The Crusades were a series of treks to the Middle East in an attempt to free the Holy Lands from Muslim control. Although most of them were failures, they did stop the spread of Muslim control through all of Europe. They also had a significant effect on the feudal system and the church. These were the two main aspects that affected the lives of people during the Middle Ages.
During the Clermont Council in 1095 AD, Pope Urban II received a letter from The Eastern Orthodox Church calling for soldiers to capture take up the cross and recapture the Holy Land out of the hands of Muslim control. Although these first crusaders left in 1096, significant fighting did not begin until 1099 when accomplished their goal of taking over the temple in Jerusalem.
Not long after the First Crusade, the Muslims captured Edessa, a major city in the Holy Land. St. Bernard of Clairvaux had traveled throughout Europe, telling peasants and nobles alike after receiving a vision from God to take up the cross and follow him to push the Muslims completely out of the Holy Land. Unfortunately, the Second Crusade was an utter failure because they had no clear leadership of any kind, no well thought out, strategical plan, or no goal of what they wanted to accomplish. They did not even bring enough food or supplies for the magnitude of the trip they are taking. This crusade was marked by the irrationally of St. Bernard and the followers he had amassed.
In 1189 AD , the Third Crusade was launched against the Holy Land and the Muslim leader, Saladin. Saladin was a powerful, wise, cruel leader who had re-conquered Jerusalem from the weak hold of the Crusaders. Although there was a huge army of Crusaders gathered to fight, the Third Crusade was also very unsuccessful. A crowning event of that Crusade was Richard the Lionhearted of England recapturing several cities that had preciously been captured, but he wisely understood that he had lost too much life and did not have the resources to launch a full scale siege on Jerusalem. He did however make a peace treaty or agreement with Saladin to allow Christian pilgrims, Catholics, or any other religions along those line to enter Jerusalem without harassment or danger.
The Fourth Crusade began in 1202 A.D and again very much like the second, it had no clear direction or strong leadership. During this Fourth Crusade, on the way to the Holy Land, a disagreement arose between the Crusaders, namely the Orthodox Christians and the Catholics. Turning on one another they fought without even making an attempt to take Jerusalem . This conflict between themselves destroyed any unity or trust among the Crusaders causing the crusade to fail
In 1217, yet another crusade took place. This Fifth Crusade was led by Andrew II and Leopold VI. This crusade was successful in capturing two major Muslim cities. The Muslims, eager to get back those cities, made a deal to exchange those two cities for Jerusalem. The Crusaders declared that they would not be handed Jerusalem. Ironically, they ended up losing control of those cities soon after.
Unlike the other five Crusades, the Sixth Crusade ended in peace. Launched in 1228 A.D, Roman Emporer Frederick II arrived in the Holy Lands with his armies. He managed when he arrived at the forefront to win back Jerusalem from Muslim control through diplomacy rather than through blood shed. Making a treaty with Muslim leaders, he achieved his goal to restore Jerusalem to “back to God” by a peaceful approach, not like the others.
The Seventh Crusade was led by French King Louis IX, who was not satisfied with just Jerusalem, but wanted Egypt too. Both cities were then in Muslim control again. In the Seventh Crusade, Louis also tried to recaptured the cites that Andrew II and Leopold Vi had not wanted to trade for Jerusalem. However, his army was routed and he was captured., but he was determined to keep his vows to take back the Holy Lands so he launched the Eighth Crusade.
The Eighth Crusade which was again led by French King Louis IX was in 1290 AD. Louis IX planned to capture Tunis from where he could then attack Egypt. From that position, he knew he negotiate for or attack key cities in the Holy Land including Jerusalem. Before he could act out this plan, he was struck with illness which took his life. This immobilized his army and his soldiers soon abandoned this crusade.
The Ninth Crusade was led by Edward I in a last attempt to defeat the Muslims. When King Edward arrived at Tunis, he realized the attack had been called off. So he and his forces continue to Acre, the last crusader outpost. They win several victories, but after receiving the news of his father’s death and other pressing matters in England, Edward left, abandoning the crusade. Seven weeks later, the crusaders are driven out of the Holy Land.
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