The Crusades were a series of religious and political wars fought between the 11th and 15th centuries, mainly between Western European Christians and Muslims.
The aim of these wars, initially, was to capture Jerusalem and the Holy Land, which were significant to both religions. However, the objective later expanded to include other territories and political goals.
The Crusades were characterized by periods of intense and brutal warfare, often interspersed with periods of truce and negotiation.
The Crusades were prompted by the Seljuk Turks’ defeat of the Byzantine Army in 1071 at the Battle of Manzikert and their subsequent takeover of Jerusalem.
Also Read: Facts About the Crusades
In 1095, Pope Urban II called for a Crusade to reclaim the Holy Land from the Muslims. This resulted in the First Crusade (1096-1099) and was followed by numerous other Crusades.
While the Crusades are generally numbered, this doesn’t cover the full extent of the Crusading movement. There were other lesser-known or “minor” Crusades and related campaigns happening concurrently, including the Northern Crusades in the Baltics and the Albigensian Crusade against the Cathars in southern France.
The Crusades had significant impacts on the world, particularly on the Middle East and Western Europe. They were a time of great violence and conflict, but also of cultural exchange and learning that reshaped the civilizations on both sides of the conflict.
The Crusades left a lasting legacy, and the effects of these conflicts can still be felt today.
|First Crusade||1096-1099||Pope Urban II calls for a Crusade (1095). The main Crusading force arrives in Constantinople and begins its journey across Anatolia (1097). The Crusaders capture Antioch (1098). The Crusaders capture Jerusalem (1099).|
|Second Crusade||1147-1149||Pope Eugenius III issues a call to crusade (1145). Crusaders suffer defeat at Dorylaeum (1147). The Crusaders fail to capture Damascus (1148).|
|Third Crusade||1189-1192||Saladin captures Jerusalem (1187). Frederick I Barbarossa, Richard I the Lionheart, and Philip II Augustus leave Europe to retake Jerusalem (1189). Richard I captures the city of Acre; Philip II returns to France (1191). Richard I and Saladin sign the Treaty of Jaffa (1192).|
|Fourth Crusade||1202-1204||Crusaders assemble at Venice (1202). The Crusaders sack Constantinople (1204).|
|Fifth Crusade||1217-1221||Crusaders set off for the Holy Land (1217). Crusaders lay siege to the Egyptian city of Damietta (1218-1219). The Crusaders are forced to surrender (1221).|
|Sixth Crusade||1228-1229||The Holy Roman Emperor Frederick II embarks on the Crusade (1228). The Crusade successfully results in a treaty by which Jerusalem, Bethlehem, and a pilgrimage route to these places come under Christian control (1229).|
|Seventh Crusade||1248-1254||Louis IX of France launches the Crusade (1248). Louis IX is captured during an unsuccessful attack on Egypt (1250). Louis IX abandons the Crusade (1254).|
|Eighth Crusade||1270||Louis IX launches another Crusade, landing in Tunisia. Louis IX dies soon after landing and the Crusade fails (1270).|
|Ninth Crusade||1271-1272||Edward I of England sets out on the Crusade (1271). Edward I returns to England due to domestic issues, marking the end of the major Crusades (1272).|
Timeline of the Crusades
First Crusade (1096-1099)
- 1095: Pope Urban II calls for a Crusade at the Council of Clermont to help the Byzantine Empire, which was under attack by Muslim Seljuk Turks. The main goal was to recapture the Holy Land (Jerusalem) from Muslim control. He promised all participants that their sins would be absolved.
- 1096: A poorly organized “People’s Crusade,” led by Peter the Hermit, sets off ahead of the main Crusading force and is quickly crushed by the Seljuk Turks. Later in the same year, the main Crusader armies, made up of soldiers and knights from across Europe, begin their journey eastward.
- 1097: The main Crusading force arrives in Constantinople and begins its journey across Anatolia, winning a significant victory against the Turks at the Battle of Dorylaeum.
- 1098: After a lengthy siege, the Crusaders capture the city of Antioch. They then withstand a counter-attack by Muslim forces.
- 1099: The Crusaders reach Jerusalem and after a siege, they capture the city. Following the capture, they commit a mass slaughter of Jerusalem’s Muslim and Jewish inhabitants. The Kingdom of Jerusalem is established, marking the end of the First Crusade.
Second Crusade (1147-1149)
- 1145: Pope Eugenius III issues a call to crusade after the fall of the County of Edessa, one of the Crusader states established during the First Crusade, to the Seljuk Turks.
- 1147: Crusaders, including forces led by Louis VII of France and Conrad III of Germany, set off from Europe. The same year, the Portuguese, with help from English Crusaders, successfully capture Lisbon from the Muslims.
- 1148: The Crusaders decide to attack Damascus, a former ally, but the siege ends in a decisive Muslim victory.
- 1149: The Second Crusade ends in failure. The Muslim power in the East remains undiminished, and the relations among the Christian powers are worsened.
Third Crusade (1189-1192)
- 1187: Saladin, the Muslim leader, captures Jerusalem. This triggers the launch of the Third Crusade.
- 1189: Frederick I Barbarossa (Holy Roman Empire), Richard I the Lionheart (England), and Philip II Augustus (France) leave Europe to retake Jerusalem. The same year, Frederick drowns in a river, leading to the disintegration of the German army.
- 1191: Richard I captures the city of Acre following a lengthy siege. Disputes lead to Philip II returning to France, leaving Richard in control of the Christian forces in the Holy Land.
- 1192: After several battles and negotiations with Saladin, Richard I signs the Treaty of Jaffa. The treaty stipulates that Jerusalem will remain under Muslim control but will be open to Christian pilgrimages. The coastland from Tyre to Jaffa would be held by the Crusaders. The end of the Third Crusade effectively leaves the political situation much as it was before the Crusade.
Fourth Crusade (1202-1204)
- 1198: Pope Innocent III calls for a Crusade to the Holy Land to recapture Jerusalem. However, the Crusaders lack the resources to fulfill their original goal.
- 1202: Crusaders assemble at Venice, planning to reach the Holy Land via Egypt. The Crusaders lack funds to pay the Venetians for a fleet, so a bargain is struck to capture the Christian city of Zara (Zadar) on the Dalmatian coast, which had rebelled against Venetian control.
- 1203: Under the influence of Byzantine prince Alexios Angelos, who offered help to get to Jerusalem, the Crusaders divert their mission to Constantinople to place him on the throne. The Crusaders place Alexios on the throne as Alexios IV along with blinded Alexios III.
- 1204: After Alexios IV is strangled in a palace coup, the Crusaders feel betrayed. The Crusaders sack Constantinople, devastating one of the great cities of Christendom, and establishing the Latin Empire of Constantinople. This deepens the divide between the Eastern Orthodox and Roman Catholic churches.
Fifth Crusade (1217-1221)
- 1215: The Fourth Lateran Council, called by Pope Innocent III, plans for another crusade, which would be led by King Andrew II of Hungary and Leopold VI, Duke of Austria.
- 1217: The first armies of the Fifth Crusade depart for the Holy Land. They conquer the Ayyubid fortress of Damietta in Egypt.
- 1219: Francis of Assisi arrives and tries (unsuccessfully) to convert Sultan Al-Kamil, the Ayyubid Sultan of Egypt.
- 1221: After an unsuccessful march to Cairo, the Crusaders are surrounded and defeated. The Nile floods prevent their retreat, and they are forced to surrender and return Damietta to Al-Kamil as part of the surrender terms.
Sixth Crusade (1228-1229)
- 1225: Holy Roman Emperor Frederick II vows to embark on a Crusade as part of his coronation oath.
- 1228: Ignoring Papal opposition, Frederick sets out on the Crusade, not with an army but a diplomatic mission.
- 1229: Through diplomacy and negotiation with Sultan Al-Kamil, who was having a civil war with his brother, Frederick manages to gain control of Jerusalem, Nazareth, and Bethlehem. The treaty signed stipulated these territories would remain in Christian hands for a period of ten years. This success is achieved without a major battle, marking the Sixth Crusade as unique among the Crusades.
Seventh Crusade (1248-1254)
- 1244: Jerusalem falls to the Khwarazmian Turks, leading to calls for another Crusade.
- 1248: Louis IX of France launches the Seventh Crusade, deciding to attack Egypt, the center of Muslim power in the Levant. He leaves from the newly constructed port of Aigues-Mortes in southern France.
- 1250: Louis IX is captured during an unsuccessful attack on Egypt. The French army is defeated at Al Mansurah and King Louis IX is taken prisoner. He is later ransomed for 400,000 dinars.
- 1254: Louis IX abandons the Crusade after spending four years in the Holy Land strengthening the defenses of the Crusader states and building fortresses.
Eighth Crusade (1270)
- 1270: Louis IX launches another Crusade, despite his previous capture and the failures of his earlier venture. He decides to land in Tunisia, likely with the goal of later moving to Egypt.
- 1270: The Crusader army suffers from disease, possibly dysentery or plague, and Louis IX dies. His brother Charles of Anjou arrives to take command, but decides to negotiate a peace with the Emir of Tunis. The Crusade ends without any significant victories or conquests.
Ninth Crusade (1271-1272)
- 1271: Edward I of England sets out on what is considered the last official Crusade, aiming to stop Baibars, the Sultan of Egypt and Syria who had been very successful in his campaigns against the Crusader states.
- 1271: Edward I arrives in Acre, the last major Crusader stronghold, and conducts raids against the Muslims to try and weaken their forces.
- 1272: Edward I survives an assassination attempt, thought to have been orchestrated by a member of the Assassins, a secretive Islamic sect. He then negotiates a 10-year truce with Baibars, before returning to England due to domestic issues, marking the end of the major Crusades.