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Overview And Analysis Of The Crusades Essay, Research Paper

Overview and Analysis of the Crusades

The Crusades were military expeditions planned and carried out by western

European Christians. The crusades started around 1095. The purpose of these

crusades was to overtake and gain control of the Holy Land from the Muslims. The

Holy Land was Jerusalem and the Christians believed that gaining control of it

was their fate. The pope would gather the people together and incite them. The

origin of the crusades was a result of the expanding Turks in the middle east.

These Turkish forces invaded Byzantium, a Christian empire. The crusaders were a

militia, sent out to recover what they thought was theirs.

The first crusade was essentially started by Pope Urban II. On November 27, 1095,

he gathered his followers outside the French city of Clermont-Ferrand. He

preached to these people and told them that action needed to be taken. In

response, the people cheered and planned their attack. Urban II brought together

all of the bishops and urged them to talk to their friends and fellow villagers

and to encourage them to participate in the crusades. Small groups started to

form and each group would be self- directing. All the groups planned their own

ways to the Constantinople, where they would meet and regroup. They would attack

the Turkish forces in Constantinople and hope to regain control of the city.

The large Christian armies talked to Alexius I Comnenus, the Byzantium emperor,

and agreed to return any of his old land that was recaptured. The armies were

skeptical of this demand but agreed anyway. The first attack by the crusaders

was on Anatolian, the Turkish capital. Meanwhile the Byzantians were also trying

to recapture Anatolian, and later that year, the city surrendered to the

Byzantians instead of the crusaders. The Byzantians were using the crusaders as

pawns to achieve their own goals. The crusaders again met and crushed the

Turkish army. The crusaders scored a great victory and boosted the troops’ moral.

The crusaders captured Antioch and also held off relief forces sent to help the

Turks. The crusaders then moved on to their main goal-Jerusalem!

The city was under Egyptian control and was heavily guarded. The crusaders set

up siege machines and called for reinforcements, finally forcing the Egyptians

to surrender. Everyone in the city was massacred in the belief that the blood of

the former holders purified it. The crusaders kept control of the city for the

next generation or so and brought in people to inhabit the Holy Land. Slowly the

Muslim forces started to rebuild and soon came back to take the Holy Land.

After the defeat of the Egyptians in Jerusalem, the crusaders started to

colonize. The Latin colonists set up four states: Tripoli, which was on the

Syrian coast, Antioch, centered near the Orontes Valley, Edessa, a far east

state which held most of the Christians, and the Latin Kingdom of Jerusalem, the

most powerful and centered between the other three states. The crusaders’

strategy during the first crusade was to isolate the Muslims and Egyptians, and

to cut off any supplies or reinforcements from strengthening their status. Once

the original generation of crusaders died, their children were not as determined.

They forgot about the Muslims that had escaped, and because of that, the Muslims

had a new leader and were regaining power. Under their leader, Imad ad-Din, the

Muslims regrouped and planned their attack against the colonies. After the

passing of Imad ad-Din, a new radical leader emerged-Zangi. Zangi led his troops

to a victory against the crusaders and their colonies by capturing the state of

Edessa. The Muslims destroyed the Christians churches, buildings, and killed the

crusaders. Back home, the Pope saw what was happening and declared a second

crusade to recapture the territory that had been lost. King Louis VII, from

France, set out to meet Conrad III army. The Holy Roman Emperor, Conrad III, set

out from Germany and soon met up with Louis’ men. With their armies, they left

from their homeland to meet in Jerusalem. Conrad’s army began their voyage, only

to be ambushed. Afterwards, their supplies and cavalry were drastically depleted.

The better half of the French army reached Jerusalem and met up with the small

remains of the Germans and the old crusaders. Together they ventured to Damascus,

but failed to take the city and were badly defeated. The French army and king

had had enough and returned home. The small remnants of the Germans stayed with

the colonies, along with the old crusaders. Slowly but surely, the states the

crusaders had set up were systematically being destroyed. The failure of the

second crusade brought on the third crusade.

The Muslims had named a new leader, Nur ad-Din, who regrouped the Muslims and

motivated them to take back what believed was theirs. Their leader died a few

years later, and was succeeded by their military leader, Saladin. In 1187,

Saladin took his now revived and recuperated army to recapture Jerusalem. In

July, he crushed the crusaders front line army in Galilee. Saladin then led his

troops throughout the area of Jerusalem and finally took Jerusalem in early

October. This led to Pope Gregory VIII starting a third crusade. The people in

the west knew that their time had come to defeat the Muslims once and for all.

Included in the ranks of men going on the crusade were Fredick I, the Roman

emperor; Philip II, the French king; and Richard I, of England. These forces

were thought to be one of the most powerful armies assembled during the middle

ages. Again, this crusade suffered misfortune. On his journey to Jerusalem, the

Roman emperor died, and his army accompanied the body back home for burial. Even

with the size of Richard’s and Frederick’s remaining armies, they were not able

to recapture Jerusalem. When the armies left Jerusalem and its surrounding areas

to return home, they accomplished none of their goals.

Since none of the following crusades were successful or even important, not much

is known about them. The later crusades also provided almost nothing for the

Christians therefore much time and money was wasted on them.

I have several thoughts on the crusades. The first crusade was the most

memorable. It was the most successful one, with a minimal amount of casualties.

Its execution reflected well on the leaders. The Muslims and Turks were taken by

surprise. They did not expect the Christians to bring such a force or such to

Jerusalem. Later crusades were anticipated by the Muslims and very predictable.

After the Muslims won control, the Christians initiated a new crusade within 10

years or so, with the full force unable to reach Jerusalem. I think the people

were more pleased with the first crusade not only because of the outcome but

because it was a new idea to the Christian faith. Christian philosophy did not

espouse, “if there is something you want, take it forcefully.” The crusades also

offered the Christians a chance to vent their anger towards Jerusalem’s

possessors. It established a routine and thereby structure for their lives.

Towards the end of the second or the third crusade, the common folk were

becoming angry with the Pope and kings for their lack of results. Monies went

into the preparation of the crusades with minimal return. The first crusade set

a great example for the others, yet the next crusades didn’t follow the same

path. The later crusades lacked organization. No one wanted to provide

leadership due to the uncertain outcome. Leadership demonstrated in later years

was from Stephen and Nicholas in the Children’s Crusade, however unfortunately

young children were used in combat. This was a reflection of the moral character

or lack of it, in their leaders and subsequently contributed to their failure.


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