2 a warrior who engages in a holy war; "the crusaders tried to recapture the Holy Land from the Muslims"
- Rhymes: -eɪdə(r)
- Person engaged in a crusade.
- the crusaders of the Middle Ages
person engaged in a crusade
- "Crusader" redirects here. For comic book characters, see Crusader (comics). For the music group, see The Crusaders. For the boat see Crusader (speedboat).
All of these factors were manifested in the overwhelming popular support for the First Crusade and the religious vitality of the 12th century.
Immediate causeThe Jews and Muslims fought together to defend Jerusalem against the invading Franks. They were unsuccessful though and on 15 July 1099 the crusaders entered the city. The "isolation, alienation and fear" As a result of the First Crusade, several small Crusader states were created, notably the Kingdom of Jerusalem.
The Crusaders also tried to gain control of the city of Tyre, but were defeated by the Muslims. The people of Tyre asked Zahir al-Din Atabek, the leader of Damascus, for help defending their city from the Franks with the promise to surrender Tyre to him. When the Franks were defeated the people of Tyre did not surrender the city, but Zahir al-Din simply said “What I have done I have done only for the sake of God and the Muslims, nor out of desire for wealth and kingdom.”
After gaining control of Jerusalem the Crusaders created four Crusader states: the kingdom of Jerusalem, the County of Edessa, the Principality of Antioch and the County of Tripoli. Initially, Muslims did very little about the Crusader states due to internal conflicts. Eventually, the Muslims began to reunite under the leadership of Imad al-Din Zangi. He began by re-taking Edessa in 1144. It was the first city to fall to the Crusaders, and became the first to be recaptured by the Muslims. This led the Pope to call for a second Crusade.
Crusade of 1101Following this crusade there was a second, less successful wave of crusaders. This is known as the Crusade of 1101 and may be considered an adjunct of the First Crusade.
Second Crusade 1147–1149After a period of relative peace in which Christians and Muslims co-existed in the Holy Land, Muslims conquered the town of Edessa. A new crusade was called for by various preachers, most notably by Bernard of Clairvaux. French and South German armies, under the Kings Louis VII and Conrad III respectively, marched to Jerusalem in 1147 but failed to win any major victories, launching a failed pre-emptive siege of Damascus, an independent city that would soon fall into the hands of Nur ad-Din, the main enemy of the Crusaders. On the other side of the Mediterranean, however, the Second Crusade met with great success as a group of Northern European Crusaders stopped in Portugal, allied with the Portuguese, and retook Lisbon from the Muslims in 1147. North Germans and Danes attacked the Wends during the 1147 Wendish Crusade, which was unsuccessful as well.
Third Crusade 1187–1192In 1187, Saladin, Sultan of Egypt, recaptured Jerusalem, following the Battle of Hattin. After taking Jerusalem back from the Christians the Muslims spared civilians and for the most part left churches and shrines untouched to be able to collect ransom money from the Franks. Saladin is remembered respectfully in both European and Islamic sources as a man who "always stuck to his promise and was loyal." The reports of Saladin's victories shocked Europe. Pope Gregory VIII called for a crusade, which was led by several of Europe's most important leaders: Philip II of France, Richard I of England (aka Richard the Lionheart), and Frederick I, Holy Roman Emperor. Frederick drowned in Cilicia in 1190, leaving an unstable alliance between the English and the French. Before his arrival in the Holy Land Richard captured the island of Cyprus from the Byzantines in 1191. From the Frankish point of view, an oath made to a non-Christian was no oath at all. Philip left, in 1191, after the Crusaders had recaptured Acre from the Muslims. The Crusader army headed south along the coast of the Mediterranean Sea. They defeated the Muslims near Arsuf, recaptured the port city of Jaffa, and were in sight of Jerusalem.Many of the Muslims though were not happy with Al-Kamil for giving up control of Jerusalem and in 1244 the Muslims regained control of the city.
Seventh Crusade 1248–1254
The papal interests represented by the Templars brought on a conflict with Egypt in 1243, and in the following year a Khwarezmian force summoned by the latter stormed Jerusalem. The crusaders were drawn into battle at La Forbie in Gaza. The crusader army and its Bedouin mercenaries were completely defeated within forty-eight hours by Baibars' force of Khwarezmian tribesmen. This battle is considered by many historians to have been the death knell to the Kingdom of Outremer. Although this provoked no widespread outrage in Europe as the fall of Jerusalem in 1187 had done, Louis IX of France organized a crusade against Egypt from 1248 to 1254, leaving from the newly constructed port of Aigues-Mortes in southern France. It was a failure, and Louis spent much of the crusade living at the court of the crusader kingdom in Acre. In the midst of this crusade was the first Shepherds' Crusade in 1251.
Eighth Crusade 1270
The eighth Crusade was organized by Louis IX in 1270, again sailing from Aigues-Mortes, initially to come to the aid of the remnants of the crusader states in Syria. However, the crusade was diverted to Tunis, where Louis spent only two months before dying. For his efforts, Louis was later canonised. The Eighth Crusade is sometimes counted as the Seventh, if the Fifth and Sixth Crusades are counted as a single crusade. The Ninth Crusade is sometimes also counted as part of the Eighth.
Ninth Crusade 1271–1272
The future Edward I of England undertook another expedition against Baibars in 1271, after having accompanied Louis on the Eighth Crusade. Louis died in Tunisia. The Ninth Crusade was deemed a failure and ended of the Crusades in the Middle East.
In their later years, faced with the threat of the Egyptian Mamluks, the Crusaders' hopes rested with a Franco-Mongol alliance. The Ilkhanate's Mongols were thought to be sympathetic to Christianity, and the Frankish princes were most effective in gathering their help, engineering their invasions of the Middle East on several occasions. Although the Mongols successfully attacked as far south as Damascus on these campaigns, the ability to effectively coordinate with Crusades from the west was repeatedly frustrated most notably at the Battle of Ain Jalut in 1260. The Mamluks eventually made good their pledge to cleanse the entire Middle East of the Franks. With the fall of Antioch (1268), Tripoli (1289), and Acre (1291), those Christians unable to leave the cities were massacred or enslaved and the last traces of Christian rule in the Levant disappeared.
The very last Frankish foothold was the island of Ruad, three kilometers from the Syrian shore, which was occupied for several years by the Knights Templar but was ultimately lost to the Mamluks in the Siege of Ruad on September 26th, 1302.
Northern Crusades (Baltic and Germany)
The Crusades in the Baltic Sea area and in Central Europe were efforts by (mostly German) Christians to subjugate and convert the peoples of these areas to Christianity. These Crusades ranged from the 12th century, contemporaneous with the Second Crusade, to the 16th century.
Contemporaneous with the Second Crusade, Saxons and Danes fought against Polabian Slavs in the 1147 Wendish Crusade. In the 13th century, the Teutonic Knights led Germans, Poles, and Pomeranians against the Old Prussians during the Prussian Crusade.
Between 1232 and 1234, there was a crusade against the Stedingers. This crusade was special, because the Stedingers were not heathens or heretics, but fellow Roman Catholics. They were free Frisian farmers who resented attempts of the count of Oldenburg and the archbishop Bremen-Hamburg to make an end to their freedoms. The archbishop excommunicated them, and Pope Gregory IX declared a crusade in 1232. The Stedingers were defeated in 1234.
The Teutonic Order's attempts to conquer Orthodox Russia (particularly the Republics of Pskov and Novgorod), an enterprise endorsed by Pope Gregory IX, can also be considered as a part of the Northern Crusades. One of the major blows for the idea of the conquest of Russia was the Battle of the Ice in 1242. With or without the Pope's blessing, Sweden also undertook several crusades against Orthodox Novgorod.
Crusade against the Tatars
In 1259 Mongols led by Burundai and Nogai Khan ravaged the principality of Halych-Volynia, Lithuania and Poland. After that Pope Alexander IV tried without success to create a crusade against the Blue Horde.
In the 14th century, Khan Tokhtamysh combined the Blue and White Hordes forming the Golden Horde. It seemed that the power of the Golden Horde had begun to rise, but in 1389, Tokhtamysh made the disastrous decision of waging war on his former master, the great Tamerlane. Tamerlane's hordes rampaged through southern Russia, crippling the Golden Horde's economy and practically wiping out its defenses in those lands.
After losing the war, Tokhtamysh was then dethroned by the party of Khan Temur Kutlugh and Emir Edigu, supported by Tamerlane. When Tokhtamysh asked Vytautas the Great for assistance in retaking the Horde, the latter readily gathered a huge army which included Lithuanians, Ruthenians, Russians, Mongols, Moldavians, Poles, Romanians and Teutonic Knights.
In 1398, the huge army moved from Moldavia and conquered the southern steppe all the way to the Dnieper River and northern Crimea. Inspired by their great successes, Vytautas declared a 'Crusade against the Tatars' with Papal backing. Thus, in 1399, the army of Vytautas once again moved on the Horde. His army met the Horde's at the Vorskla River, slightly inside Lithuanian territory.
Although the Lithuanian army was well equipped with cannon, it could not resist a rear attack from Edigu's reserve units. Vytautas hardly escaped alive. Many princes of his kin—possibly as many as 20—were killed (for example, Stefan Musat, Prince of Moldavia and two of his brothers, while a fourth was badly injured ), and the victorious Tatars besieged Kiev. "And the Christian blood flowed like water, up to the Kievan walls," as one chronicler put it. Meanwhile, Temur Kutlugh died from the wounds received in the battle, and Tokhtamysh was killed by one of his own men.
Crusades in the Balkans
To counter the expanding Ottoman Empire, several crusades were launched in the 15th century. The most notable are:
- the Crusade of Nicopolis (1396) organized by Sigismund of Luxemburg king of Hungary culminated in the Battle of Nicopolis
- the Crusade of Varna (1444) led by the Polish-Hungarian king Władysław Warneńczyk ended in the Battle of Varna
- and the Crusade of 1456 organized to lift the Siege of Belgrade led by John Hunyadi and Giovanni da Capistrano
The Aragonese Crusade, or Crusade of Aragón, was declared by Pope Martin IV against the King of Aragón, Peter III the Great, in 1284 and 1285.
The Alexandrian Crusade of October 1365 was a minor seaborne crusade against Muslim Alexandria led by Peter I of Cyprus. His motivation was at least as commercial as religious. It had limited success.
The Hussite Crusade(s), also known as the "Hussite Wars," or the "Bohemian Wars," involved the military actions against and amongst the followers of Jan Hus in Bohemia in the period 1420 to circa 1434. The Hussite Wars were arguably the first European war in which hand-held gunpowder weapons such as muskets made a decisive contribution. The Taborite faction of the Hussite warriors were basically infantry, and their many defeats of larger armies with heavily armoured knights helped affect the infantry revolution. In the end, it was an inconclusive war.
The Swedish conquest of Finland in the Middle Ages has traditionally been divided into three "crusades": the First Swedish Crusade around 1155 AD, the Second Swedish Crusade about 1249 AD and the Third Swedish Crusade in 1293 AD.
The First Swedish Crusade is purely legendary, and according to most historians today, never took place as described in the legend and did not result in any ties between Finland and Sweden. For the most part, it was made up in the late 13th century to date the Swedish rule in Finland further back in time. No historical record has also survived describing the second one, but it probably did take place and ended up in the concrete conquest of southwestern Finland. The third one was against Novgorod, and is properly documented by both parties of the conflict.
According to archaeological finds, Finland was largely Christian already before the said crusades. Thus the "crusades" can rather be seen as ordinary expeditions of conquest whose main target was territorial gain. The expeditions were dubbed as actual crusades only in the 19th century by the national-romanticist Swedish and Finnish historians.
Dissent Against the Concept of CrusadesElements of the Crusades were criticized by some from the time of their inception in 1095. For example, Roger Bacon felt the Crusades were not effective because, "those who survive, together with their children, are more and more embittered against the Christian faith." In spite of some criticism, the movement was still widely supported in Europe long after the fall of Acre in 1291. J. Hoeberichts argues that St. Francis of Assisi stood in complete and unique opposition to the theological justification and the violent methods of Christendom in his book Francis and Islam. Historians agree that Francis crossed enemy lines to meet the Sultan of Egypt. Hoeberichts cast doubt on the intentions most Christian historians assign to Francis. From the fall of Acre forward, the Crusades to recover Jerusalem and the Christian East were largely lost. Later, 18th century rationalists judged the Crusaders harshly. Likewise, some modern historians in the West expressed moral outrage. As recently as the 1950s, Sir Steven Runciman wrote a resounding condemnation:
- "High ideals were besmirched by cruelty and greed...the Holy War was nothing more than a long act of intolerance in the name of God".
In the minds of the Muslims the Crusades were Western invasions motivated by the West’s greed and hatred for Islam, while the Christian West thought they were reclaiming the Holy Land and stopping the spread of Islam. For the West these wars were known as the ‘crusades’ which comes from the Latin word for cross. The Muslims, on the other hand, referred to the wars as “Frankish Invasions” using the Arabic word al-ifranj which is the term for French although it was applied to Westerns in general. One of the ironic things about the Crusades is that even though “God may have indeed wished it, there is certainly no evidence that the Christians of Jerusalem did, or that anything extraordinary was occurring to pilgrims there to prompt such a response at that moment in history.” Results of the Crusades on the Islamic World:
The Crusades have made a lasting impact on the Islamic world, especially in their perception of the West and of Christians. In fact even today Muslims still consider the Crusades to be a symbol of Western hostility toward Islam. The Muslims were horrified by the brutality of the Franks and how they so willingly massacred civilians and broke promises. It did not help that the Crusaders felt little to no remorse for what they did and when the Muslims compared that to Saladin’s reputation of being a man of honor they thought even less of the Franks.The fact that the Franks were motivated more by politics and greed than true religious reason has led Muslims to feel that when Europe began to colonize the East it was merely a continuation of the Crusades. This view caused the Muslims to set up intellectual barriers and become very isolationist in their policies causing them to be left behind in the world scene. Now extremists of both the Christian and Islamic faith believe that confrontation is inevitable and because of this view the Crusades remain in focus keeping them in an active albeit violent role in contemporary politics.
Eastern OrthodoxyLike Muslims, Eastern Orthodox Christians also see the Crusades as attacks by "the barbarian West", but centered on the sack of Constantinople in 1204. Among vast quantities of gold, which was accumulated for more than 1300 years by the Roman Empire, many relics and artifacts taken from Constantinople are still to be found in the West, in the Vatican and elsewhere, like the Greek Horses on the façade of St. Mark's in Venice. Both the cultural and the economic capital gained after of the sack of Constantinople played a significant part in the rise of the Italian cities that gave birth to renaissance.
Popular reputation in Western EuropeIn Western Europe, the Crusades have traditionally been regarded by laypeople as heroic adventures, though the mass enthusiasm of common people was largely expended in the First Crusade, from which so few of their class returned. Today, the "Saracen" adversary is crystallized in the lone figure of Saladin; his adversary Richard the Lionheart is, in the English-speaking world, the archetypical crusader king, while Frederick Barbarossa and Louis IX fill the same symbolic niche in German and French culture. Even in contemporary areas, the crusades and their leaders were romanticized in popular literature; the Chanson d'Antioche was a chanson de geste dealing with the First Crusade, and the Song of Roland, dealing with the era of the similarly romanticized Charlemagne, was directly influenced by the experience of the crusades, going so far as to replace Charlemagne's historic Basque opponents with Muslims. A popular theme for troubadours was the knight winning the love of his lady by going on crusade in the east.
In the 14th century, Godfrey of Bouillon was united with the Trojan War and the adventures of Alexander the Great against a backdrop for military and courtly heroics of the Nine Worthies who stood as popular secular culture heroes into the 16th century, when more critical literary tastes ran instead to Torquato Tasso and Rinaldo and Armida, Roger and Angelica. Later, the rise of a more authentic sense of history among literate people brought the Crusades into a new focus for the Romantic generation in the romances of Sir Walter Scott in the early 19th century. Crusading imagery could be found even in the Crimean War, in which the United Kingdom and France were allied with the Muslim Ottoman Empire, and in World War I, especially Allenby's capture of Jerusalem in 1917.
In Spain, the popular reputation of the Crusades is outshone by the particularly Spanish history of the Reconquista. El Cid is the central figure.
Role of womenWhile traditional historiography conceptualizes the crusades as a masculine movement symbolic of honour and male courage, women were also involved.
Women at home were intricately connected whether aware of it or not in the recruitment of crusading men. Their encouragement and familial ties would present men friendly connections which made the prospect of taking the cross more appealing for those risking their lives. Arguably the most significant role that women played in the West during the crusades was their preservation of the home. The best known example is of Adela of Blois, wife of Stephen of Blois whose correspondence with her husband while he was on Crusade and she was at home managing his fief has survived in part. It appears she was rather more keen on his crusading than he was. Men could journey to The Holy Land without having to worry about their home because their wives were in charge of their estates and families.
Even though most women showed their support for the crusades at home, some women took the cross themselves to go on the crusade. Aristocratic women who joined the movement often found that they had new positions of authority they did not have in the West. Eleanor of Aquitaine, the wealthy queen of France and the wife of king Louis VII, took the cross from St. Bernard of Clairvaux on Easter Sunday 1145 to join her husband. Another woman who had ultimate political power in the East was Melisende of Jerusalem, who under law gained hereditary rights to the crown upon her husband’s death. Like Eleanor, Melisende never led troops into battle, but she did participate in acts of political diplomacy. Less successful was her granddaughter Sibylla of Jerusalem, whose choice of husband had been a crucial political issue since her childhood. Her second marriage to Guy of Lusignan made him the king-consort on the death of Baldwin IV, with disastrous results. While most women were there to help and care for the crusading men by bringing them water or raising their spirits by offering emotional support, there were women who had specific tasks which defined their feminine characteristics like the washerwoman.
The permanent residents of the Crusader kingdoms, if born in Europe, had usually come unmarried. Very many married women from Apulia in Southern Italy, where living conditions were often harsh, encouraged young women to take ship for Palestine in the knowledge that many men there were looking for wives.
The most controversial role that women had in the crusades was of course the role which threatened their femininity, actual militancy. When analyzing the primary documentation of female militancy, one must be cautious. The accounts of women fighting come mostly from Muslim historians whose aim was to portray Christian women as barbaric and ungodly because of their acts of killing. The contrasting view from Christian accounts portray women fighting only in emergency situations for the preservation of the camps and their own lives. In these cases women are seen as more feminine while behaving like ‘proper women’. Virtually all crusade writings came from men, and women would have been interpreted subjectively no matter what roles they played.
Europe and the WestUntil recently, the crusades were remembered favourably in western Europe (countries which were, at the time of the Crusades, Roman Catholic countries), and in countries largely settled by Western Europeans, including the United States. Nonetheless, there have been many vocal critics of the Crusades in Western Europe since the Renaissance, and in recent years, critical views of the crusades have come to dominate most assessments.
The need to raise, transport and supply large armies led to a flourishing of trade throughout Europe. Roads largely unused since the days of Rome saw significant increases in traffic as local merchants began to expand their horizons. This was not only because the Crusades prepared Europe for travel, but also because many wanted to travel after being reacquainted with the products of the Middle East. This also aided in the beginning of the Renaissance in Italy, as various Italian city-states from the very beginning had important and profitable trading colonies in the crusader states, both in the Holy Land and later in captured Byzantine territory.
Increased trade brought many things to Europeans that were once unknown or extremely rare and costly. These goods included a variety of spices, ivory, jade, diamonds, improved glass-manufacturing techniques, early forms of gun powder, oranges, apples, and other Asian crops, and many other products.
The achievement of preserving Christian Europe must not, however, ignore the eventual fall of the Christian Byzantine Empire, which was mostly caused by Fourth Crusade's extreme aggression against Eastern Orthodox Christianity, largely at the instigation of the infamous Enrico Dandolo, the Doge of Venice and financial backer of the Fourth Crusade (1202-1204). The Byzantine lands had been a stable Christian state since the 4th century, though had been in a crisis immediately before the Fourth Crusade.
Muslims traditionally celebrate Saladin as a hero against the Crusaders. In the 21st century, some in the Arab world, such as the Arab independence movement and Pan-Islamism movement, continue to call Western involvement in the Middle East a "crusade". The Crusades were regarded by the Islamic world as cruel and savage onslaughts by European Christians.
The most devastating long term consequence of the crusades, according to historian Peter Mansfield, was the creation of an Islamic mentality that sought a retreat into isolation. He says "Assaulted from all quarters, the Muslim world turned in on itself. It became oversensitive [and] defensive… attitudes that grew steadily worse as world-wide evolution, a process from which the Muslim world felt excluded, continued.".
Jewish communityThough the Muslims in power at the time tried to protect the Jews in The Holy Land, the Crusaders' atrocities against them in the German and Hungarian towns, later also in those of France, England, and in the massacres of Jews in Palestine and Syria have become a significant part of the history of anti-Semitism, although no Crusade was ever declared against Jews. These attacks left behind for centuries strong feelings of ill will on both sides. The social position of the Jews in western Europe was distinctly worsened, and legal restrictions increased during and after the Crusades. They prepared the way for the anti-Jewish legislation of Pope Innocent III and formed the turning-point in medieval anti-Semitism. It must also be noted that Pope Innocent III reiterated papal injunctions against forcible conversions of Jews, and added: "No Christian shall do the Jews any personal injury...or deprive them of their possessions...or disturb them during the celebration of their festivals...or extort money from them by threatening to exhume their dead.".
The crusading period brought with it many narratives from Jewish sources. Among the better-known Jewish narratives are the chronicles of Solomon Bar Simson and Rabbi Eliezer bar Nathan, "The Narrative of the Old Persecutions," by Mainz Anonymous, and "Sefer Zekhirah," and "The Book of Remembrance," by Rabbi Ephraim of Bonn.
In the Caucasus Mountains of Georgia, in the remote highland region of Khevsureti, a tribe called the Khevsurs are thought to possibly be direct descendants of a party of crusaders who got separated from a larger army and have remained in isolation with some of the crusader culture intact. Into the 20th century, relics of armor, weaponry and chain mail were still being used and passed down in such communities. Russian serviceman and ethnographer Arnold Zisserman who spent 25 years (1842–67) in the Caucasus, believed the exotic group of Georgian highlanders were descendants of the last Crusaders based on their customs, language, art and other evidence. American traveler Richard Halliburton saw and recorded the customs of the tribe in 1935.
Etymology and use of the term "crusade"
- For other uses of the term "crusade", see Crusade (disambiguation).