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The Crusading movement was a series of military campaigns against the Muslims in the Middle East. It stemmed from the act of pilgrimage supported by the Church’s Gregorian reforms. Ecclesiastical reforms during the early medieval period caused drastic changes in the Church governance and its relationship with the imperial sovereign.
See the fact file below for more information on the Crusades or alternatively, you can download our 22-page The Crusades worksheet pack to utilise within the classroom or home environment.
Key Facts & Information
- In the late 10th century, Turkish tribes including the Seljuks started invading Western Asia. The Seljuk Turks won the battles against Karakhanids and Ghaznavids, two of the most powerful dynasties in Central Asia. As a result, they gained an empire stretching from Western China up to the Mediterranean.
- Seljuk Turks were nomadic horsemen from the clan of the Oghuz from the north of the Oxus River. By the 10th century, they began to migrate and embrace Islam under their khan, Seljuk.
- In 1055, the Seljuks took over several Samanid cities and occupied Baghdad. They established themselves as the new protector of the Abbasid caliphate and Sunni Islam, which created the empire in Persia and Mesopotamia.
- By the 1070s, they entered the Byzantine Empire territory after taking Syria from the Fatimids. After the defeat of the Byzantine emperor at the Battle of Manzikert, they conquered Anatolia and established the Sultanate of Rum.
- In 1088, Urban II was elected as the new pope. He was a protégé and supporter of the great medieval reformer, Pope Gregory VII. Like Gregory VII, he imposed Cluniac reforms including the end of simony.
- After the control over Anatolia, the Byzantine empire feared the security of its capital, Constantinople. Through a letter, Byzantine Emperor Alexius I appealed to Urban II for help.
- As a response, Urban II made his speech at the Council of Clermont urging every social class to embark on a righteous war to rescue the Holy Land from the hands of the ‘infidels’.
- About 60,000 to 100,000 people responded and marched to Jerusalem, known as the First Crusade.
BIRTH OF THE CRUSADES
- Not all who responded to the Pope’s call did so out of piety. Here are some of the factors which led to the enormous participation of the Crusading movement.
- Pope Urban II offered indulgences to all who vowed to make an armed pilgrimage in order to save the Holy Land.
- Some crusaders believed that they should reach Christ’s tomb in order to receive the crusade indulgence. This was seen as a reward for a penitent’s imitation of Christ’s sufferings.
- The concept of indulgence dramatically evolved during the Middle Ages. It was closely tied to the practice of pilgrimage, veneration of saints and relics, conceptions of purgatory, and the sacrament of penance. Papal indulgence during the Crusade promised salvation of souls.
- During the Middle Ages, Western Europe was mostly comprised of warriors. The knightly class believed that it was in battle for the Church against heathens and unbelievers (in this case, the Muslims).
- Many religious Christian knights and fanatical believers of the faith saw the Crusade as a religious duty and right to fight for the Cross.
- Compared to papal indulgence, crusaders under this motif saw war for penance and not penance for war.
- They aimed to rescue the Holy Land from the infidels instead of undertaking pilgrimage to it.
- European nobles went on the Crusade to increase land holdings and wealth.
- Some were drawn with the promise of tax exemption and anticipation of plunder.
- Traders searched for new enterprise. Peasants hoped for a better life. Family loyalty ruled among the upper ranks.
- Some young nobles became crusaders due to the Law of Primogeniture, or the right of succession belonging to the first born. Submission and obedience of women accompanying their fathers and brothers also applied.
- Since the 6th century, European Christians had travelled to the Holy Land located in the Middle East for pilgrimage, but when the Seljuk Turks conquered the sacred spot, Christian pilgrims were horrified.
- The tradition of pilgrimage to the Holy Sepulchre in Jerusalem means an effective path to salvation for Christians.
- Since pilgrimage was considered as the highest spiritual act for Christians, Holy Places including Rome, Santiago de Compostela, Bethlehem, Nazareth, and Jerusalem needed protection.
- Knights and noblemen of the First Crusade established a series of independent Crusader States known as Outremer, after the conquest of the Holy Land (originally part of the Byzantine Empire) by the Seljuk Turks.
- The Christian-controlled kingdoms were mostly populated by Byzantines, Syrians, and populations of Muslims and Jews, plus the new western settlers.
- Baldwin of Boulogne and his 60 crusader knights seized control of Edessa from the Latin elite.
- Bohemond of Taranto led the capture of Antioch from 1097, while Tancred, his nephew, expanded the territory by taking the cities of Tarsus and Latakia from the Byzantine Empire.
- The last of the four crusader states was founded by Raymond IV, count of Toulouse and Saint-Gilles, in southern France.
- The largest of the crusader states was established by Godfrey of Bouillon, Duke of Lower Lorraine in 1099.
- Populations in Crusader Kingdoms were allowed to follow religious conscience. Therefore, no synagogues or mosques were destroyed upon the introduction of Latin churches.
- Due to diverse people and strategic locations, Crusader states became melting pots of culture and intellectual breeding grounds.
- Crusaders adapted to Oriental clothing due to the hot temperatures. Moreover, bathing was a private affair for the upper class, and a public one for Arabs and Turks.
- In the late spring of 1096, different crusaders from various places reached Constantinople. With the arrival of large groups of crusaders, Byzantine Emperor Alexius I feared that they would plunder the capital’s wealth. As a result, both factions did not get along. To solve the conflict, Alexius I insisted that crusade leaders take an oath of loyalty to him.
- Despite the weak relationship of the Byzantine armies and the Crusaders, Alexius I sent a large army of crusaders to Asia Minor.
- In the first half of 1097, Crusader armies joined Peter the Hermit in Asia Minor and captured Nicaea, capital of the Seljuks Sultanate of Rum.
- On the way to Jerusalem, the Crusader army reached Antioch. Besieging the city was difficult due to a lack of supplies and extreme winter conditions. But due to internal conflict and Bohemond’s negotiation with a traitor, Antioch finally fell after an 8-month siege.
- In December 1098, the Crusaders marched to Jerusalem and arrived in mid-1099. After several weeks, they captured the city. Bohemond, on the other hand, went back to Italy and convinced Pope Paschal II and King Philip I of France that the real threat to the Christian world was the Byzantines.
- The First Crusade was a victory for the Christians. The Muslim and Jewish population in Jerusalem, including women and children, was massacred. Godfrey of Bouillon was chosen as the new ruler of Jerusalem.
- The First Crusade served as inspiration to Western Christians to fight the infidels. Crusaders were treated as heroes.
- Unlike the First Crusade called by Pope Urban II, Pope Eugenius III called for nobilities and trained armies to participate. And with much influence from him and Bernard of Clairvaux, a number of royals led the Second Crusade.
- Influenced by Bernard’s preaching, King Louis VII officially joined the crusade on May 1, 1146.
- Lisbon was captured by crusaders under Afonso I, first King of Portugal in October 1147.
- In March 1148, French forces in Attalia were killed by the Muslims.
- On May 1, 1146, King Conrad III of Germany led his army into the Second Crusade, but most were destroyed while crossing Anatolia.
- Pope Eugenius III used the success of the First Crusade as propaganda for the Second Crusade. He argued that the re-conquest of Edessa by the Muslims was because of sinful Christians. However, Crusaders faced problems including the divide among them, few armies, sour relationship among Byzantines, Franks, and Germans, and a lack of food and water.
- In 1187, the Third Crusade led by the English King Richard the Lionheart began. King Richard I and his allies Philip II of France and Frederick Barbarossa of Germany wanted to recapture Jerusalem from the rule of Saladin.
- The Crusaders were successful in capturing Acre and Jaffa, but failed to conquer Jerusalem. In 1192, Saladin and Richard I signed a treaty that ended the Third Crusade and re-established Jerusalem.
- In 1198, the Fourth Crusade was called by Pope Innocent III after the power struggle between the Byzantine church and Rome. This time, the Crusaders battled with Constantinople which led to the fall of the Byzantine capital.
- Later Crusades included the Albigensian Crusade in 1208, the Baltic Crusades in 1211, the Children’s Crusade in 1212 (but some historians do not consider this an actual crusade), the Fifth Crusade in 1216 after the death of Pope Innocent III, the Sixth Crusade in 1229, Louis IX of France Seventh Crusade in 1248, Eighth Crusade in 1270, and Ninth in 1271 led by Edward I of England. Minor crusades were later organized until the decline of papal authority in the 16th century.
- After the crusades, crusaders brought knowledge of trade to Europe, which later set the stage for Europe’s rise in navigation and exploration, known as the Age of Discovery or Exploration.
- Europeans learned better ship-building and the use of compasses in navigation.
- New trades included silk, cotton, glass, perfume, apricots, dates, and spices. Pieces of art were also introduced to the West.
- Developments in trade and commerce paved way for the rise of the merchant class and the end of serfdom.
- Discovery of new routes to India and China occurred.
- The growing interest in commerce resulted in the voyages of Marco Polo, Vasco da Gama, and Christopher Columbus.
- Rise in trading revolutionized manufacturing systems, banking systems, and practice of investing capital.
The Crusades Worksheets
This is a fantastic bundle which includes everything you need to know about the Crusades across 22 in-depth pages. These are ready-to-use The Crusades worksheets that are perfect for teaching students about the Crusading movement which was a series of military campaigns against the Muslims in the Middle East. It stemmed from the act of pilgrimage supported by the Church’s Gregorian reforms. Ecclesiastical reforms during the early medieval period caused drastic changes in the Church governance and its relationship with the imperial sovereign.
Complete List Of Included Worksheets
- The Crusades Facts
- Crusader Kingdoms
- Behind the Crusades
- Famous Crusaders
- Momentous Crusades
- Crusader Glossary
- Effects of the Crusades
- Popes and Monarchs
- The Medieval Life
- The Pyramid
- Religion Today
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Use With Any Curriculum
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