The Crusades to Holy Land of Jerusalem

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The First Crusade was a religious war declared by Pope Urban II as a reaction to the Seljuk turk’s conquest of Byzantium. The declaration rallied catholic rulers in Europe and successfully conquered Anatolia, and went on to conquer the Levant (the Holy Land to Catholics). Catholic participants included primarily Frankish nobility, but also Flemish and various Italian rulers. The result was a Crusader victory over the Seljuk Empire and Fatimid Caliphate, regaining parts of Anatolia for theByzantine Empire creating the new kingdom of Jerusalem and the Levantine Crusader states.The First Crusade was significant as it established crusades as a course of action and successfully countered the spread of Islamic influence.

The Crusades were a series of religious wars fought between Christians and Muslims started primarily to secure control of holy sites considered sacred by both groupsand reinstate Christian lands. In all, four major Crusade campaigns occurred between 1096 and 1204. The violent and often ruthless conflicts raisedthe status of European Christians, making them major players in the fight for land in the Middle East. The First Crusade was declared by Pope Urban II as a reaction to the Seljuk turk’s conquest of the majority of Anatolia. The declaration rallied catholic rulers in Europe and successfully reconquered Anatolia, and went on to achieve the extra war goal of conqueringthe Holy Land of Jerusalem.

Catholic participants included primarily Frankish nobility, but also Flemish and various Italian rulers. The result was a Crusader victory over the Seljuk Empire and Fatimid Caliphate that regained parts of Anatolia for the Byzantine Empire, created the new kingdom of Jerusalem, and established the Levantine Crusader states of Edessa, Antioch and Tripoli. This crusade was successful in all of its war goals, and gave pride and purpose to the participating crusaders who returned home shortly after. The first crusade set precedent for future crusades as the war to emulate and recreate.After the establishment of the Crusader states and the kingdom of Jerusalem, the newly Catholic states retained the control in the region until around 1130, when Muslim forces began rallying and waging their own holy war, called Jihad, against the Christians.The Jihad had allowed the forced of Zengi, an Oghuz Turk, to successfully conquer the county of Edessa in 1144. This stunned and outraged Catholic rulers, who called for a crusade to retake Edessa.

The Second Crusade was announced byPope Eugene III in 1147. It was the first of the crusades led by Catholic kings, more specifically LouisVII of Francea nd Conrad III of Germany, with help from a number of other members of European nobility. Led separately across Europe, the two armies were defeated by the Seljuk Turks as they crossed into Turkish territory. The remnants of the two Catholic armies marched to Jerusalem, where they convened and gathered an army of some 50,000 to attach Damascus. Damascus’ ruler was forced to rally muslim forces to aid in the defense of Damascus. The combined Muslim forces dealt a humiliating defeat to the Crusaders, decisively ending the Second Crusade.The expressed war goal of reinstating the county of Edessa had not been achieved, but progress against the Moors in Iberia had been made as Portugal conquered Lisbon.

After numerous attempts by the Crusaders of Jerusalem to capture Egypt,Cairo was seized and the crusader army wasforced to return to Jerusalem. Saladin, a leader in the siege of Cairo, came to power as he unified the Zengid Caliphate and the Fatimid Caliphate. In 1187Saladin used theunified forcesa major campaign against the Crusader Kingdom of Jerusalem. His troops decisively defeated the Christian army at the battle of Hattin, taking back the city along with a large amount of territory.

Outraged by the fall of Jerusalem, a Third Crusade was called for. Inspired by religious zeal,King Henry II of England and King Philip II of France ended their conflict to lead a new crusade. They were joined by the German EmperorFrederick Barbarossa who lead a massive army acrossAnatolia, but drowned in a river in Asia Minor in 1190 before reaching the Holy Land, and most of his troops returned home.King Henry too had died, to be succeeded by Richard I, also known as Richard the Lion heart. Richard would lead and conquer Cyprus, then joining his fellow crusaders to conquer Acre and sign a treaty with Saladin to end the Third Crusade. The treaty allowed for pilgrims safe passage to Jerusalem, but Jerusalem had remained under muslim control. However Jerusalem was not forgotten, and a Fourth Crusade was called for in 1198.

Though Pope Innocent III called for a new Crusade, the Crusaders from France and the Holy Roman Empire diverted from their mission for Jerusalem in order to aid Alexius IV in topplingthe reigning Byzantine emperor, Alexius III. After successfully doing so, Alexius IV was killed by popular rebels and could no longer deliver the payments promised to the crusaders that was supposed to help their crusade. In response, the crusaders sacked the city of Constantinople, effectively fracturing the Byzantine empire into several smaller states. The crusaders returned home without ever having fought muslim forces. As time went on, the crusades became more politically motivated than zealously.

This meant that a rally of Catholic leaders would no longer attract responses to the call to arms from collective and cooperative rulers to fight under one banner, but rather it attracted rulers to take advantage of the crusade for their personal interests. As such, the crusades themselves became less successful in each subsequent crusade. The sacking of Constantinople during the Fourth Crusade shook the Orthodox church and states, putting a wedge into the Great Schism that would divide the two churches that would last to this day. All crusader states eventually fell as the Ottoman empire came to power, and in the end the crusades hadn’t accomplished their goals but had instead fostered greater military power among Catholic kings.

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The Crusades to Holy Land of Jerusalem. (2021, Nov 23). Retrieved from https://samploon.com/the-crusades-to-holy-land-of-jerusalem/

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