Here is an entry on the Crusades from Funk & Wagnalls, 1995.Â It is important to remember the time in which this occurred.Â From the point of view of a pope at this time, to have Jerusalem attacked and taken by the Turks would have been horrible.
Interestingly, St. Francis lived at the same time as the Fifth Crusade, when it was very much in decline.Â He hoped to convert Muslims to Christianity in order to make the Crusades unnecessary or be martyred, but achieved neither.Â At least one sultan converted after seeing Francisâ€™ faith, but the conduct of the Crusaders sickened Francis and he returned to Italy with great sorrow.Â This was also the time of St Thomas Aquinas, who used reason, rather than force, against the Albigensian heresy.Â From the point of view of a non-believer, heresy is a disagreement, and for the Church to act against it is evil or repressive.Â But for those who believe in Jesus, the Albingensian idea that both Christians and Jews are followers of Satan is a bit much, and would not lead to a healthy situation in any country.Â Interestingly, there are many Albigensianism (Gnosticism) ideas in the New Age movement.Â Note that while the Albigensians dismissed Christianity, they did claim to follow Christ.Â They believed that Christ was not truly man, though, since they regarded the body as evil.
My comments, where they appear, are in italics.
Crusades, military expeditions undertaken by Western European Christians between 1095 and 1270, usually at the request of the pope, to recover Jerusalem and the other Palestinian places of pilgrimage known to Christians as the Holy Land from Muslim control. The name crusade (from Latin, â€œcross,â€ the emblem of the Crusaders) was also applied, especially in the 13th century, to wars against pagan peoples, Christian heretics, and political foes of the papacy.
The origin of the Crusades is rooted in the political upheaval that resulted from the expansion of the Seljuk Turks in the Middle East in the mid-11th century. The conquest of Syria and Palestine by the Muslim Seljuks alarmed the Western Christians. Other Turkish invaders also penetrated deep into the Christian Byzantine Empire and subjected many Greek, Syrian, and Armenian Christians to their rule. The Crusades were, in part, a reaction to these events. They were also the result of ambitious popes who sought to extend their political and religious power. Crusading armies were, in a sense, the military arm of papal policy.
Beyond all this, the Crusades coincided with a time of dramatic growth of European population and commercial activity. The Crusades provided an area of expansion to accommodate part of this growing population. They also offered an outlet for the ambitions of land-hungry knights and noblemen. At the same time, the expeditions offered rich commercial opportunities to the merchants of the growing cities of the West, particularly the Italian cities of Genoa, Pisa, and Venice.
Crusading thus had a broad appeal to numerous Europeans. Some went on Crusades out of greed, some out of religious fervor; almost all Crusaders sought adventure, and many of them believed that their participation would virtually guarantee personal salvation.
The First Crusade
The Crusades began formally on Tuesday, November 27, 1095, in a field just outside the walls of the French city of Clermont-Ferrand. On that day Pope Urban II preached a sermon to crowds of laypeople and clergy attending a church council at Clermont. In his sermon, the pope outlined a plan for a Crusade and called on his listeners to join its ranks. The response was positive and overwhelming. Pope Urban then commissioned the bishops at the council to return to their homes and to enlist others in the Crusade. He also outlined a basic strategy: Individual groups of Crusaders would begin the journey in August 1096. Each group would be self-financing and responsible to its own leader. The groups would make their separate ways to the Byzantine capital, Constantinople (now Istanbul, Turkey), where they would meet. From there, they would launch a counterattack against the Seljuk conquerors of Anatolia along with the Byzantine emperor and his army. Once that region was under Christian control, the Crusaders would campaign against the Muslims in Syria and Palestine, with Jerusalem as their ultimate goal.
The Crusading Armies
In broad outline the First Crusade conformed to the scheme envisioned by the pope. Recruitment went forward vigorously during the remainder of 1095 and the early months of 1096. Five major armies of noblemen ultimately assembled in late summer, 1096, to set out on the Crusade. The majority were from France, but significant numbers also came from southern Italy and the regions of Lorraine, Burgundy, and Flanders.
The pope had not foreseen the popular enthusiasm that his Crusade aroused among nonnoble townspeople and peasantry. Alongside the Crusade of the nobility a popular one materialized among the common people. The largest and most important group of popular Crusaders was recruited and led by a Picard preacher known as Peter the Hermit. Although the participants in the popular Crusade were numerous, only a tiny fraction of them ever succeeded in reaching the Middle East; even fewer survived to see the ultimate triumph of the Crusade at Jerusalem.
The Conquest of Anatolia
The armies of Crusading nobles arrived at Constantinople beginning in November 1096 and continuing through May 1097. The Byzantine emperor Alexius I Comnenus pressured the Crusaders into turning over to him any former Byzantine territory that they captured. The leaders resented these demands, and although most of them ultimately complied, they became suspicious of the Byzantines.
In May 1097, the Crusaders attacked their first major target, the Anatolian Turkish capital at Nicaea (modern Iznik, Turkey). In June the city surrendered to the Byzantines, rather than the Crusaders. This confirmed the latter’s suspicions that Alexius intended to use the Crusaders as pawns in order to achieve his own goals.
Shortly after the fall of Nicaea, the Crusaders encountered the principal Seljuk field army of Anatolia at Dorylaeum (Eskisehir). On July 1, 1097, the Crusaders scored a great victory there and nearly annihilated the Turkish force. As a result the Crusaders met little resistance during the rest of their campaign in Asia Minor. The next major obstacle was the city of Antioch in northern Syria (now Antakya, Turkey). The Crusaders besieged the city on October 21, 1097, but it did not fall until June 3, 1098. No sooner had the Crusaders taken Antioch than they were attacked by a fresh Turkish army from Al Mawsil, which arrived just too late to relieve Antioch’s Turkish defenders. The Crusaders repulsed the relief force on June 28.
The Capture of Jerusalem
Resting at Antioch for the remainder of the summer and early fall, the Crusaders set out on the final leg of their journey in late November 1098. Now they avoided attacks on cities and fortified positions in order to conserve their forces. In May 1099 the Crusaders reached the northern borders of Palestine; on the evening of June 7 they camped within sight of Jerusalem’s walls.
The city was at this point under Egyptian control; its defenders were numerous and well prepared for a siege. The Crusaders attacked briskly. With the aid of reinforcements from Genoa and newly constructed siege machines, they took Jerusalem by storm on July 15; they then massacred virtually every inhabitant. In the Crusaders’ view, the city was purified in the blood of the defeated infidels.
A week later the army elected one of its leaders, Godfrey of Bouillon, duke of Lower Lorraine, to rule the newly won city. Under his leadership the army then fought its last campaign, defeating an Egyptian army at Ascalon (now Ashqelon, Israel) on August 12. Soon afterward the great majority of the Crusaders returned to Europe, leaving Godfrey and a small remnant of the original force to organize a government and to establish Latin (Western European) control over the conquered territories.
The High Tide of Latin Power in the East
In the aftermath of the First Crusade, Latin colonists in the Levant established four states. The largest and most powerful of these was the Latin Kingdom of Jerusalem. To the north of that kingdom lay the tiny county of Tripoli on the Syrian coast. Beyond Tripoli was the principality of Antioch, centered in the Orontes Valley. Farthest east was the county of Edessa, largely populated by Armenian Christians.
The victories of the First Crusade were in large part due to the isolation and relative weakness of the Muslim powers. The generation after the First Crusade, however, saw the beginning of Muslim reunification in the Middle East under the leadership of Imad ad-Din Zangi, ruler of Al Mawsil and Halab. Under Zangi, the Muslim forces scored their first major victory against the Crusaders by taking the city of Edessa in 1144 and then systematically dismantling the Crusader state in that region.
Â The papacy’s response to these events was to proclaim the Second Crusade late in 1145. The new expedition attracted numerous recruits, among them the king of France, Louis VII, and the Holy Roman emperor, Conrad III. Conrad’s German army set out for Jerusalem from Nuremberg, Germany, in May 1147. The French forces followed about a month later. In Anatolia the Germans fell into an ambush, from which only a few escaped. The French army was more fortunate, but it also suffered serious casualties during the journey, and only part of the original force reached Jerusalem in 1148. In consultation with King Baldwin III of Jerusalem and his nobles, the Crusaders decided to attack Damascus in July. The expedition failed to take the city, however, and shortly after the collapse of this attack the French king and the remains of his army returned home.
Saladin and the Third Crusade
The failure of the Second Crusade left the Muslim powers free to regroup. Zangi had died in 1146, but his successor, Nur ad-Din, was able to expand his realm into a major power in the Middle East. In 1169 his forces, under the command of Saladin, took control of Egypt. When Nur ad-Din died five years later, Saladin succeeded him as ruler of a Muslim state that stretched from the Libyan Desert to the Tigris Valley and surrounded the remaining Crusader states on three fronts. After a series of crises during the 1180s, Saladin finally invaded the kingdom of Jerusalem in force in May 1187. On July 4 he decisively defeated the Latin army at Hittin in Galilee. In the aftermath of this victory, Saladin swept through most of the Crusader strongholds in the kingdom of Jerusalem. Jerusalem itself surrendered to him on October 2. At this point the only major city still in Crusader hands was Tyre in Lebanon.
On October 29, 1187, Pope Gregory VIII proclaimed the Third Crusade. Western enthusiasm for the plan was widespread, and three major European monarchs enlisted in its ranks: the Holy Roman emperor, Frederick I; the French king, Philip II; and the English king, Richard I. The kings and their numerous followers constituted the largest Crusading force that had taken the field since 1095, but the outcome of all this effort was meager. Frederick died in Anatolia while on his way to the Holy Land, and most of his army returned to Germany immediately following his death. Although both Philip and Richard reached Palestine with their armies intact, they were unable to recapture Jerusalem or much of the former territory of the Latin Kingdom. They did succeed, however, in wresting from Saladin control of a chain of cities along the Mediterranean coast. By October 1192, when Richard finally left Palestine, the Latin Kingdom had been reconstituted. Smaller than the original kingdom and considerably weaker militarily and economically, the second kingdom lasted precariously for another century.
The Later Crusades
No subsequent Crusade achieved anything like the military success of the Third Crusade. The fourth one, which lasted from 1202 to 1204, was plagued by financial difficulties. In an effort to alleviate these, the leaders agreed to a plan to attack Constantinople in concert with the Venetians and a pretender to the Byzantine throne. The Crusaders succeeded in taking Constantinople, which they then plundered shamelessly. The Latin Empire of Constantinople, created by this Crusade, survived for less than 60 years and contributed nothing to the defense of the Holy Land.
In 1208, Pope Innocent III proclaimed a Crusade against the Albigenses, a religious sect in southern France. The ensuing Crusade was the first to be fought in Western Europe. Lasting from 1209 to 1229, the Crusade caused much bloodshed and the Christians failed to bring the Albigenses under their control.
The Fifth Crusade (1217-1221) began with the taking of the Egyptian seaport of Damietta in 1219. The strategy called for an attack on Egypt, the capture of Cairo, and then a campaign to secure control of the Sinai Peninsula. Implementation of this strategy, however, fell short of the goal. The attack on Cairo was abortive, and promised reinforcements failed to materialize. In August 1221 the Crusaders were forced to surrender Damietta to the Egyptians, and the expedition broke up.
The Crusade of Holy Roman Emperor Frederick II differed in approach from all the others. Frederick vowed to lead a Crusade in 1215 and renewed his pledge in 1220, but for domestic political reasons kept postponing his departure. Under pressure from Pope Gregory IX, Frederick and his army finally sailed from Italy in August 1227, but returned to port within a few days because Frederick had fallen ill. The pope, outraged at this further delay, promptly excommunicated the emperor. Undaunted, Frederick embarked for the Holy Land in June 1228. There he conducted his unconventional Crusade almost entirely by diplomatic negotiations with the Egyptian sultan Al-Kamil. These negotiations produced a peace treaty by which the Egyptians restored Jerusalem to the Crusaders and guaranteed a 10-year respite from hostilities. Despite this achievement, Frederick was shunned as an excommunicate by both the clergy and the lay leaders of the Latin states. At the same time, the pope had proclaimed a Crusade against Frederick, raised an army, and proceeded to attack the emperor’s Italian possessions. Frederick returned to the West to cope with this threat in May 1229.