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The Military Expeditions of the Crusades

Crusades were military expeditions planned and carried out by western European Christians. The crusades began around 1095. In order to take over and gain control of the Holy Land from the Muslims. The Holy Land was located in Jerusalem and the Christians believed that gaining control of it was their destiny. The origin of the crusades was a result of the expanding the area in the middle east for the Turks. The Turkish people forcefully invaded Byzantium, a Christian empire. The crusaders were a military, sent out to recover what they thought was their land. The first crusades actually started by the Pope. In November of 1095, the Pope gathered his followers outside a French city. He preached to the people and told them that action needed to be taken. The people cheered and planned their own attack.

Urban 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 their own. All the groups planned their own ways to Constantinople, where they would meet and then regroup. They would attack the Turkish forces in Constantinople and hope to regain control of the city. The large Christian armies talked to the Byzantium emperor and agreed to return any of his old land that was recaptured.

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The armies were uncertain of this demand but agreed anyway. The first attack by the crusaders was on Anatolian, the capital of Turkey. In the meantime, the Byzantines were also trying to recapture Anatolian, and later that year, the city surrendered to the Byzantines instead of the crusaders. The Byzantines 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’ morale.

The crusaders captured Antioch and also held off relief forces sent to help the Turks. The crusaders then moved on to their main goa, which was Jerusalem. The city was under Egyptian control and was under close watch. The crusaders set up siege machines and called for reinforcements, finally forcing the Egyptians to surrender. Everyone in the city was killed in the belief that the blood of the former holders purified it. The crusaders kept control of the city for the next couple of years and brought in people to inhabit the Holy Land. Slowly the Muslim forces started to rebuild and soon came back to take back the Holy Land. After the defeat of the Egyptians in Jerusalem, the crusaders started to regroup.

The Latin colonists set up four states: Tripoli, which was on the Syrian coast, Antioch, centred 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 was the center between the three states. The crusaders’ strategy during the first crusade was to separate the Muslims and Egyptians and to cut off any supplies or reinforcements to stop them from becoming stronger in status. Once the original generation of crusaders died, their children were not as determined as their forefathers had been. 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 stronger leader emerged Zangi. He led his troops to a victory against the crusaders and their colonies by capturing the state of Edessa. The Muslims destroyed the Christian 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 and his army. The Holy Roman Emperor, Conrad III, set out from Germany and soon met up with Louis and his men. With their armies, they left 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 that had been there since the old crusades. 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 back home with nothing. 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, which was the last. 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 strong army to recapture Jerusalem. In July, he crushed the crusader’s 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 the third crusade. The people in the west knew that their time had come to defeat the Muslims once and for all. The Roman emperor; Philip II, the French king; and Richard I, of England were the forces 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 nothing they had set out to do. 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.

The Crusades were Europe’s version of “holy wars” during the Middle Ages. The official First Crusade began in 1096-1099. The First Crusade conquered a strip of land along the eastern coast of the Mediterranean about 500 miles long and averaging 40 miles wide. This European foothold in the Middle East was divided into four little kingdoms; the county of Edessa, the Principality of Antioch, the County of Tripoli and the kingdom of Jerusalem this kingdom was ruled by the Muslims soon recognized and began to reconquer this territory.

The Second Crusade started in 1147-1149. The Christian forces in the Holy Land grew weak. In 1144, the Turks conquered the county of Edessa. The threat to the other Christian states brought about the Second Crusade. The spirited preachings of the French religious leader Bernard of Ccclairvaux inspired Western Europeans to defend the Latin States against the Muslims. King Louis VII of France and King Conrad III of Germany led the armies of the Second Crusade into Asia Minor, but their armies did not cooperate, and the Muslim forces defeated them before they reached Edessa. The Third Crusade started in 1189-1192. The Muslims continued to attack the Christians in the Holy Land.

By 1183, Saladin, the master of Egypt and Syria, had united the Muslim areas around the Latin States. In 1887, Saladin 1 easily defeated a Christian army at the Batlle of the Horns of Hattin and entered Jerusalem. Only the coastal cities of Tyre, Tripoli, and Antioch remained in Christian hands. The loss of Jerusalem led to the Third Crusade. The important European leaders of the Third Crusade included the German emperor Fre*censored* I (called Barbara), King Richard I (the Lion-Hearted) of England, and King Phillip II (Augustus) of France.

Richard the Lionheart the English King is known for his love of Crusades to the Holy land. Richard’s action earned him the name Lion-Hearted. Richard actually spent only six months in England out of his ten years as a King. In this absence, the nobles grew in power, but thanks to the stable government that Henry II ( his father), had established, England fared well even without her crusading King. Some of the legends of Robin Hood, the infamous outlaw of Sherwood Forest, are set in the control of Richard I and his brother John. The Third Crusade had failed in its important objective of recovering Jerusalem, the popes almost began preaching a new crusade.

This turned out to take longer than anyone wanted, for a variety of reasons. By the time a new crusade was really underway, soon after the turn of the century, events were preparation in Constantinople that would cause the Fourth Crusade to take a dramatic turn away from Palestine. The Fourth Crusade did not recover Jerusalem in 2 facts, it never even made it to Outremer: rather, the Crusades ended by attacking Constantinople, driving out the Byzantine Emperor, and installing one of their own in the ancient capital of Constantinople.

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