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Describe the religious and political origins of conflicts between Islam and Christianity, including the causes, course and consequences of the European Crusades against Islam in the 11th, 12th, and 13th centuries.

external image JacquesMolayPrendJerusalem1299VersaillesMuseeNationalChateauEtTrianons.jpg
Screen Shot 2018-01-03 at 2.30.48 PM.pngSee also AP World History Key Concept 3.1

Topics on the Page
Overview of Religious Conflicts and the Crusades
Origins of the Crusades
First Crusade
Second Crusade
The Children's Crusade
Women and the Crusades
Modern-Day Consequences
Teaching the Crusades
  • The Crusades Through Muslim Eyes

The image to the right and above is a depiction of a battle of Jerusalem than never was. The painting was commissioned in 1846 following French rumors that depicted Jacques Molay as having captured Jerusalem in 1299. In reality, after Jerusalem was lost in 1244, it wasn't under Christian control till 1917, date at which the British Empire took it from the Ottomans.

Last Crusader by Karl Friedrich Lessing (1835)
Last Crusader by Karl Friedrich Lessing (1835)

Focus Question: What were the causes and consequences of the Crusades?

The Crusades were "holy wars" initiated by the Christian kingdoms of Europe during the 11th, 12th, and 13th centuries in the name of God, united by their religious beliefs.
  • As historian Jonathan Riley-Smith noted in his 2008 book, The Crusades, Christianity, and Islam, "we are faced with a movement that lasted for hundreds of years and touched the lives of the ancestors of everyone today of Western European descent and many of Eastern European, Jewish, and Muslim descent as well" (p. 1).

external image 200px-Hebrew_timeline.svg.pngCheck out this University of Michigan site for a brief Crusades timeline!

Map icon.pngKey Moments in the Crusades: An Interactive Map

primary_sources.PNGThe Crusades: From Christian, Jewish and Muslim Perspectives

Screen Shot 2016-10-28 at 12.13.15 PM.pngThe Cultural Crusades: War and Cultural Exchange Between Christian and Islamic Worlds, University of Michigan


*The major medieval Crusades began with the First Crusade in 1096, spurred by the sermon from Pope Urban a year earlier, and ended in 1291 with the taking of Acre by the Sultan Khali.*

Wikipedia entries for Third, Fourth, Fifth, Sixth, Seventh, Eighth, and Ninth Crusades

Crusade at the Council of Clermont

Origins of The Crusades

Two factions of Catholicism became prevalent in medieval times: The Byzantine and Roman model.

The Byzantine model and the Roman model suffered through a tumultuous existence until 1064 when the two factions formally split. This was known as East West Schism.

Pope Leo IX excommunicated Patriarch Michael Cerularius, and in return, the Patriarch excommunicated Pope Leo IX. However, the Byzantine and Roman churches had been on poor terms, especially after the crowning of Holy Roman Emperor Charlemagne in 800.

The two models were fairly different from one another, and their differences can be read here.

Multimedia.pngIn this short video, social order, crusades, and the Islam Empire are summarized. The animosity between the Greek-Roman sects, when coupled with the advancement of Muslim power/expansion, starts The Crusade.

The Arabian Empire had been growing since the introduction of Islam. The early expansion of the Islamic Empire explains its rise to power and strength, in military and realms of society (such as technology). To see a timeline of the Islamic Empire, look to this handout.

rotating gif.gifAlso see World History I.1

  • The Crusades were a continuous religious battle. As historian Jonathan Riley-Smith noted: "They were proclaimed not only against Muslims, but also against pagan Wends, Balts and Lithuanians, shamanist Mongols, Orthodox Russians and Greeks, Cathar and Hussite heretics, and those Catholics whom the church deemed to be its enemies" (p. 9).
  • Crusades were authorized by Popes, but carried out largely by lay people (those not in religious orders) who made vows to engage in holy war as a form of penance and allegiance to God.
    • There were also military orders (like the Knights of Templar) who "made vows of profession and were therefore permanently engaged in the defense of Christians and Christendom" (Riley-Smith, p. 10).
    • All parts of medieval society were involved in the Crusades.
    • In the 11th century, Bishop Adalbero of Loan wrote that there were three orders to society: those who fight (knights), those who pray(clergy, aka Pope and priests), and those who work (lay people).
  • As such, the Crusades, Jonathan Riley-Smith concludes, "were not thoughtless explosions of barbarism" but activities "deeply embedded in popular Catholic ideas and devotional life" (p. 79).

First Crusade- (1095-1099)

Pope Urban II
Pope Urban II

Pope Urban II declared that all Christians must go to war against the Seljuk Turks, after the Byzantine Emperor Alexius I had called for aid.
  • The key part of this crusade was when the Christian Franks took the city of Antioch and elected to pillage it. Pope Urban II's first goal of these crusades was to aid the Christians in the east by killing as many Muslims as possible and driving them out of Christian lands.
    • The second and possibly greater goal was the liberation of the sacred city of Jerusalem. All Christians at the time held this city to be holy and great. It was very important to take it from the Muslims.
      • Also it is important to note that the word "Crusade" is modern. Crusaders thought of themselves as pilgrims performing acts of righteousness and killing in the name of God.
      • This fact made the bloodshed all the worse because the belief was on both sides. The armies believed, as told by Pope Urban II that all sins committed for the will of God would be forgiven.
        • In July of 1099, the Crusaders finally captured Jerusalem. The Kingdom of Jerusalem was founded after the Crusade and lasted for 200 years.

timeline2_rus.svg.pngHere is an extensive timeline for the First Crusade.


external image Siege_of_Damascus%2C_second_crusade.jpg

Second Crusade- (1147-1149)

Image to the right shows the Siege of Damascus, Second Crusade, 1490 by an unknown artist

When Muslims took the city of Edessa, Bernard of Clairvaux decided that another crusade to drive out Islam was necessary.
  • This crusade was called by Pope Eugene III and was the first crusade led by European kings namely Louis VII of France and Conrad III of Germany. These kings led their armies against the Muslims in another attempt to recapture Jerusalem, but were thrown back.
  • The only victory for the Christians was pushing the Muslims out of the Iberian Peninsula and aiding Portugal in capturing Lisbon in 1147.
  • The crusades would continue for about two-hundred years, each conflict started by both Christians and Muslims. The Crusades marked the beginning of a long era of what would be tense relations, and sometimes warfare, between the the empires of Islam and Christian Europe.

primary_sources.PNGClick here to read Pope Eugene II's call for the Second Crusade.

Portrait of Saladin (before A.D. 1185)
Portrait of Saladin (before A.D. 1185)

multicultural.pngClick here for information about Saladin

See The Capture of Jerusalem by Saladin, 1187 from Internet Sourcebook Project

The Children's Crusade

In 1212 C.E, following a brief interlude between the Fourth and Fifth Crusades, was an unusual purported event known today as the "children's crusade."
  • According to accounts dating from 1220-1250, a child in France began preaching to other children regarding the liberation of the Holy Land from the Muslims.
  • Through unlikely circumstance and apparent 'miracle' this child gained wide-support, claiming he had a mission from Christ himself.
  • Modern estimates say their numbers were as high as thirty-thousand, and that they believed the Mediterranean Sea would part for them upon reaching the shores of Eastern Italy.
  • Disaster awaited them, however, and the sea of course did not part. Instead, many of the children remained stranded without transport or were sold into slavery by treacherous merchants. The tragedy likely ended with the death/enslavement of thousands of children between 1212 and 1215, and it seems not a one made it to Jerusalem.
  • Though sources on the event are few and questionable on its full validity, there was without a doubt a mass movement of children from Germany and France to Italy related to the Crusades.

external image EleonoraAkv.jpg

Female_Rose.pngWomen in the Crusades

Eleanor of Aquitaine was one of the most powerful figures in feudal Europe.

At age 15 she married King Louis VII of France, at age 19 she provided thousands of her vassals for the Second Crusade.

She was an active participant in the Second Crusade and subsequently the Pope forbade women from joining further Crusades. For more follow the link to the Women in World History Curriculum website.

Women's roles are explained here in the University of Michigan article.

multicultural.pngClick here for the Old City of Acre, a United Nations World Hertiage Site. The remains of a crusader city, dating from 1104 to 1291, lie almost intact, both above and below today's street level of the modern city.

lesson_plan_icon.jpg Click here for a great interactive map showing the military paths of the Crusades.

game_icon.svg.pngClick here for an interactive game that quizzes you on the Crusades!

Modern-Day Consequences
Jerusalem, 2008
Jerusalem, 2008

The city of Jerusalem's long history of religious conflict continues to today because three of the world largest religions have holy cites within the city.

timeline2_rus.svg.pngBrief timeline major conflicts in Jerusalem

A recent article about modern conflict in Jerusalem over conflicting claims to the city and the US's recognition of who has rights to settlement.

Teaching the Crusades

primary_sources.PNGFordham University's Crusades Sourcebook

For background information, see Islam During the Crusades from an online history course at Boise State University.

See also, The Crusades (1095-1291) from the Heilbrunn Timeline of Art History.

The Crusades Through Muslim Eyes

Religious_Symbols-ani.gifThe Crusades Through Muslim Eyes, a selection from a BBC Historical Documentary on YouTube

Click here to go to a University of Missouri website that gives a multitude of different resources regarding the Crusades.

Here is an other wiki space that is filled with resources especially videos about the crusades

"The Crusades: An Arab Perspective" - The Effect of the Crusades on Islamic Society (Al Jazeera)
  • 4 part documentary series exploring the effects of the Crusades from the Muslim perspective.
    • Of particular interest is the way in which the conflicts kick-started a grassroots revival of Islamic culture and society in the earlier millenium in cities that had been retaken from Christian Crusaders - cities like Aleppo and Damascus. An important contribution to the literature and teaching to break from the typically Eurocentric teaching of the Crusades.

Additional information
Political and Religious Origins of the Crusades: The Crusades were rooted in political upheaval that resulted in the Seljuk Turks expanding in the Middle East.
  • They started conquering Christian lands and the which sparked a reaction.
  • The Crusades were also the result of ambitious Popes looking to expand their political and religious power. The Popes were arguably the group who benefited the most from the implementation of the Crusades.
  • Crusading armies were in a sense the military arm of papal policy. The politics behind the crusades were rather simple and made sense for the people in power. During the middle ages the church had most if not all of the power in Europe and the pope was like a king.
  • These crusades helped the popes expand their power by retaking conquered lands and obtaining the loyalty of the people.
  • Crusaders really believed that after retaking Jerusalem they would go straight to heaven after death. The Popes used the religious power and beliefs to politically expand their empires and their power.

Results of the Crusades:
- Further trade between East and West (economic trade, scientific, cultural, etc.), which spurred further development in Medieval Europe
- Reduction in size of the warrior class throughout Europe
- The wealth and growth of Italian port cities prior to the Renaissance
- Changes in the wealth/power of the papacy
- Helped to undermine feudalism
- Increased exploration in general, but particularly in Asia