Crusade of 1197

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Crusade of 1197
Part of the Crusades
The Crusader States (1200).jpg
Crusader states about 1200
Date 1197–1198
Location the Levant
Result Decisive Crusader victories
 Holy Roman Empire Flag of Ayyubid Dynasty.svg Ayyubids
Commanders and leaders
Henry VI Al-Adil I
60,000 Unknown
Casualties and losses
Unknown Unknown

The Crusade of 1197 (also known as the Crusade of Henry VI or the German Crusade of 1197 German: Deutscher Kreuzzug) was a crusade launched by the Holy Roman Emperor Henry VI in response to the partial victory of Frederick I Barbarossa's crusade in 1190, and thus is also known as the "Emperor's Crusade."[1] The Crusade ended abruptly after the fall of Sidon and Beirut.[2] Henry VI died of a fever in Messina in October 1197, and many higher-ranking nobles returned to Germany to protect their interests in the next imperial election.[2] The nobles remaining on the Crusade captured Sidon and Beirut before returning to Germany.


In 1187 Saladin captured Jerusalem from the Crusader states. In an effort to reclaim it, the Third Crusade was launched by King Philip Augustus of France, King Richard Coeur de Lion of England, and Holy Roman Emperor Frederick I Barbarossa. Frederick Barbarossa captured Iconium but then drowned in Anatolia. The German Crusade, totaling perhaps 100,000 to 150,000 men, mostly disbanded and a much smaller contingent continued to the Holy Land.[3] The crusade led to a compromise allowing the Muslims to retain control over Jerusalem, while the Crusaders maintained Acre, Jaffa, and other key coastal cities.

Henry VI succeeded his father Frederick and soon declared a new Crusade hoping to continue the momentum of the previous campaign. Despite the stalemate of the Third Crusade, a large number responded:[2]

A large number of minor nobles also joined the Crusade and before long, according to Arnold von Lübeck in his Arnoldi Chronica Slavorum, a powerful military host of 60,000, including 7,000 German knights, was on its way.

German Crusade[edit]

Henry VI decided to take advantage of his father's threat of force against Byzantium to exact tribute and had a threatening letter sent to the Byzantine Emperor, Isaac Angelus. Isaac had been overthrown in April 1195 by his brother Alexius III Angelus. Alexius immediately submitted to the tributary demands of Henry VI and then exacted high taxes from his subjects to pay the Crusaders 5,000 pounds of gold. Henry died before he could set sail for the Holy Land. A substantial German army was already on their way to Palestine and landed at Acre in September 1197. They captured the wealthy and important cities Sidon and Beirut. With the support of the German crusaders, Amalric II of Jerusalem, a vassal of Henry VI, was crowned King of Jerusalem in 1198. When news of the emperor's death reached the crusaders, they returned home.[4]

See also[edit]


  • Riley-Smith, Jonathan (1990). Atlas of the Crusades. New York: Facts on File. 
  • Norwich, John Julius (1997). A Short History of Byzantium. New York: Vintage Books. 


  1. ^ The Crusades, C. 1071-c. 1291 By Jean Richard, Jean Birrell, pg. 237
  2. ^ a b c Norwich, John Julius (1997). A Short History of Byzantium. New York: Vintage Books. p. 298. 
  3. ^ Norwich, John Julius (1997). A Short History of Byzantium. New York: Vintage Books. p. 297. 
  4. ^ Riley-Smith (1990) p.64