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When you think of wars that would last hundreds of years and would take many lives, religion is not the first subject to come to mind. But in actuality many wars over the years have been fought for that reason. Just so people can worship who they want, where they want, and try to keep others who don t agree with them in fewer numbers. A series of these wars took place from the 1098 A.D. to 1291. These wars were known as The Crusades, which took place just so that the Christians of Europe could gain more lands and riches. The Crusades were fought by the Christians of Europe against the Muslims and other non-Christians. Originally the wars were fought to take back the city of Jerusalem, the site of Jesus Christ s crucifixion, from the Muslims who controlled it. But The Crusades were also fought to take back land from the Muslims, atheists, and non-Christians. The lands that the Christians believed they should be in control of not only had religious meaning, but were essentially very good trade routes. Even after The Crusades were over, many people who were not Christians faced much religious persecution in areas that were mainly Christian communities.

Pope Urban II spoke in Clermont, France in November of 1095. He wanted there to be a Christian expedition to free Jerusalem from Muslims who were messing with Christian pilgrims that were going to Jerusalem. The pope decided to make a call for these crusades because he was the religious leader of Europe and because the Byzantine emperor, Alexius I, asked for help regaining the lands the empire had lost to the Muslims. The first crusade was a successful one because they regained the city of Jerusalem. It also set up a Christian military influence in the Middle East (Lerner 323).

The first crusade did not involve many important people like kings or knights. Instead, they were mostly people who were fighting so that they could have freedom from their masters or they were young knights who were looking to make a name for themselves. While the original members of the crusades were making their way to Constantinople many people just joined up with them along the way. Most of these people had little knowledge of the pope who called for the crusades or even of the specific religion that they were fighting for. These people were just looking for a way to use their theory that they were fighting for Christianity, to attack Jewish communities (Encarta 2000 CD Rom).

The Christian forces decided to cross Turkey on foot to reach Constantinople instead of traveling by sea. Twenty-five to thirty thousand Christians completed the trip across Turkey. On their way to Constantinople they conquered the Islamic lands of Syria, Lebanon, and Israel. The Islamic leaders were divided and they did not expect that big of an army. The Christians then conquered the city of Antioch in June 1098 and then moved on to Jerusalem. They then took Jerusalem in July 1099 in what was a very destructive and bloody battle. The Christian forces massacred many residents of Jerusalem (Encarta 2000 CD Rom).

After the Christians took Jerusalem many of them wanted to return home because they thought that was the goal of the crusade. But some of the minor nobles and sons of nobles saw the conquering of the various lands as a chance to set up some European states. They believed it would protect their route to the holy lands. The area that was set up as states became known as the Latin Kingdom of Jerusalem. Along with the Latin Kingdom, three other states were established, the County of Tripoli, the Principality of Antioch, and the County of Edessa (Encarta 2000 CD Rom).

The settling of the new states by nobles was never condoned nor acknowledged by either the pope or the Byzantine emperor. The nobles who were in charge of the newly acquired lands never even discussed with the emperor, what to do with the lands that once belonged to him. The nobles also never forced their religious beliefs on the Muslims who lived in their lands. They also never forced anyone to leave nor did they have a mass killing of the people who were not Christians. They just wanted to have there own lands and they knew this could only happen if the people of their state were content and had no plans for uprising (Encarta 2000 CD Rom).

The Christians were able to hold on to most of the lands that they conquered during the first crusade, but that changed in 1144 A.D. when the Islamic leaders conquered and took back Edessa. This was the beginning of the end for the Christian military. So with the fall of Edessa, Pope Eugenius III called for a second crusade. People were not as excited about the second crusade as they were for the first one. But more important figures joined the second crusade, like Roman Emperor Conrad III and King Louis VII of France. The second crusade was a big failure. Many Europeans died and no lands were gained. The only gain during the second crusade was that of Portugal from the Moors (Encarta 2000 CD Rom).

After the second crusade turned out to be a big failure it was hard to tell what the future would hold for these religious battles. In the early twelfth century, after the second crusade, the Religious Military Orders were created. This group was designed specifically for the crusades. The Orders combined religious spirituality with the theories of chivalry and knighthood. The men of these groups took vows of chastity and obedience. The

Religious Military Orders mainly protected Christian pilgrimages headed towards the holy lands. Interests of the church and interests of the princes in charge of the states were what the religious orders tried to uphold (Encarta 2000 CD Rom).

In 1187, Muslim Prince Saladin of Egypt, and his armies, conquered and took back Jerusalem. This led to the most famous Third Crusade. Three very important leaders of Europe all led armies in this crusade, Richard I of England, Philip II of France, and the Roman Emperor Frederick I. Frederick died on the way to Jerusalem and Philip returned to France in 1191. But Richard, who was very knowledgeable in war situations, stayed so that he could make links with the rulers of the Latin Kingdom states. The crusaders were unable to recapture Jerusalem or many of the Latin Kingdom states. But they did gain control of most of the cities along the Mediterranean coast (Lerner 326).

The fourth and fifth crusades did not threaten the Muslim powers in the holy lands. The fourth crusade did not even make it to the holy land. On the way to Jerusalem the crusaders did not have enough money to pay the Venetians to ship them there. So the Venetians bargained and said that if the crusaders would attack a group of the Venetians rivals, they would take them. After Pope Innocent III heard of what the crusaders were doing he excommunicated them. When the crusaders were done fighting the Venetians rivals at Hungary, the Venetians then talked the crusaders into attacking Constantinople. After much fighting the Venetians were now in charge of most of the Byzantine trade through Constantinople. Finally, the sixth crusade was a big disappointment. No one wanted to participate in the crusade and the leader, King Louis, died during the war (Lerner 328).

The Crusades turned out to be a major waste of time and just led to the death of many people. The first crusade was the only one believed to be successful. The five crusades that followed were all very unsuccessful and they just led to the deaths of many Christians and European leaders. They supposedly showed the dedication of the European Christians, but in actuality many of the people joined the crusades just so they could destroy non-Christians or so they could get lands and riches.


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