The Crusades The Quest For Holy Land

The Crusades: The Quest For Holy Land Essay, Research Paper The Crusades: The Quest for Holy Land Of course you have heard of the crusades, who hasn t. The crusades were military expeditions launched

The Crusades: The Quest For Holy Land Essay, Research Paper

The Crusades: The Quest for Holy Land

Of course you have heard of the crusades, who

hasn t. The crusades were military expeditions launched

against the Muslims by the Christians in an attempt to

regain the Holy Land. They took place between 1095 A.D. and

1270 A.D. It was one of the most violent periods in the

history of mankind.

The start of the great crusades was on November 18,

1095 A.D., when Pope Urban II opened the Council of

Clermont. On November 27, outside the French city of

Clermont, the Pope made an important speech. He called upon

everyone to help the Christians in the east to regain peace.

The crowd’s response was very positive and pro peace. The

original object of the First Crusade was to help out the

Christian churches in the east (Mayer 41). The new goal,

became to free the Holy Land from Muslim control, especially


Pope Urban II stayed in France until September 1096,

to provide leadership and guidance for the members of the

First Crusade(42). He urged churchmen to preach the cross

in France. Urban wanted the crusading army to be mostly

made up of knights and other military personnel. Since the

news of his speech at Clermont spread through the west,

people from all social classes and occupations joined the

Crusade. As a result of Urban losing control of personnel,

violence was launched against the Jews of northern France.

This violence was mostly instigated by bands of the urban

and rural men led by men like Peter the Hermit and Walter


These groups lacked supplies and discipline. They

attempted to reach Constantinople but most of them never got

that far. The leaders in lands which they passed through

were frightened and killed many of the crusading groups.

Some did get to Constantinople and traveled across the

Bosphorus in August 1096(Encarta Online). There, they split

into two groups. One tried to overtake Nicaea and was

unsuccessful. The other was ambushed and slaughtered near

Civetot, in October. The remaining crusaders retreated to

Constantinople and joined the second wave of the Crusade.

The crusaders were eager to start the journey to

Jerusalem but they needed to capture the Anatolian Turkish

capital of Nicaea first because it blocked the road that

would be their main supply route(Permoud 33). It was held

by Seljuk Turks. In May 1097, the crusaders attacked

Nicaea. The Turks realized that they were defeated and

agreed to give the city to the Byzantines in exchange for

the lives of their men. The Byzantines agreed to this and

on June 18, Nicaea was under Byzantine control (Runciman

116). The leaders of the crusade disagreed and wanted to

slaughter the Turks because they were enemies of Christ. On

June 30, 1097, the crusaders were ambushed at the city of

Dorylaeum by Seljuk Turks led by Kilij Arslam, the Seljuk

Sultan(Mayer 50). The fight continued until July 1. The

crusaders won a big victory and nearly wiped out the Turkish

force. This victory opened up the way to Anatolia.

The crusaders attacked Anitoch in northern Syria on

October 21, 1097(Encarta Online). This was the main

obstacle on the road to Jerusalem. In a long and gruesome

battle, the city finally fell on June 2, 1098 (Encarta

Online). The crusaders were quickly attacked by a new

Turkish army from Al Mawsil. They arrived too late to revive

Anitoch’s Turkish defenders and they were forced to retreat

on June 28 (The Crusades).

The starting date for the march to Jerusalem was set

for November 1, 1098, but was delayed by an epidemic, and

also because of fighting to the south of Anitoch. On

January 13, 1099 the commander-in-chief, Count Raymond IV

of Toulouse, led the crusaders’ march to Jerusalem. They

avoided attacks on cities to conserve forces. In May 1099

they reached the northern border of Palestine. On June 7

they camped on the top of a hill where they could see

Jerusalem. Many soldiers were so happy they cried.

Jerusalem was well protected and only vulnerable from

the north and the southwest. On June 13, they tried to

storm Jerusalem but were defeated because of a lack of

supplies. Extreme heat and a water shortage lowered morale.

A priest called Peter Desiderius told them that if they

fasted and held a procession around the walls of Jerusalem

with devotion, the city would be theirs within nine days.

The crusaders did this and, when they completed building

three mini castles, they assaulted Jerusalem on July 13.

There was a frenzy of killing as everyone was hacked down.

The governor and his staff were the only Muslims to escape


After the First Crusade, four Levant states were

established: Jerusalem, Tripoli, Anitoch, and Edessa. The

success of this crusade was due to the weakness of the

Muslim powers.

The Muslim reunification started in the Middle East

under Imad ad-Din Zengi. The Muslims got their first great

victory versus the crusaders when they captured Edessa, in

1144, and destroyed the crusader state in that region

(Encarta Online). This led to the Second Crusade, which was

proclaimed late in 1145(Encarta). Many people joined the

crusade, including the King Louis VII of France and the holy

Roman emperor, Conrad III(Pernoud 7).

Conrad’s army left Nuremberg, Germany for Jerusalem

in May 1147. A few weeks later the French army set out for

Metz(Mayer 104). The Germans tried to cross central

Anatolia in October, but the Seljuks defeated them near

Dorylaeum. The survivors fled to Nicaea. The other German

contingent, led by Otto of Freising, was defeated by Turks

at Ladoicea. The remaining crusaders fled to the coast of

Pamphylia and were slaughtered in February 1148. Few

survivors finished the trip to Syria by ship.

The French army had reached Constantinople on

October 4, 1147. The French then journeyed through

Byzantine territory in west Asia Minor. The Turks destroyed

most of them, but the French king,the German Emperor, and

some knights survived and traveled by ship to Outremer from

Antalya on the southern coast of Asia Minor. Zengi had

died before the crusaders arrived so his sons took control;

Saif al-Din in Mosul, and Nur al-Din in Aleppo. Joescelin

II, the Frankish count of Edessa, took advantage of Zengi’s

death and tried to regain his capital, but Nur al-Din

massacred the Edessan population and retook it.

On June 24, 1148, the High Court of Jerusalem met at

Palmarea near Acre(Encarta Online). The decision was made

to attack Damascus, since Edessa wasn t war objective

anymore. On July 24, they camped along the west side of

Damascus. The Palestinian barons convinced the two kings

that the orchards on the west were making the attack

difficult, so they moved to the southeast. They couldn’t

stay very long in the southeast because it was very open and

hot. On that same day, they took back their army. The

Second Crusade had failed miserably. Saladin took control

of the Muslims when Nur al-Din died on May 15, 1174 in

Damascus. In 1180, he joined forces with the Anatolian

Seljuk sultan, Kilij Arslan II. Saladin stopped the

unification of Aleppo and Mosul in 1182, brought Aleppo

under his control in 1183, and made a four year truce with

the Franks in 1185 after invading Palestine in 1183(Mayer

126). Reynald of Ch tillon, leader of the Franks, broke

the truce when he heard of a rich caravan of unarmed

merchants traveling on the east bank of Jordan. In

retaliation, Saladin invaded Palestine in 1187. The Franks

got their forces together to withstand Saladin at Zippori.

On July 4, Saladin defeated the Latin army at Hattin

in Galilee. Jerusalem surrendered on October 2(Pernoud 8).

On October 29, 1187, Pope Gregory VIII, who succeeded Pope

Urban II after he died from shock of the defeat at Hattin,

declared the Third Crusade(Mayer 136). Three major European

monarches joined: the holy Roman Emperor, Frederick I, the

French King, Philip II, and the English King, Richard I. It

was the largest force of crusaders since 1095. Frederick

died in Anitoch along with many others as a result of an

disease. Most of his army returned to Germany. Philip and

Richard reached Palestine but couldn’t regain Jerusalem.

Many cities along the Mediterranean coast were freed from

Saladin’s control. On July 12, 1191 Acre surrendered to the

Christians. Richard left the Holy Land on October 9, 1192.

The Latin Kingdom had been restored.

In 1198, Pope Innocent III proclaimed a Fourth

Crusade(Mayer 183). In April 1202, the crusaders asked the

Venetians for transport because they overestimated the

number of people who would sail. The Venetians agreed to

postpone the payment due to them if the crusaders helped

them recapture Zara which had been taken from them by

Hungary. The leaders of the crusade had no other choice.

Some protested, saying that an attack on a Christian city is

a sin. On November 24, Zara was captured(Mayer 187). On

June 24, 1203, the fleet anchored at Chalcedon, and on July

17, Constantinople was attacked from sea and land. Emperor

Alexius III fled in fear. Isaac II Angelus and his son

Alexius IV became co-emperors. In a revolt in January 1204,

both were murdered. Alexius V Ducas Murzuphlus became

emperor. On April 12, 1204, they stormed the city and took

control of the walls. On April 14, Constantinople was

captured (Mayer 191). The Crusaders and Venetians murdered

and looted for three days. Afterwards, the crusaders

started their own empire in the Byzantine ruins with a

Catholic religion, French speech, and Italian commercial


The Children’s Crusade of 1212 began in Rhineland and

Lower Lorraine. In the spring, large crowds of children

gathered there. The leader was a boy named Nicholas from

Cologne(Mayer 203). The goal of this crusade was to capture

the Holy Land. The French King persuaded a large group of

French children to return home. The group led by Nicholas

reached Genoa on August 25. They expected God to allow them

to walk across the sea but that didn’t happen. What

happened after that is a mystery.

In 1213,Innocent III opened a new crusade. He had no

doubt about the Fifth Crusade because the Book of

Revelations said that Islam would last less than 666 years.

It started in 622 A.D. so they thought it would end by 1288

A.D. Innocent III died on July 16, 1216 and Honorlus III

became his successor(Mayer 209). He was dedicated to the

crusade but lacked the political strength and energy of

Innocent III. In return for the capture of Zara during the

Fourth Crusade , the Venetians agreed to transport the

Hungarian army. The crusaders arrived at Acre in May 1218.

Egypt was now the target. If they could get it, all of

southern Palestine could be easily attained. On May 29,

1218, the fleet anchored off shore and the army was placed

on the west bank of the Nile. The crusaders overtook a

tower protecting Damietta. Instead of attacking Damietta,

the crusaders waited for reinforcements. Saladin’s nephew,

Sultan al-Kamil, attacked the crusader camp but was

defeated. In September al-Kamil offered Jerusalem,

Palestine, Galilee, and the return of the true cross if the

Christians evacuated Egypt. Cardinal Pelagius, leader of

the Christian army, rejected the offer. He didn’t want to

come to terms with the Muslims. On November 5, 1219,

Damietta was captured (Mayer 214). In August 1221, the

Crusaders attacked the Egyptians but were forced to

surrender Damitetta.

Emperor Frederick II took up the Sixth Crusade in

1215(Mayer 219). Political problems in the west kept him

from joining. He wanted to boost his appearance by

regaining the Holy Land. Pope Gregory IX excommunicated him

in 1227 when his journey was delayed more because of an

illness(Pernoud 10). He finally left for the Holy Land in

June 1228. In February 1229, Sultan al-Kamil surrendered

Jerusalem because he was afraid of Frederick’s

expedition(Pernoud 10). A ten year truce was agreed upon.

No blood was shed during this peaceful, political crusade.

King Louis IX of France organized the Seventh Crusade

after the Muslims recaptured Jerusalem in 1244. Louis spent

four years planning, and at the end of August 1248, Louis

and his army sailed to Cyprus(Pernoud 10). The army spent

the winter in Cyprus while waiting for reinforcements. The

fleet left at the end of May and stopped off at Damietta on

June 5, 1249. On June 6, the citizens of Damietta evacuated

in a panic. The crusaders spent the summer in Damietta

waiting for reinforcements. On November 20, 1249, the army

started to march to Cairo(Pernoud 10). In the spring of

1250, they attacked Cairo. Louis surrendered to the

Egyptians in April 1250. Damietta was given up and a ransom

was paid.

As you can see, the crusades were one of the most

violent periods of time. Throughout the Crusades the

crusaders lost focus of their original objective, which was

to promote christianity while regaining the holy land. In

the end they not only promoted christianity, they promoted