
them, often for a mere fraction of their actual value, of the estates of those preparing for the
expeditions, or by the out and out gift of the lands of such in return for prayers and pious
Thousands of the crusaders, returning broken in spirits and in health, sought an asylum in cloistral
retreats, and endowed the establishments that they entered with all their worldly goods
Besides all this, the stream of the ordinary gifts of piety was swollen by the extraordinary fervor of
religious enthusiasm which characterized the period into enormous proportions. In all these ways,
the power of the Papacy and the wealth of the Church were vastly augmented.
Effects of the Crusades on Commerce
One of the most important effects of the crusades was on commerce. They created a constant demand
for the transportation of men and supplies, encouraged ship-building, and extended the market for
eastern wares in Europe. The products of Damascus, Mosul, Alexandria, Cairo, and other great cities
were carried across the Mediterranean to the Italian seaports, whence they found their way into all
European lands. The elegance of the Orient, with its silks, tapestries, precious stones, perfumes,
spices, pearls, and ivory, was so enchanting that an enthusiastic crusader called it "the vestibule of
Effects of the Crusades on Feudalism
The crusades could not fail to affect in many ways the life of western Europe. For instance, they
helped to undermine feudalism. Thousands of barons and knights mortgaged or sold their lands in
order to raise money for a crusading expedition. Thousands more perished in Syria and their estates,
through failure of heirs, reverted to the crown. Moreover, private warfare, which was rife during the
Middle Ages, also tended to die out with the departure for the Holy Land of so many turbulent feudal
lords. Their decline in both numbers and influence, and the corresponding growth of the royal
authority, may best be traced in the changes that came about in France, the original home of the
crusading movement.
Political Effects of the Crusades
As to the political effects of the Crusades, they helped to break down the power of the feudal
aristocracy, and to give prominence to the kings and the people.
Many of the nobles who set out on the expeditions never returned, and their estates, through failure
of heirs, escheated to the Crown; while many more wasted their fortunes in meeting the expenses of
their undertaking.
At the same time, the cities also gained many political advantages at the expense of the crusading
barons and princes. Ready money in the twelfth and thirteenth centuries was largely in the hands of
the burgher class, and in return for the contributions and loans they made to their overlords, or
suzerains, they received charters conferring special and valuable privileges.
And the other political effects of the Crusades was that in checking the advance of the Turks the fall
of Constantinople was postponed for three centuries or more. This gave the early Christian
civilization of Germany time to acquire sufficient strength to roll back the returning tide of
Mohammedan invasion when it broke upon Europe in the fifteenth century.
Social Effects of the Crusades
The Social effects of the Crusades upon the social life of the Western nations were marked and
important. The Crusades afforded an opportunity for romantic adventure. The Crusades were
therefore one of the principal fostering influences of Chivalry. Contact with the culture of the East
provided a general refining influence.
Effects of the Crusades - Intellectual Development
The influence of the Crusades upon the intellectual development of Europe can hardly be
overestimated. Above all, they liberalized the minds of the crusaders. The East at the time of the
Middle Ages surpassed the West in civilization. The crusaders enjoyed the advantages which come
from travel in strange lands and among unfamiliar peoples. They went out from their castles or
villages to see great cities, marble palaces, superb dresses, and elegant manners; they returned with
finer tastes, broader ideas, and wider sympathies. The crusades opened up a new world.
Furthermore, the knowledge of the science and learning of the East gained by the crusaders through
their expeditions, greatly stimulated the Latin intellect, and helped to awaken in Western Europe
that mental activity which resulted finally in the great intellectual outburst known as the Revival of
Learning and the period of the Renaissance.
Effects of the Crusades - Material Development
Among the effects of the Holy Wars upon the material development of Europe must be mentioned
the spur they gave to commercial enterprise, especially to the trade and commerce of the Italian
During this period, Venice, Pisa, and Genoa acquired great wealth and reputation through the
fostering of their trade by the needs of the crusaders, and the opening up of the East. The
Mediterranean was whitened with the sails of their transport ships, which were constantly plying
between the various ports of Europe and the towns of the Syrian coast.
In addition to the effects of the crusades on material development various arts, manufactures, and
inventions before unknown in Europe, were introduced from Asia. This enrichment of the civilization
of the West with the "spoils of the East" can be seen in the artifacts displayed in modern European
Effects of the Crusades - Voyages of Discovery
Finally, the incentive given to geographical discovery led various travelers, such as the celebrated
Italian, Marco Polo, and the scarcely less noted Englishman, Sir John Mandeville, to explore the
most remote countries of Asia. Even that spirit of maritime enterprise and adventure which rendered
illustrious the fifteenth century, inspiring the voyages of Columbus, Vasco de Gama, and Magellan,
may be traced back to that lively interest in geographical matters awakened by the expeditions of the
Crusades Timeline
The following Crusades Timeline provide the basic dates and key events of all the crusades in the two
hundred years when Europe and Asia were engaged in almost constant warfare.
Crusades Timeline
The Crusades Timeline
Dates of Crusade
First Crusade
1096 - 1099
Second Crusade
1144 -1155
Third Crusade
1187 -1192
Fourth Crusade
1202 -1204
The Children's
Fifth Crusade
1217 - 1221
Sixth Crusade
1228 - 1229
Seventh Crusade
1248 - 1254
Eighth Crusade
Ninth Crusade
1271 - 1272
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 Hermit
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 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)
Who were the Crusaders? What age were they? Did women travel to the crusades? And what
prompted people to undertake the incredibly arduous journey from Europe to the Middle East?
The Numbers of Crusaders
What could possess tens of thousands of people to travel to a country over 1000 miles away when
most people in the Middle Ages never left their villages? The first crusade was called the 'People's
Crusade'. Men, women and children were so motivated by the preaching’s of men like Peter the
Hermit and Walter the Penniless that they left their homes and followed the call to the crusades. The
crusaders, consisting of ordinary people, who followed Peter the Hermit eventually numbered over
15,000. Other massive numbers of crusaders followed men like Walter the Penniless and the numbers
increased to 80,000. The Knights and armies did not accompany these people - the military
expeditions took far longer to organize. The estimated forces of the First Crusade numbered 4,500
cavalry and 30,000 foot soldiers. The Crusaders of the First Crusade traveled overland to Jerusalem.
The Route of French Crusaders
The route of the French Crusaders of the First Crusade passed France, Italy and Greece on to
Palestine through the following cities:
Mustering the Crusaders
Western Europe rang with the cry, "He who will not take up his cross and follow me, is not worthy of
me." The contagion of enthusiasm seized all classes; for while the religious feelings of the age had
been specially appealed to, all the various sentiments of ambition, chivalry, love of license, had also
been skillfully enlisted on the side of the undertaking.
Promises made to Crusaders
The council of Clermont had declared Europe to be in a state of peace. The council took action to
ensure that peace in Europe was maintained:
The council pronounced a formal ecclesiastical ban, curse, or excommunication against any
one who should invade the possessions of a prince engaged in the holy war
By further edicts of the assembly:
all crusaders, were instantly absolved from all his sins, of whatever nature
any debtor was released from meeting his obligations whilst he was a soldier of the Cross
and the interest on any debts were to cease
Under such inducements princes and nobles, bishops and priests, monks and anchorites, saints and
sinners, rich and poor, hastened to enroll themselves beneath the consecrated banner. Every one was
eager to become crusaders
The Crusaders of the Upper Classes
The crusades were not simply an expression of the simple faith of the Middle Ages. Something more
than religious enthusiasm sent an unending procession of crusaders along the highways of Europe
and over the trackless wastes of Asia Minor to Jerusalem. The crusades, in fact, appealed strongly to
the warlike instincts of the feudal nobles. They saw in an expedition against the East an unequalled
opportunity for acquiring fame, riches, lands, and power. The Normans were especially stirred by
the prospect of adventure and plunder which the crusading movement opened up. By the end of the
eleventh century they had established themselves in southern Italy and Sicily, from which they now
looked across the Mediterranean for further lands to conquer.
The Crusaders of the Lower Classes
The crusades also attracted the lower classes. So great was the misery of the common people in
medieval Europe that for them it seemed not a hardship, but rather a relief, to leave their homes in
order to better themselves abroad. Famine and pestilence, poverty and oppression, drove them to
emigrate hopefully to the golden East.
The Privileges of the Crusaders
The Church, in order to foster the crusades, therefore promised both religious and secular benefits to
those who took part in them. A warrior of the Cross was to enjoy forgiveness of all his past sins. If he
died fighting for the faith, he was assured of an immediate entrance to the joys of Paradise. The
Church also freed him from paying interest on his debts and threatened with excommunication
anyone who molested his wife, his children, or his property.
The Crusaders of the People's Crusade
Before the regular armies of the crusaders were ready to move, those who had gathered about Peter
the Hermit, becoming impatient of delay, urged him to place himself at their head and lead them at
once to the Holy Land - the People's 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, the Hermit set out for Constantinople by the overland route
through Germany and Hungary. Thousands of the crusaders fell in battle with the natives of the
countries through which they marched, and thousands more perished miserably of hunger and
exposure. Those that crossed the Bosporus were surprised by the Turks, and almost all were