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This article is about the medieval religious military campaigns. For other uses, see Crusades (disambiguation).
"Crusaders" redirects here. For other uses, see Crusaders (disambiguation).
Multicolored map of the 12th-century Near East
Map of the Eastern Mediterranean in 1135, showing crusader-held and neighbouring territories

The Crusades were a series of military campaigns that took place between the 11th and 15th centuries, each sanctioned by the Pope of its era. They arose first as a call to arms in a sermon by Pope Urban II, who urged military support for the Byzantine Empire. The Byzantine Emperor, Alexios I, needed reinforcements for his conflict with westward migrating Turks in Anatolia. Although one of Urban's stated aims was to guarantee pilgrims access to the holy sites in the Holy Land that were under Muslim control, historians disagree whether this was the primary motivation for Urban or for the majority of those who heeded his call. Urban's wider strategy may have been to unite the Eastern and Western branches of Christendom, which had been divided since their split in 1054, and establish himself as head of the unified Church. Similarly, some of the hundreds of thousands of people who became crusaders by taking a public vow and receiving plenary indulgences from the church were peasants hoping for Apotheosis at Jerusalem, or forgiveness from God for all their sins. Others, historians argue, participated to satisfy feudal obligations or find opportunities for economic and political gain. Regardless of the motivation, the response to Urban's preaching by people of many different classes across Western Europe established the precedent for later crusades.

Actions carried out at least nominally under Papal authority during the Crusades have polarised historians. Contrary to their stated aims and promises, Crusaders often pillaged as they travelled, and their leaders retained much of this territory rather than returning it to the Byzantines. The People's Crusade included the Rhineland massacres: the murder of thousands of Jews. Constantinople was sacked during the Fourth Crusade, rendering the reunification of Christendom impossible.

The Crusades had a profound impact on Western civilization: they reopened the Mediterranean to commerce and travel (enabling Genoa and Venice to flourish); consolidated the collective identity of the Latin Church under papal leadership; and were a wellspring for accounts of heroism, chivalry and piety. These tales consequently galvanised medieval romance, philosophy and literature. The Crusades also reinforced the connection between Western Christendom, feudalism, and militarism.


Manuscript illumination of people being hanged, burned and shot with arrows
Madrid Skylitzes illuminated manuscript depicting Byzantine Greeks punishing ninth-century Cretan Saracens

Derived from the French croisade and Spanish cruzada, forms of the word Crusade had established themselves in English, French, and German by 1750.[1] The first recorded use of the term in English was by William Shenstone in 1757.[2] When crusaders swore a vow (votus) to reach Jerusalem, they received a cloth cross (crux) to be sewn onto their clothing. This "taking of the cross" became associated with the entire journey, and crusaders saw themselves as undertaking an iter (journey) or peregrinatio (armed pilgrimage). The inspiration for this "messianism of the poor" was an expected mass apotheosis at Jerusalem.[3]

The numbering of the Crusades is debated, with some historians counting seven major Crusades and a number of minor ones from 1096 to 1291.[4] Others consider the Fifth Crusade of Frederick II as two crusades, making the crusade launched by Louis IX in 1270 the Eighth Crusade. Sometimes the Eighth Crusade is considered two, the second of which is the Ninth Crusade.

In the pluralistic view of the Crusades developed during the 20th century, "Crusade" encompasses all papal-sanctioned military campaigns in Southwestern Asia or in Europe.[5] A key distinction between the Crusades and other holy wars was that the authorization for the Crusades came directly from the pope, who claimed to be working on behalf of Christ.[6] This takes into account the view of the Roman Catholic Church and medieval contemporaries, such as Saint Bernard of Clairvaux, which gives equal precedence to military campaigns undertaken for political reasons and to combat paganism and heresy. This broad definition includes the persecution of heretics in Southern France, the political conflict between Christians in Sicily, the Christian re-conquest of Iberia, Hussite Wars, and the conquest of pagans in the Baltic.[7] A narrower view is that the Crusades were a defensive war in the Levant against Muslims to free the Holy Land from Muslim rule.[8]

Popes periodically declared political crusades as a means of conflict resolution among Roman Catholics; the first of these was declared by Pope Innocent III against Markward of Anweiler in 1202.[9] Others include a crusade against the Stedingers, several (declared by a number of popes) against Emperor Frederick II and his sons,[10] and two crusades against opponents of King Henry III of England who received the same privileges as participants in the Fifth Crusade.[11]

A common term for Muslim was Saracen; before the 16th century, the words "Muslim" and "Islam" were rarely used by Europeans.[12] In Greek and Latin, "Saracen" originated in the early first millennium to refer to non- Arab peoples inhabiting the desert areas around the Roman province of Arabia.[13][14] The term evolved to include Arab tribes, and by the 12th century it was an ethnic and religious marker synonymous with "Muslim" in Medieval Latin literature.[15][16] Frank and Latin were used during the Crusades for Western Europeans, distinguishing them from Greeks.[17][18]


Expansion of the Islamic Caliphate, 622–750.
  Expansion under Muhammad, 622–632
  Expansion during the Rashidun Caliphate, 632–661
  Expansion during the Umayyad Caliphate, 661–750

In the seventh and eighth centuries, Islam was introduced in the Arabian Peninsula by the Islamic prophet Muhammad and a new unified polity. This led to a rapid expansion of Arab power, the influence of which stretched from the northwest Indian subcontinent, across Central Asia, the Middle East, North Africa, southern Italy, and the Iberian Peninsula, to the Pyrenees.[19][20][21] Tolerance, trade, and political relationships between the Arabs and the Christian states of Europe waxed and waned. For example, the Fatimid caliph al-Hakim bi-Amr Allah destroyed the Church of the Holy Sepulchre but his successor allowed the Byzantine Empire to rebuild it.[22] Pilgrimages by Catholics to sacred sites were permitted, resident Christians were considered Dhimmi, and intermarriage was not uncommon.[23] Cultures and creeds coexisted and competed, but the frontier conditions became increasingly inhospitable to Catholic pilgrims and merchants.[24]

Painting of a ruler on a throne placing his foot on a man lying on the floor
Fifteenth-century illustrated French translation of Boccaccio 's De Casibus Virorum Illustrium, showing Seljuk emperor Alp Arslan ritually humiliating Romanos IV in 1071 after Manzikert; Alp Arslan allowed Romanos to return to Constantinople, where he was killed by the Byzantines.

The Reconquista (recapture of the Iberian Peninsula from the Muslims) began during the 8th century, reaching its turning point in 1085 when Alfonso VI of León and Castile retook Toledo from Muslim rule.[25] The Byzantine Empire also regained territory at the end of the 10th century, with Basil II spending most of his half-century reign in conquest. Although he left a growing treasury, he neglected domestic affairs and ignored the cost of incorporating his conquests into the Byzantine ecumene . None of Basil's successors were militarily or politically talented, and the task of governing the Empire increasingly devolved to the civil service. Their efforts to spend the Byzantine economy back into prosperity triggered inflation. To balance an increasingly unstable budget, Basil's standing army was dismissed and his thematic troops replaced the tagmata. In Europe, the Germans were expanded at the expense of the Slavs [26] and Sicily was conquered by Norman adventurer Roger De Hauteville in 1091.[27]

An aggressive, reformist papacy clashed with the Eastern Empire and Western secular monarchs, leading to the 1054 East–West Schism [28] and the Investiture Controversy (which began around 1075 and continued during the First Crusade). The papacy began to assert its independence from secular rulers, marshaling arguments for the proper use of armed force by Catholics. The result was intense piety, an interest in religious affairs, and religious propaganda advocating a just war to reclaim Palestine from the Muslims. The majority view was that non-Christians could not be forced to accept Christian baptism or be physically assaulted for having a different faith, although a minority believed that vengeance and forcible conversion were justified for the denial of Christian faith and government.[29] Participation in such a war was seen as a form of penance which could counterbalance sin.[30]

The status quo was disrupted by the western migrating Turks. In 1071 they defeated the Byzantine army at the Battle of Manzikert and the rapidly-expanding Great Seljuk Empire gained nearly all of Anatolia while the empire descended into frequent civil wars.[31] One year later the Turks wrested control of Palestine from the Fatimids [32] The disruption of pilgrimages by the Seljuk Turks prompted support for the Crusades in Western Europe.[33]


First Crusade (1096–1099) and immediate aftermath

Map of the Middle East, from the Mediterranean east of the Caspian Sea
The Great Seljuk Empire at its greatest extent (1092)

In 1095 at the Council of Piacenza, Byzantine Emperor Alexios I Komnenos requested military aid from Urban II to fight the Turks, probably in the form of mercenary reinforcements. It is also likely he exaggerated the danger facing the Eastern Empire while making his appeal.[34] Later that year at the Council of Clermont Urban raised the issue again and preached for a crusade. Historian Paul Everett Pierson asserts that Urban also hoped that aiding the Eastern Church lead to its reunion with the Western, under his leadership.[35]

Inspired by Urban's preaching, Peter the Hermit led an army of 20,000 (mostly peasants) in the People's Crusade bound for Jerusalem.[36] When they arrived in Germany, they instead massacred Jewish communities in the first major outbreak of anti-Jewish violence in Europe.[37] In Speyer, Worms, Mainz and Cologne the range of anti-Jewish activity was broad, extending from limited, spontaneous violence to full-scale military attacks.[38] Alexios urged them to wait for the western nobles within the Byzantine Empire, but they continued. Outside Nicaea they fell to a Turkish ambush at the Battle of Civetot, from which only about 3,000 crusaders escaped.[39]

Route of the First Crusade through Asia

Both the king of France and Henry IV, Holy Roman Emperor were in conflict with Urban and did not participate; however, the noble armies embarked in August and September 1096 divided into four separate parts.[40] The armies traveled eastward by land to Byzantium where they received a welcome from the Emperor.[41][42][43] The combined force including non-combatants may have contained as many as 100,000 people.[44] The army, mostly French and Norman knights under baronial leadership, pledged to restore lost territories to the empire and marched south through Anatolia.[45][46][47] The crusaders besieged Antioch, massacring the inhabitants and pillaging the city. The victorious crusaders were immediately besieged by a large army led by Kerbogha. Bohemond of Taranto successfully rallied the crusader army and defeated Kerbogha.[48] Bohemond then retained control of the city, despite his pledge to Alexios.[49] The remaining crusader army marched south along the coast reaching Jerusalem with only a fraction of their original forces.[50] The Jewish and Muslim inhabitants fought together to defend Jerusalem, but the crusaders entered the city on 15 July 1099. They proceeded to massacre the inhabitants and pillage the city.[51] In his Historia Francorum qui ceperunt Iherusalem, Raymond D'Aguilers exalted actions which would be considered atrocities from a modern viewpoint.[52]

As a result of the First Crusade, four primary crusader states were created: the Kingdom of Jerusalem, the County of Edessa, the Principality of Antioch, and the County of Tripoli.[53] On a popular level, the First Crusade unleashed a wave of impassioned, pious Catholic fury which was expressed in the massacres of Jews that accompanied the crusades[54] and the violent treatment of the "schismatic" Orthodox Christians of the east.[55] A second, less successful crusade known as the Crusade of 1101 followed in which Turks led by Kilij Arslan defeated the crusaders in three separate battles.[56]

12th century

Under the papacies of Calixtus II, Honorius II, Eugenius III and Innocent II smaller scale crusading continued around the Crusader states in the early 12th-century. There were campaigns by Fulk V of Anjou between 1120 and 1129, the Venetians in 1122–1124 and Conrad III of Germany in 1124.[57] The Knights Templar were recognised and grants of crusading indulgences to those who opposed papal enemies are seen by some historians as the beginning of politically motivated crusades.[58] The loss of Aleppo in 1128 and Edessa (Urfa) in 1144 to Imad ad-Din Zengi, governor of Mosul led to preaching for what subsequently became known as the Second Crusade.[59][60][61] King Louis VII and Conrad III led armies from France and Germany to Jerusalem and also Damascus without winning any major victories.[62] Bernard of Clairvaux, who had encouraged the Second Crusade in his preachings, was upset with the violence and slaughter directed toward the Jewish population of the Rhineland.[63]

In the Iberian Peninsula Crusaders continued to make gains with the king of Portugal, Afonso I, retaking Lisbon and Raymond Berenguer IV of Barcelona conquering the city of Tortosa [64][65] In Northern Europe the Saxons and Danes fought against Wends in the Wendish Crusade,[66] although no official papal bulls were issued authorizing new crusades.[67] The Wends were finally defeated in 1162.[68]

Detail of a miniature of King Philip II of France arriving in the Holy Land

In 1187 Saladin united the enemies of the Crusader states, was victorious at the Battle of Hattin and retook Jerusalem.[69][70] According to Benedict of Peterborough, Pope Urban III died of deep sadness on 19 October 1187 upon hearing news of the defeat.[71] His successor, Pope Gregory VIII, issued a papal bull named Audita tremendi that proposed a further crusade later numbered the third to recapture Jerusalem. Frederick I, Holy Roman Emperor died en route to Jerusalem, drowning in the Saleph River, and few of his men reached the Holy Land.[72] Richard I of England conquered the island of Cyprus from the Byzantines in 1191 after his sister were taken prisoner by the island's ruler, Isaac Komnenos.[73] Richard then quarrelled with Philip II of France and Philip returned to France, leaving most of his forces behind. He then recaptured Acre after a long siege, travelled south along the Mediterranean coast, defeated the Muslims near Arsuf and recaptured the port city of Jaffa. However, within sight of Jerusalem supply shortages forced them to retreat without taking the city.[74] A treaty was negotiated that allowed unarmed Catholics to make pilgrimages to Jerusalem and permitted merchants to trade.[75] Richard left, never to return, but Henry VI, Holy Roman Emperor initiated the German Crusade to fulfil the promises made by his father, Frederick. Led by Conrad of Wittelsbach, Archbishop of Mainz the army captured the cities of Sidon and Beirut but after Henry died, most of the crusaders returned to Germany.[76]

13th century

Painting of two crusaders looking in different directions, one holding a sword
Nineteenth-century depiction of two Livonian Knights

Crusading became increasingly widespread in terms of geography and objectives during the 13th century. In Northern Europe the Catholic church continued to battle peoples whom they considered as pagans; Popes such as Celestine III, Innocent III, Honorius III and Gregory IX preached crusade against the Livonians, Prussians and Russia.[77][78] When Pope Celestine III called for a crusade against Northern European pagans in 1193, Bishop Berthold of Hanover led a large army to defeat and his death in 1198. In response to the defeat, Pope Innocent III issued a papal bull declaring a crusade against the mostly-pagan Livonians,[79] who were conquered and converted between 1202 and 1209.[80] In 1217 Pope Honorius III declared a crusade against the Prussians,[81] and Konrad of Masovia gave Chelmno to the Teutonic Knights in 1226 as a base for the crusade.[82] In 1236 the Livonian Knights were defeated by the Lithuanians at Saule, and in 1237 Pope Gregory IX merged the remainder of the military order into the Teutonic Knights as the Livonian Order.[83]

In the Early 13th-century, Albert of Riga established Riga as the seat of the Bishopric of Riga and formed the Livonian Brothers of the Sword to convert the pagans to Catholicism and protect German commerce.[84] Konrad of Masovia gave Chelmno to the Teutonic Knights in 1226 as a base for crusade.[85] However, the Livonian Knights were defeated by the Lithuanians so Pope Gregory IX merged the remainder of the order into the Teutonic Order as the Livonian Order.[86] By the middle of the century the Teutonic Knights completed their conquest of the Old Prussians and went on to conquer and convert the Lithuanians in the subsequent decades.[87] The order was less successful in the Northern Crusades against Orthodox Russia, the Pskov Republic and the Novgorod Republic. In 1240 the Novgorod army defeated the Swedes in the Battle of the Neva, and two years later they defeated the Livonian Order in the Battle on the Ice.[88]

Innocent III also began preaching what became the Fourth Crusade in 1200 in France, England, and Germany, primarily in France.[89] The Fourth Crusade never came to within 1,000 miles of its objective of Jerusalem, instead conquering Byzantium twice before being routed by the Bulgars at Adrianople. Gathering in Venice, the crusade fell under the ambitions of Doge Enrico Dandolo and Philip of Swabia. Dandolo's aim was expand Venice's power in the Eastern Mediterranean and Philip aimed to restore his exiled nephew, Alexios IV Angelos, to the throne of Byzantium.[90] The crusaders were unable to pay the Venetians for a fleet when too few knights arrived in Venice so they agreed to divert to Constantinople and share what could be looted as payment. As collateral the crusaders seized the Christian city of Zara; Innocent was appalled, and excommunicated them.[91] After initial success in taking Byzantium, Alexios IV Angelos' assassination robbed the crusade of its prize so the city was sacked, churches pillaged, and many citizens killed. The victors divided the empire into Latin fiefs and Venetian colonies resulting in two Roman Empires in the East: a Latin "Empire of the Straits" and a Empire of Nicea. Venice was the sole beneficiary in the long run.[92]

Two illuminations: the pope admonishing a group of people and mounted knights attacking unarmed people with swords
Pope Innocent III excommunicating the Albigensians (left), and an Albigensian massacre by crusaders

Innocents III launched the first crusade against heretics,[93] the Albigensian Crusade, against the Cathars in France and the County of Toulouse. Over the early decades of the century the Cathars were driven underground while the French monarchy asserted control over the region.[94] Andrew II of Hungary waged the Bosnian Crusade against the Bosnian church that was theologically Catholic but in long term schism with the Roman Catholic Church.[95] The conflict only ended with the Mongol invasion of Hungary in 1241. In the Iberian peninsula Crusader privileges were given to those aiding the Templars, Hospitallers and the Iberian orders that merged with the Order of Calatrava and the Order of Santiago. The papacy declared frequent Iberian crusades and from 1212 to 1265, the Christian kingdoms drove the Muslims back to the Emirate of Granada, which held out until 1492 when the Muslims and Jews were expelled from the peninsula.[96]

Manuscript illumination of five men outside a fortress
Frederick II (left) meets al-Kamil (right) in a manuscript illumination from Giovanni Villani's Nuova Cronica

Crusading resumed against Saladin's Ayyubid successors in Egypt and Syria in 1217, following Innocent III's Fourth Council of the Lateran. Led by Andrew II and Leopold VI, Duke of Austria forces of drawn mainly from Hungary, Germany, Flanders, and Frisia achieved little. Leopold and John of Brienne besieged and captured Damietta but an invasion further into Egypt was compelled to surrender.[97][98] Damietta was returned and an eight-year truce agreed.[99] Emperor Frederick II, who had been excommunicated for breaking his vow to crusade, finally arrived at Acre in 1228.[100][101] A peace treaty was agreed giving Latin Christians most of Jerusalem and a strip of territory from Acre, while the Muslims controlling their sacred areas. In return, an alliance was made with Al-Kamil, Sultan of Egypt, against all of his enemies of whatever religion.[102] After the truce expired, further campaigns were led by Theobald I of Navarre, Peter of Dreux and Hugh IV, Duke of Burgundy. Defeated at Gaza, Theobald agreed treaties with Damascus and Egypt that returned territory to the crusader states. He returned to Europe in 1240 but Richard of Cornwall arrived in Acre a few weeks later and completed the enforcement.[103] In 1244 a band of Khwarezmian mercenaries traveling to Egypt captured Jerusalem en-route and defeated a combined Christian and Syrian army at the La Forbie.[104] In response Louis IX of France organised a crusade to attack Egypt, arriving in 1249.[105] This was not a success. Louis was defeated at Mansura and captured as he retreated back to Damietta.[106] Another truce was agreed for a ten-year period and Louis was ransomed for 800,000 bezant s. Freed, Louis remained in Syria until 1254 to consolidating the Crusader states.[107] From 1265 to 1271, Baibars drove the Franks to a few small coastal outposts.[108]

Conquest of the Eastern Orthodox city of Constantinople by the Crusaders in 1204

The Crusader states were not unified and various powers competed for influence. In 1256 Genoa and Venice went to war over territory in Acre and Tyre.[109] Venetice conquered the disputed territory but was unable to expel the Genoese. Two factions embarked on a 14-month siege: on one side was Genoa, Philip of Monfort, John of Arsuf and the Knights Hospitaller; the other was Venice, the Count of Jaffa and the Knights Templar.[110] After the Genoese were expelled in 1261, Pope Urban IV brokered a peace to support the defence against the Mongols.[111] Conflict resumed in 1264 with the Genoese now supported by Michael VIII Palaiologos, Emperor of Nicaea the Egyptian sultan Baibars.[112] Both sides used Muslim soldiers, particularly Turcopoles. The war significantly weakened the kingdom with most fortified buildings in Acre destroyed. According to contemporary reports 20,000 men died in the conflict. Genoa finally regained its quarter in Acrein 1288.[113] The French, led by Louis IX's brother Charles, also sort to expand their influence. In 1266, he seized Sicily, parts of the eastern Adriatic, Corfu, Butrinto, Avlona, and Suboto. Politically he attempted to gain Byzantium with the Treaty of Viterbo. The heirs of Baldwin II of Constantinople and William II Villehardouin married Charles' children. If there were no offspring Charles would receive the empire and principality. Charles executed Conradin, great-grandson of Isabella I of Jerusalem and principal pretender to the throne of Jerusalem, when he seized Sicily from the Holy Roman Empire. When he purchased the rights to Jerusalem from Maria of Antioch, the surviving grandchild of Queen Isabella, he created a claim to rival that of Isabella's great grandson, Hugh III of Cyprus. Charles’ planned crusade to restore the Latin Empire alarmed Michael VIII Palailogos. He delayed Charles by beginning negotiations with Pope Gregory X for union of the Greek and the Latin churches with Charles and Philip of Courtenay compelled to form a truce with Byzantium. Michael also provided Genoa with funds to encourage revolt in Charles’ northern Italian territories.[114]

The city of Acre fell in 1291 and its Latin Christian population was killed or enslaved

In 1270, Charles turned his brother's last crusade to his own advantage, persuading Louis to ignore his advisers and direct the Eighth Crusade against Charles' rebel Arab vassals in Tunis. In the heat Louis' army was devastated by disease and Louis died. This ended the last significant attempt to take the Holy Land.[115] However, the 1281 election of a French pope, Martin IV, brought the full power of the papacy into line behind Charles. He prepared to launch a crusade with 400 ships carrying 27,000 mounted knights against Constantinople. But the fleet was destroyed in an uprising fomented by Michael VIII Palailogos and Peter III of Aragon. Peter was proclaimed king, and the Capetian House of Anjou was exiled from Sicily. Martin excommunicated Peter and called for a crusade against Aragon before Charles died in 1285, allowing Henry II of Cyprus to reclaim Jerusalem. Charles had spent his life trying to amass a Mediterranean empire, and he and Louis saw themselves as God's instruments to uphold the papacy.[116]

One factor in the crusaders' decline was the disunity and conflict among Latin Christian interests in the eastern Mediterranean. Martin compromised the papacy by supporting Charles of Anjou, and botched secular "crusades" against Sicily and Aragon tarnished its spiritual lustre. The collapse of the papacy's moral authority and the rise of nationalism rang the death knell for crusading, ultimately leading to the Avignon Papacy and the Western Schism. The mainland Crusader states of the outremer were extinguished with the fall of Tripoli in 1289 and Acre in 1291.[117] Most remaining Latin Christians left for destinations in the Frankokratia or were killed or enslaved.[118]

14th and 15th centuries

Painting of battle between mounted knights
Battle between Hussites and crusaders; Jena Codex, 15th century

Minor crusading efforts lingered into the 14th century; Peter I of Cyprus captured and sacked Alexandria in 1365 in what became known as the Alexandrian Crusade, although his motivation was as much commercial as religious.[119] Louis II led the 1390 Barbary Crusade against Muslim pirates in North Africa; after a ten-week siege, the crusaders signed a ten-year truce.[120]

A number of crusades were launched during the 14th and 15th centuries to counter the expansion of the Ottoman Empire. The first, in 1396, was led by Sigismund of Luxemburg, king of Hungary; many French nobles joined Sigismund's forces, including the crusade's military leader, John the Fearless (son of the Duke of Burgundy). Although Sigismund advised the crusaders to focus on defence when they reached the Danube, they besieged the city of Nicopolis. The Ottomans defeated them in the Battle of Nicopolis on 25 September, capturing 3,000 prisoners.[121]

The Hussite Crusades, also known as the Hussite Wars, involved military action against the Bohemian Reformation in the Kingdom of Bohemia and the followers of early Czech church reformer Jan Hus, who was burned at the stake in 1415. Crusades were declared five times during that period: in 1420, 1421, 1422, 1427, and 1431. These expeditions forced the Hussite forces, who disagreed on many doctrinal points, to unite to drive out the invaders. The wars ended in 1436 with the ratification of the compromise Compacts of Basel by the Church and the Hussites.[122]

Polish-Hungarian King Władysław Warneńczyk invaded the recently conquered Ottoman territory, reaching Belgrade in January 1444; a negotiated truce was repudiated by Sultan Murad II within days of its ratification. Further efforts by the crusaders ended in the Battle of Varna on 10 November, a decisive Ottoman victory which led to the withdrawal of the crusaders. This withdrawal, following the last Western attempt to aid the Byzantine Empire, led to the 1453 fall of Constantinople. John Hunyadi and Giovanni da Capistrano organised a 1456 crusade to lift the Ottomon siege of Belgrade.[123] In April 1487, Pope Innocent VIII called for a crusade against the Waldensians of Savoy, the Piedmont, and the Dauphiné in southern France and northern Italy. The only efforts actually undertaken, resulting in little change, were in the Dauphiné.[124]

Crusader states

Main article: Crusader states
Multi-coloured map of present-day Greece and Turkey
The Latin and Byzantine Empires in 1205

The First Crusade established the first four crusader states in the Eastern Mediterranean: the County of Edessa (1098–1149), the Principality of Antioch (1098–1268), the Kingdom of Jerusalem (1099–1291), and the County of Tripoli (1104—although Tripoli was not conquered until 1109—to 1289). The Armenian Kingdom of Cilicia originated before the Crusades, but it received kingdom status from Pope Innocent III and later became fully Westernised by the House of Lusignan. According to historian Jonathan Riley-Smith, these states were the first examples of "Europe overseas". They are generally known as outremer, from the French outre-mer ("overseas" in English).[125]

The Fourth Crusade established a Latin Empire in the east and allowed the partition of Byzantine territory by its participants. The Latin emperor controlled one-fourth of the Byzantine territory, Venice three-eighths (including three-eighths of the city of Constantinople), and the remainder was divided among the other crusade leaders. This began the period of Greek history known as Frankokratia or Latinokratia ("Frankish [or Latin] rule"), when Catholic Western European nobles—primarily from France and Italy—established states on former Byzantine territory and ruled over the Orthodox Byzantine Greeks. The Partitio terrarum imperii Romaniae is a valuable record of early-13th-century Byzantine administrative divisions ( episkepsis ) and family estates.[126]


Front and back of a coin, with six-pointed stars
Christian dirham with Arabic inscriptions (1216–1241)

Crusades were expensive; as the number of wars increased, their costs escalated. Pope Urban II called upon the rich to help First Crusade lords such as Duke Robert of Normandy and Count Raymond of St. Gilles, who subsidised knights in their armies. The total cost to King Louis IX of France of the 1284–1285 crusades was estimated at 1,537,570 livres, six times the king's annual income. This may be conservative, since records indicate that Louis spent 1,000,000 livres in Palestine after his Egyptian campaign. Rulers demanded subsidies from their subjects,[127] and alms and bequests prompted by the conquest of Palestine were additional sources of income. The popes ordered that collection boxes be placed in churches and, beginning in the mid-twelfth century, granted indulgences in exchange for donations and bequests.[128]

Military orders

The military orders, especially the Templars and the Hospitallers, played a major role in providing support for the Crusader States, for they provided decisive forces of highly trained and motivated soldiers at critical moments.[129] The Hospitallers and the Templars became international organisations, with depots across Western Europe and the East. The Teutonic Knights focused on the Baltic, and the Spanish military orders of Santiago, Calatrava, Alcantara, and Montesa concentrated on the Iberian Peninsula. The Hospitallers (Order of Knights of the Hospital of Saint John of Jerusalem) had been founded in Jerusalem before the First Crusade but greatly enlarged its mission once the Crusades began.[130] After the fall of Acre they relocated to Cyprus, conquering and ruling Rhodes (1309–1522) and Malta (1530–1798). The Poor Knights of Christ and its Temple of Solomon were founded in 1118 to protect pilgrims en route to Jerusalem. They became wealthy and powerful through banking and real estate. In 1322 the king of France suppressed the order, ostensibly for sodomy, magic and heresy but probably for financial and political reasons.[131]

Roles of women, children, and class

Drawing of a large group of children being led down a street
Illustration of the Children's Crusade by Gustave Doré, 1892

Women were intimately connected to the Crusades; they aided in recruitment, took over the crusaders' responsibilities in their absence, and provided financial and moral support.[132][133] Historians contend that the most significant role played by women in the West was in maintaining the status quo.[134] Landholders left for the Holy Land, leaving control of their estates to regents who were often wives or mothers. Since the Church recognised that risk to families and estates might discourage crusaders, special papal protection was a crusading privilege.[135] A number of aristocratic women participated in crusades, such as Eleanor of Aquitaine (who joined her husband, Louis VII).[136] Non-aristocratic women also served in positions such as washerwomen.[134] When Christian women fought in battle (counter to assumptions about feminine nature), their role was more controversial; accounts of female warriors were primarily recorded by Muslim historians, who portrayed these women as barbarous and ungodly characters.[137]

The Children's Crusade was said to have been a Catholic movement in France and Germany in 1212 that tried to reach the Holy Land. The traditional narrative is probably conflated from some factual and mythical notions of the period including visions by a French or German boy, an intention to peacefully convert Muslims in the Holy Land to Christianity, a band of several thousand youths set out for Italy, and children being sold into slavery.[138] A study published in 1977 casts doubt on the existence of these events, and many historians came to believe that they were not (or not primarily) children but multiple bands of "wandering poor" in Germany and France, some of whom tried to reach the Holy Land and others who never intended to do so.[139][140][141][142]

Three crusading efforts were made by peasants during the mid-1250s and the early 14th century. The first, the Shepherds' Crusade of 1251, was preached in northern France. After a meeting with Blanche of Castile, it became disorganised and was disbanded by the government.[143] The second, in 1309, occurred in England, northeastern France, and Germany; as many as 30,000 peasants arrived at Avignon before it was disbanded.[144] The third, in 1320, became a series of attacks on clergy and Jews and was forcibly suppressed.[145] However, this "crusade" is primarily seen as a revolt against the French monarchy. The Jews had been allowed to return to France, after being expelled in 1306; any debts owed to the Jews before their expulsion were collected by the monarchy.[146]


Knights pay homage to Saladin, seated in an enclosure
Twentieth-century depiction of a victorious Saladin

Western Europeans in the East adopted native customs, saw themselves as citizens of their new home and intermarried.[147] This led to a people and culture descended from remaining European inhabitants of the crusader states, particularly French Levantines in Lebanon, Palestine, and Turkey. Traders from the maritime republics of the Mediterranean ( Venice, Genoa and Ragusa) continued to live in Constantinople, Smyrna and other parts of Anatolia and the eastern Mediterranean coast during the middle Byzantine and Ottoman eras. These people, known as Levantines or Franco-Levantines (Frankolevantini; French Levantins, Italian Levantini, Greek Φραγκολεβαντίνοι, and Turkish Levantenler or Tatlısu Frenk leri), are Roman Catholic. They are now concentrated in the Istanbul districts of Galata, Beyoğlu and Nişantaşı, the İzmir districts of Karşıyaka, Bornova and Buca, and in Mersin. The term "Levantine" was used pejoratively for inhabitants of mixed Arab and European descent and for Europeans (usually French, Italian or Greek) who adopted local dress and customs.[148]

The Crusades influenced the attitude of the Western Church towards warfare, with the frequent calling of crusades habituating the clergy to violence. They also sparked a debate about the legitimacy of seizing land and possessions from pagans on purely religious grounds which would resurface during the Age of Discovery in the 15th and 16th centuries.[149] The needs of crusading stimulated secular governmental developments, not all of which were positive; resources used in crusading could have been used by developing states for local and regional needs.[150]

Its power and prestige raised by the Crusades, the papal curia had greater control of the western Church and extended the system of papal taxation through the ecclesiastical structure of the West. The system of indulgences grew significantly in late medieval Europe, sparking the Protestant Reformation in the early 16th century.[151]

Battle on the Ice anniversary, 750 years. Miniature sheet of Russia, 1992

Helen Nicholson argues that the Christians of Western Europe considered the Muslims to be a terrible threat, but by increasing contact the Crusades actually improved their perception of Islamic culture.[152] The Crusades, alongside contact in Sicily and Spain, led to knowledge exchange. The Christians learnt new ideas from the Muslims in literature and hygiene. The Muslims also had classic Greek and Romans texts in their libraries allowing Europe to rediscover pre-Christian philosophy.[153] In contrast the Muslim world took little from the Crusaders beyond military tactics and did not take any real interest in European culture until the 16th-century. Indeed, the Crusades were of little interest to the Muslim world: there was no history of the crusades translated into Arabic until 1865 and no published work by a Muslim until 1899.[154]

Although the Albigensian Crusade intended to eliminate Catharism in Languedoc, France acquired lands with closer cultural and linguistic ties to Catalonia. The crusade also had a role in the creation and institutionalization of the Dominican Order and the Medieval Inquisition.[155] The persecution of Jews in the First Crusade is part of the long history of anti-Semitism in Europe.[156] The need to raise, transport and supply large armies led to flourishing trade between Europe and the outremer. Genoa and Venice flourished, with profitable trading colonies in crusader states in the Holy Land and (later) in captured Byzantine territory.[157]


Further information: Historiography of the Crusades
Painting of a large group of men in a room with many statues
Illumination from the Livre des Passages d'Outre-mer (c. 1490) of Urban II at the Council of Clermont (from the Bibliothèque Nationale)

Five major sources of information exist on the Council of Clermont that led to the First Crusade: the anonymous Gesta Francorum (The Deeds of the Franks, dated about 1100–1101); Fulcher of Chartres, who attended the council; Robert the Monk, who may have been present, and Baldric, archbishop of Dol and Guibert de Nogent (who were not). The accounts, written retrospectively, differ greatly.[158] In his 1106–07 Historia Iherosolimitana, Robert the Monk wrote that Urban asked western Roman Catholic Christians to aid the Orthodox Byzantine Empire because " Deus vult " ("God wills it") and promised absolution to participants; according to other sources, the pope promised an indulgence. In the accounts, Urban emphasises reconquering the Holy Land more than aiding the emperor and lists gruesome offences allegedly committed by Muslims. The crusade was preached across France; Urban wrote to those "waiting in Flanders " that the Turks, in addition to ravaging the "churches of God in the eastern regions", seized "the Holy City of Christ, embellished by his passion and resurrection—and blasphemy to say it—have sold her and her churches into abominable slavery". Although the pope did not explicitly call for the reconquest of Jerusalem, he called for military "liberation" of the Eastern Churches.[159]

During the 16th-century Reformation and Counter-Reformation, Western historians saw the Crusades through the lens of their own religious beliefs. Protestants saw them as a manifestation of the evils of the papacy, and Catholics viewed them as forces for good.[160] Enlightenment historians tended to view the Middle Ages in general, and the Crusades in particular, as the efforts of barbarian cultures driven by fanaticism.[161] By the early Romantic period in the 19th century, that harsh view of the Crusades and their era had softened;[162] scholarship later in the century emphasised specialisation and detail.[163]

Eighteenth-century Enlightenment scholars and modern historians expressed moral outrage at the conduct of the crusaders. Steven Runciman, viewed as biased by some scholars,[164][165] wrote during the 1950s, "High ideals were besmirched by cruelty and greed ... the Holy War was nothing more than a long act of intolerance in the name of God".[126] The 20th century produced three important histories of the Crusades: by Runciman, Rene Grousset and a multi-author work edited by K. M. Stetton.[166] Two definitions of the Crusades emerged: one includes all papal-led efforts in Western Asia and Europe,[5] but historian Thomas Madden wrote: "The crusade, first and foremost, was a war against Muslims for the defense of the Christian faith .... They began as a result of a Muslim conquest of Christian territories." Madden wrote that the goal of Pope Urban was that "[t]he Christians of the East must be free from the brutal and humiliating conditions of Muslim rule."[8]

After the 1291 fall of Acre, European support for the Crusades continued despite criticism by contemporaries (such as Roger Bacon, who believed them ineffective: "Those who survive, together with their children, are more and more embittered against the Christian faith").[167] According to historian Norman Davies, the Crusades contradicted the Peace and Truce of God supported by Urban and reinforced the connection between Western Christendom, feudalism, and militarism. The formation of military religious orders scandalised the Orthodox Byzantines, and crusaders pillaged countries they crossed on their journey east. Violating their oath to restore land to the Byzantines, they often kept the land for themselves.[168][169] The early People's Crusade instigated a pogrom in the Rhineland and the massacre of thousands of Jews in Central Europe. The Fourth Crusade resulted in the sacking of Constantinople, effectively ending any chance of reconciling the East–West Schism and leading to the fall of the Byzantine Empire to the Ottomans. Enlightenment historians criticised the Crusades' misdirection—that of the Fourth in particular, which attacked a Christian power (the Byzantine Empire) instead of Islam. David Nicolle called the Fourth Crusade controversial in its "betrayal" of Byzantium,[170] and in The History of the Decline and Fall of the Roman Empire Edward Gibbon wrote that the crusaders' efforts would have been more effective improving their own countries.[4]

See also


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  10. ^ Lock 2006, pp. 172–180
  11. ^ Lock 2006, p. 167
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  18. ^ "Latin". Oxford English Dictionary (3rd ed.). Oxford University Press. September 2005.  (Subscription or UK public library membership required.)
  19. ^ Wickham 2009, p. 280
  20. ^ Lock 2006, p. 4
  21. ^ Hindley 2004, p. 14
  22. ^ Pringle 1999, p. 157
  23. ^ Findley 2005, p. 73
  24. ^ Hindley 2004, pp. 15–16
  25. ^ Bull 1999, pp. 18–19
  26. ^ Housley 2006, p. 31
  27. ^ Mayer 1988, pp. 17–18
  28. ^ Mayer 1988, pp. 2–3
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  30. ^ Riley-Smith 2005, pp. 8–10
  31. ^ Asbridge 2011, p. 97
  32. ^ Hindley 2004, p. 15
  33. ^ Tolan, Veinstein & Henry 2013, p. 37
  34. ^ Mayer 1988, pp. 6–7
  35. ^ Paul Everett Pierson (2009). The Dynamics of Christian Mission. WCIU Press. p. 103. 
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  150. ^ Housley 2006, p. 149
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  157. ^ Housley 2006, pp. 152–154
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Further information