The Crusades Essay Research Paper Crusades

The Crusades Essay, Research Paper

Crusades Introduction On November 27, 1095, Pope Urban II he gave an important speech at the end of a church council in Clermont, France. In it he called upon the nobility of Western Europe, the Franks, to go to the East and assist their Christian brothers, the Byzantines, against the attacks of the Muslim Turks. He also apparently encouraged them to liberate Jerusalem, the most sacred and beloved city in Christendom, from the domination of Muslims who had ruled it since taking it from the Christian Byzantines in A.D. 638. Several versions of this speech have survived, and although we cannot be sure of the exact words the Pope used, the general outlines of his speech are fairly clear. Political and Military Background Beginning in the first century A.D., the religion known as Christianity came to Palestine and spread very fast throughout the Roman Empire. By the end of the fourth century, the Roman Empire had become officially and primarily Christian, as a result of peaceful missionary activity from within society . Jerusalem, Palestine and Syria, all within the boundaries of the Roman Empire, became Christian . In the seventh century A.D., the religion known as Islam arose in the Arabian peninsula. Like Christianity, Islam officially condemned forced conversions. But unlike Christianity, Islam instructed its followers to ensure that the world was under the political control of the Faithful. Islam’s political domination could be, and was, spread by the sword. Carried on the backs of Arab cavalry, Islam burst out of Arabia and quickly took control of the Middle East. Byzantium and Persia, the two powers in the area, were exhausted by prolonged conflict with each other. Persia was completely defeated and absorbed into the Islamic world. The Middle Eastern armies of the Christian Byzantine Empire were defeated and annihilated in 636, and Jerusalem fell in 638. Through the rest of the seventh century, Arab armies advanced northwards and westwards. By the early eighth century Arab forces had reached the Straits of Gibraltar, and in 711 they crossed into European Spain and shattered the armies of the Christian Visigoths. By 712 they had reached the center of the Iberian Peninsula, and by the 730s they were raiding deep into the heart of France, where Charles Martel met and defeated their most ambitious raid near Tours around 732. This was to prove their high water mark in the West. For the next 300 years Christians and Muslims engaged in a protracted struggle, including the siege of Constantinople by the Arabs in 717-18, and the seizure of Sicily and other Mediterranean islands in the ninth century by the Muslims. In the tenth century the Byzantines made some limited gains along the periphery of the now-shrunken Empire, but did not retake Jerusalem. In the middle of the eleventh century the Arabs were displaced as leaders of Islam by the Turks, who converted to Islam even as they conquered the Arabs. The Turks disrupted the area’s political and social structures and created considerable hardships for Western pilgrims. Up till now most Arab rulers of the area had been fairly tolerant of Christian interest in the Holy Places .By the second half of the eleventh century, most pilgrims were going to the Holy Land only in large, armed bands, groups who look in retrospect very like crusade rehearsals. The Turks also posed a new threat to the Byzantines. In 1071 the Turks met and crushed the Byzantine army at the Battle of Manzikert, near Armenia. As a result the entire heartland of the Empire, in Asia Minor, lay open and defenseless, and the Turks soon established themselves as far west as Nicaea, just across the Bosphorus from Constantinople. In the same year the Normans in southern Italy, led by Robert Guiscard, defeated the Byzantines at Bari and drove them off the Italian mainland. The Imperial Byzantine crown was briefly contested following Manzikert and Bari; the successful claimant was Alexius Comnenus, a capable soldier and a clever diplomat. Perceiving that the Empire was deprived of its primary recruiting grounds and breadbasket, he sent out desperate calls for help to the West, particularly to the pope. Gregory VII briefly considered leading an expedition eastwards himself in support of the Byzantines. However, he was too preoccupied both by the Investiture Controversy with the Holy Roman Emperor Henry IV, and by the growth of Norman power under Robert Guiscard in southern Italy, to respond in any meaningful way. Alexius continued to appeal to the West, however, and in the spring of 1095 Pope Urban II allowed Byzantine delegates to address the Council of Piacenza, and he gave his sanction to those nobles who were inclined to respond. He then proceeded into France, attending to various church business. By November he was in Clermont, and it was here that he gave a speech which caught the imagination of the West. It is hard to know exactly what Urban had in mind when he called for expeditions to the East. We have various texts of his speech; none agree exactly, but it seems unlikely that Urban envisaged waves of Frankish peasants travelling to Jerusalem. Alexius had called for large contingents of mercenaries, particularly Normans, to come and take service in the Byzantine Army. Urban probably had something a little more elaborate than that in mind among other things, he probably hoped that an expedition to the East, carried out under papal leadership and comprised of noblemen from across western Europe, would boost his position in the ongoing Investiture Controversy with the Holy Roman Empire. The First Crusade Neither Alexius nor Urban got exactly what they had had in mind. Large numbers of poorer knights and peasants answered the call immediately and set off without proper preparation. This sort of participation was not what the authorities had had in mind, and no one was prepared to deal with them. Some of these unsolicited crusaders carried out massacres against German Jews on the way, on the theory that the battle against Christ’s enemies ought to begin at home. This activity was not sanctioned by the Church, and the Church was at some pains to suppress it, with varying degrees of success. When these crusaders arrived in Asia Minor the next year they were quickly massacred by the battle-hardened Turks. This has been called the Peasants’ Crusade or, more properly, the Peoples’ Crusade. The Frankish barons, accustomed to war and its necessary preparations, waited until the appointed departure time, in summer 1096, and then set out in several large contingents, by various routes. No kings participated in their crusade, the First Crusade proper; the leadership was made up of several high nobles and a papal legate. The best known of these leaders included Bohemond of Taranto, Raymond of Toulouse, Hugh of Vermandois, Godfrey of Bouillon, Baldwin of Boulogne, Robert of Flanders, and Robert of Normandy. The papal legate was the Bishop of Le Puy, Adhmar. After a long, dangerous and hard journey, the First Crusaders finally reached Jerusalem in the summer of 1099 and took it. The final result of the First Crusade was the establishment of four Latin “states” or “kingdoms” in the Middle East the County of Edessa, the Principality of Antioch, the County of Tripoli and the Kingdom of Jerusalem. Jerusalem exercised a certain vague suzerainty over the other three. It is a curious fact that the capture of Jerusalem caused little stir in the Muslim world, and is scarcely mentioned in the Muslim chronicles of the time. It was not until later that the Muslims determined to take Jerusalem from the Christians a second time. Crusades of the 12th Century The Crusades of the 12th century, through the end of the Third Crusade in 1192, show the tensions and problems that plagued the enterprise as a whole. For the lords of Outremer a compromise with the residents and Muslim powers made sense; they could not live in constant warfare. And yet as European transplants they depended on soldiers and resources from the West, which were usually only forthcoming in times of open conflict. Rivalries at home were translated into factional quarrels in Outremer that limited any common policy among the states. Nor was the situation helped by the arrival of European princes and their followers, as happened when the Second and Third Crusades came East; European tensions and jealousies proved just as divisive in the East as they had been at home.There is little reason to think colonization had been encouraged by the pope, or by the Byzantine emperor. It seems a logical consequence of the Crusade’s success. Frankish nobles maintained links with their families at home, and they built lives and careers that spanned the Mediterranean. In town and countryside, daily life in the region did not go well. Military master was much like another. Christian lords had no plan for mass conversion of the natives or for any mistreatment to enforced migration. They wanted to keep their privileged position and to enjoy the lives of European nobles . As they settled in, they lost interest in any papal efforts at raising new military expeditions. They didn’t reach any real compromise with the Byzantine emperor about the reconquered territory that had once been his. Although the two groups of Christians had a common enemy, this was not a motive for cooperation between worlds with so little mutual regard. To the rulers of Muslim states a concerted military effort was imperative. The Franks were an affront to religious as well as to political and economic interests. The combination of zeal and luck that had enabled the Crusaders to triumph in 1099 evaporated in the face of such realities as the need to recruit and maintain soldiers who were loyal and effective. Islamic rulers turned almost at once to the offensive, though a major blow to Christian power did not come until 1144, when the Muslims recaptured Edessa, on the Euphrates River. The city of Edessa had guarded the back door of the Frankish holdings, which were mostly near the coast. This loss marked the beginning of the end of a viable Christian military bastion against Islam. News of the fall of Edessa reverberated throughout Europe, and the Second Crusade was called by Pope Eugenius III. Though the enthusiasm of 1095 was never again matched, a number of major figures joined the Second Crusade, including Holy Roman Emperor Conrad III and France’s King Louis VII. Conrad made the mistake of choosing the land route from Constantinople to the Holy Land and his army was decimated at Dorylaeum in Asia Minor. The French army was more fortunate, but it also suffered serious casualties during the journey, and only part of the original force reached Jerusalem in 1148. With a meeting with King Baldwin III of Jerusalem and his nobles, the Crusaders decided to attack Damascus in July. The expedition failed to take the city, and shortly after the collapse of this attack, the French king and the remains of his army returned home. The Second Crusade resulted in many Western casualties and no gains of value in Outremer. The only military gains during this period were made in what is now Portugal, where English troops, which had turned aside from the Second Crusade, helped free the city of Lisbon from the Moors.After the failure of the Second Crusade, it was not easy to see where future developments would lead. In the 1120s and 1130s the Military Religious Orders had been created to further the Crusading ideal by combining spirituality with the martial ideas of knighthood and chivalry. Men who joined the orders took vows of chastity and obedience patterned after those of monasticism. At the same time they were professional soldiers, willing to spend long periods in the East. The most famous were the Knights of St. John of Jerusalem, called Hospitalers, and the Poor Knights of Christ and of the Temple of Solomon, called Templars. These groups sent men to Outremer to protect Christian pilgrims and settlements in the east. This meant that the rulers in Outremer did not have to depend only on the huge but wayward armies led by princes. These orders of Crusading knights tried to mediate between the Church’s concerns and the more worldly interests of princes who saw the East as an extension of their own ambitions and dynastic policies.After the Second Crusade these orders began steadily to gain popularity and support. As they attracted men and wealth, and as the Crusading movement became part of the extended politics of Western Europe, the orders themselves became players in European politics. They established chapters throughout the West, both as recruiting bases and as a means to funnel money to the East; they built and fortified great castles; they sat on the councils of princes; and they too became rich and entrenched.In the years between the failure of the Second Crusade and 1170, when the Muslim prince Saladin came to power in Egypt, the Latin States were on the defensive but were able to maintain themselves. But in 1187 Saladin inflicted a major defeat on a combined army at Hattin and subsequently took Jerusalem. The situation had become dire. In response to the Church’s call for a new, major Crusade, three Western rulers undertook to lead their forces in person. These were Richard I, the Lion-Hearted of England, Philip II of France, and Frederick I, called Frederick Barbarossa, the Holy Roman Emperor. Known as the Third Crusade, it has become perhaps the most famous of all Crusades other than the First Crusade, though its role in legend and literature greatly outweighs its success or value.The three rulers were rivals. Richard and Philip had long been in conflict over the English holdings in France. Though English kings had inherited great fiefs in France, their homage to the French king was a constant source of trouble. Frederick Barbarossa, old and famous, died in 1189 on the way to the Holy Land, and most of his armies returned to Germany following his death. Philip II had been spurred into taking up the Crusade by a need to match his rivals, and he returned home in 1191 with little concern for Eastern glories. But Richard, a great soldier, was very much in his element. He saw an opportunity to campaign in the field, to establish links with the local nobility, and to speak as the voice of the Crusader states. Though he gained much glory, the Crusaders were unable to recapture Jerusalem or much of the former territory of the Latin Kingdom. They did succeed, however, in wrestling from Saladin control of a chain of cities along the Mediterranean coast. By October 1192, when Richard finally left the Holy Land, the Latin Kingdom had been reconstituted. Smaller than the original kingdom and considerably weaker militarily and economically, the second kingdom lasted precariously for another century. Crusades of the 13th Century After the disappointments of the Third Crusade, Western forces would never again threaten the real bases of Muslim power. From that point on, they were only able to gain access to Jerusalem through diplomacy, not arms.In 1199 Innocent III called for another Crusade to recapture Jerusalem. In preparation for this Crusade, the ruler of Venice agreed to transport French and Flemish Crusaders to the Holy Land. However, the Crusaders never fought the Muslims. Unable to pay the Venetians the amount agreed upon, they were forced to bargain with the Venetians. They agreed to take part in an attack on one of the Venetians’ rivals, Zara, a trading port on the Adriatic Sea, in the nearby Kingdom of Hungary. When Innocent III learned of the expedition, he excommunicated the participants, but the combined force captured Zara in 1202. The Venetians then persuaded the Crusaders to attack the Byzantine capital of Constantinople, which fell on April 13, 1204. For three days the Crusaders sacked the city. Subsequently the Venetians gained a monopoly on Byzantine trade. The Latin Empire of Constantinople was established, which lasted until the recapture of Constantinople by the Byzantine emperor in 1261. In addition, several new Crusader states sprang up in Greece and along the Black Sea. The Fourth Crusade did not even threaten the Muslim powers. Trade and commerce had triumphed, as Venice had hoped, but at the cost of irreparably widening the rift between the Eastern and Western churches.Crusades after the Fourth were not mass movements. They were military enterprises led by rulers moved by personal motives. Holy Roman Emperor Frederick II vowed to lead a Crusade in 1215, but for domestic political reasons postponed his departure. Under pressure from Pope Gregory IX, Frederick and his army finally sailed from Italy in August 1227, but returned to port within a few days because Frederick had fallen ill. The pope, outraged at this further delay, promptly excommunicated the emperor. Undaunted, Frederick embarked for the Holy Land in June 1228. There he conducted his unconventional Crusade almost entirely by diplomatic negotiations with the Egyptian sultan. These negotiations produced a peace treaty by which the Egyptians restored Jerusalem to the Crusaders and guaranteed a ten-year respite from hostilities. However, Frederick was ridiculed in Europe for using diplomacy rather than the sword.In 1248 Louis IX, Saint Louis of France, decided that his obligations as a son of the Church outweighed those of his throne, and he left his kingdom for a six-year adventure. Since the base of Muslim power had shifted to Egypt, Louis did not even march on the Holy Land; any war against Islam now fit the definition of a Crusade. Louis and his followers landed in Egypt on June 5, 1249, and the following day captured Damietta. The next phase of their campaign, an attack on Cairo in the spring of 1250, proved to be a catastrophe. The Crusaders failed to guard their flanks, and as a result the Egyptians retained control over the water reservoirs along the Nile. By opening the sluice gates, they created floods that trapped the whole Crusading army, and Louis was forced to surrender in April 1250. After paying an enormous ransom and surrendering Damietta, Louis sailed to Palestine, where he spent four years building fortifications and strengthening the defenses of the Latin Kingdom. In the spring of 1254 he and his army returned to France.

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