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Crusades Essay

1070 words - 5 pages

The Crusades were a series of wars by Western European Christians to recapture the Holy Land from the Muslims. The Crusades first started in 1096 and ended in the late 13th century. The term Crusade was originally used to describe the European efforts to retake Jerusalem from the Muslims. Europeans later used crusade to designate any military effort against non-Christians.The origins of the Crusades probably began with the death of Charlemagne, king of the Franks, in 814 and the collapse of his empire. Christian Europe was under attack and on the defensive. Magyars, who were nomadic people from Asia, literally rioted and looted eastern and central Europe until the 10th century. Beginning ...view middle of the document...

The First Crusade, which began in 1096, was successful in freeing Jerusalem. It also established a Western Christian military presence in the Near East that lasted for almost 200 years. The Crusaders called this area Outremer, which was French for "beyond the seas." The Crusaders faced many obstacles. They had no obvious or widely accepted leader, no relations with the churchmen who went with them, no definition of the pope's role, and no agreement with the Byzantine emperor on whether they were his allies, servants, rivals, or perhaps enemies. These uncertainties divided the Crusaders into factions that did not always get along well with one another. Different leaders followed different routes to Constantinople, where they were all to meet. As the Crusaders marched east, they were joined by thousand of men and even women, ranging from petty knights and their families, to peasants seeking freedom. They followed local lords or well-known nobles or drifted eastward on their own. They didn't know a lot about the Byzantine Empire or its religion. Few Crusaders understood or had much sympathy for the Eastern Orthodox religion, which did not recognize the pope, used the Greek language rather than Latin, and had very different forms of art and architecture. They knew even less about Islam or Muslim life. For some the First Crusade became an excuse to unleash savage attacks in the name of Christianity on Jewish communities along the Rhine. The original forces of perhaps 25,000 to 30,000 overcame the Muslim states of what are now Syria, Lebanon, and Israel. This happened because the rulers of these states failed to realize the effectiveness of the enemy. The Franks took the key city of Antioch in June of 1098 and then moved on to Jerusalem. The battle at Jerusalem ended in a bloody and destructive Christian victory in July of 1099, in which many of the inhabitants were massacred.The Crusades of the 12th century, through the end of the Third Crusade in 1192, illustrated the tensions and...

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