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Chase Mekalian Mekalian 1
The Crusades were Europe’s version for “holy wars” during the Middle Ages. Over the
period from 1095-1464, a series of military expeditions were fought to take back the Holy Land (Jerusalem) from the Seldjuk Turks. There were eight separate crusades, which took place during these years and created a huge impression on the world today. Although it brought a lasting uneasiness between the two religions, it caused trade with the East to flourish and feudalism became scarce. The crusaders failed to regain the Holy Land, but the eastern connections opened Europe to a brighter understanding of optimistic ways of living and thinking. They also started the huge spread and expansion of the Christian religion, and began the formation of modern day Europe.
During the 1000s the Seldjuk Turks, people from central Asia who had adopted the Muslim faith, conquered Palestine and attacked Asia Minor, which was part of the Byzantine Empire. When the Turks threatened the capital city of Constantinople, the Byzantine emperor appealed to the pope in Rome. Christians visited Palestine, known as the Holy Land, which was the region where Jesus Christ had lived. The Muslims had captured this land from the Christians, and because Christian pilgrims going to Palestine came home with reports of
persecution from the Turks, the Byzantine emperor s appeal for help found a reception in Europe. Pope Urban I wanted to regain the Holy Land from the Muslims. He called a great meeting of church leaders and French nobles at Clermont France in 1095. At the meeting he encouraged the powerful feudal nobles to stop fighting with each other, and to join in one big war against the unbelievers. Urban s request made his listeners very enthusiastic and they joined in one big cry, God wills it! From Clermont people traveled through France preaching the cause. The people who joined the expeditions sewed a cloth cross on their clothes. They were called crusaders, from the Latin word cruciata, which means, marked with a cross. People joined the Crusades, the expeditions to regain the Holy Land, for many different reasons. Most knights joined the crusades for the land and plunder in the rich Middle East. Merchants saw a chance to make money. The pope promised both heavenly and earthly rewards. Those who died on a Crusade were said to go strait to heaven. The pope also guaranteed church protection of the crusader s property and family during his absence. Debtors who joined a Crusade had their debts canceled. Criminals were relieved of punishment. The Crusades appealed to both a love of adventure and the desire to escape debts or punishment. It was Christian belief that fate was to gain control of the Holy Land for the glory of God.
The first crusade lasted from 1096-1099 and was initiated by Pope Urban II. As the news spread about the new fight against the non-believers, small self-directing groups began to form, each planning their own path to Constantinople; that was where they would meet
and form unity. Their plan was to attack the Turkish forces in Constantinople and regain control of the city. The first attack by the crusaders was on the Turkish capital, Anatolian. During the same time frame, the Byzantians were also making an attempt to regain the city of Anatolian. The Byzantians used the crusades to their advantage to achieve their goal in capturing the city. Later in the year, Anatolian surrendered the city to the Byzantians, not the crusaders. The crusaders then met once again and together defeated the Turkish army, scoring a great victory. Afterwards, the crusaders went and captured the city of Antioch, and then moved on towards their primary goal, Jerusalem. Jerusalem was under heavy guard by the Egyptians at the time period when the crusaders were about to make their attack. The crusaders set up siege machines and called for reinforcements, and eventually, the Egyptians surrendered to them. All who dwelled in the city were massacred in belief that the blood of former possessors purified the city. For the next generation or so, the crusaders kept control over the Holy Land and invited their people to come inhabit the city. They began to colonize and set up states; the four major states that were set up consisted of: Tripoli, Antioch, Edessa, and Jerusalem. The crusaders used the strategy of isolating and cutting off supplies that could lead to strengthening to the Muslims and Egyptians. However, as the next generation came about, the children of the original crusaders were not quite as motivated and determined as the original fleet, so the Muslims escaped the isolation and regained power. The Muslims, under the leadership of the radical leader, Zangi, found victory in attacking Edessa. The
Muslims destroyed churches, homes, building, and murdered many crusaders, and regained control of the city.
The Pope, seeing the events that were taking place, declared yet a second crusade (1147-1149) to recapture the lost territory once again. Armies from France and Germany set out to meet once again in Jerusalem and join forces. However, the German crusaders were ambushed during their voyage depleting their supplies and cavalry. The few remaining joined the French fleet in Jerusalem, and together attempted an attack on Damascus. Being badly defeated, the French army returned home, while the Germans remained with the colonies of the former crusaders. The states established by the crusaders were slowly being destroyed, and thus, the failure of the second crusade led into a third. Nur ad-Din, the new Muslim leader, motivated the Muslims into believing that they should take back what was thought to be theirs. However, the newfound leader died a few years proceeding, and yet another leader, Saladin, came to power. With the newly revived army, Saladin led his army in an attack to recapture Jerusalem in 1187. In early October, Saladin defeated the crusaders and gained control of Jerusalem. Pope Gregory VIII then called for a third crusade (1189-1192). Frederick I, Roman Emperor, Philip II, French king, Richard I of England, all joined together to assemble one of the most powerful armies during the time of the middle ages. However, due to the many misfortunes the crusaders faced, they were not able to recapture control of Jerusalem. Returning home, the Roman, French, and English armies accomplished none of the goals which they had set.
Other Crusades (1202-1464) Almost immediately upon being elected pope, Innocent III assumed the leadership of the Fourth Crusade (1202-1204). He organized a crusade to attack the Muslims in Egypt. However, almost immediately, Innocent lost control over the Crusade. The original plan if the Fourth Crusade to meet in Venice and ship hosts to the Holy Land, however, financial problems formed because of the expenses involve in shipping so many. The Venetians agreed to give up the ships if the crusaders would help them capture the city of Zara. After capturing Zara, the Venetians urged to take control over the city of Constantinople. Innocent forbade this expedition, however, most of the crusaders went anyhow; in July 1203, the crusaders took control over Constantinople. The Fourth Crusade was not a crusade that was bound for the Holy Land, but only an event of political and commercial greed. Following the Fourth Crusade was the Children s Crusades. Singing and shouting, French children marched out across the countryside to the edges of the Mediterranean Sea, where old, rotted merchant ships provided free transport across to the Holy Land. However, the ships were sunk by a storm, and all aboard the vessels drowned in the icy waters of the Mediterranean. Meanwhile, children in Germany began a march to convert the atheists to Christianity. However, these children also faced tragedy and death, for they were not equipped for the hardships of the Alps to Rome. After the fall of Acre, the Christians last stronghold, in 1291 many Christians lacked the enthusiasm to continue with more disappointing crusades. Instead other men made small expeditions to the Holy Land in
later years to try and get a little piece back. Though the wars continued to 1464, the last battles were minor and not consider crusades.
The Crusades had very little impact on the East, except for their castles. Though it was spurred by the clashing of two cultures, it most likely brought a broadening perspective to everyone. The real effects of this were in Italy and Spain. The Italian ports began to see a substantial amount of economic growth of the Genoa, Venice, and Pisa. Although the great wealth and growing population made this war possible, the Crusades certainly enhanced trade, but did not revive it. The Crusades provided an outlet for knights to become one and fight for a common good. The monarchs were able to consolidate their control more easily now that the warrior class had been reduced. But more or less the years of bloodshed that took place were pointless because the Christians ended up with no Holy Land and an ongoing rivalry towards the Muslims. Despite the harsh feelings between both cultures, they both gained economically due to the improvement of trade between the West and the East. These Holy Wars aided in spurring a rise in the spread of the Christian faith and shaped European history while also leaving a long lasting effect on the world.
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