Overview and Analysis of the CrusadesThe Crusades were military expeditions planned and carried out by westernEuropean Christians. The crusades started around 1095. The purpose of thesecrusades was to overtake and gain control of the Holy Land from the Muslims.
TheHoly Land was Jerusalem and the Christians believed that gaining control of itwas their fate. The pope would gather the people together and incite them. Theorigin of the crusades was a result of the expanding Turks in the middle east.These Turkish forces invaded Byzantium, a Christian empire. The crusaders were amilitia, sent out to recover what they thought was theirs.The first crusade was essentially started by Pope Urban II. On November 27, 1095,he gathered his followers outside the French city of Clermont-Ferrand. Hepreached to these people and told them that action needed to be taken.
Inresponse, the people cheered and planned their attack. Urban II brought togetherall of the bishops and urged them to talk to their friends and fellow villagersand to encourage them to participate in the crusades. Small groups started toform and each group would be self- directing. All the groups planned their ownways to the Constantinople, where they would meet and regroup.
They would attackthe Turkish forces in Constantinople and hope to regain control of the city.The large Christian armies talked to Alexius I Comnenus, the Byzantium emperor,and agreed to return any of his old land that was recaptured. The armies wereskeptical of this demand but agreed anyway. The first attack by the crusaderswas on Anatolian, the Turkish capital. Meanwhile the Byzantians were also tryingto recapture Anatolian, and later that year, the city surrendered to theByzantians instead of the crusaders. The Byzantians were using the crusaders aspawns to achieve their own goals. The crusaders again met and crushed theTurkish army.
The crusaders scored a great victory and boosted the troops’ moral.The crusaders captured Antioch and also held off relief forces sent to help theTurks. The crusaders then moved on to their main goal-Jerusalem!The city was under Egyptian control and was heavily guarded. The crusaders setup siege machines and called for reinforcements, finally forcing the Egyptiansto surrender. Everyone in the city was massacred in the belief that the blood ofthe former holders purified it. The crusaders kept control of the city for thenext generation or so and brought in people to inhabit the Holy Land. Slowly theMuslim forces started to rebuild and soon came back to take the Holy Land.
After the defeat of the Egyptians in Jerusalem, the crusaders started tocolonize. The Latin colonists set up four states: Tripoli, which was on theSyrian coast, Antioch, centered near the Orontes Valley, Edessa, a far eaststate which held most of the Christians, and the Latin Kingdom of Jerusalem, themost powerful and centered between the other three states. The crusaders’strategy during the first crusade was to isolate the Muslims and Egyptians, andto cut off any supplies or reinforcements from strengthening their status. Oncethe original generation of crusaders died, their children were not as determined.
They forgot about the Muslims that had escaped, and because of that, the Muslimshad a new leader and were regaining power. Under their leader, Imad ad-Din, theMuslims regrouped and planned their attack against the colonies. After thepassing of Imad ad-Din, a new radical leader emerged-Zangi. Zangi led his troopsto a victory against the crusaders and their colonies by capturing the state ofEdessa. The Muslims destroyed the Christians churches, buildings, and killed thecrusaders. Back home, the Pope saw what was happening and declared a secondcrusade to recapture the territory that had been lost. King Louis VII, fromFrance, set out to meet Conrad III army.
The Holy Roman Emperor, Conrad III, setout from Germany and soon met up with Louis’ men. With their armies, they leftfrom their homeland to meet in Jerusalem. Conrad’s army began their voyage, onlyto be ambushed. Afterwards, their supplies and cavalry were drastically depleted.The better half of the French army reached Jerusalem and met up with the smallremains of the Germans and the old crusaders. Together they ventured to Damascus,but failed to take the city and were badly defeated. The French army and kinghad had enough and returned home.
The small remnants of the Germans stayed withthe colonies, along with the old crusaders. Slowly but surely, the states thecrusaders had set up were systematically being destroyed. The failure of thesecond crusade brought on the third crusade.
The Muslims had named a new leader, Nur ad-Din, who regrouped the Muslims andmotivated them to take back what believed was theirs. Their leader died a fewyears later, and was succeeded by their military leader, Saladin. In 1187,Saladin took his now revived and recuperated army to recapture Jerusalem. InJuly, he crushed the crusaders front line army in Galilee. Saladin then led histroops throughout the area of Jerusalem and finally took Jerusalem in earlyOctober. This led to Pope Gregory VIII starting a third crusade. The people inthe west knew that their time had come to defeat the Muslims once and for all.
Included in the ranks of men going on the crusade were Fredick I, the Romanemperor; Philip II, the French king; and Richard I, of England. These forceswere thought to be one of the most powerful armies assembled during the middleages. Again, this crusade suffered misfortune. On his journey to Jerusalem, theRoman emperor died, and his army accompanied the body back home for burial. Evenwith the size of Richard’s and Frederick’s remaining armies, they were not ableto recapture Jerusalem.
When the armies left Jerusalem and its surrounding areasto return home, they accomplished none of their goals.Since none of the following crusades were successful or even important, not muchis known about them. The later crusades also provided almost nothing for theChristians therefore much time and money was wasted on them.I have several thoughts on the crusades. The first crusade was the mostmemorable. It was the most successful one, with a minimal amount of casualties.Its execution reflected well on the leaders. The Muslims and Turks were taken bysurprise.
They did not expect the Christians to bring such a force or such toJerusalem. Later crusades were anticipated by the Muslims and very predictable.After the Muslims won control, the Christians initiated a new crusade within 10years or so, with the full force unable to reach Jerusalem. I think the peoplewere more pleased with the first crusade not only because of the outcome butbecause it was a new idea to the Christian faith. Christian philosophy did notespouse, “if there is something you want, take it forcefully.” The crusades alsooffered the Christians a chance to vent their anger towards Jerusalem’spossessors.
It established a routine and thereby structure for their lives.Towards the end of the second or the third crusade, the common folk werebecoming angry with the Pope and kings for their lack of results. Monies wentinto the preparation of the crusades with minimal return. The first crusade seta great example for the others, yet the next crusades didn’t follow the samepath. The later crusades lacked organization. No one wanted to provideleadership due to the uncertain outcome.
Leadership demonstrated in later yearswas from Stephen and Nicholas in the Children’s Crusade, however unfortunatelyyoung children were used in combat. This was a reflection of the moral characteror lack of it, in their leaders and subsequently contributed to their failure.