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There's a Village leave peace near the City of Jerusalem. But Pope Urban II called
The Crusades were a series of military campaigns—usually sanctioned by the Papacy—that took place during the 11th through 13th centuries. Originally, they were Roman Catholic Holy Wars to recapture Jerusalem and the Holy Land from the Muslims, but some were directed against other Europeans, such as the Albigensian Crusade against the Cathars of southern France and the Northern Crusades. The Fourth Crusade was originally intended to reach the Holy Land, but was re-directed by the Venetians against Constantinople.
Beyond the medieval military events, the word "crusade" has evolved to have multiple meanings and connotations. For additional meanings see usage of the term "crusade" below and/or the dictionary definition.
The origins of the crusades lie in developments in Western Europe earlier in the Middle Ages, as well as the deteriorating situation of the Byzantine Empire in the east. The breakdown of the Carolingian Empire in the later 9th century, combined with the relative stabilisation of local European borders after the Christianisation of the Vikings, Slavs, and Magyars, meant that there was an entire class of warriors who now had very little to do but fight amongst themselves and terrorise the peasant population. The Church tried to stem this violence with the Peace and Truce of God movements, which was somewhat successful, but trained warriors always sought an outlet for their violence. One later outlet was the Reconquista in Spain and Portugal, which at times occupied Iberian knights and some mercenaries from elsewhere in Europe in the fight against the Islamic Moors.
In 1009 the Fatimid caliph al-Hakim bi-Amr Allah had sacked the pilgrimage hospice in Jerusalem and destroyed the Church of the Holy Sepulchre. It was later rebuilt by the Byzantine emperor, but this event may have been remembered in Europe and may have helped spark the crusade. In 1063, Pope Alexander II had given papal blessing to Iberian Christians in their wars against the Muslims, granting both a papal standard (the vexillum sancti Petri) and an indulgence to those who were killed in battle. Pleas from the Byzantine Emperors, now threatened under by the Seljuks, first in 1074 from Emperor Michael VII to Pope Gregory VII and in 1095 from Emperor Alexius I Comnenus to Pope Urban II, thus fell on ready ears.
The Crusades were in part an outlet for an intense religious piety which rose up in the late 11th century among the lay public. This was due in part to the Investiture Controversy, which had started around 1075 and was still on-going during the First Crusade. Christendom had been greatly affected by the Investiture Controversy; as both sides tried to marshal public opinion in their favor, people became personally engaged in a dramatic religious controversy. The result was an awakening of intense Christian piety and public interest in religious affairs. This was further strengthened by religious propaganda, advocating Just War in order to retake the Holy Land, which included Jerusalem (where the death, resurrection and ascension into heaven of Jesus took place) and Antioch (the first Christian city), from the Muslims. All of this eventually manifested in the overwhelming popular support for the First Crusade, and the religious vitality of the 12th century.
This background in the Christian West must be matched with that in the Muslim East. Muslim presence in the Holy Land goes back to the initial Arab conquest of Palestine in the 7th century. This did not interfere much with pilgrimage to Christian holy sites or the security of monasteries and Christian communities in the Holy Land of Christendom, and western Europeans were not much concerned with the loss of far-away Jerusalem when, in the ensuing decades and centuries, they were themselves faced with invasions by Muslims and other hostile non-Christians such as the Vikings and Magyars. However, the Muslim armies' successes were putting strong pressure on the Eastern Orthodox Byzantine Empire.
A turning point in western attitudes towards the east came in the year 1009, when the Fatimid caliph of Cairo, al-Hakim bi-Amr Allah, had the Church of the Holy Sepulchre in Jerusalem destroyed. His successor permitted the Byzantine Empire to rebuild it under stringent circumstances, and pilgrimage was again permitted, but many stories began to be circulated in the West about the cruelty of Muslims toward Christian pilgrims; these stories then played an important role in the development of the crusades later in the century.
It is necessary to look for the origin of a crusading ideal in the struggle between Christians and Muslims in Spain and consider how the idea of a holy war emerged from this background. — Norman F. Cantor
The immediate cause of the First Crusade was Alexius I's appeal to Pope Urban II for mercenaries to help him resist Muslim advances into territory of the Byzantine Empire. In 1071, at the Battle of Manzikert, the Byzantine Empire had been defeated, and this defeat led to the loss of all but the coastlands of Asia Minor (modern Turkey). Although the East-West Schism was brewing between the Catholic Western church and the Greek Orthodox Eastern church, Alexius I expected some help from a fellow Christian. However, the response was much larger, and less helpful, than Alexius I desired, as the Pope called for a large invasion force to not merely defend the Byzantine Empire but also retake Jerusalem.
When the First Crusade was preached in 1095, the Christian princes of northern Iberia had been fighting their way out of the mountains of Galicia and Asturias, the Basque Country and Navarre, with increasing success, for about a hundred years. The fall of Moorish Toledo to the Kingdom of León in 1085 was a major victory, but the turning points of the Reconquista still lay in the future. The disunity of the Muslim emirs was an essential factor, and the Christians, whose wives remained safely behind, were hard to beat: they knew nothing except fighting, they had no gardens or libraries to defend, and they worked their way forward through alien territory populated by infidels, where the Christian fighters felt they could afford to wreak havoc. All these factors were soon to be replayed in the fighting grounds of the East. Spanish historians have traditionally seen the Reconquista as the molding force in the Castilian character, with its sense that the highest good was to die fighting for the Christian cause of one's country.
While the Reconquista was the most prominent example of Christian war against Muslim conquests, it is not the only such example. The Norman adventurer Robert Guiscard had conquered the "toe of Italy," Calabria, in 1057 and was holding what had traditionally been Byzantine territory against the Muslims of Sicily. The maritime states of Pisa, Genoa and Catalonia were all actively fighting Islamic strongholds in Majorca and Sardinia, freeing the coasts of Italy and Catalonia from Muslim raids. Much earlier, of course, the Christian homelands of Syria, Lebanon, Palestine, Egypt, and so on had been conquered by Muslim armies. This long history of losing territories to a religious enemy, as well as a powerful pincer movement on all of Western Europe, created a powerful motive to respond to Byzantine emperor Alexius I's call for holy war to defend Christendom, and to recapture the lost lands, starting at the most important one of all, Jerusalem itself.
The papacy of Pope Gregory VII had struggled with reservations about the doctrinal validity of a holy war and the shedding of blood for the Lord and had resolved the question in favour of justified violence. More importantly to the Pope, the Christians who made pilgrimages to the Holy Land were being persecuted. Actions against Arians and other heretics offered historical precedents in a society where violence against unbelievers, and indeed against other Christians, was acceptable and common. Saint Augustine of Hippo, Gregory's intellectual model, had justified the use of force in the service of Christ in The City of God, and a Christian "just war" might enhance the wider standing of an aggressively ambitious leader of Europe, as Gregory saw himself. The northerners would be cemented to Rome and their troublesome knights could see the only kind of action that suited them. Previous attempts by the church to stem such violence, such as the concept of the "Peace of God", were not as successful as hoped. To the south of Rome, Normans were showing how such energies might be unleashed against both Arabs (in Sicily) and Byzantines (on the mainland). A Latin hegemony in the Levant would provide leverage in resolving the Papacy's claims of supremacy over the Patriarch of Constantinople, which had resulted in the Great Schism of 1054, a rift that might yet be resolved through the force of Frankish arms.
In the Byzantine homelands the Eastern Emperor's weakness was revealed by the disastrous defeat at the Battle of Manzikert in 1071, which reduced the Empire's Asian territory to a region in western Anatolia and around Constantinople. A sure sign of Byzantine desperation was the appeal of Alexius I Comnenus to his enemy the Pope for aid. But Gregory was occupied with the Investiture Controversy and could not call on the German emperor and the crusade never took shape.
For Gregory's more moderate successor Pope Urban II, a crusade would serve to reunite Christendom, bolster the Papacy, and perhaps bring the East under his control. The disaffected Germans and the Normans were not to be counted on, but the heart and backbone of a crusade could be found in Urban's own homeland among the northern French.
On a popular level, the first crusades unleashed a wave of impassioned, personally felt pious fury that was expressed in the massacres of Jews that accompanied the movement of mobs through Europe, as well as the violent treatment of "schismatic" Orthodox Christians of the east. The violence against the Orthodox Christians culminated in the sack of Constantinople in 1204, in which most of the Crusading armies took part.
The 13th century crusades never expressed such a popular fever, and after Acre fell for the last time in 1291, and after the extermination of the Occitan Cathars in the Albigensian Crusade, the crusading ideal became devalued by Papal justifications of political and territorial aggressions within Catholic Europe.
The last crusading order of knights to hold territory were the Knights Hospitaller. After the final fall of Acre they took control of the island of Rhodes, and in the sixteenth century were driven to Malta. These last crusaders were finally unseated by Napoleon in 1798.
The major crusades
A traditional numbering scheme for the crusades gives us nine during the 11th to 13th centuries, as well as other smaller crusades that are mostly contemporaneous and unnumbered. There were frequent "minor" crusades throughout this period, not only in Palestine but also in the Iberian Peninsula and central Europe, against not only Muslims, but also Christian heretics and personal enemies of the Papacy or other powerful monarchs. Such "crusades" continued into the 16th century, until the Renaissance and Reformation when the political and religious climate of Europe was significantly different than that of the Middle Ages.
After Byzantine emperor Alexius I called for help with defending his empire against the Seljuk Turks, in 1095 at the Council of Clermont Pope Urban II called upon all Christians to join a war against the Turks, a war which would count as full penance. Crusader armies marched to Jerusalem, sacking several cities on their way. In 1099, they took Jerusalem and massacred the population. As a result of the First Crusade, several small Crusader states were created, notably the Kingdom of Jerusalem. But the Village refuse to surrender. So they siege this village. It survived! The people still leave in fear. The survivor from Jerusalem arrive. The Elder ask the poeple to fight as best as they can...... waiting for a new hero that will save them....