Orfeas Katsoulis | Mar 24, 2024

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The crusades were a series of religious wars sanctioned by the Latin Church during the medieval period. The best known are the campaigns in the eastern Mediterranean to recover the Holy Land from Islamic rule, but the term "crusades" is also applied to other campaigns sanctioned by the church.

In 1095, Pope Urban II declared the First Crusade with the stated goal of restoring Christian access to the Holy Land in and around Jerusalem. Many historians and some of those involved at the time, such as St. Bernard of Clervaux, attach equal importance to military operations sanctioned by the Pope, carried out for various religious, economic and political reasons, such as the Albigensian Crusade, the Aragon Crusade, the Reconquista (Reconquest of the Iberian Peninsula) and the Northern Crusades. After the First Crusade there followed an intermittent 200-year struggle for control of the Holy Land with six major crusades and many smaller ones. In 1291 the conflict ended in failure, with the fall of the last Christian stronghold in the Holy Land, Accra, after which Roman Catholic Europe did not manifest any further coherent reaction to the east.

Some historians see the Crusades as part of a defensive war against the expansion of Islam in the Near East, others as part of a long-lasting conflict on the borders of Europe, and others as aggressive attempts, under the leadership of the pope, to expand Western Christendom. The crusades attracted men and women of all classes. The great human losses that accompanied them were attributed mainly to disorder, an epidemic of rickets and economic hardship. The Byzantine Empire was unable to recapture the territories lost during the initial Muslim conquests, under the expansionist Rashidun and Umayyad caliphs during the Arab-Byzantine and Byzantine-Seljuk Wars. These conquests resulted in the loss of fertile agricultural lands and vast pastures in Asia Minor. In 1071, after an overwhelming victory of the attacking Seljuk Turk armies at the Battle of Manzikert, Urban II sought to reunite the Christian Church under his leadership, providing Emperor Alexius I with military support.

Many Roman Catholic Christians became crusaders by taking a public vow and receiving synodal indulgences from the Vatican. The Crusaders came from various feudal kingdoms of Western Europe, whose particular customs undermined any attempt to create a unified central administration that could lead the Crusaders. With hundreds of aristocrats and nobles among the crusaders, each vying for personal fame, wealth and glory, it was unthinkable and offensive even to think that a feudal lord would relinquish his personal command over his loyal armed forces to a single commander, noble and rival for position at court. This lack of central command resulted in frequent conflicts between feudal nobles, church leaders and courtiers, resulting in political factions and shifting alliances as hundreds of wayward feudal lords jostled for political gain and influence within the Crusade, which often led to rather bizarre situations, such as when the crusaders joined forces with the army of the Islamic Sultanate of Rum during the Fifth Crusade.

The impact of the Crusades was intense: accounts vary widely from praise to extreme criticism. Jonathan Riley Smith (an English historian) identifies the independent states that were established, such as the Kingdom of Jerusalem and the Crusader States, as the first experiments in 'Overseas Europe'. These expeditions reopened the Mediterranean to trade and travel, allowing Genoa and Venice to flourish. Crusader armies engaged in trade with local populations, with Orthodox Byzantine emperors often organizing markets for Crusader forces moving through their territories. The Crusader movement consolidated the collective identity of the Latin Church under the leadership of the Pope and was the source of the idea of heroism, chivalry and medieval piety. This in turn gave birth to medieval romanticism, philosophy and literature. However, the Crusades reinforced the relationship between Western Christianity, feudalism and militarism, which was contrary to the Peace and Truce of God that Urban had promoted.

Crusaders often plundered the countries through which they travelled in the typical medieval manner of supplying a travelling army. The nobles held for themselves most of the lands they occupied instead of returning them to the Byzantines as they had sworn to do. In Rhineland, the People's Crusade led to the slaughter and murder of thousands of Jews. In the late 19th century this episode was used by Jewish historians to support Zionism. The Fourth Crusade resulted in the sack of Constantinople by the Roman Catholics, effectively ending the opportunity for the Christian Church to reunite and leading to the weakening and eventual fall of the Byzantine Empire to the Ottomans. However, many crusaders were simply poor, trying to escape the hardships of medieval life with an armed pilgrimage leading to the Apotheosis in Jerusalem.

The Crusades began as the idea of a holy campaign by Western (Catholic) Christians to liberate the Holy Land (Palestine, Jerusalem) from the Muslims. It is thought to have been the West's response to the holy war, or jihad, that Islam occasionally preached. The purpose of the Crusades was to conquer the Holy Land and crush Islam. The Crusades were prompted by the mistreatment of pilgrims visiting Jerusalem and the appeal of the Byzantine emperor who was under strong pressure from the Turks.

The troops of the crusaders were called by titles such as the army "of the cross", "of Christ", "of the Lord" and "of faith". The symbol of the cross was the identifying mark of the Crusaders, from which they took their endearing name. The Crusaders were called "the soldiers of Christ", pilgrims, Latin peregrini, and "those who have the sign of the cross", Latin krusisignati or signatores. Participation in a crusade meant that a crusader "took the cross" or "took the sign of the cross". By their contemporaries there was no doubt that the Crusades were a divine mission and were even described as "the Works of God performed through the Franks". Those who were killed during the Crusades had the privilege of a special pardon for the sins they had committed and were considered martyrs in the minds of the people. The clergy of the time promoted such views as that the righteous should not fear that it would be imputed to them as a sin to kill the enemy of Jesus Christ, that a soldier of Christ could safely kill and even more so be killed, and that when a soldier died, he benefited himself, while when he slaughtered, he benefited Christ. For the clergy it was acceptable to participate in the war since, as Thomas Aquinas states, the trophy would not be worldly benefits but the defense of the Church or the poor and oppressed.

The crusades were started by the decision of the pope of Rome and - at least in the beginning - were very important events. Usually the declaration of a Crusade was accompanied by crimes and persecution by ordinary citizens against the Jews, many of whose communities were located in Western Europe. It was the easy solution for those who wanted to vent their religious fury, and for many others who found opportunity for theft and destruction. There were several crusades from the 11th century until the 15th, when the last crusades against the Ottoman Turks took place. The last flash of the crusades was the Battle of Nafpaktos in 1571.

But behind the enthusiasm and the ideals that the crusaders defended were deeper and less noble goals. The crusades were launched, mainly instigated by the Catholic Church, with the aim of extending its power in the East and succeeding in subduing the Church of Constantinople. In parallel, many rulers dreamed of wealth, glory and adventure. Even the commoners and soldiers who followed had their own dreams of riches, recognition and a better life. The Byzantine emperors had their own plans and tried to turn the Crusaders to Asia Minor without much success. Everyone who took part directly or indirectly wanted to gain something but the results of the crusades changed Europe completely differently from what they expected.

The Byzantine Empire was further weakened, forced to keep an eye on the West instead of holding back the Turks in Anatolia. The climax was its temporary break-up by the Fourth Crusade. Eventually the Byzantines were forced to fight in the Balkans, Adriatic and Aegean, lost Asia Minor and were conquered by the Turks. The Fourth Crusade not only affected the Byzantine Empire, but also the Eastern Orthodox Church. Its violent subjugation to Rome and the persecution of Orthodox priests in mainland Greece and Cyprus by the Crusaders are etched in its memory. On the other hand, persecutions and massacres of Latins, ordinary people or priests, by the Byzantines, which had occurred sometimes before 1204 when Constantinople was conquered by the Crusaders and several times after that, contributed to the fact that the Byzantines were not looked upon favourably by the Westerners. In fact, the idea of a crusade against the Byzantine Empire has been a time when the idea was quite hotly debated in the West.

For 200 years the Holy Land became a battlefield, but also a field of trade and cultural contact.

The Arabs and Turks improved their tactics, learned new weapons from the Crusaders, invented new ones of their own and managed to recapture Jerusalem in 1187, defeat the Mongols at An Jailut in 1260 and capture St John of Acre from the Crusaders in 1291, ending the Crusaders' domination of the East. Already, however, interest in the West in the Crusades had waned, and the era of the Crusades was formally over.

The Crusaders captured Jerusalem in 1099, and established their own principalities in the East. Their power, however, was never very great, as they were a minority of the population, and they gradually found themselves in a defensive position. In the two centuries that they remained in the region they benefited and what they learned they spread, to a greater or lesser extent, to their homelands. They learned Arab culture, appreciated medicine and many of them in their castles lived like Muslims, wearing oriental clothes, taking baths and tasting oriental cuisine. They cultivated themselves spiritually and became true noble lords. They in turn improved their methods of warfare but were eventually driven out of the East. Furthermore, 3 religious-military orders were established that would greatly influence the course of the crusades. These were the Order of the Templars, the Order of the Hospitallers and the Order of the Teutonic Knights. There were other orders but these were the best known because they were the most powerful. All the orders came from all over Europe. The Templars wore white robes with a red cross, the Hospitallers wore black robes with a white cross and the Teutonic Knights wore white robes with a black cross. Most of the Johannites were in the Principality of Antioch, the Templars in the Kingdom of Jerusalem and the Teutons mainly in Eastern Europe. But there were others who fought against the Saracens.

A very important lesson was the one that the kings learned. Before the Crusades, in almost all of Western Europe, it was the counts and dukes who had the real power, and the influence of the Catholic Church was unquestioned. The king in most countries was a symbolic figure with little power and very little territory. He asked the feudal lords to help him in case of war and did not command them. The feudal lords were free to fight their own wars, and in the event of a war with a feudal lord from the same kingdom, the king merely played the role of referee. But in the East they noticed the Byzantine emperors and Muslim rulers who had absolute and effective power over their territories, even over the clergy, and they wanted to imitate them. The latter led to the weakening of the influence of the Catholic Church, which in time and through the wrong manipulations of certain popes was losing more and more of its power, and to the creation of modern nations. In the First Crusade, everyone without exception, wherever they came from, bore the red cross on their arm. In the Third Crusade, the French wore a red cross, those from Flanders and Lorraine wore a green cross, and the English wore a white cross on a red background, a sign that they were not just participating as soldiers of the Faith, but that each nation was participating under its own flag.


"Crusade" is a newer term, a translation of the French croisade and the Spanish cruzada. The French form of the word first appears in L'Histoire des Croisades, written by A. de Clermont and published in 1638. By 1750 the various forms of the word had been established in English, French and German. The Crusades were never so called by those who participated in them. The early crusaders were known by various terms, such as fideles Sancti Petri (faithful of St. Peter) or milites Christi (knights of Christ).

Like pilgrims, all crusaders took an oath (votus), to be fulfilled on successful arrival in Jerusalem, and were given a cloth cross (crux) to sew on their clothes. This "receiving of the cross", the crux, was ultimately connected to the whole project. They thought of themselves as undertaking an iter, a journey, or a peregrinatio, an armed pilgrimage. The inspiration for this "poor man's messianism" was the anticipated mass apotheosis in Jerusalem.


Historians believe that between 1096 and 1291 there were five major Crusades and many smaller ones. However, some consider Frederick II's Fifth Crusade to be two separate crusades. This would make the crusade attempted by Louis IX in 1274 the Sixth Crusade. After all, sometimes even this crusade is sometimes seen as two, resulting in a Th Crusade.

The Crusades

In the 20th century an expanded view of the Crusades developed, including all related attempts under papal leadership, both in the Middle East and in Europe. This takes into account the view of the Roman Catholic Church and modern medievalists, such as St Bernard of Clervaux, who gave equal priority to comparable military campaigns against pagans, heretics and others undertaken for political reasons. This broader definition includes the persecution of heretics in southern France, the political conflict between Christians in Sicily, the Christian reconquest of Spain, and the conquest of the pagans in the Baltic. The opposing view is that the Crusades were a defensive war in the Middle East against the Muslims to liberate the Holy Land from Muslim rule.

Political Crusades

Popes often called for crusades for political reasons, and crusades were also announced as a means of resolving internal conflicts between Roman Catholic Christians. Pope Innocent III declared a crusade against his political rival, Marcvard von Hanweiler, in Sicily. Only a few participated and the need for a crusade developed in 1202, when Markvard died. This is generally considered the first 'political crusade'. Between 1232 and 1234 there was a crusade against the peasants of Stendingen, in northwestern Germany, who refused to pay tithes to the Archbishop of Bremen. The archbishop excommunicated them and Pope Gregory IX declared a crusade in 1232. The peasants lost the Battle of Altenes on 27 May 1234 and were killed.

Emperor Frederick II was the subject of many political crusades by some popes. In 1240 Pope Gregory IX deposed him and declared a crusade against him for his opposition to Italy. Pope Innocent IV's 1248 crusade against him was transferred in 1250 against his son, Conrad IV, when he died, but to no avail. Crusades were again declared against Frederick's illegitimate son, Manfred King of Sicily, from 1255 to 1266, and Conrad's son, Conradin, in 1268 at the instigation of Charles of Anjou.

Two crusades appear to have been declared against opponents of King Henry III of England - one from 1215 to 1217 and the other from 1263 to 1265, with the former enjoying the privileges granted in the Fifth Crusade. The second went so far as to send papal delegates to England with the power to declare a crusade against Simon de Montfort (a rebel against King Henry III of England), but ended in 1265 due to Montfort's death. The Norwich Crusade of 1383, which was a military operation to aid the city of Ghent in its struggle against the supporters of Antipope Clement VII, was actually an extension of the Hundred Years' War rather than a purely religious campaign.

A key difference between the Crusades and other holy wars was that the approval to wage these wars came directly from the pope, who claimed to be acting on behalf of Christ.


Before the 16th century, the words "Muslim" and "Islam" were very rarely used by Europeans. During the Crusades the term widely used for Muslims was Saracens. In Greek and Latin this term had an earlier origin from the beginning of the first millennium, when it referred to a people living in the desert areas around the Roman province of Arabia, which was distinct from the Arabs. The term evolved to include Arab tribes and by the 12th century had become an ethnic and religious designation, synonymous with "Muslims" in medieval Latin literature. In the novel "The King of the Tar" the Saracens are black, while the Christians are lighter. The 12th-century Old French heroic poem Asma of Roland takes the relationship of black skin to the Saracens even further, making it their only exotic characteristic.


The term Frankish has been used by many Orthodox and Muslim neighbors of medieval Latin Christians (and beyond, as in Asia) as a general synonym for Europeans from Western and Central Europe, areas that followed Latin Christian rites under the authority of the Pope of Rome. Another term with similar usage was "Latins".

Modern historians often refer to Christians who followed the Latin ritual in the eastern Mediterranean as "Franks" or "Latins", regardless of their country of origin, and use the words Roman and Rumi for Orthodox Christians. In many Greek islands Catholics are still referred to as Franks, for example in Syros, where they are called Fragosyrians, in Thailand all peoples of European origin are called Farangs. Latin Christians living in the Middle East (especially in the Levant are known as Franko-Levantines.

During the Mongol Empire in the 13th and 14th centuries, the Mongols used the term "Franks" to identify Europeans. The term Frankistan ("Country of the Franks") was used by Muslims to refer to Roman Catholic Christian Europe and was used for several centuries in Iran and the Ottoman Empire.

The Mediterranean lingua franca (or "Frankish") was a pidgin (a simplified version of a language developed as a means of communication between two or more groups who do not share a common language), originally spoken by 11th-century European Christians and Muslims in Mediterranean ports and remained in use until the 19th century.

Examples of derived words:

... The lives and labor of millions buried in the East would have been better utilized in the improvement of their own country.

Edward Gibbon in History of the Decline and Fall of the Roman Empire

During the Religious Reformation and Counter-Reformation of the 16th century, historians viewed the Crusades through the prism of their own religious beliefs. Protestants saw them as a manifestation of the evils of the Papacy, while Catholics saw the movement as a force for good. During the Enlightenment, historians tended to view both the Crusades and the entire Middle Ages as the actions of barbaric cultures driven by fanaticism. In the 19th century with the rise of Romanticism this bad view of the Crusades and their era was somewhat tempered, with the study of the Crusades in the late 19th century focusing on increasing specificity of study and more detailed work on individual topics.

Enlightenment scholars in the 18th century and later historians in the West have expressed moral outrage at the crusaders' behaviour. In the 1950s Sir Stephen Runciman wrote that "High ideals were tainted by cruelty and greed... the Holy War was but a long-lasting act of intolerance in the name of God."

In the 20th century three major works were published, covering the overall history of the crusades, by René Grouchet, Stephen Runciman and the collective work of several authors by M. Stetton. The 20th century saw the development of a pluralistic view of the crusades that includes all the operations under the popes, both in the Middle East and in Europe. Historian Thomas Maiden has expressed the contrary view that "the Crusades, first and foremost, were a war against the Muslims in defense of the Christian faith... They began as a consequence of the Muslim conquest of Christian lands." Maiden says that Pope Urban's purpose was "to free the Christians of the East from the brutal and humiliating conditions of Muslim rule."

Byzantium and the Near East

After 636, when Muslim forces defeated the Byzantines at the Battle of Yarmouk, control of Palestine passed to the Umayyad Dynasty, the Abbasid Dynasty and the Fatimaids. Tolerance, trade and political relations between the Arabs and the Christian states of Europe increased until 1072, when the Fatimids lost control of Palestine, which passed to the rapidly expanding Great Seljuk Empire. For example, the Fatimid Caliph Al-Hakim b'Amr Alakh ordered the destruction of the Church of the Holy Sepulchre, but his successor allowed the Byzantine Empire to rebuild it. Muslim leaders allowed Christian pilgrimages to the Holy Land. The Christian inhabitants were considered people of the Bible, and marriages of non-Christians were not uncommon. Cultures and religions coexisted competitively, but conditions on the frontier were not favorable to Latino Christian pilgrims and traders. The abolition of pilgrimage travel by the conquering Seljuk Turks led to support for the Crusades in Western Europe.

The Byzantine Empire had recovered by the end of the 10th century, with Basil II spending most of his 50-year reign in campaigns, conquering much territory. He left increasing economic resources, but in return for neglecting local affairs and ignoring the costs of integrating his conquests into the Byzantine Empire. None of the Kingdom's successors had any military or political capacity, and the governance of the Empire gradually fell into the hands of civil servants. Their efforts to restore the Byzantine economy to prosperity had the sole result of an explosion of inflation. To balance the increasingly unstable budget the Kingdom's large standing army was disbanded as unnecessary and the native troops of the subjects were dismissed and replaced by foreign mercenaries. After the defeat of the Byzantine army at the Battle of Manzikert in 1071, the Seljuk Turks had taken control of almost all of Asia Minor and the Empire was plagued by frequent civil wars.

The Roman Catholic Church

In the West, the aggressive and revisionist Papacy came into conflict with both the Byzantine Empire and the Western secular monarchs, leading to the Schism of 1054 and the Conflict of Competence (the appointment of bishops and abbots of monasteries by the pope or the monarch), which had begun around 1075 and continued during the First Crusade. Popes began to assert their independence from secular rulers by arguing for the proper use of armed forces by Christians. The result was intense Christian piety, interest in religious affairs, and religious propaganda advocating "Just War" for the reconquest of Palestine from Muslims. The majority view was that non-Christians could not be forced to accept Christian baptism or be abused for having a different faith as opposed to a less widespread view that revenge was the answer to evils such as or denial of the Christian faith, government or the possibility of justified violent conversion. Engaging in such a war was seen as a form of repentance that could forgive sins. Meanwhile in Europe the Germans were expanding at the expense of the Slavs, and Sicily was conquered by the Norman adventurer Robertus Giscard in 1072.

Session of Clermont

In 1074 the Roman Emperor Michael VII sent a request for military assistance to Pope Gregory VII, but although Gregory seems to have considered an operation to help Michael VII, it did not reach the planning stage. The Byzantine Empire was facing problems in the Danube River region, as the Pechenegs were allied with the Seljuk Turks and threatened the Empire until 1091, when they were defeated by Emperor Alexius I Komnenos.

In 1095, Alexios I sent envoys to the West asking for military assistance against the Seljuks. Alexius needed to reinforce his battalions. The delegation probably tried to recruit mercenaries and may have exaggerated the dangers facing the Eastern Empire in order to secure the necessary troops. The message was received by Pope Urban II at the Council of Piacenza. In November Urban convened the Council of Clermont to discuss the matter, also urging the bishops and abbots, to whom he was directly addressing, to bring with them the prominent rulers of their provinces. The Synod lasted from 19 to 28 November with the participation of almost 300 clergy from all over France. Urban discussed the Cluniac reforms (a series of changes to the medieval monasticism of the Western Church, focusing on restoring traditional monastic life, encouraging the arts, and caring for the poor) of the Church and extended the excommunication of Philip I of France. Urban spoke for the first time about the problems in the East on 27 November, urging Christians in the West to fight against the Muslims who had taken over the Holy Land and were attacking the Eastern Roman Empire. There are six main sources of information about the Council: the anonymous Gesta Francorum ("The Works of the Franks", dated 1100

Robert the Monk, in the Historia Iherosolimitana, written in 1106

A general invitation was sent out to the knights and nobles of France. Urban apparently knew beforehand that Raymond IV of Toulouse was preparing to take up arms. Urban himself spent a few months preaching the Crusade in France, while papal legates (emissaries) spread the message to the south of Italy, so the emphasis may have changed from helping Alexius I to taking Jerusalem. In his letter to the faithful "waiting in Flanders" Urban laments that the Turks, in addition to the destruction of "the churches of God in the eastern regions", have taken over "the Holy City of Christ, sanctified by his passion and resurrection, and - which blasphemy - have delivered it and its churches into abominable slavery". He does not yet explicitly call for the recapture of Jerusalem. Rather, it explicitly calls for the military liberation of the Eastern Churches and appoints Ademar of Le Puy to lead the Crusade, beginning on the day of the Assumption, August 15. Pope Urban's speech is considered one of the most important that launched the holy wars and mobilized the minds and forces of Western Europe for 200 years, until their ultimate failure.

Women were inextricably linked to the Crusades, helping to recruit Crusaders, taking on responsibilities in their absence and providing financial and moral support. Historians argue that the most important role women played in the West was to maintain the status quo. Landowners left for the Holy Land, leaving control of their properties to representatives, usually wives or mothers. The Church understood that the danger to families and property might discourage crusaders, so special papal protection was part of the crusaders' privilege. Some women wore the cross themselves and went on the crusade. For example, Eleanor of Aquitaine participated with her husband Louis VII, and some women outside the aristocracy took on tasks considered women's work, such as washing. More controversial was the assumption by women of active roles that threatened their femininity, with descriptions of women fighting coming mainly from Muslim historians in order to portray Christian women as barbaric and disrespectful because of their murderous acts. Christian descriptions show women fighting only on rare occasions, to preserve their camps and their lives.

Less historically proven was a Children's Crusade movement in France and Germany in 1212 that attracted large numbers of teenagers and young peasants, some under 15. They were convinced that they could succeed where older and more sinful crusaders had failed: the miraculous power of their faith would triumph where the power of arms had failed. Many local priests and parents encouraged this religious fervour and urged them on. The pope and the bishops opposed the effort but failed to stop it completely. A group of several thousand young men, led by a German named Nicholas, set out for Italy. About a third survived the march through the Alps and reached Genoa, while another group went on to Marseilles. The luckier ones eventually made it home, but many others were sold as slaves for life in the slave markets of Marseilles.

Three attempts at crusades by peasants were attempted in the mid-1250s and again in the early 14th century. The first, the Vosges Crusade of 1251, was declared in northern France. However, after the encounter with the White of Castile it was disorganised and eventually disbanded by the government. The second, in 1309, occurred in England, northeastern France and Germany, with 30,000 peasants arriving in Avignon before being disbanded. The latter, in 1320, had a similar start to the first Shepherds' Crusade, but quickly turned into a series of attacks on the clergy and Jews and was violently dispersed.

The First Crusade established the first four crusader states in the Eastern Mediterranean: the County of Edessa (1098 to 1149), the Principality of Antioch (1098 to 1268), the Kingdom of Jerusalem (1099 to 1291) and the County of Tripoli (1104, although Tripoli itself was occupied in 1109, until 1289). The Armenian Kingdom of Cilicia predated the Crusades, but was granted kingdom status by Pope Innocent III and later fully westernized by the (French) Lusignan dynasty. These states were described by Jonathan Riley Smith (a contemporary English historian of the Crusades) as the first examples of "Overseas Europe". The general name given to them is Utremer (French: outre-mer) i.e. "overseas" and was commonly used as a synonym for the Renaissance Levant.

Richard I of England conquered Cyprus during the Third Crusade and eventually sold it to the deposed King of Jerusalem, Guy of Lusignan, in 1192. Guy founded a dynasty that lasted until 1489, when control of Cyprus passed to the Republic of Venice. Cyprus became a prosperous medieval kingdom, an economic and commercial hub of Western Christendom in the Middle East.

After the Fourth Crusade the treaty called "Partitio terrarum imperii Romaniae" i.e. "It established the Latin Empire and settled the partition of the Byzantine territories among the participants of the Crusade, with the Republic of Venice being the biggest beneficiary. In October 1204, a 24-member committee, consisting of 12 Venetians and 12 representatives of the other Crusader leaders, agreed to give the Latin Empire control of one-quarter of the Byzantine territories, Venice three-eighths, including three-eighths of the city of Constantinople, and to divide the remaining three-eighths among the other Crusader leaders. Thus began the period of Greek history known as the Frankish or Latin period, in which Catholic Western European nobles, mostly from France and Italy, established states in former Byzantine territories and ruled over the mostly Orthodox native Byzantine Greeks. The Partitio Romànie is a valuable document of the administrative divisions ("visitations") and landholdings of the various Byzantine noble families around 1203, as well as the areas still controlled by the Byzantine central government at that time.

The Crusades were expensive and as the wars increased, so did the costs. Pope Urban II called on the wealthy to help those who were "less wealthy" and rulers in the First Crusade, such as Robert, Duke of Normandy and Raymond, Count of St. Giles, who hired knights to their armies. The total cost of the Crusades of 1284-1285 to King Louis IX of France was 1,537,570 pounds, six times his annual income. This may be an underestimate, for there are records that he spent 1,000,000 pounds in Palestine when his campaign in Egypt ended. Still the rulers had asked for grants from their subjects. Eventually alms and legacies from the burst of enthusiasm for the conquest of Palestine were another source of funding. The popes had instructed that benches be placed in the churches for their collections, and by the mid-twelfth century they were granting indulgences to those who thus contributed to the movement, also encouraging the faithful to leave bequests to the Holy Land in their wills.

One factor in the eventual decline and demise was the discord and conflicts that were rife between the various Latin Christian interests in the Eastern Mediterranean. Pope Martin IV (1281-1285) irremediably compromised the Papacy by supporting Charles of Anjou, and his ill-conceived secular "crusades" against Sicily and Aragon greatly tarnished his spiritual authority. The collapse of his moral authority and the rise of nationalism heralded the definitive end of the crusades and would eventually lead to the Captivity of Avignon and the Western Schism (a split within the Catholic Church between 1378-1418).

In 1256 the Venetians were expelled from Tyre, resulting in the War of Saint Sava, over territory in Accra, claimed by both Venice and Genoa. Venice captured the unoccupied territories, destroying the fortifications of San Sava, but failed to expel the Genoese. During a 14-month blockade Genoa continued with Philip of Montfort, John of Arsuf and the Hospitaller Knights, while Venice was supported by the Count of Jaffa and the Knights Templar. In 1261 the Genoese were driven out but Pope Urban IV, concerned about the effects of the war on the defence against the Mongols, organised a peace conference. The conflict resumed in 1264, when the Genoese received help from Michael VIII Palaiologus, Emperor of Nice, and Venice failed in an attempt to seize Tyre. Both sides were using Muslim soldiers, mostly Turks, against their Christian opponents, and the Genoese had formed an alliance with the Baybars. The war between Genoa and Venice had a significant negative impact on the Kingdom's ability to resist external threats to its status. Apart from the religious buildings, most of the fortifications in Accra were more or less destroyed and looked as if they had been looted by a Muslim army. According to Rotherlin, the successor to William of Tyre's History, 20,000 men had died in the conflict, a time when t

In 1268 St Louis' brother Charles executed Conradin - the great-grandson of Isabella I of Jerusalem, the main claimant to the throne of Jerusalem - by seizing Sicily from the Holy Roman Empire. Charles was quick to purchase the rights to Jerusalem from Mary of Antioch - the sole remaining grandchild of Queen Isabella, creating a rival claim to that of Hugh III of Cyprus, who was her great-grandson. Charles spent his life trying to establish a Mediterranean empire. He and Louis considered themselves instruments of God in defending the Papacy.

In 1266 Charles had conquered, with Sicily, parts of the Adriatic that he had previously controlled, as well as Corfu, Boutros, Voulon and Sivota. By the Treaty of Viterbo he agreed with the exiles Baldwin II of Constantinople and William II of Villehardouin that the heirs of both Latin princes should marry children of Charles, and that the Empire and the principality should revert to Charles in case the couples did not acquire heirs. He also turned his brother's crusade to his advantage, persuading his brother to direct the Sixth Crusade against his rebellious vassals in Tunis. Louis' death, illness among the crusaders and a storm that destroyed his fleet forced Charles to postpone his plans against Constantinople. Michael VIII Palaiologus was alarmed by Charles' planned crusade to restore the Latin Empire, which had been crushed in 1261, and Charles' expansion into the Mediterranean. Palaeologus delayed Charles by beginning negotiations with Pope Gregory I to unite the Greek and Latin churches. At the Council of Lyons, the Union of the Churches was declared. Charles and Philip of Courtenay were forced to extend the truce with Byzantium. The union would later prove to be unacceptable to the Greeks. Palaeologus also financed Genoa to encourage rebellions in Charles' territories in northern Italy.

The ascension of a French pope, Martin IV, in 1281 aligned the entire power of the papacy with Charles' plans. He unsuccessfully campaigned in Albania and Achaia before preparing to turn the bulk of his Crusade (400 ships carrying 27,000 knights on horseback) against Constantinople. However, Palaeologus allied with Peter III of Aragon to foment a rebellion known as the Sicilian Esperians, during which the Crusader fleet was abandoned and burned. The Sicilians appealed to King Peter, who was proclaimed king with the house of Anjou (Anjou) being driven out of Sicily forever. Pope Martin excommunicated Peter and declared a crusade against Aragon before Charles' death in 1287, allowing Henry II of Cyprus to reclaim the Kingdom of Jerusalem.

The continental Crusader states of Middle Eastern Utremere evolved with the fall of Tripoli in 1289 and Accra in 1291. The remaining Latin Christians mostly fled to various destinations in Frankish-occupied Greece, were killed or became slaves. Smaller crusading attempts continued into the 14th century. Peter I of Cyprus captured and sacked Alexandria in 1365, in what became known as the Alexandrian Crusade, although its motives were commercial rather than religious. Louis II, Duke of Bourbon, led a Franco-Belgian campaign in 1390 against Muslim pirates in North Africa based in Al-Madiyya, called the Mandyrian Crusade. After a ten-week siege, the crusaders lifted their siege by signing a ten-year truce.

Central to the debate on the ethics of the crusades are the military orders, especially the Johannites and Templars. To modern sensibilities it is strange that the church could reconcile monasticism with military life. Both the Johannites and Templars became international organizations with supply depots in the countries of Western Europe as well as in the East. In contrast, the Teutonic Knights successfully turned their attention to the Baltic and to the Spanish battalions of Santiago, Calatrava and Alcantara, which were concentrated in the Iberian Peninsula. The Knights of the Order of the Inn of St. John of Jerusalem (Hospitallers) were founded in 1099 in the wake of the first crusade. The order included military, medical and pastoral brethren. After the fall of Accra they fled to Cyprus and successively conquered and ruled Rhodes (1309-1522) and Malta (1530-1801). The Poor Companions of Christ and the Temple of Solomon (Templars) were founded in 1118 to protect pilgrims going to Jerusalem. However, they quickly became wealthy and powerful through banks and real estate with property throughout the Christian world. In 1322 the King of France abolished the order on trumped up charges of debauchery, witchcraft and heresy, but most likely for economic and political reasons.


A people and a culture descended from the remaining European inhabitants of the Crusader states - especially French Levantines in Lebanon, Palestine, Israel and Turkey - and merchants from the maritime republics of the Mediterranean - Venice, Genoa and Ragusa, continued to survive in Constantinople, Smyrna and other parts of Asia Minor and the Eastern Mediterranean coast throughout the medieval Byzantine and Ottoman eras. These peoples are known as Levantines or Franko-Levantines and are Roman Catholic. Since the British occupied parts of Ottoman Syria in the aftermath of World War I, the term "Levantine" has been used to denote the inhabitants of mixed Arab and European descent and Europeans - usually French, Italian or Greek - who adopted local dress and customs.

Political and cultural

The Crusades influenced the attitude of the Western Church and people towards war. The frequent declaration of crusades familiarized the clergy with the use of violence. The crusades also sparked the debate about the legality of taking lands and properties from pagans for purely religious reasons, which would arise again in the 15th and 16th centuries with the Age of Discovery. The needs of the Crusader wars caused developments in secular governance, but these were not necessarily positive. The resources raised for the crusades could have been used by the participating states for local and regional needs rather than in distant lands. With the power and prestige derived from the crusades, the papal curia gained greater control over the entire Western Church and extended the system of papal taxation throughout the ecclesiastical structure of the West. The system of indulgences grew significantly in late medieval Europe, later sparking the Protestant Reformation in the early 16th century.

Military experience influenced the design of European castles - Kurnarfon Castle directly reflects the style of fortresses that Edward I had observed while fighting in the Crusades. The Albigensian Crusade was designed to eliminate the Cathar heresy at Langdoc. One result of it was the acquisition by France of territory with closer cultural and linguistic ties to Catalonia. The Albigensian Crusade also played a role in the creation and institutionalization of both the Dominican Order and the Medieval Inquisition.

The Persecution of the Jews in the First Crusade initiated a millennia-long tradition of organised attacks against the Jews of Europe.


After the fall of Accra in 1291, the European defence of the Crusades was maintained, despite criticism from contemporaries such as Roger Bacon who felt that the Crusades were futile since "those who survived, including their children, are increasingly bitter against the Christian faith". Historian Norman Davis (b. 1939) summarized the view against the Crusades as contrary to the "Peace and Truce of God" that Urban had promoted. Instead they reinforced the association of Western Christendom with feudalism and militarism. The creation of military religious battalions scandalized Byzantine Greek Orthodox Christians. The crusaders plundered the countries they passed through on their way to the East. Instead of keeping their oath to return the lands to the Byzantines, they usually held them for themselves. The People's Crusade instigated the German Crusade and the slaughter of thousands of Jews. In the late 19th century this episode was used by Jewish historians to support Zionism. The Fourth Crusade resulted in the fall of Constantinople, effectively ending the chance of reunification of the Christian church by removing the East-West Schism and leading to the weakening and eventual subjugation of the Byzantine Empire to the Ottomans.

Enlightenment historians criticized the drift of the crusades. In particular, they pointed to the Fourth Crusade, which instead of attacking Islam attacked another Christian power - the (Eastern) Roman Empire. David Nichol (c.1944) states that the Fourth Crusade has always been controversial in terms of the "betrayal" of Byzantium.

Eight hundred years after the Fourth Crusade, Pope John Paul II twice expressed regret for the events surrounding it. In 2001 he wrote to Archbishop Christodoulos of Athens stating "It is tragic that the raiders, who set out to ensure the free access of Christians to the Holy Land, turned against their brothers and sisters in faith. The fact that these were Latin Christians fills Catholics with deep sorrow." In 2004, when Patriarch Bartholomew visited the Vatican, John Paul II asked "How can we not share, after eight hundred years, the pain and revulsion." This has been seen as an apology to the Greek Orthodox Church for the terrible massacre committed by the warriors of the Fourth Crusade.

In April 2004, in a speech on the 800th anniversary of the fall of the city, Ecumenical Patriarch Bartholomew officially accepted the apology. "The spirit of reconciliation is stronger than hatred," he said, during a service attended by Roman Catholic Archbishop Philippe Barbarain of Lyon, France. "We accept with gratitude and respect your heartfelt gesture for the tragic events of the Fourth Crusade. It is a fact that a crime was committed here in this city 800 years ago." Bartholomew said his acceptance came in the spirit of Easter. "The reconciling spirit of the resurrection ... motivates us towards the reconciliation of our churches."


The need to create, transport and supply large armies led to a boom in trade throughout Europe between Europe and the Uttermere. Genoa and Venice flourished through profitable trading colonies in the Crusader states, both in the Holy Land and later in conquered Byzantine territories.

Recapture (718-1492)

Although the reconquest of the Iberian Peninsula by the Muslims began in the 8th century and reached its decisive turning point with the reconquest of Toledo in 1085 and the subsequent Council of Clermont in 1095, when Urban II linked the ongoing wars in Iberia to his preaching of the First Crusade; it was only with the papal encyclical of 1123 by Pope Callisto II that these wars acquired the status of crusades. After that the popes declared Iberian crusades in 1147, 1193, 1197, 1210, 1212, 1221 and 1229. Crusading privileges were given to those who assisted the military orders - both the traditional Templars and Hospitallers, and the more specific Iberian orders that were founded and eventually merged into two main orders - Calatrava and Santiago. From 1212 to 1265 the Christian kingdoms of Iberia repelled Muslim domination in the southern end of the Iberian Peninsula, confining it to the small Emirate of Granada. In 1492 this remnant was occupied and the Muslims and Jews were expelled from the peninsula.

People's Crusade (1096)

Main article: Crusade of the people

Urban inspired the preaching of Peter the Hermit, who eventually led up to perhaps 20,000 people, mostly peasants, to the Holy Land just after Easter 1096. When they arrived in the Byzantine Empire, Alexius asked them to wait for the Western nobles, but the "army" insisted on going ahead and were ambushed by the Turks outside Nicea, from which only 3,000 escaped. This crusade is considered part of the First Crusade.

First Crusade (1096-1099) and its immediate consequences

Main article: First Crusade

The official crusading troops set out from France and Italy at different times in August and September 1096, with Hugo of Vermantua leading the way and the main body of the army divided into four divisions travelling separately to Constantinople. In all, the western forces may have numbered as many as 100,000 men, warriors and civilians. The armies travelled overland east to Constantinople, where they received a cautious welcome from the Byzantine Emperor. Promising to retake the lost territories of the empire, the main army, mostly French and Norman knights led by lords, marched south through Asia Minor. Among the leaders of the First Crusade were Godfrey of Bouillon, Robert II of Normandy, Hugo of Vermantua, Baldwin of Bouillon, Tangrades of Otville, Raymond IV of Toulouse, Bohemond of Taranto, Robert II of Flanders and Stephen II of Blois. The King of France and Henry IV of the Holy Roman Empire, both being in conflict with the Papacy, did not participate. When the French crusaders crossed Germany in the spring of 1096, crusader units slaughtered hundreds or thousands of Jews in the cities of Speyer, Worms, Mainz and Cologne, despite the efforts of the Catholic bishops to protect the Jews. The main leaders were Emicho and Peter the Hermit. Sazan (Israel, c.1946) states: "The scale of anti-Jewish actions was broad, ranging from limited, spontaneous violence to full-scale military attacks on the Jewish communities of Mainz and Cologne." This was the first outbreak of anti-Jewish violence in Christian Europe and was cited by Zionists in the 19th century as indicative of the need for a state of Israel.

The Crusader armies first fought against the Turks in the long Siege of Antioch, which began in October 1097 and lasted until June 1098. When they entered the city, the Crusaders slaughtered the Muslim inhabitants and looted it. But a large Muslim army under Kerboga immediately rushed in and besieged the victorious crusaders who were inside Antioch. Boymond of Taranto led a successful counterattack of the Crusader army and defeated the army of Kerboga on June 28. Boimon and his men retained control of Antioch, despite his promise to the Byzantine emperor. Most of the surviving Crusader army marched south, going from one city to another along the coast, finally reaching the walls of Jerusalem on 7 June 1099 with only a fraction of his original forces.

Jews and Muslims fought together to defend Jerusalem against the Frankish invaders. The Crusaders entered the city on July 15, 1099. They proceeded to massacre the remaining Jewish and Muslim civilians and looted or destroyed the mosques and the city itself. As a consequence of the First Crusade, four crusader states were created: the County of Edessa, the Principality of Antioch, the County of Tripoli and the Kingdom of Jerusalem.

At the popular level, the preaching of the First Crusade unleashed a wave of emphatic, with a sense of personal, pious Christian fervour, expressed in the massacres of Jews that accompanied and preceded the crusaders' march across Europe, as well as in the brutal treatment of "schismatic" Orthodox Christians in the East.

This crusade was followed by a second, less successful wave of crusaders, known as the Crusade of 1101, in which the Turks under Kilitz Arslan defeated the crusaders in three separate battles in response to the First Crusade. Sigurd I of Norway was the first European king to visit the Crusader states, as well as the first European king to take part in a Crusader campaign, although his attempt was a pilgrimage rather than a crusade. His fleet helped in the siege of Sidon. Also in 1107, Boimon of Antioch attacked the Byzantines at Vlora and Durres, in what is sometimes called the Boimon Crusade, which ended in September 1108 with his defeat and his retreat to Italy.

Subsequent attempts in 1120 include a crusade, declared by Pope Callisto II around 1120, which became the Venetian Crusade of 1122-1124, a pilgrimage of Count Fulcrum V of Anjou in 1120, an attempt by Conrad III of Germany in 1124, of which few details are known, and the Damascus Crusade by Fulc V, which resulted in the Knights Templar being knighted by Pope Honorius II in January 1129. Some historians consider Pope Innocent II's granting of the same crusading indulgences to those opposed to the pope's enemies as the first of the politically motivated crusades against the popes' rivals, but other historians disagree.

The crusader states were initially secure, but Imad ad-Din Zegi, who was appointed governor of Mosul in 1127, captured Aleppo in 1128 and the County of Edessa in 1144. These defeats led Pope Eugene III to declare another crusade on 1 March 1245.

Second Crusade (1147-1149)

Main article: Second Crusade

The new crusade was preached by various people, but mainly by Bernard of Clervaux. French and South German armies, under kings Louis VII and Conrad III respectively, marched on Jerusalem in 1147, but failed to achieve any significant victory, launching an unsuccessful pre-emptive siege of Damascus. On the other side of the Mediterranean, however, the Second Crusade was a great success, as a group of Northern European crusaders stationed themselves in Portugal, allied themselves with Portuguese King Alfonso I and recaptured Lisbon from the Muslims in 1147. A detachment from this group of crusaders helped Count Raymond Berengarius IV of Barcelona capture the city of Tortosa the following year. In the Holy Land in 1150, the kings, both of France and Germany, had returned to their countries to no avail. Bernard of Clervaux, whose sermons had urged the Second Crusade, was held responsible for the extent of the unrelated violence and massacre of the Jewish population of the Rhineland. A continuation of this crusade was the pilgrimage of Henry the Lion, Duke of Saxony, in 1172, sometimes recorded as a (separate) crusade.

Venetian Crusade (1147-1162)

At the same time as the Second Crusade, Saxons and Danes fought against the Polabian Slavs in the Vendian Crusade or First Northern Crusade. The Vendees defeated the Danes and the Saxons did not contribute much to the crusade. The Vendees recognized the suzerainty of the Saxon ruler Henry the Lion. Further crusading activities continued, although no papal orders had been issued calling for new crusades. Attempts to conquer the Vendees were made again in 1160 by Henry the Lion, which continued until 1162, when the Vendees were defeated at the Battle of Demin.

Third Crusade (1187-1192)

Main article: Third Crusade

The Muslims fought among themselves for a long time, but eventually united under Saladin, which created a single powerful state. After his victory at the Battle of Hattin, he easily crushed the divided crusaders in 1187 and recaptured Jerusalem on September 29, 1187. A capitulation was made and the city surrendered, with Saladin entering Jerusalem on 2 October 1187. Saladin's victories shocked Europe. Hearing the news of the Siege of Jerusalem, Pope Urban III died of a heart attack on 19 October 1187. On 29 October Pope Gregory VIII issued a papal bull, Audita tremendi, announcing the Third Crusade. To reverse the loss of Jerusalem, Frederick I, Emperor of the Holy Roman Empire (b. 1152-1190) of Germany, King Philip II of France (b. 1180-1223) and King Richard I (Leondocard) of England (b. 1189-1199) all organized forces. Frederick died en route and few of his men reached the Holy Land. The other two armies arrived but were rocked by political strife. Philip returned to France, leaving most of his forces behind. Richard wrested the island of Cyprus from the Byzantines in 1191. He then retook the city of Acre after a long siege. The crusader army advanced south along the Mediterranean coast, defeated the Muslims near Arsuf, recaptured the port city of C

Northern Crusades (1193-1290)

Pope Celestine III declared a crusade against the pagans in Northern Europe in 1193. Bishop Bertold of Anover arrived with a large military body of crusaders in 1198, but he was killed in battle and his forces were defeated. To avenge Bertold, Pope Innocent III issued a bull, declaring a crusade against the Livonians (in present-day Latvia and Estonia), most of whom were still pagans. Albrecht von Buxteven, consecrated bishop in 1199, arrived in force the following year and made Riga the seat of his diocese in 1201. In 1202 he founded the Order of the Brothers of the Sword to help convert the pagans to Christianity and, most importantly, to secure Germanic control of the region's trade. The Livonians were conquered and converted between 1202 and 1209.

Pope Honorius III declared a crusade against the Prussians in 1217. Conrad I of Masovia granted Chelmno to the Teutonic Knights in 1226, to serve as a base for the Prussian crusade. In 1236 the Livonian Knights of the Sword were defeated by the Lithuanians at Saulé, and in 1237 Pope Gregory IX incorporated the remaining Knights of the Sword into the Teutonic Knights. By 1249 the Teutonic Knights had completed their conquest of the Prussians, whom they ruled as a fief of the German emperor. The Knights then proceeded to conquer and convert the pagan Lithuanians, a process that lasted until the 1380s.

The Teutonic Order tried but failed to occupy Orthodox Russia (particularly the Principalities of Pskov and the Novgorod Republic, an operation sanctioned by Pope Gregory IX as part of the Northern Crusades. In 1240 the army of Novgorod defeated the Swedes at the Battle of Neva and in 1242 the Livonian knights at the Battle of the Icefields.

German Crusade (1195-1198)

Emperor Henry VI began preparations for a German Crusade in 1195. His health did not allow him to lead the forces personally, so leadership was entrusted to Conrad of Wittelsbach, Archbishop of Mainz. The forces landed in Accra in September 1197 and captured the cities of Sidon and Beirut. Soon afterwards Henry died and most of the crusaders returned to Germany. in 1198.

Fourth Crusade (1202-1204)

Main article: Fourth Crusade

The Fourth Crusade never reached the Holy Land. Instead, it became the vehicle for the political ambitions of Doge Henry Dandolo and the German King Philip of Suabia, who married Irene of Byzantium. Dandolo saw an opportunity to expand Venice's holdings in the Near East, while Philip saw the crusade as an opportunity to restore his exiled nephew, Alexius IV Angelus, to the throne of Byzantium. Pope Innocent III began recruiting for the crusade in 1200, with sermons in France, England and Germany, although most efforts were made in France. The crusaders made a deal with the Venetians for a fleet and supplies to take them to the Holy Land, but they had no money to pay when few knights arrived in Venice. They agreed to divert the crusade to Constantinople and share what could be plundered as a reward. As security, the crusaders captured the Christian city of Zara on November 24, 1202. Innocent was outraged and excommunicated the crusaders. The crusaders met limited resistance during their initial siege of Constantinople, sailing down the Dardanelles and breaching the sea walls. But Alexios was strangled after a palace coup, denying them success, and they were forced to repeat the siege in April 1204. This time town and churches were sacked and large numbers of citizens were slaughtered.

In April 1205 the crusaders were largely overpowered by the Bulgarians and the remaining Greeks at Adrianople, where Kaloghian of Bulgaria captured and imprisoned the new Latin emperor Baldwin of Flanders. While condemning the means, the popes initially supported this apparent forced reunion of Eastern and Western churches. The Fourth Crusade essentially resulted in two Roman Empires in the East: a Latin "Empire of the Straits", which survived until 1261, and a Byzantine remnant, ruled by Nicea, which later regained control in the absence of the Venetian fleet. The only one to benefit in the long term was Venice.

Albigensian Crusade (1208-1241)

Main article: Crusade of the Albigensians

The Albigensian Crusade was launched in 1208 to eliminate the heretic Cathars of Occitania (now southern France). It was a decades-long struggle that had as much to do with northern France's desire to extend its control southward as it did with fighting heresy. Eventually; the Cathars were declared illegal and the independence of southern France was eliminated.

Pope Honorius III declared a crusade against alleged Cathar heretics in Bosnia. It was rumoured that there was a rival of the Cathars named Nikitas, although it is unclear whether such a figure even existed. Hungarian forces responded to papal appeals with two attempts in 1234 and 1241, the second ending due to the Mongol invasion of Hungary in 1241. The Bosnian Church was Catholic in theology, but remained in schism with the Roman Catholic Church until the end of medieval times.

Fifth Crusade (1217-1221)

Main article: Fifth Crusade

Pope Innocent III declared the beginning of a new crusade in 1217, together with the convening of the Fourth Lateran Council in 1215. The majority of the crusaders came from Germany, Flanders and Frisia, along with a large army from Hungary under King Andrew II and other forces under Duke Leopold VI of Austria. Andrew and Leopold's forces reached Accra in October 1217, but they did not accomplish much and Andrew returned to Hungary in January 1218. After more crusaders arrived, Leopold and John of Brienne, King of Jerusalem, besieged Damietta (in Egypt), which they finally captured in November 1219. Further attempts by the papal legate Pelagius to invade Egypt from within were unsuccessful. Blocked by forces of the Ayubid Sultan Al-Kamil, the crusaders were forced to retreat. Al-Kamil forced the return of Damietta and agreed to an eight-year truce, and the Crusaders left Egypt.

Sixth Crusade (1228-1229)

Main article: Sixth Crusade

Emperor Frederick II had repeatedly promised a crusade, but failed to keep his word, so he was excommunicated by Gregory IX in 1228. Nevertheless, he sailed from Brindisi in June 1228 and landed at Saint Jean d'Acres in September 1228, after a stopover in Cyprus. There was no fighting, as Frederick made a peace treaty with Al-Kamil, ruler of Egypt. This treaty allowed Christians to rule over most of Jerusalem and a strip of territory from Accra to Jerusalem, while Muslims were given control of their holy places in Jerusalem. In return, Frederick pledged to protect Al-Kamil against all his enemies, even if they were Christians.

This Crusade was followed up by the attempt of King Theobald I of Navarre in 1239 and 1240, which was originally sanctioned in 1234 by Pope Gregory IX, only to be finally organised in July 1239, at the end of a truce. In addition to Theobald, Peter of Dre, Hugo, Duke of Burgundy and other French nobles were involved. They arrived in Accra in September 1239 and, despite a defeat in November, Theobald concluded a treaty with the Muslims that returned territory to the crusader states, but caused great discontent among the crusaders. Theobald returned to Europe in September 1240. Also in 1240, Richard of Cornwall, younger brother of King Henry III of England, wore the cross and arrived in Accra in October. He then secured ratification of the Treaty of Theobald and left the Holy Land in May 1241 for Europe.

Seventh Crusade (1248-1254)

Main article: Seventh Crusade

In the summer of 1244 a force of Horeshim, called by Al-Kamil's son, Al-Salih Ayub, attacked and captured Jerusalem. The Franks allied themselves with Ayoub's uncle, Ishmael, and the emir of Homs and joined forces and drew up in battle at La Forbi in Gaza. The crusading army and its allies were defeated by the tribe of Horesh in forty-eight hours by the tribe of Horesh. Revealing his great despair a Templar knight lamented as follows:

Rage and sorrow thunder in my heavy that I can barely stay alive. God seems to want to support the Turks for our loss...ah, Lord God...alas, the kingdom of the East has lost so much that it can never stand again. They will build a Mosque in the convent of the Virgin Mary and since the theft pleases his Son, who would mourn for it, we too are obliged to comply...anyone who wants to fight the Turks is crazy, since Jesus Christ is no longer fighting them. They have conquered, they will conquer. For every day they overwhelm us, knowing that God, who was awake, is now asleep and Mohammed is now growing stronger.

King Louis IX of France organized a crusade, after putting on the cross in December 1244, preaching and recruiting from 1245 to 1248. Louis' forces sailed from France in May 1249 and landed near Damietta in Egypt on 5 June. Waiting until the end of the Nile flood, the army marched inland in November and by February was near Mansoura. There, however, they were defeated and Louis was captured while retreating towards Damietta. Louis was released in exchange for 800,000 Byzantines (gold coins) and a ten-year truce was agreed. Louis then went to Syria, where he remained until 1254, working to consolidate the kingdom of Jerusalem and building fortifications.

Sixth and Thirteenth Crusades (1270-1272)

Main article: The Crusade

Ignoring his advisers, in 1270 Louis IX again attacked the Arabs in Tunis, North Africa. He chose the hottest time of year for the campaign and his army was wiped out by disease. The king himself died ending the last major attempt to conquer the Holy Land. The Mamluks, under Baybar, finally drove the Franks from the Holy Land. From 1265 to 1271 Baybar confined the Franks to a few small coastal outposts. His troops slaughtered or enslaved all the Christians in the city of Antioch. Then Edward I of England committed himself to the crusade with Louis IX, but was delayed and arrived in North Africa in November 1270. After Louis' death, Edward went to Sicily and then to Accra in May 1271. But his forces were too small to do anything and he was upset after Baibar concluded a truce with King Hugo of Jerusalem. Although Edward was informed of his father's death and his resurrection to the throne in December 1272, he did not return to England until 1274, though he achieved little in the Holy Land.

Crusade of Aragon

Main article: Crusade of Aragon

The Aragon Crusade was declared by Pope Martin IV against King Peter III of Aragon in 1284 and 1285. Peter was supporting the forces against the Angevins (Anjou) in Sicily after the Sicilian Vespers and the popes were supporting Charles of Anjou. Pope Boniface VIII declared a crusade against Frederick III of Sicily, Peter's younger brother, in 1298, but without succeeding in preventing Frederick's coronation and recognition as King of Sicily.

Crusades of the 14th and 15th centuries

There were several crusades in the 14th and 15th centuries to prevent the expansion of the Ottoman Empire, beginning in 1396 with Sigismund of Luxembourg, King of Hungary. Many French nobles joined Sigismund's forces, among them John the Strong, son of the Duke of Burgundy, who was appointed military leader of the crusade. Although Sigismund advised the crusaders to adopt a defensive posture when they reached the Danube, they instead besieged the city of Nicopolis (Bulgaria). The Ottomans confronted the Crusaders at the Battle of Nicopolis on 25 September 1396, defeating the Christian forces and capturing 3,000 prisoners.

The Hussite Crusade, also known as the "Hussite Wars" or "Bohemian Wars", involved military actions against the followers of Jan Hus in Bohemia from 1420 to 1431. During this period, crusades were declared five times - 1420, 1421, 1422, 1427 and 1431. The end result of these campaigns was to force the Hussite forces, who disagreed on many doctrinal issues, to unite to drive out the invaders. The wars ended in 1436 with the Church's ratification of the Agreements of Iglau (present-day Jihlava, Czech Republic). In April 1487 Pope Innocent VIII declared a crusade against the Waldensian heretics of Savoy, Piedmont and Dauphiné in southern France and northern Italy. The only actions actually taken were against the heretics in Dauphiné, with little effect.

The King of Poland and Hungary, Władysław Varniecik, invaded the newly occupied territories of the Ottomans and arrived in Belgrade in January 1444. Negotiations for a truce eventually led to an agreement that was renounced by Sultan Murat II only days after it was ratified. Further efforts by the crusaders were ended by the Battle of Varna on 10 November 1444, which was a decisive victory for the Ottomans, causing the crusaders to withdraw. This withdrawal led to the fall of Constantinople, as this was the last Western attempt to help the Byzantine Empire.

In 1456, John Uniades and Giovanni da Capistrano organised a crusade to lift the Ottoman siege of Belgrade.


  1. Crusades
  2. Σταυροφορίες
  3. ^ Steven Runciman, Storia delle crociate, Einaudi, Torino, 1966, vol. I, p. 94: «Papa Urbano II ... lanciò il suo grande appello: la Cristianità occidentale si metta in marcia per soccorrere l'Oriente; ricchi e poveri dovrebbero ugualmente partire, dovrebbero smetterla di trucidarsi a vicenda e combattere invece una guerra giusta, compiendo l'opera di Dio; e Dio li avrebbe guidati. Chi fosse morto in battaglia avrebbe ricevuto l'assoluzione e la remissione dei peccati».
  4. ^ La visione cristiana di guerra santa alla base dell'ideologia di crociata trova una sua espressione particolarmente significativa nel Trattato De laude novae militiae ad Milites Templi del monaco cistercense Bernardo di Chiaravalle (più tardi ispiratore della disastrosa Terza crociata): «... I cavalieri di Cristo combattono invece le battaglie del loro Signore e non temono né di peccare uccidendo i nemici, né di dannarsi se sono essi a morire: poiché la morte, quando è data o ricevuta nel nome di Cristo, non comporta alcun peccato e fa guadagnare molta gloria. Nel primo caso infatti si vince per Cristo, nell'altro si vince Cristo stesso: il quale accoglie volentieri la morte del nemico come atto di giustizia, e più volentieri ancora offre se stesso come consolazione al Cavaliere caduto».
  5. ^ Ad esempio Oriana Fallaci che nel suo La forza della ragione (Rizzoli, Milano, 2004, p. 41), affermava: «[Le crociate] furono spedizioni per rientrare in possesso del Santo Sepolcro».
  6. ^ «Essi occuparono la città e massacrarono chiunque incontrassero per le strade e nelle chiese – uomini, donne e bambini - senza risparmiare nessuno. Quindi raggiunsero altre località, saccheggiando e uccidendo tutti gli abitanti che trovavano». Cfr. Bat Ye'or, The Decline of Eastern Christianity Under Islam: From Jihād to Dhimmitude, pp. 271-272.
  7. Pour approfondir ce sujet, voir l'article Doctrine de la guerre juste.
  8. A középkori iszlám országok keresztényei akadálytalanul követhették vallási szokásaikat, és még magas állami hivatalokat is betölthettek. Még a 11. században is egyházi halottas menetek vonulhattak Bagdad utcáin a keresztény istentisztelet összes jelvényeivel, és ezek megzavarását a krónikások mint kivételes eseményt említik meg. A középkori Egyiptomban a keresztény ünnepek az iszlám lakosság számára is örömünnepek voltak. Ennek a fordítottját azonban nehéz valamelyik középkori keresztény országban elképzelni. (Forrás: Helmuth von Glasenapp: Az öt világvallás)
  9. katolikus megnevezésselː eretnekek ellen
  10. A "szent háborúban" elkötelezett muszlim harcosok megnevezése

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