The Crusades Facts & Worksheets

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    • The reason and nature behind the birth of the Crusades.
    • The Crusading Movements between 1096 and 1270.
    • Results of the Crusades, including the establishment of Crusader Kingdoms (First Crusade).

    Key Facts And Information

    Let’s know more about the Crusades!

    • The Crusading movement was a series of military campaigns against the Muslims in the Middle East. It rooted from the act of pilgrimage supported by the Church’s Gregorian reforms. Ecclesiastical reforms during the early medieval period caused drastic changes in the Church governance and its relationship with the imperial sovereign.
    • They comprise a major chapter of medieval history. Extending over three centuries, they attracted every social class in central Europe, Kings and commoners, barons and bishops, knights and knaves - all participated in these expeditions to the eastern shores of the Mediterranean.
    • The crusaders derived their name from the Latin word for ‘cross’ – crux. A crusader went to the Holy Land with a cross of cloth sewn on the breast of his garment; when and if he returned, he had a similar cross stitched on its back. Legend and literature have surrounded the Crusades with an aura of romance and grandeur, of chivalry and courage which is only remotely related to reality.

    The Birth of the Crusades

    • By the 10th century, Seljuk Turks began to migrate and embrace Islam under their Khan, Seljuk. They were nomadic horsemen from the clan of the Oghuz from the north of the Oxus River. Turkish tribes particularly invaded parts of Western Asia and Central Asia.
    • In 1055, the Seljuks took over several Samanid cities and occupied Baghdad. They established themselves as the new protector of the Abbasid caliphate and Sunni Islam, which created the empire in Persia and Mesopotamia.
    • In the 1070s, they entered the Byzantine Empire territory after taking Syria from the Fatimids. After the defeat of the Byzantine emperor at the Battle of Manzikert, they conquered Anatolia and established the Sultanate of Rum.
    • In 1091, the Byzantine emperor requested aid from Pope Urban II in battling the Seljuks. Urban II responded and the birth of Crusades began.
    • In 1088, Urban II was elected as the new pope. He was a protégé and supporter of the great medieval reformer, Pope Gregory VII. Like Gregory VII, he imposed Cluniac reforms including the end of simony.
    • In response to the appeal of Emperor Alexius I, Pope Urban II made his speech at the Council of Clermont urging every social class to embark on a righteous war to rescue the Holy Land from
    • the hands of the ‘infidels.’
    • In his speech, Pope Urban called for a holy war in the Holy Land. He vividly described the numerous attacks upon the Christian pilgrims visiting these centres.
    • He also spoke of the military threat to the fellow Christians of Constantinople. He urged his Christian listeners to take up the holy cause, promising to all those who repented of sins and to all who died in the expedition immediate entry to Paradise.
    • His speech was keeping with the spirit of the religious revival of the XI century.
    • Then Pope Urban changed the approach of his speech. He dwelt upon the feudal love of tournaments and warfare and urged the barons to give up their unrighteous wars in the West for the holy war in the East. He also hinted at the possibility of obtaining feudal fiefs, lands, wealth, power, and prestige.
    • This speech of Pope Urban II at Clermont was one of the most influential speeches ever made. When he finished, his listeners shouted ‘Deus Vult’ (God wills it). This became the battle cry of the crusaders. Immediately, thousands pledged themselves to go on the Crusades.

    Reasons of the Crusaders

    • Not all who responded to the Pope’s call did so out of piety. Here are some of the factors which led to the enormous participation of the Crusading movement.
    • Papal Indulgence
      • Pope Urban II offered indulgences to all who vowed to make an armed pilgrimage in order to save the Holy Land.
      • Some crusaders believed that they should reach Christ’s tomb in order to receive the crusade indulgence.
      • A reward for a penitent's imitation of Christ’s sufferings.
    • Militant Christianity
      • During the Middle Ages, Western Europe was mostly comprised of warriors. The knightly class believed that it was a battle for the Church against heathens and unbelievers (in this case, the Muslims).
      • Many religious Christian knights and fanatical believers of the faith saw the Crusade as a religious duty and right to fight for the Cross.
      • Compared to papal indulgence, crusaders under this motif saw war for penance and not penance for war.
      • They aimed to rescue the Holy Land from the infidels instead of undertaking pilgrimage to it.
    • Individual Motives
      • European nobles went on the Crusade to increase land holdings and wealth.
      • Some were drawn with the promised of tax exemption and anticipation of plunder.
      • Traders search for new enterprise.
      • Peasants hoped for better life.
      • Feudal and family loyalty among the upper ranks.
      • Some young nobles became crusaders due to the Law of Primogeniture, or the right of succession belonging to the first born.
      • Submission and obedience of women accompanying their fathers and brothers.
    • Holy Places
      • The tradition of pilgrimage to the Holy Sepulchre in Jerusalem means an effective path to salvation for Christians.
      • Since pilgrimage was considered as the highest spiritual act for Christians, Holy Places including Rome, Santiago de Compostela, Bethlehem, Nazareth, and Jerusalem needed protection.

    The First Crusade (1096-1099)

    • The First Crusade (1095-1099) was invoked by Pope Urban II during the Council of Clermont in 1095. The crusade ended in 1099 with the capture of Jerusalem.
    • The idea of ​​the crusade originated when the Byzantine emperor Alexios I Komnenos appealed to the West to help him repel the Turkish invaders advancing in Anatolia.
    • In response, Urban II called the Council of Clermont and, on November 25, officially declared the crusade.
    • An additional objective later became the main objective of the expedition: the Christian reconquest of the sacred city of Jerusalem, the liberation of Eastern Christians from Muslim rule.
    • In late 1095, Peter the Hermit, one of the most charismatic holymen in France, set out from Berry to Germany until he reached Cologne in 1096. He preached the crusade and gathered thousands of men, women, and children - mostly unarmed and untrained.
    • His band became known as the People’s Crusade or Peasants Crusade due to the lack of organisation and training.
    • Compared to Peter’s crusade, the Bishop of le Puy organised more united crusader armies known as the Princes’ Crusade who set off from different parts of Europe.
    • In the late spring of 1096, different crusaders from various places reached Constantinople. With the arrival of large groups of crusaders, Byzantine Emperor Alexius I feared that they would plunder the capital’s wealth. As a result, both factions did not get along. To solve the conflict, Alexius I insisted that crusade leaders take an oath of loyalty to him.
    • All crusader leaders recognised his authority over any land subdued from the Seljuks, except Bohemond.
    • In the first half of 1097, Crusader armies joined Peter the Hermit in Asia Minor and captured Nicaea, capital of the Seljuks Sultanate of Rum.
    • On the way to Jerusalem, the Crusader army reached Antioch. Besieging the city was difficult due to lack of supplies and extreme winter conditions. But due to internal conflict and Bohemond’s negotiation with a traitor, Antioch finally fell after an 8-month siege.
    • By December 1098, the Crusaders marched to Jerusalem and arrived in mid-1099. After several weeks, they captured the city. Bohemond, on the other hand, went back to Italy and convinced Pope Paschal II and King Philip I of France that the real threat to the Christian world was the Byzantines.
    • Results of the First Crusade:
      • Crusader victory
      • Massacre of Muslim and Jewish population in Jerusalem including women and children
      • Godfrey of Bouillon was chosen as the new ruler of Jerusalem
      • The First Crusade served as inspiration to Western Christians to fight the infidel
      • Crusaders were treated as heroes
      • Establishment of Crusader Kingdoms
      • The major consequence of the First Crusade was the re-establishment of Christian rule over many parts of the Holy Land, including Edessa, Antioch, Tripoli, and Jerusalem.
    • Instead of returning the retrieved Byzantine land to the emperor, crusaders claimed the land and established Crusader Kingdoms.
    • This was contrary to the wishes of the Byzantines of the Christian East who expected the return of lands taken from the Muslims. After the revival of Jerusalem, most of the crusaders considered their pilgrimage concluded and returned home. This left the Christian and Greek kingdoms vulnerable to attacks by Muslims who aimed to recapture those reborn lands.

    The Second Crusade (1147-1149)

    • Reasons behind the Second Crusade
    • The Fall and Massacre of Edessa, 1144
      • When Zengi became the Emir of Mosul, crusaders living in Outremer were threatened. In 1129, Count Baldwin II of Edessa was defeated in a battle outside Damascus. Followed by the death of King Fulk of Jerusalem, Zengi finally besieged Edessa.
    • Preaching of St. Bernard, 1146
      • Bernard was an influential abbot and known reformer from Clairvaux. He was like a second Peter the Hermit, who preached everywhere encouraging warriors of the Cross to defend the Holy Place.
    • Quantum praedecessores, 1145
      • On December 1, 1145, Pope Eugenius III issued a papal bull calling for the Second Crusade.
      • Influenced by Bernard’s preaching, King Louis VII officially joined the crusade on May 1, 1146. King Conrad III of Germany also led his army into the Second Crusade, but most were destroyed while crossing Anatolia.
    • In December 1146, Conrad III arrived in Constantinople witnessing the remnants of his crusaders.
    • Lisbon was captured by crusaders under Afonso I, first King of Portugal in October 1147. Conrad III’s forces were defeated by the Saracens at the Second Battle of Dorylaeum in October 1147. By February 1148, the surviving army was massacred. by the Turks.
    • In March 1148, French forces in Attalia were killed by the Muslims.
    • The combined crusaders of Louis VII, Conrad III, and Baldwin III were killed on their way to Palestine where they planned to capture Damascus.
    • Unlike the First Crusade called by Pope Urban II, Pope Eugenius III called for nobilities and trained armies to participate. And with much influence from him and Bernard of Clairvaux, a number of royals led the Second Crusade.
    • Unlike the First Crusade, the second one failed due to the following factors:
      • Divided crusaders
      • Few armies
      • Sour relationship among the Byzantines, Franks, and Germans
      • Lack of supplies
      • Suicidal attack on Damascus

    The Third Crusade (1187-1192)

    • In contrast to the disunity among the Christians, the Arabs were being united by the extraordinary leader Saladin. Through his efforts, the Muslims from Baghdad to Egypt were united into a single state, and it was easy for Saladin to defeat the disunited Christian forces.
    • In 1187, he captured Jerusalem and subsequently the rest of the kingdom. Except for a few coastal cities, the Holy Land now was in his power. The catastrophe called forth new demands for a Crusade throughout Western Europe.
    • The leaders of the Third Crusade were the Emperor Frederick I Barbarossa of Germany, King Philip Augustus of France, and King Richard the Lionhearted of England. Emperor Frederick was drowned in Asia Minor, and few of his men reached the Holy Land.
    • The other two leaders arrived with their armies, but since they were rivals in Europe, they soon quarrelled in the holy land as well. Philip Augustus feigned illness and returned to France, scheming to win back the duchy of Normandy from Richard’s control.
    • Richard the Lionhearted thereafter was the sole leader of the Third Crusade. His exploits gave rise to the legends of the Lionhearted, and, through them, Richard acquired a posthumous prestige far greater than he deserved.
    • More showman than statesman, a brave knight but a bad king, he has been given his proper place in history. Richard did regain Acre and Jaffa for the Christians, but that was all. The agreement he finally reached with Saladin gave pilgrims free access to Jerusalem and little else.
    • The city itself and the adjoining kingdom, except for some coastal cities, were still subject to the same law – that of the Koran, not the Holy Bible.

    The Fourth Crusade (1202-1204)

    • Initiated by Pope Innocent III, the Fourth Crusade was largely composed of Frenchmen and Venetians. Their experiences were recorded by the French leader and historian, Geoffroi de Villehardouin, in his Conquest of Constantinople, the first great history in French prose.
    • Innocent was greatly disappointed by the events of the Crusade. In the original agreement, the Venetians had promised to transport the French crusaders to the Holy Land and to provide them with military equipment and provisions.
    • When the Frenchmen arrived in Venice, they were too few to pay for the contracted amount; only twelve thousand of the expected thirty thousand warriors came.
    • The Venetians who had constructed ships and had assembled provisions for the original number proposed that the Frenchmen made up the deficit by assisting them in attacking the seaport of Zara. Ruled by the Christian king of Hungry, Zara was the greatest Adriatic rival of Venice.
    • To the Venetians, this was reason enough for an attack, and they cajoled the French into helping them make it. The original plan of the crusaders to use Egypt as a military base for an attack on Palestine was postponed.
    • When Pope Innocent heard of the Venetians’ proposal, he prohibited the expedition. When it was undertaken in spite of him, he excommunicated all participants. Nevertheless, the coalition of crusaders in November 1202 assaulted, captured, and thoroughly pillaged Zara in a brief, brutal campaign.
    • Following the sack of Zara, the Venetians had another plan. They suggested that the expedition now direct its efforts against Constantinople and restore the dethroned Byzantine emperor, Isaac II Angelos.
    • Pope Innocent again issued a reprimand to the crusaders, which they again disregarded; they captured Constantinople on April 13, 1204, and spent the next three days pillaging it. Their seizure of Zara had been uncalled for; their sack of Constantinople was unparalleled.
    • On the ruins of the Byzantine capital the crusaders restored order. Since both the deposed emperor and his son had died in the interim, the crusaders established a new Latin empire and selected the Count of Flanders for its ruler.
    • This empire lasted until 1261, but it never ruled all Byzantium; it comprised most of the land in Thrace and Greece, where the French barons were rewarded with feudal fiefs.
    • For their contributions, the Venetians obtained the harbour rights in Constantinople plus a commercial monopoly throughout the empire and the Aegean Islands.
    • The Fourth Crusade was a complete victory for the Venetians but for nobody else; it never reached the Holy Land. Pope Innocent made the best of the situation in the hope that the temporary union of the Greek and Latin churches under the Roman papacy might become permanent. But far from unifying Christians, the establishment of a Latin empire only further divided them.

    The Children’s Crusade (1212)

    • Among the Christian attempts to free the Holy Land, the Children’s Crusade was the most disastrous. The movement originated in France and Germany, and peasant children in two separate bands flocked to join it. Many parish priests and parents encouraged such religious fervour and urged the children on.
    • The pope and higher clergy opposed the outburst, but were unable to stop it entirely. Despite all their efforts, a land of several thousand children (reportedly led by a Cologne boy named Nicholas), set out for Italy. About a third survived the march over the Alps and as far as Genoa, another group reached Marseilles. The luckier ones eventually managed to get safely home, but many others paid dearly for their innocence and ignorance. For them, the route to Jerusalem came to a dead end on the auction blocks of Mediterranean slave dealers.

    Final Crusades (1217-1270)

    • Compared to earlier Crusades, the mission of the succeeding movements became a general combat against the enemies of the Christian faith and not those in the Holy Land.
    • The Fifth Crusade (1217-1221)
      • Instigated by Pope Innocent III at the Fourth Lateran Council in 1215, this Crusade was fixed for 1217 under John Brienne, king of Jerusalem, with the intention of conquering Egypt.
      • John was replaced as leader by the papal legate Pelagius in 1218, and in 1219, the city of Damietta was captured by the Crusaders. The sultan of Egypt offered to exchange Jerusalem for Damietta, but this was rejected. After an unsuccessful assault on Cairo in 1221, the Crusaders surrendered Damietta in return for the freedom to retreat.
    • The Sixth Crusade (1228-1229)
      • Often called the Diplomatic Crusade, this expedition was led by Emperor Frederick II, the grandson of Frederick I Barbarossa. After several postponements, Frederick undertook the Crusade in 1228, but he fought no battles. Instead, by negotiation, he obtained Jerusalem and a strip of territory from Acre to Jerusalem for the Christians.
      • He had previously (1225) married Yolanda, the young heiress of the kingdom. Following her death in 1228, Frederick crowned himself king of Jerusalem.
    • The Seventh Crusade (1228-1229)
      • Led by King Louis IX of France and directed against the Arabs of Egypt, this Crusade was a complete failure. After the capture of Damietta, the crusaders were decisively defeated at Cairo and King Louis was captured. Completely victorious, the Arabs demanded and received a huge ransom for the release of the king.
    • The Eighth Crusade (1270))
      • Disregarding his advisers, King Louis IX again attacked the Arabs in North Africa. This time he struck the city of Tunis. The Crusaders picked the hottest season of the year for campaigning and were devastated by a pestilence. One of its victims was Louis IX, whose death in 1270 ended the Crusade.

    Effects of the Crusades

    • Formation of the Crusading Orders
      • The knightly crusading orders became one of the strongest institutions in Europe during the Medieval period. Most of them fought for their salvation by bearing the cross.
      • At the end of the 12th century, Germans in the city of Acre founded the Order of Brothers of the German House of Saint Mary in Jerusalem, commonly known as the Teutonic Knights.
      • Like other crusading orders, they initially pledged to keep the pilgrims safe, but later turned into an elite military force who joined the crusades.
      • The Knights of St. Lazarus, in which most members were lepers or hospitallers who contracted the disease.
      • The Sword Brethren was founded to support the Western Christian expansion to the east.
      • The Knights of Calatrava emerged in the Iberian peninsula after the Templars abandoned the castle. The members were Cistercian monks and Navarrese soldiers.
      • The Knight Templars was the first among a number of Military Monastic Orders during the Crusading Movement. They were both knights and monks stationed in monastery-castles known as Preceptory or Commandery.
    • Religious Intolerance
      • In the very beginning, it was the Catholic Church led by the Pope that supported and called for the Crusades.
      • The Church gained power and wealth through tithes, or a percentage of profit, from its followers.
      • Devotion to Christianity soared after the First Crusade.
      • The suppression of the Cathars was one of the major acts of intolerance in Medieval Europe.
      • Spanish expulsion of Jews in 1492, followed by the Moors.
    • Trade and Exploration
      • After the crusades, crusaders brought knowledge of trade to Europe, which later set the stage for Europe’s rise in navigation and exploration, known as the Age of Discovery or Exploration.
      • Europeans learned better ship-building and the use of compasses in navigation.
      • Discovery of new routes to India and China.
      • New trades including silk, cotton, glass, perfume, apricots, dates, spices, as well as pieces of art were introduced to the West.
      • Developments in trade and commerce paved way for the rise of the merchant class and the end of serfdom.
      • The growing interest in commerce resulted in the voyages of Marco Polo, Vasco da Gama, and Christopher Columbus.
      • Rise in trading revolutionised manufacturing systems, banking systems, and practice of investing capital.
      • With the rise in trade and commerce, the merchant class emerged while feudal fiefs were sold.
      • Since the 8th century, the Muslim world was known as the centre of learning and scholarship (gained from the Romans). The Holy Land became an intellectual crossroads of the East and West during the Crusading movement.