The Crusades of the 11th-13th centuries

The Crusades of the 11th-13th centuries

The growth of the political influence of the papacy was particularly evident in the organization of the Crusades to the East. At the end of the XI century. Christian pilgrims lost the opportunity to freely pilgrimage to the Holy Sepulcher in Jerusalem, because the city was captured by the Seljuk Turks who professed Islam. The Byzantine Emperor Alexei I Comnenus appealed to the Pope for help in the struggle against the new enemies of Christians.

In November 1095, Pope Urban II convened in the French city of Clermont the Church Council. At the end, he delivered a speech in which he urged Christians to take up arms and win the Holy Sepulcher from the “infidels”. All participants of the campaign were promised absolution, and the souls of the victims – a direct road to

heaven. The appeal of the pope found a sincere response in the souls of those gathered. With exclamations of “This God wants!” they began to tear the cloth and sew crosses on their clothes. Hence the name “Crusaders”. In total, from 1096 to 1270, the Eight Crusades took place.

In the spring of 1096, the troops of the French and German peasants were the first to go on a campaign. They went with their families. Unorganized, almost unarmed crowds of people and numerous carts filled the roads. It was a hungry, chaotic, half-naked crowd, and absolutely not combat-ready. The road to the peasants was joined by beggars and robbers. To somehow survive, the participants of this campaign tried to procure food and clothing by looting and pogroms, during which many Jews died. After going a long way, the poor people finally arrived in Constantinople. The Byzantines sent these poor warriors through the Bosporus to Asia Minor, where in the first battle they were interred by the Turks.

XII cent. Abbot Guyber Nozhansky about the peasant crusade

… None of the poor people thought about the lack of funds and the difficulties of such a path. Everyone left his house, vineyard, his inheritance, sold them for a scanty price and gladly went on a campaign…

An incredibly touching sight were these poor

crusaders: they shod the bulls like horses, harnessed them into two-wheeled carts and attached their poor possessions and small children to them. On the way, having seen some castle, the city, the children stretched out their hands and asked: “Is not this the Jerusalem to which we are going?”

In the autumn of 1096 knight detachments arrived in Constantinople. In total, almost 100,000 well-armed soldiers took part in the First Crusade. Having crossed the Byzantines to Asia Minor, the Knights-Crusaders inflicted several blows on the Turks and in the summer of 1099, after 5 weeks of exhausting assault, broke into Jerusalem. The winners severely plundered the city and committed a terrible massacre. Tens of thousands of Muslims and Jews were exterminated. As an eyewitness testifies, the crusaders were atrocities in Jerusalem in such a way that “the blood reached the knees of a knight sitting on a horse”.

XI century. From the chronicle of Fulcher of Chartres “The Jerusalem story” about the capture of Jerusalem

Swords reveal, francs are wandering around the city.
They do not spare anybody, even those
who ask for mercy… The
people have lost their faith under their blows,
How the acorns fall from the rotten oak,
When their branches are shaking.

As a result of the conquests, the Crusaders took possession of a significant part of the Eastern Mediterranean. On these lands they formed four states. The main role among them was played by the Kingdom of Jerusalem.

Throughout 1147-1149 years. The Second Crusade took place. It was attended by the French King Louis VII and the German Emperor Conrad III. However, their armies were defeated.

In the second half of the 12th century. Leadership in the Muslim world passed to the Sultan of Egypt, talented commander Salahad-Din. He recaptured large territories from the Crusaders and conquered Jerusalem. This was the reason for the Third Crusade of 1189-1192. It was attended by the German Emperor Frederick I of Barbarossa, the French King Philip II Augustus and the English King Richard the Lionheart. But, despite the number of crowned individuals, this campaign was also unsuccessful. During the crossing of the mountain river in Syria, Friedrich Barbarossa drowned. Philip II Augustus and Richard the Lionheart quarreled among themselves, and the French returned home. The English king tried to take Jerusalem, but without success. Returning to Europe, Richard the Lionheart was captured by the Austrian Duke. Unfortunately, and the Third Crusade did not lead to the desired goal of the liberation of Jerusalem. On the contrary, it has aggravated relations between European states.

During the Fourth Crusade the Crusaders seized and plundered Constantinople.

In the XIII century. Four More crusades were organized, but in scale they could not compete with previous ones.

Failures of the Crusaders in the fight against the “infidels” gave rise to rumors that only innocent children can liberate Jerusalem, the idea of ​​a children’s crusade arose. In the summer of 1212, 10,000 children from different regions of France gathered in Marseilles. They were headed by a 12-year-old shepherd named Etienne. Young Crusaders were to go to the east by sea. However, some of the children died during the storm, and the rest of the shipowners were sold into slavery in Egypt. Another army of crusader teenagers, mostly from Germany, led by 10-year-old Nicholas gathered in the south of Italy. They wanted to board a ship, but they were detained by a local bishop. Almost all the children died on the way back from hunger and disease.

Although the political goal was not achieved, the crusades deeply and comprehensively influenced the life of European society. They brought unprecedented calamities, the death of thousands of people, the destruction of cultural monuments and the growing hostility of the West and the Muslim East. On the other hand, due to wars, contacts with the countries of the East expanded. European merchants have mastered new trade routes, people began to consume more spices, sugar, cultivate lemons, apricots, buckwheat. From the Arab world to Europe came a refined Indian game – chess. New elements of hygiene entered the European way of life: visit baths, wash with hot water and soap, change clothes regularly. True, this cultural upsurge could be achieved not at the cost of blood. War is not the best way to adopt a positive experience.

Church cathedrals are a meeting of the higher clergy within the state or the whole church.


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The Crusades of the 11th-13th centuries