The CrusadesPosted: June 8, 2012
What were the crusades?
The Crusades were a series of nine holy wars involving Christians and Muslims and their battle over the land of Jerusalem. The reason for the conflict was that each side believed that the land was sacred to their religion. The Muslims believed that Mohammed ascended into heaven there and the Christians believed that Jesus died and rose to heaven there as well. The Christian pilgrims as well as traders originally lived in harmony with Muslim Arabs who were controlling the land. This came to a stop when in 1050 a group of militant Turkish Muslims known as the Seljuks, took control and as they would not tolerate Christians they killed many of them. There was only one Christian City in the region left and this was Constantinople, the capital of the Byzantine Empire. In 1096 this city was threatened by the Seljuks and the Byzantine emperor asked Pope Urban the second for help. The Pope was very powerful at this time. This started a chain of events that would not finish until 1291, nearly 200 years later.
The First crusade
The first crusade, also called the peoples crusade, started when in 1096, four groups of Crusaders set out for Europe, meeting in Constantinople. It was called the peoples crusade because many ordinary people made up the four groups of crusaders. The reason for their willingness to go, was a man by the name of Peter the Hermit who excited large parts of France by walking around town to town carrying a cross urging people to join the cause. They captured Jerusalem in 1099 but only after two thirds of them had died of heat and exhaustion. After the first crusade, lots of crusaders stayed and made the region home. Castles were built and orders of knights were set up to protect pilgrims and their forts.
The Second Crusade
The Christians had won the first crusade, their success though, was largely due to disunion amongst the muslims. Realising this, the muslims rallied together and one of their groups, the Turks, successfully captured Edessa, and then the whole country of Edessa which was one of the principal Christian outposts. The turks either slaughtered or sold into slavery everyone in the country. After the fall of this city, western Europe were aroused to the danger which threatened the Latin Kingdom of Jerusalem and this began the second crusade. St. Bernard was the person who preached in the second crusade and wherever he went there were scenes of the wildest enthusiasm. He was quite like Peter the Hermit, he travelled to many different places arousing the warriors of the Cross to defend their religions sacred place. St Bernards preaching had encouraged many people to take part, he even induced two monarchs, Louis the 7th and Conrad the 3rd of Germany, to take the blood – red cross of a crusader. In spite of all this, after the battle, only a few thousand crusaders escaped annihilation from the Turks. Conrad and Louis, with what was left of their armies, together attacked Damascus, but gave up after a few days. This marked the end of another crusade.
The Third Crusade
Not long after the second crusade, the Moslem side of the Crusades found a leader. His name was Saladin and was a typical Mohammedan taking part in prayers and fasting. He was also hated unbelievers. In 1187, Saladin captured Jerusalem and a third crusade was launched. The Christians quickly to battle to him near the lake of Galilee. It ended very badly, with the capture of their King and the rout of their army. The other Christian cities of Syria as well as Jerusalem itself surrendered and Saladin had full power over them and their land. News of what happened in Jerusalem spread throughout western Christendom. Many people cried for another crusade. As well as thousands of men, the three greatest rulers of Europe, King Philip Augustus of France, King Richard the 1st of England and the German emperor, Frederick Barbossa became crusaders. These three leaders set out each with his own large army with one goal, to recover the Holy City of Jerusalem. The German army was the first to set off, and did very badly. After many of them being killed by the Turks, Emperor Frederick drowned while crossing a stream and most of his army then returned back to Germany. The French and English armies were next to head off and they captured Acre after a hard siege. King Philip then left for home leaving responsibility in to Richard. For two years Richard the Lion Hearted fought with Saladin over the possession of the tomb of Christ. After trying in vain to capture Jerusalem Richard agreed on a truce with Saladin where the Christian were allowed to visit Jerusalem without having to pay tribute and that was the end of the third crusade.
The Fourth Crusade
As Egypt was the centre of Muslim power, the crusaders targeted this city instead of Jerusalem in the fourth crusade. The crusaders first took Constantinople by storm. They burned down parts, slaughter the people there and did not hesitate to destroy monuments, statues and painting some of which were a thousand years old. They also took away anything valuable that was easy to transport. Two centuries later, after Constantinople could no longer cope with the barbarians menacing it, the city fell to the Turks. This was the end of another crusade.
The Fifth Crusade
The kings of Hungary and Cyprus led the fifth crusade and its strength was wasted in Egypt. Nothing came of it.
The Sixth Crusade
Frederick the 2nd of Germany headed the sixth crusade and succeeded in securing from the Saracens the restoration of Jerusalem.
The Eighth Crusade
In this crusade King Louis the 9th pointed his army against the Moors in North Africa, the king died of the plague and nothing came of it.
The Ninth Crusade
The Ninth and last crusade was first led by Prince Edward of England and then King Edward the 1st. Edward captured Nazareth and compelled the sultan of Egypt to go along with a treaty favourable to the Christian army. Sadly though, Acre, the last city held by the Christians eventually fell and with this event the Latin Kingdom of Jerusalem came to an end in 1291. There were no more crusades.
Jacaranda Humanities Alive History 1 Level 5 by Maggy Saldais, Ross Smith and Denis Young
By Trent Wedding