III. The Postclassical Period, 500–1500 > F. Europe, 461–1500 > 5. Christian States in the Eastern Mediterranean, 1000–1300 > b. The Crusades
  The Encyclopedia of World History.  2001.
b. The Crusades
Definition. In the 11th and 12th centuries, the Crusades were military expeditions sponsored by the papacy, charged with recovering Christian holy places in the Middle East from the Muslim Arabs and Seljuk Turks (See 1079–95). In the 13th century, crusading impulses were often directed against groups within Europe perceived as being social or political enemies, such as the Albigensian heretics (See 1208–13). By the 15th and 16th centuries, crusading had become an old European tradition. Thus explorers and adventurers, such as Christopher Columbus and Hernán Cortés (See 1451, between Aug. 26 and Oct. 31) (See 1518–19), in South and North America, Africa, and Asia, explained their goals in religious and crusading terms—they were for the conversion of the Muslims, Indians, or Asian and African peoples.  1
The origins of the medieval Crusades lie in the Christian tradition of penitential pilgrimages to the sites of Jesus' life and death in Palestine, dating to that of Helena, Constantine's mother (4th century); the long tradition of Christian wars of reconquest against the Muslims in Spain beginning in the 8th century and encouraged by the popes Alexander II and Gregory VII in the 11th century; the hostilities created by Muslim attacks on southern Europe in the 9th and 10th centuries. In 1071, Turkish soldiers, financed by Muslims, defeated a Greek army at Manzikert in Armenia; in 1076 the Turks captured Jerusalem, although they subsequently showed no special animosity against Christians. The Byzantine emperor appealed to the West at the Synod of Piacenza (March 1095) for help against Muslim-Turkish expansion.  2
1095, Nov
Council of Clermont. Pope Urban, a Cluniac and a Frenchman, speaking to Frenchmen, recited the glorious deeds of the French and tales of Muslim atrocities, made open allusions to the chances for profit and advancement, attacked feudal violence at home, and brought the audience to a state of wild enthusiasm; he himself distributed crosses. Urban's propaganda journeys and the preaching of Peter the Hermit and others stirred the West, but had the greatest effect in France and Lorraine, the area most under Cluniac influence. The great rulers were all at odds with the papacy or busy at home; the rest of Europe was indifferent. The Crusades began as they continued, largely under French auspices.  3
The motives that inspired Europeans to embark on the Crusades varied with the time, the place, and the individual, but on the first expeditions, to the religious goal of the recapture of the holy places and their restoration to Christian jurisdiction, the reunion of the Greek and Roman churches, and the spiritual advantages of the popes' crusading indulgence, the following secular or material objects should be added. Political: to acquire land, fiefs, power in the Middle East; for a ruler, to rid his country or territory of troublesome and rebellious knights. Social: to seek adventure, excitement, the novelty of travel in an exotic world; to gain the respect, prestige, and status that Crusaders earned. Economic: to gain the loot and booty taken by victorious armies; for European townspeople and bankers, the opportunity to profit from the sale of armor, equipment, horseshoes, fodder; for innkeepers along the crusading routes and prostitutes who accompanied or followed crusading armies, business and profit.  4
The First Crusade. Best recorded and most successful of the Crusades. Five popular, aimless mass migrations (1096) that emptied whole villages; two (perhaps 7000 under Peter the Hermit and perhaps 5000 under Walter the Penniless) reached Asia Minor and were annihilated. The Norman-French baronage flocked to the Cross and converged in three divisions on Constantinople: the Lorrainers under Godfrey of Bouillon and his brother Baldwin, via Hungary; the Provençals under Count Raymond of Toulouse and the papal legate, Adhemar of Puy, via Illyria; the Normans under Bohemund of Otranto (the most effective leader) via Durazzo by sea and land. Perhaps they were 30,000 in all.  5
The Muslim opposition: the Seljuks had merely garrisoned Syria and were not popular with the native population. Muslim unity in Asia Minor ended with the death of Malik Shah (1092), and Syria was divided politically, racially, and theologically (Sunni(s) versus Shi’ite; the Fatimid capture of Jerusalem (1098) from the Sunnis).  6
1096, Spring
Violent crusader assaults on Jewish communities led to terrible massacres in Speyer, Mainz, Cologne, and other Rhineland cities.  7
Nicaea (Iznik) (See 1097–98), the Seljuk capital in Asia Minor, taken by the combined Greek and crusading force; defeat of the Muslim field army at Dorylaeum; excursion of Baldwin and Tancred, and rivalry in Cilicia; Bohemund established himself in the Antioch area. Siege and capture (by treachery) of Antioch (1097–98); countersiege of the Christians in Antioch by the emir of Mosul; election of Bohemund as leader. Baldwin's conquest of Edessa (1097); Christian divisions: rivalry of Norman and Provençal.  8
March to Jerusalem (Genoese convoy and food supply); siege, capture, and horrors of the sack. The death of the papal legate left the organization of the government of Jerusalem to feudal laymen. Godfrey of Bouillon, elected king, assumed the title of Defender of the Holy Sepulcher (for pious reasons). The main body of the Crusaders soon streamed back home. The Norman effort to dominate the government through their patriarch Dagobert led to his deposition by the anti-Norman party, and Jerusalem became a feudal kingdom. The government (as revealed by the Assizes of Jerusalem, the most complete feudal code extant) was narrowly feudal, with the king a feudal suzerain, not a sovereign, the tenants-in-chief dominant. Besides the feudal organization there were burgher and ecclesiastical organizations, with their own courts.  9
Continued divisions among the Muslims and the weakness of the Greeks favored the progress of the Latin states: the kingdom of Jerusalem, in close commercial alliance with the Italian towns (Genoa, Pisa, and, later, Venice), profited by the commerce through its ports and extended south to tap the Red Sea trade. The other states: the county of Edessa (established by Baldwin), the principality of Antioch (established by Bohemund), and the county of Tripoli (set up by Raymond of Toulouse) were fiefs of Jerusalem (divided into four great baronies and into lesser fiefs).  10
Muslim unification in Syria was completed by the Atabegs of Mosul and signalized by the capture of Edessa (1144). Mosul soon mastered Egypt; Saladin emerged supreme in Egypt (1171), quickly reduced Damascus and Aleppo, and brought Syria and Egypt under a single efficient rule.  11
The Second Crusade. Bernard of Clairvaux, persuaded by Pope Eugenius III, preached (1145) the Second Crusade. Conrad III and King Louis VII of France took the Cross. To avoid conflicts, the two monarchs went by separate routes; there never was coherent direction or unity of command. The Norman Roger of Sicily took advantage of the Second Crusade to seize the Greek islands and to attack Athens, Thebes, and Corinth. Nothing of importance was achieved by the Second Crusade, and the movement was discredited throughout Europe.  12
Saladin's steady advance led to a great appeal to the West; King Philip II of France and Henry II of England declined the crown of Jerusalem but levied a Saladin tithe (1188) to finance a Crusade. Christian attack on a caravan (said to be escorting Saladin's sister) provoked Saladin's holy war (1187–89): capture of Jerusalem (1187) without a sack and reduction of the Latin states to the cities of Antioch, Tyre, Tripoli, and a small area around each. Crusader control of Jerusalem, without heavy European support, was doomed from the start.  13
The Third Crusade. Precipitated by the fall of Jerusalem, the Third Crusade was a completely lay and royal affair, despite the efforts of the papacy to regain control. It was supported partly by the Saladin tithe, and was led by the three greatest monarchs of the day: (1) Frederick Barbarossa (a veteran of the Second Crusade) as emperor, the traditional and theoretical military leader of Christendom, headed a well-organized and disciplined German contingent starting from Regensburg (1189) that marched via Hungary, entered Asia Minor, and disintegrated after Frederick was drowned (1190); (2) King Richard I of England; and (3) King Philip II of France, who went by sea. Already political rivals, they quarreled in winter quarters in Sicily (1190–91); Richard turned aside in the spring and took Cyprus, which he sold to Guy de Lusignan. The quarrels of Philip and Richard continued in the Holy Land, and Philip returned to France after the capture of Acre (1191). Richard's negotiations with Saladin (Richard proposed a marriage of his sister Joan to Saladin's brother, who was to be invested with Jerusalem) resulted (1192) in a three-year truce allowing the Christians a coastal strip between Jaffa and Acre and access to Jerusalem. Captivity of Richard (1192–94) and heavy ransom to the Emperor Henry VI. The Third Crusade ended the golden age of the Crusades.  14
1199, Aug. 15
Pope Innocent III (See 1198–1216), determined to regain papal direction of the Crusades and to reunite the Greek and Latin churches, proclaimed a new crusade, the FOURTH CRUSADE (1202–4).  15
1201, Lent
Crusade envoys, including Geoffroy de Villehardouin (major chronicler of the events) and Doge Enrico Dandolo, reached agreement in the Treaty of Venice: Venice was to transport 33,500 men and 4,500 horses, in return for payment of 85,000 marks. The fleet was to sail June 29, 1202, for Egypt, thought to be a strategically better site for recovery of Holy Land.  16
Assembly of Crusaders at Soissons elected Boniface of Montferrat, a famous soldier from a distinguished Lombard family, to lead the crusade.  17
The Encyclopedia of World History, Sixth edition. Peter N. Stearns, general editor. Copyright © 2001 by Houghton Mifflin Company. Maps by Mary Reilly, copyright 2001 by Houghton Mifflin Company. Published by Houghton Mifflin Company. All rights reserved.