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  • It was the most brutal war in history.

  • Countless lives were lost; entire cities were reduced to rubble.

  • Christendom waged war on Islam.

  • Members of the two religions slaughtered each other in some of the most bloody battles in

  • history.

  • The Crusades lasted almost 200 years, and would have lasting effects on Europe and the

  • Middle East to this day.

  • This was an all out war dedicated to the glory of God, and reclaiming the Holy Land.

  • The Crusades is the name give to the series of campaigns Chirstians carried out to reclaim

  • the Holy Land from the Muslim empires.

  • It is important to note that both religions view this area of the world as holy, and important

  • to their religion, because they worship the same God.

  • They also share many of the same prophets, but the Crusades were fought in the name of

  • the same God on both sides.

  • So, perhaps if each side spent a little more time learning about the other's culture,

  • 200 years of war could have been avoided.

  • But that's just a thought.

  • The First Crusade started in November of 1095 when Urban II called on Christians to take

  • up arms and regain control of the Holy Land from the Muslims.

  • This was a battle that the Byzantines and Christians from Eastern Europe were already

  • fighting.

  • The call to reclaim the Holy Land was met with a flood of support; knights and soldiers

  • were willing to give their lives for the Church.

  • The First Crusade had begun.

  • Four main armies were formed and led by Raymond of Saint-Gilles, Godfrey of Bouillon, Hugh

  • of Vermandois, and Bohemond of Taranto.

  • In August of 1096 they began marching to the Holy Land.

  • There was also a ragtag bunch of less organized people that left for the Holy Land just before

  • the main armies.

  • They could not contain their desire to take back what was rightfully Christian land.

  • This disorganized army was called thePeople's Crusade,” and was led by a popular preacher

  • of the time known as Peter the Hermit.

  • Peter ignored the advice of well trained generals and knights that suggested he wait for the

  • main forces to arrive.

  • Instead, Peter led his People's Crusade into Muslim territory, and his entire army

  • was crushed by Turkish forces at Cibotus.

  • It was a humiliating defeat, and senseless waste of life.

  • When the main armies reached Constantinople, Alexius I, the emperor of the Byzantine Empire

  • at the time, declared that the Crusader leaders must swear an oath of loyalty to him, and

  • recognize his authority over any lands they conquer.

  • All of the leaders of the armies resisted this order, except for Godfrey of Bouillon.

  • The Crusaders felt that land claimed during this Holy War belonged to the victors, not

  • an emperor who hid behind the walls of his city.

  • It was clear that Alexius and the Crusdaders from the west would need to combine forces

  • in order to reclaim the Holy Land from Muslim control, so a compromise was made.

  • The Byzantine and western European armies marched into Muslim territory and attacked

  • Nicea.

  • They laid siege to the city, which surrendered to the Crusader forces in late June of 1097.

  • Tensions were still high between the Crusaders and their Byzantine allies, but they continued

  • on knowing that the only way they could secure their next victory of capturing the Syrian

  • city of Antioch, was by working together.

  • Control of Antioch was necessary in order for the Crusaders to continue onto their main

  • goal, Jerusalem.

  • The purpose of this holy war was to reclaim Jerusalem for Christendom, anything less would

  • be a failure.

  • The battle of Antioch caused losses on both sides, but eventually the city fell to the

  • Crusaders.

  • They were still squabbling over the right to control land with the Byzantines, but their

  • goal was in sight.

  • Bohemond, whose army had actually captured the city claimed it for himself.

  • However, Raymond of Saint-Gilles felt it should be given to the emperor.

  • Neither leader could come to an agreement.

  • As a result, the rest of the Christian forces marched on towards Jerusalem, while Bohemond

  • and Raymond stayed in Antioch fighting with one another.

  • The Crusaders finally reached their destination and invaded the city of Jerusalem.

  • The Muslim forces repelled attack after attack, like waves breaking on a fortified wall.

  • Crusader numbers had been depleted from other battles prior to reaching Jerusalem.

  • The Muslim governor of the city was sure he could hold out until more forces arrived from

  • Egypt.

  • Due to lucky timing, the Crusaders received reinforcements before help for the Muslims

  • could arrive.

  • They erected siege towers and marched towards the walls of Jerusalem.

  • The Crusader forces stormed the city and captured the governor, along with his army of bodyguards.

  • After negotiations, they were escorted out of the city.

  • The leaders of the Crusader force promised protection for the civilians of the city as

  • they made preparations to leave.

  • But the Christian soldiers disobayed this order, or did not know about the agreement

  • at all, and slaughtered every Muslim and Jewish man, woman, and child in the name of their

  • God.

  • Once the carnage ceased, and the dust settled, the Crusaders had finally attained their goal.

  • Three years after they left Europe for the Holy Land, Jerusalem was now under Christian

  • control.

  • After the completion of the First Crusade, many knights and soldiers returned home to

  • their families and estates.

  • In order to control the Holy Land four Crusader States were formed in Jerusalem, Edessa, Antioch,

  • and Tripoli.

  • It was in these lands that gigantic castles and fortresses were built, in order to stave

  • off any attacks from the enemy.

  • However, in 1130 Muslim forces started to gain back territory during their own holy

  • war, or jihad.

  • The Christians knew they were in trouble when General Zangi, governor of Mosul, besieged

  • and captured Edessa.

  • The fall of the northern most Crusader State was a cause for alarm across Christendom.

  • This led the Church to call for another Crusade to retake the territory that had been lost

  • in the Holy Land.

  • This would lead to the start of the Second Crusade in 1147 led by King Louis VII of France

  • and King Conrad III of Germany.

  • Unlike the First Crusade, the second had more than one objective.

  • While Kings Louis VII and Conrad III marched to reclaim Edessa, other Crusaders were sent

  • to Spain to eradicate the Muslim threat in the region.

  • At the same time, another force was sent to the Baltic Sea to wage war against the pagans

  • that lived along the coast.

  • During the Crusades several religious military orders were created to aide pilgrims traveling

  • to the Holy Land.

  • The two most powerful of these orders were the Hospitallers and The Knights Templars.

  • Both of the orders were composed of knights who fought solely in the name of God, and

  • with God behind them amassed vast amounts of wealth and power.

  • The Templars headquarters was at the former Temple of Solomon, one of the most holy sites

  • in all of Jerusalem.

  • These religious orders of knights gained control of, and built, castles along main travel routes,

  • which allowed them to protect and support pilgrims on their journey to the Holy Land.

  • These strategic outposts also allowed the religious orders to gain wealth and power

  • as they provided more and more services to the Crusaders and pilgrims.

  • Their foothold in the Holy Land and in Europe made them international organizations, and

  • their services were sought after by kings and the Church to help with battling the Muslim

  • threat.

  • These religious orders became so powerful that the Church soon became jealous and wary

  • of the organizations.

  • This would eventually lead to their demise.

  • In the Holy Land, the Muslims were gaining more and more ground.

  • Louis and Conrad managed to reach Jerusalem just in time.

  • They amassed an army of around 50,000 men.

  • This was the largest Crusader force of the war.

  • In order to make their intentions and their power known, Louis and Conrad marched on the

  • Syrian stronghold of Damascus with their massive force.

  • However, the Muslim leaders began to unify and combine armies, realizing the only way

  • to defeat the Christians was with cooperation of their own.

  • When the army of Crusaders reached Damascus, the Muslim forces had already joined together.

  • Their large numbers, along with having the fortresses of the city as a fallback position,

  • led to the Muslims pulverizing the Christian army.

  • This defeat brought an abrupt end to the Second Crusade.

  • Although the Christains still maintained control of much of the region gained during the First

  • Crusade, their enemy was becoming powerful, and the kingdoms of Europe were beginning

  • to lose their grasp over the Holy Land.

  • The Crusaders tried again and again to launch campaigns form Jerusalem further into Muslim

  • territory.

  • Their goal was to eventually capture Egypt, but they could not break the Muslim forces.

  • In 1187, Saladin, the sultan of Egypt, launched his own campaign against the Crusader States.

  • His goal was to reclaim Jeusalem for the Muslim faith, and he did just that.

  • Saladin led his forces into Christian territory where he crushed their main army at the battle

  • of Hattin.

  • Saladin successfully took Jerusalem, and a large amount of territory surrounding it.

  • The loss of Jerusalem resonated through Christendum, which led to the Third Crusade.

  • This is where King Richard the Lionheart entered history.

  • He, along with other kings of Europe, amassed another Crusader army and marched towards

  • the Holy Land to reclaim the city of Jerusalem once again.

  • Once in the Holy Land Richard the Lionheart and his forces roared into battle.

  • They fought and defeated Saladin at the Battle of Arsuf.

  • This was the main, and only real battle, of the Third Crusade.

  • It was a decisive victory for the Christians.

  • After Richard recaptured the city of Jaffa, he reestablished Christian control in the

  • region.

  • He took his Crusaders and moved on to Jerusalem.

  • Once there, he refused to lay siege to the holy city.

  • Instead, in September of 1192, Richard and Salidin signed a peace treaty ending the Third

  • Crusade and reestablishing the Kingdom of Jerusalem.

  • The Fourth Crusade was unlike all the others.

  • Instead of Christians fighting Muslims, Christians fought Christians.

  • It was a strange time to be a crusader.

  • Pope Innocent III called for a new Crusade in 1198.

  • But, a power struggle between Europe and Byzantium diverted the Crusaders from the Holy Land,

  • and they headed to Constantinople to overthrow Alexius III.

  • The plan was to replace him with his nephew, who would submit his power to Rome and the

  • Catholic Church.

  • When Alexius IV was put on the throne as Emperor of Byzantium by the crusaders, he tried to

  • force the Byzantine Church to rejoin the Western Church in Rome.

  • This was met with intense resistance, and the new emperor was strangled to death during

  • a coup in 1204.

  • This caused the Crusaders to declare full out war on Constantinople and they sacked

  • the city.

  • The Fourth Crusade concluded with the fall of Constantinople.

  • The Crusaders slaughtered hundreds, and looted everything they could get their hands on.

  • The entire Byzantine capital was practically destroyed.

  • This Crusade against the Byzantine Empire created an everlasting schism between the

  • Eastern and Western churches.

  • After the sack of Constantinople, and the end of the Fourth Crusade, there was a series

  • of smaller Crusades.

  • None of them would amass the armies, or reclaim territory, in the same way the previous wars

  • had.

  • There was also a shift in ideology during these final Crusades.

  • The emphasis was not on reclaiing the Holy Land from Muslim forces, but on decimating

  • anyone seen as a threat to the Catholic faith.

  • For example, The Albigensian Crusades' sole purpose was to wipe out the Cathari sect of

  • Christianity in France.

  • The Baltic Crusades' main purpose was to eradicate the pagans in Transylvania.

  • These Crusades had nothing to do with maintaining control of the Holy Land, and instead focused

  • on the genocide of groups of people who did not conform to the Catholic ideology.

  • Then there was the Children's Crusade where thousands of people vowed to march to Jerusalem

  • and make a life in the Holy Land.

  • This was not really a Crusade since the motley crew that made up the group were children,

  • adolescents, women, elderly people, and the poor.

  • This group never actually reached Jerusalem, and therefore, theChildren's Crusade

  • is a bit of a misnomer.

  • The Crusades lasted hundreds of years and resulted in the loss of countless lives.

  • The battles resulted in the destruction of important cultural and religious structures

  • and artifacts on both sides.

  • In 1291 the city of Acre fell to Muslim forces marking what many believe to be the end of

  • the Crusades.

  • The legacy of all this death and destruction was the dismantling of the Byzantine Empire,

  • noble houses of Europe gaining large amounts of power and wealth, and myths of religious

  • heroes spreading throughout the lands.

  • However, the actual goal of the Crusades, which was to take back the Holy Land and hold

  • it in the name of Christianity, was not actually achieved.

  • Now check outThe Fall of Constantinople.”

  • Or watchMedieval Knights Were NOT Noble, But Cold-Hearted Killers.”

It was the most brutal war in history.

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The Most Brutal War in History

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    Summer posted on 2021/05/08
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