The crusades were a series of religious wars whose purpose was it to recapture the Holy Land. The crusades were at once preached with great enthusiasm across Europe and many nobles set out on the great adventure. The crusaders had various motivations to go on the long campaign: greed, penance, and true belief in the holy war were among the most common. Most crusader groups took the land way to the Holy Land, only a few chose the sea voyage. There were four major crusades, the third of which saw the participation of Richard I (Lionheart).
The First Crusade (1096-1099)
In 1095, Pope Urban II initiated the first Holy War at the Council of Clermont. The aim was the reconquest of the Holy Sepulchre from Sarcen rule. Bohemund of Taranto, Baldwin of Boulogne, Godfrey of Bouillon, and many other Counts and nobles set out on the great adventure. They reached the Middle East in 1097, took Nicea, and Antioch in 1098. They massacred the Jews and Muslims at Jerusalem in 1099 and established the first crusader states at Antioch, Edessa, and Jerusalem.
Second Crusade (1147-49)
After the Turks had taken the crusader state of Edessa in 1144, St. Bernard of Clairvaux preached the holy war all over Europe. In 1147 the army set out under the command of King Louis VII of France and Conrad III the Holy Roman Emperor-elect. The joined armies unsuccessfully attacked the Muslim emirate of Damaskus. Conrad returned home in 1148 and Louis in 1149.
Third Crusade (1189-92)
In 1187 the Muslim leader Saladin captured Jerusalem and Acre from the Franks. A great crusade was launched two years later in 1189. The Holy Roman Emperor Frederick I (Barbarossa), King Richard I (Lionheart) of England, and King Philip II (Augustus) of France were its leader. Frederick was drowned on his way to the Holy Land and most German knights returned. In 1191 the Philip II returned to France leaving Richard I alone at his base in Jaffa from where he tried to reconquer Jerusalem. In 1192, he made a truce with Saladin in which the Christians kept Antioch, Tripoli, Cyprus, Jaffa, and what was left of the Kingdom of Jerusalem. When Richard left the Holy Land in 1192, the crusade ended and Jerusalem remained with very short interruptions in Muslim hands until the 20th century.
Fourth Crusade (1198-1204)
The fourth crusade was a complete failure for the Christian armies, because they never reached the Holy Land. The crusade had been proclaimed by Innocent III in 1198. But from the beginning it was rather disappointing. The army was much smaller than had been expected and led by French and Flemish nobles. After their embarkation from Venice in 1202 the crusaders at once changed their plans fighting for the Venetians, whom they owed a large amount of money, against the King of Hungary. Later they stormed and looted Constantinople and established a Latin empire which lasted until 1261 with Baldwin of Flanders as its first ruler.
|History, Middle English Period, Political, Religious|