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Origins. The roots of the institution of the crusade are to be found in the political, cultural and theological developments that shaped Western European society during the eleventh century. Throughout the medieval West the political fragmentation following the break up of the Carolingian empire led to a decentralization and diffusion of political power both in terms of geography and social hierarchy. As a result of these long term developments a substantial share of the execution and administration of political and economic power passed to a new knightly elite which had emerged by the eleventh century. These knights, called milites (singular miles ), did not only claim an important position in the social hierarchy, they also developed the means to defend and enlarge their political and economic power. The typical knight of the eleventh century distinguished himself by his military prowess as a mounted soldier, his social connections with other knights and his close association with ecclesiastical institutions,

in particular local monasteries. Political life was dominated by violent conflicts between smaller or larger groups of knights who were increasingly capable and willing to co-ordinate and apply the military force supplied by mounted combat troops and vested in fortified strongholds that became the centre of knightly power. At the same time, the association with ecclesiastical institutions was an important element of knightly identity and group solidarity. There was an acute awareness that life in all its aspects was to a great extent dependent on a favourable disposition of God's grace. The patronage of monastic institutions and the veneration of saints by way of pilgrimages, prayers and donations was high on the agenda of knights seeking to confirm and consolidate their power and identity. It was this new knightly elite of the eleventh century that was targeted and who responded most enthusiastically when Pope Urban II proclaimed the First Crusade in 1095. The knights' military expertise and experience, their desire to acquire power and honour and their religious orientation made them the ideal candidates to embrace crusading as a means of fulfilling their personal, political and religious ambitions.

The second factor which made the emergence of the institution of the crusade possible consisted in the farreaching changes that affected the Catholic Church in the century preceding the First Crusade. The so-called Gregorian Reform, which made itself felt from about the 1140s, was an attempt by religious leaders, and in particular the papacy, fundamentally to reorganise the Church both in terms of religious practice and administrative organisation. The first main element of these reforms concerned a variety of aspects of the Church's internal conduct and government ranging from moral issues such as sexual behaviour to measures aimed at improving clerical education and ensuring the independence of individual churches and ecclesiastical offices. The aim was to ensure that the Church could fulfil its pastoral and intercessionary roles in a responsible and efficient manner. The second main element of the reform programme was to assert the moral and political leadership of the papacy in an attempt to guarantee ecclesiastical independence and foster the collective institutional identity of the Church throughout Europe. This involved the organisation and support of military ventures aimed at guaranteeing the integrity of the possessions of the papacy and the defence of the Church against attacks by lay people as well as heretics and non-Christians. In Italy the popes even staged their own military campaigns for this purpose. In order to overcome the traditional notion of warfare and the use of violence as intrinsically sinful, the popes of the second half of the eleventh century, in particular Pope gregory vii (10731085), began to view and promote warfare in the service of the Church as an acceptable form of violence. By focussing on the motivation of the individual participants and the underlying cause of wars fought in defence of the Church and faith, Pope Gregory VII even formulated the theory that military service could in such conditions be seen as penitential. Although revolutionary, the idea of penitential warfare in the service of the Church could be incorporated into a long tradition of patristic thought about the legitimate use of violence in the context of just or holy wars. The ideological foundations for these intellectual developments went back to St. augustine of Hippo, whose works were studied in scholarly circles close to the papacy. It was the idea and practice of penitential warfare in the service of the Church, developed in the Gregorian reform movement, which made it possible for Pope urban ii (10881099) to formulate the idea of crusade and institute the practice of crusading in 1095.

It would thus be wrong to seek the origins of the crusade as an institution solely in a reflex to the call for aid issued by the Byzantine Emperor alexius i (10811118), who asked Western Christians for military assistance in repelling the Muslim advances in Asia Minor. People in the West had for some time been developing a renewed interest in the Levant, most noticeable in the revival of large scale organised pilgrimages to Jerusalem, and they were aware of the growing domination of Muslim forces in the Near East. Already in 1074 Pope Gregory VII entertained plans to launch a military expedition under papal leadership to come to the aid of the Eastern Christians, but nothing came of this initiative. It was not until 20 years later that Urban II was able to formulate and propagate a project for a military expedition to Palestine, which met with an overwhelming and unexpected response from thousands of men and women across Europe. In planning the First Crusade Urban managed to amalgamate a number of elements developed by his predecessors which caught people's imagination and played to their ambitions. He primarily called upon knights to abandon their violent conflicts with their neighbours and exercise their military prowess in the service of the Church. Rather than fighting for the pope and his patron St. Peter, which had been the appeal of previous papal campaigns, Urban now asked people to fight in God's name for the good of the whole Church by defending the honour of the Christian religion against the Muslims and recapturing the most holy sites of Christianity in Jerusalem. In terms of ideology and propaganda, this was a new departure. The idea of becoming a soldier of Christ (Latin miles Christi ) and fighting a military campaign to restore God's honour where it mattered most, i.e. the Holy Land where Christ had lived and saved humankind, was a powerful propaganda concept to which people responded enthusiastically. At the same time Urban defined service on crusade as an obligation towards God following from a voluntary vow the crusaders took similar to the wellknown vow taken by pilgrims. In addition, the pope promised the participants the remission of all their penitential obligations for the sins that they confessed. The crusade thus offered a way of dealing with the terrifying consequence of sin both before and after death. By defining the First Crusade in the way he did, Pope Urban II played both to the military ambition and the religious sensibilities of many of his contemporaries, in particular the arms-bearing knights, but also many other lay people and members of the clergy. Guibert of Nogent (ca. 1055 to 1125), a monk and contemporary observer, described the effect of the crusade as follows: "In our time God instituted holy warfare, so that the armsbearers and the wandering populace, who after the fashion of the ancient pagans were engaged in mutual slaughters, should find a new way of attaining salvation; so that they might not be obliged to abandon the world completely, as used to be the case, by adopting the monastic way of life or any other form of professed calling, but might obtain God's grace to some extent while enjoying their accustomed freedom and dress, and in a way consistent with their own station." Although the institution of the crusade was triggered by events taking place in the Near East and had its first powerful military impact far away from the European heartland, the crusade grew out of the social, religious and cultural conditions of Western European society in the eleventh century. As the subsequent history of the crusades shows, the crusade was fundamentally an institution of Western Latin Christendom, having a strong impact on the way in which internal and external conflicts with other Christians and other religious groups, in particular the Muslims, were conducted throughout the late middle ages and beyond.

Definition. The defining elements of the institution of the crusade were already integral to the First Crusade of 1095 to 1099. Although the exact juridical formulation of all aspects of the crusade was not completed until the first half of the thirteenth century, Pope Urban II laid down the institutional foundations of the crusade which were pivotal for its initial success and its long and varied history. The crusade was thought of as a war called upon and authorised by God himself through his first vicar on earth, the pope. It was directed against enemies of the Catholic faith and the Church and was aimed at restoring God's honour on earth. Because of this, and because of its primarily defensive character, the crusade was considered legitimate warfare in accordance with the medieval theory of just and holy wars. Following from the representation of the crusade as God's war, the participants were considered to be God's soldiers or soldiers of Christ (Latin milites Dei, milites Christi ). Their task and their status was defined by the act of taking the cross, which meant that the crusaders made a binding vow to participate in the crusade on the conditions set for each campaign. This vow had to be taken in the presence of a bishop or a representative of the pope, such as a crusade preacher or a papal legate, and the sign of the cross had to be displayed on the crusader's garments as public confirmation from the moment of taking the vow to the end of the crusading campaign. Hence the Latin word crucesignatus, meaning "the one signed with the cross," used to designate a crusader from the end of the twelfth century. A crusade vow was binding and could only be dispensed by papal authority if it was commuted to other forms of penance or redeemed by sending a substitute on crusade or paying money in aid of the crusade. In return for his or her service on crusade, a crusader was granted a number of privileges by the pope. Like the crusade vow the privileges accompanying the participation in a crusade were derived from the model of pilgrimage, although they went beyond what pilgrims were generally offered. Most important among these privileges was the plenary indulgence for the remission of all the penalties affecting people on account of their sins, in their lifetime or after death. Although the theological concepts underlying the indulgence changed considerably throughout the twelfth and thirteenth centuries, the majority of people at the time understood the indulgence as a way of escaping punishment for their sins imposed by the Church or directly by God either on earth or in purgatory. In short people conceived of the plenary indulgence as a "remission of all sins" (Latin remissio peccatorum ) that they confessed to a priest when they took their crusading vows. The belief that by participating in the crusade it was possible through the plenary indulgence to wash away the taint of sin and dispense with any further penance to a large extent accounted for the unexpected initial response and the enormous appeal of the crusades throughout the later middle ages. In addition to the indulgence, crusaders were granted a number of legal privileges aimed at encouraging them to take the cross and to facilitate their absence from home. For the duration of the crusade, the Church through their courts granted legal protection to the crusaders, their families and dependants and their possessions. This also meant that law suits pending against crusaders were postponed until after the crusade. Crusaders were also freed from feudal duties, tolls and taxes as well as interest payments and repayment of any debts they had incurred. Lay people were also permitted to dispose of property which was under normal circumstances considered inalienable, while clerics were given the right to use the income of their benefices during their absence on crusade. Given the enormous cost of a crusade and the great danger of not returning alive from an expedition, the privileges regulating financial and legal matters were crucial in attracting potential crusaders, who had their families and finance to consider when deciding whether to take the cross. The crusade campaigns as a whole also profited from propaganda, financial and liturgical support, which became regular elements of the institution of the crusade. The pope proclaimed a crusade by issuing a papal bull detailing the causes and conditions of each expedition, which would be sent to potential military leaders and chosen propagandists. Crusade propaganda usually took the form of organised preaching campaigns, in which people were directly encouraged to take the cross. Whereas at the beginning crusade propaganda was most forcefully conducted by individual, and often charismatic, preachers such as bernard of clairvaux, from about the 1230s the bulk of the propaganda activity passed over to the preaching orders of the Dominicans and Franciscans, whose vast resources of trained preachers made the spread of crusade propaganda particularly effective. Crusade preaching went hand in hand with the collection of voluntary donations and vow redemption payments, volunteered by or enforced from those incapable of joining a crusade army, as well as taxes imposed on clerical incomes in support of the crusade. These moneys were often passed directly onto prominent crusaders to help finance their large contingents of retainers and mercenaries. At the same time, the popes organised the liturgical back-up on the home front for crusaders in the field. During crusade campaigns prayers were to be said and processions held regularly throughout the churches of Christendom with even more elaborate liturgical exercises to be performed by monks. These intercessionary liturgies were believed to sway God's favour in support of the crusade and were therefore considered to be crucial to a successful outcome. In sum a crusade was a war authorised by the pope and fought in order to defend and protect the honour of the Catholic Church and faith. It was represented as a war conducted on God's behalf by people who thought of themselves as God's soldiers. The participants of a crusade took a binding vow and enjoyed a number of spiritual and temporal privileges, most importantly the plenary indulgence. At the same time crusades benefited from financial, liturgical and propaganda support centrally organised by the papacy and its agents.

Scope. The history of the institution of the crusade began in the late eleventh century and continued until the sixteenth century, while the idea of crusading, embodied for example in the military alliances of the Holy Leagues and the military orders, lasted even longer into the modern era. Crusading in medieval Europe and the Near East underwent periods of varying intensity. The First Crusade (10951099), attracting perhaps as many as 120,000 men and women, arguably produced the largest single crusade expedition ever, but the intensity of overall crusading activity was probably never higher than in the first half of the thirteenth century, when many crusades were operating in different parts of Europe and its border regions: against Muslims in Egypt, Palestine and in the Iberian Peninsula, against Byzantine Christians in Greece, against heretics in southern France, Germany and Hungary, against the Mongols, against the non-Christian peoples of the Baltic and against the political enemies of the papacy in the Empire. There was never a lack of crusading initiatives from popes and other religious and political leaders throughout the later middle ages. But the realisation and success of crusade campaigns very much depended on the actual threats posed and the willingness and ability of political leaders to organise crusades effectively. Thus crusade expeditions to the Levant lost their force with the fall of the Latin establishments in Palestine at the end of the thirteenth century as people realised that it would take an enormous effort to dislodge the Muslim domination in the Eastern Mediterranean. Nevertheless numerous small crusading projects to the area were promoted throughout the fourteenth and fifteenth centuries, often in collaboration with the military orders. The steady advance of the Turkish empire in the Balkans and the fall of Constantinople in 1453 were responsible for a number of new crusade projects to the East at the end of the middle ages. In other theatres, the crusades against political enemies flourished during the time of the Great Schism in the fourteenth century, while the growth of the Hussite heresy in the first half of the fifteenth century gave rise to five successive crusades between 1420 and 1431. The most extensive and from a military perspective most successful crusading campaigns were fought in the Iberian Peninsula from the twelfth to the fifteenth centuries and in the lands along the Baltic in the thirteenth and fourteenth. In both these areas the crusades were bound up with colonising projects and missionary activities and were thus part of a continual process of conquest which was systematically promoted by political leaders eager to extend the frontiers of Christian Europe.

With the crusade being an institution of the whole Church universally proclaimed by the pope, participation was in theory open to all members of society. Although most crusading centred around an élite of military leaders who recruited their followers from particular social circles and geographical areas, most of the larger crusade armies, especially in the first centuries of crusading history, comprised participants from across the social scale and from many different countries. This accounted for the sometimes huge size of crusading armies, which proved problematic in terms of organisation, logistics and military strategy. Regarding their material resources, their particular motivation and their military ability, crusaders often differed considerably from each other. With popular enthusiasm powered by eschatological expectations at one end of the scale and keen military leadership geared at individual glory and political profit at the other, it could prove difficult to wage effective warfare. Largely due to Pope Innocent III's reforms, embodied in the constitution "Ad liberandam" at the Fourth lateran council in 1215, the crusades were set on a new footing in the thirteenth century in terms of propaganda, finance and logistics. By calling upon the mendicant orders of the Franciscans and Dominicans to preach the cross, thirteenth century popes managed to increase and target crusade propaganda. By introducing crusade taxes on clerical income and allowing the redemption of crusade vows in return for financial subsidies the financial requirements of crusaders could be met more readily. Attempts were also made to prevent those who could make no proper military contribution to the crusade from joining the armies. Women, old people and the sick were encouraged to stay at home, redeem their vows for money and support the crusade armies with prayers. From this there developed a vision of Christian society as a whole engaged in and organised for the crusade. While the clergy and the religious orders were involved in propagating and financing the crusade as well as organising liturgical support at home, lay members of society were expected to contribute to the best of their means and abilities as leaders and fighters in the actual armies or by financial contributions and prayers. The papacy thus also responded to more general developments in warfare which demanded better trained and more professional, and thereby more expensive armies, often including a mercenary element of considerable size. At the same time an upsurge in popular religious sentiment and devotion caused many people to respond eagerly to the offer of a plenary indulgence as a reward for their financial and intercessionary contributions to the crusades. Nevertheless, crusade armies never lost their popular elements altogether and occasionally spontaneous "popular crusades" were started without papal authorisation, such as the Children's Crusade of 1212 and the Crusades of the Shepherds in 1254, 1309 and 1320. Pope Innocent III's initiative paired with his rigorous leadership provided the crusade with a solid institutional foundation and explains the enormous popularity of the crusades in the first half of the thirteenth century. Nevertheless his reforms also sowed the seeds of structural weaknesses in the institution of the crusade that were to be felt throughout the later middle ages. While the downsizing and professionalisation of crusade armies was aimed at making the crusade a more effective instrument of warfare, crusading still demanded enormous organisational and financial resources. These often proved too difficult to provide and meant this that many crusade projects could never be realised as planned. Especially the crusades for the recovery of the Holy Land after the end of the thirteenth century fell victim to the unwillingness of the leading rulers of Europe to cooperate and their inability to set aside the military force and finance necessary for such a large scale enterprise. But even if the far-reaching aims of many crusade projects were never reached, religiously powered enthusiasm for the crusade never abated in the late middle ages and affected all sections of society. This does not of course mean that crusading went unopposed in medieval society. Criticism of crusading was almost as old as the crusade itself. Although fundamental opposition to the institution of the crusade and its aims was relatively rare, single aspects of the institution provoked frequent criticism. Crusades against heretics and other fellow Christians, for example, were not universally approved of. But the sharpest criticism was levelled against the misappropriation of crusading funds for other purposes and also against the practice of granting crusade indulgences in return for money payments, which became increasingly common in the later Middle Ages.

With the reformation and the counter reformation of the sixteenth century the institution of the crusade came to an end in most parts of Europe. The unity of Western Christianity and the papacy's effective political leadershiptwo important factors upon which the crusade was builthad ceased to exist. Remnants of crusading were to be found in the Holy Leagues created at the end of the seventeenth century to repel the last Turkish attacks on the Habsburg Empire and the military orders who were engaged in anti-Muslim warfare until the late eighteenth century. The crusade, however, left its imprint on Western European society. In the early modern era elements of crusade ideology appeared in the propaganda and warfare of many of the budding dynastic nation-states and marked the confrontation of Catholic forces with non-Christian cultures in the process of the European expansion overseas. More generally speaking, "the ideas, iconography, and language associated with crusading survived, to fertilise the thinking and behaviour of all Christians engaged in military struggles which they considered to be inseparable from their religious beliefs, spanning time and space from Early Modern Europe to contemporary Latin America" (N. Housley).


Near East. Pope Urban II proclaimed the First Crusade on Nov. 27, 1095, at the Council of Clermont. In response to a request for military assistance from the Byzantine Emperor Alexius I, Urban called upon Westerners to help their fellow Christians in the Near East to free themselves from Muslim rule and liberate the Christian holy sites in Palestine, in particular Jerusalem. Thanks to the promise of spiritual and temporal privileges for the participants and owing to the religious fervour stirred up by Urban's appeal, a large number of people, probably as many as 120,000 men and women from all walks of life, took the cross. They joined one of the armies that left Europe in three big waves between 1096 and 1101, marching to Palestine through the Balkans and Asia Minor. In military terms, the First Crusade was an overwhelming success, which ultimately led to the establishment of the so-called Crusader states in the Levant. On July 15, 1099, the crusaders conquered Jerusalem, having previously defeated a number of Muslim armies along the way and taken Antioch as well as Edessa. These unexpected results helped cement the view that the crusade was willed and supported by God, which from then onwards became a pivotal element of crusade ideology. Despite being a military and for many of the participants also a personal successthose who died on the way were considered martyrs, those who returned home heroesvictory came at a price. Not only did many of the crusaders and their families make enormous sacrifices to finance their participation, many also died in the cruel conditions of the long journey and on the battlefields. This was particularly true for the popular contingents led by the charismatic priest Peter the Hermit. Those who found riches and power in the newly established states, notably a number of French and Italian knights, were few and far between. There were also numerous tensions among the leaders of the crusade armies and the collaboration with the Byzantine Greeks at times turned into open hostility. The religious fervour of many of the participants, fuelled by eschatological and revivalist tendencies, was also responsible for the cruel attacks on Jewish communities in France and Germany perpetrated by crusaders along the way. Considered to be enemies of the Christian religion, Jews were again and again seen as legitimate targets of crusader aggression throughout the later middle ages, despite attempts by the Church hierarchy to stop such attacks.

Throughout the twelfth century a succession of large and small scale crusades to the Near East took place, aimed first at enlarging and later defending the Latin establishments in the Levant. During the first half of the century, smaller crusades took place such as the one led by King Sigurd of Norway in 1107 to 1110 and a crusade proclaimed by Pope Calixtus II resulted in expeditions in 1123 to 1124 and 1125 to 1126. After the re-conquest of Edessa by Muslim forces in 1144 Pope Eugene III issued the earliest extant crusade bull (Quantum praedecessores ) launching the Second Crusade. This expedition, led by King Louis VII of France, who was later joined by King Conrad III of Germany, was part of a major crusading effort on several Christian frontiers in Spain, Eastern Europe and the Levant. The German and French crusade armies in the East failed to secure northern Syria and were beaten in 1147 and 1148 respectively. The unexpected defeat of two royal armies provoked massive criticism of the crusade as an institution, much of which was aimed at Bernard of Clairvaux, the chief ideologue and propagandist of the Second Crusade. Despite the need of the Latin establishments for military assistance, crusade activity to the Levant was low until the very end of the twelfth century. The frequent calls for crusades by the papacy went largely unheeded, with the exception of a small crusade force led by Philipp of Flanders in 1177. It was not until the victory of Saladin's Muslim forces over the army of the crusader states at Hattin and the subsequent loss of Jerusalem in 1187 that crusading to the Levant resumed on a large scale. Pope Gregory VIII's bull Audita tremendi issued in October of that same year triggered what was perhaps the greatest crusading effort in aid of the Holy Land ever to occur, known as the Third Crusade. Between 1190 and 1197 two German emperors and the kings of France and England took the cross and organised major crusade campaigns heading for Palestine. While neither Emperor frederick i nor his successor Henry VI reached the crusader statesFrederick drowned on route in Asia Minor and Henry died prior to departuretheir respective armies played an important part in recapturing Acre, Sidon and Beirut for the Latins. The crusade armies of King Philipp II of France and King Richard I of England also failed to regain Jerusalem in 1191 to 1192, but their victories over the Muslims crucially helped to secure and consolidate the survival of the crusader states in the coastal regions of Palestine for another one hundred years and also put Cyprus under Latin rule, which lasted until the sixteenth century. The Fourth Crusade (see below), proclaimed by Pope Innocent III in 1198, was famously diverted to Constantinople and only a few elements of its army ever reached Palestine.

The thirteenth century marked the heyday of crusading to the Eastern Mediterranean. Until the 1270s major crusade armies left for the Holy Land every decade, while numerous smaller expeditions took place in between; these included the unauthorised and ill-fated expeditions known as the Children's Crusade of 1212 and the Crusade of the Shepherds of 1251, which despite their utter failure in military terms bore witness to the fanaticism of crusaders from the lower echelons of society. However, internal strife, wars between the leading powers in the West and competition from other crusades meant that the large-scale effort necessary to re-conquer Jerusalem and save the crusader states from succumbing to the mounting pressure from Muslim forces never took place. Nevertheless, temporary military success was provided and, here as in other crusade theatres, individual participants could fulfil their religious vocation and gain their spiritual rewards independent of the outcome of each crusade. The Fifth Crusade, proclaimed in 1213 and lasting until 1221, constituted an ultimately futile attempt at breaking the Muslim domination in the Levant by attacking Egypt. Bogged down in the Nile delta, the crusaders hoped for help from Emperor Frederick II, who had taken the cross in 1215 but again and again delayed his departure until he was excommunicated by the pope in 1227 for his failure to fulfil his vow. Nevertheless, having married Isabella of Brienne, the heiress to the Latin Kingdom of Jerusalem, the emperor was eager to impose his domination in the East and went on crusade in 1228. His excommunication prevented Frederick from gathering enough military support to wage a war, but he managed to negotiate a ten-year-truce with the Muslims and the return of Jerusalem to the Latins in 1229. In view of the end of the truce, two sizeable crusade armies sailed to Palestine in 1239 to 1240 led by Theo bald IV of Champagne and Richard of Cornwall respectively. Having regained territories previously lost to Christian control and negotiated a new truce, this crusade was successful on the whole, even though its military achievements did not last long. By 1244 Muslim forces had retaken Jerusalem and some of the territories secured by the recent crusade. In reaction, King Louis IX of France committed himself to a grand crusading project which he organised with unprecedented care. In 1248 his crusade left from the port of Aigues Mortes, specifically built for the use of the royal army, reaching Cyprus and finally Damietta in Egypt in June 1249. Once again and despite the enormous efforts put into this expedition the strategy of attacking the Muslim forces from the Nile turned out a failure. Louis himself was taken prisoner and had to be redeemed for a large sum of money, while the ambitious military aims of his crusade were all but abandoned. Nevertheless, the French king stayed in Palestine until 1254, once more negotiating a truce and assisting the crusader states in strengthening their defences. He also established a permanent French garrison, which stayed until 1286. More than any other medieval ruler, Louis IX was personally committed to the crusade. But his second attempt at bringing aid to the Holy Land in the late 1260s also failed. Planned in conjunction with King James of Aragon, his brother King Charles of Sicily and Prince Edward, son of King Henry III of England, Louis IX's second crusade only got as far as Tunis, where the crusade army was ravaged by plague, with the king himself dying on Aug. 25, 1270. Only Edward's army reached Palestine where it fought a number of battles before returning to Europe in 1272. The remainder of the thirteenth century was marked by unsuccessful attempts to stop the continuous Muslim conquest of the Latin establishments in Palestine which was finally completed when Acre fell in 1291. At the Second Council of Lyon in 1276 Pope Gregory X, one of the most fervent supporters of the crusade to the Holy Land, once again tried to launch a pan-European expedition, but his death in the same year meant that his high-flown plans bore no fruit.

Crusading to the East from the fourteenth to the sixteenth century was fuelled by the continuing enthusiasm in Europe for the recovery of the Holy Land, but its scope was checked by the political situation and the military conditions in the Levant. First the Mamluk and later the Turkish empire proved too potent for the limited crusade efforts the European powers were ready to commit to the East. Most crusade projects were relatively small expeditions undertaken in conjunction with the Italian city states, the kings of Cyprus or the Order of St. John (later Order of Malta), who all had tangible economic and political interest in the area. The main aims of these various crusades were either the recovery of Jerusalem via Egypt or the defence of Latin Greece from Turkish pirate action. Thus, for example, Dauphin Humbert II of Viennois gathered a crusade force to attack Smyrna in 1345 to 1347 and King Peter I of Cyprus led a crusade in 1365, which temporarily conquered Alexandria. The steady advance of the Turkish empire in the late fourteenth and the fifteenth centuries met with a renewed crusade response from Europe, which ultimately remained limited, despite numerous initiatives by the papacy. In 1396 a crusade army was beaten at Nicopolis in Bulgaria, failing to halt the Turkish progress through the Balkans. Similarly a large crusade force led by the king of Hungary was defeated at Varna on the Black Sea fifty years later in 1444. Following the Turkish conquest of Constantinople in 1453, a crusade mainly made up of Hungarian participants was gathered and led by the charismatic preacher John of Capistrano. This played a major part in successfully defending Belgrade and thus contributed towards stopping the Turkish advance. But despite further forceful initiatives by popes like, for example, Pius II and despite the ambitious plans by political rules like Emperor Maximilian I, the crusades to the Eastern Mediterranean were not revived after the fifteenth century even though the ideology and to some extent also the practice of crusading continued to play a part in the Holy Leagues and the military activities of the Order of Malta.

Iberian Peninsula. Crusading against the Muslims in the Iberian Peninsula was an integral part of the Reconquista, which began long before the institution of the crusade was born. Shortly after the First Crusade, at the beginning of the twelfth century, the popes began to assign crusade status to the military campaigns for the reconquest of Muslim territories organised by Iberian kings and noblemen. The crusade and its ideology thus became part of the ongoing process of Christian colonisation of the Iberian Peninsula which lasted until the very end of the fifteenth century. Whereas much of the Reconquista was fought by feudal armies and urban militias, crusaders from Spain and elsewhere played an important part in supplying additional military support when it was most needed. In terms of men, money and ideology the institution of the crusade thus made an indispensable contribution towards the Reconquista. The first major crusade campaign in the Iberian Peninsula was fought in Andalucia in 1125 to 1126 by King Alfonso I of Aragon, closely followed by the campaigns in the context of the Second Crusade in the 1140s, during which Almeria, Santarem, Lisbon and the remaining Muslim territories of Catalonia were conquered. Like in other crusading theatres, the first half of the thirteenth century was a period of intensive crusading in the Iberian Peninsula. A large army made up of French, Spanish and Portuguese crusaders defeated the Muslims at Las Navas de Tolosa in July 1212, a victory which marked the turning point of the Reconquista and broke the Muslim dominance in Spain. Both King James I of Aragon's conquest of Majorca in 1229 to 1231 and Valencia 1232 to 1253 and King Ferdinand III of Castile's conquest of Badajoz in 1230, Jérez in 1231, Córdoba in 1236 and Seville in 1248 were achieved with massive assistance by crusaders. In the second half of the thirteenth century, the Spanish rulers even made attempts to attack Muslim strongholds across the Straits of Gibraltar, drawing on crusading support readily granted by the papacy. With the exception of the conquest of Algeciras in 1344 the Reconquista came to a temporary halt between 1275 and the final decades of the fifteenth century. The Muslim presence in the Iberian Peninsula was finally ended with the conquest of Granada in 1492. The conflict with the Muslims in the Western Mediterranean, however, did not stop after the end of the fifteenth century, with the crusade playing an important part in the Spanish and Portuguese kings' wars against the Muslims in Northern Africa in the sixteenth century. But the crusades to Morocco and later against the advancing Turkish empire in Northern Africa, fought amongst others by Emperor Charles V and King Sebastian of Portugal, were largely unsuccessful and came to an end in the late 1570s. Throughout the later middle ages the Reconquista not only relied on the military support of crusaders, but also on the important financial contribution the crusade was able to provide through the systematic sale of indulgences (cruzadas ) and the frequent imposition of crusade taxes.


Heretics. Canon 27 of the Third lateran council of 1179 provided limited military support for bishops fighting heretics in their dioceses, while offering a limited indulgence for those participating in these campaigns. This prepared the ground for full-scale crusades to be directed against heretical Christians. The use of military force to combat heresy was justified by arguing that heretics disregarded doctrine and disobeyed the ecclesiastical hierarchy, thus threatening the unity and integrity of the Catholic Church. In connection with the Inquisition, the crusades against heretics were part of the brutal suppression of dissident Christian communities by the medieval Church. It was in fact Pope innocent iii who proclaimed the first anti-heretical crusade against the dualist Albigensian heretics of southwestern France in 1208, granting participants a plenary indulgence in return for 40 days service in the crusade armies. The crusades against the Albigensians intermittently operated between 1208 and 1226 with several campaigns led by the Northern French nobility, most notably Count Simon of Montfort and King Louis VIII. But although the crusade campaigns ended in military defeat for the heretics, the Albigensian faith survived into the early fourteenth century, when it was finally eradicated by the Inquisition.

Small scale crusades were fought against the heretical Bosnian church and also against the Drenther and the Stedinger peasants in the Netherlands and in Northern Germany between 1227 and 1234. The cross was also preached against small groups of heretics in Northern Italy in the 1250s, and in 1306 to 1307 a crusade was launched against the followers of Fra dolcino in Piedmont. In Eastern Europe crusades against heretical groups survived into the fourteenth and fifteenth centuries, with the cross being preached against Cathars in Hungary in 1327 and a crusade army fighting against heretical movements in Bohemia in the 1340s.

The five crusades fought against the hussites between 1420 and 1431 arose from a combination of religious and political developments in Bohemia. King Sigismund of Hungary fought these crusades with the assistance of a number of German princes in the hope of imposing his political authority by suppressing the religious unorthodoxy of the Hussites, who also entertained strong anti-Imperial sentiments. Despite its initial success the five crusades against the Hussites failed to eradicate the heretical movement in Bohemia. The wars against the Hussites were the last crusades against heretics of the late Middle Ages. But with the sale of crusade indulgences and the use of crusade rhetoric, elements of the antiheretical crusades surfaced again in the Catholic response to the Reformation in the sixteenth century as well as in the Thirty-Years' War of 1618 to 1648.

Schismatics. Crusades against schismatics were proclaimed against exponents of the Greek and Russian Orthodox Church as well as against opponent Catholic factions during the Great Schism of the fourteenth century. As early as 1107 to 1108 Bohemund of Taranto led a crusade force against Byzantines in Northern Greece, albeit without tangible military results. The first full scale crusade against the Byzantine Empire came in the course of the Fourth Crusade. Proclaimed by Pope Innocent III in 1199, this expedition was originally planned as a crusade to the Holy Land led by the Counts of Champagne, Blois and Flanders. When the crusaders gathered at Venice in 1202, it soon became clear that they did not possess the financial means to pay for transport to the Levant. In a deal, the Venetians offered their fleet in return for military assistance first in attacking the Christian city of Zara in Croatia and later the Byzantine capital of Constantinople. The Venetians were eager to promote their own interests by helping Alexius IV, who had fled to the West and promised to support the crusaders, to regain the Byzantine throne. After the conquest of Constantinople, relations with the new Byzantine emperor, however, turned sour and the crusaders ended up ousting the new ruler. After three days of terrible pillaging, the crusaders installed Baldwin of Flanders as the first Latin emperor. Pope Innocent III reluctantly accepted the diversion of the Fourth Crusade, justifying the attacks on the Greeks as schismatics. With the creation of the Latin Greek empire a new crusade theatre was in fact established. The survival of the Latin empire and the Latin principalities of Southern Greece heavily depended on military assistance from the West. From the 1230s to the 1250s a large number of French crusaders were involved in repelling Byzantine attempts to re-conquer Constantinople. The massive crusading support for the Latin empire planned by Pope Urban IV in the 1260s came too late, however. In 1261 Michael Paleologus recaptured Constantinople. Although Urban IV immediately renewed his call for a crusade, it was not until the beginning of the fourteenth century that a last unsuccessful attempt was made to re-establish the Latin empire of Constantinople.

Other wars against Orthodox Christians on the frontiers of Catholic Europe in the fourteenth century were also assigned the status of crusades. Thus King Amadeus IV of Savoy led crusaders to Bulgaria in 1366 to 1367 and several crusading campaigns were fought by the Scandinavian kings against the Russian rulers of Novgorod between 1348 and 1351.

The Great Schism of 1378 to 1417 also produced two crusades, which both originated in England and were fought by supporters of the Roman faction against adherents of the Avignon popes. In 1383 Henry Despenser, bishop of Norwich, led a crusade force across the English Channel to fight the count of Flanders and in 1386 to 1387 John of Gaunt invaded Castile. Both crusades were limited in scope and did not achieve any lasting results.

Political Enemies of the Papacy. The crusades against political enemies of the papacy grew out of a long tradition of armed conflicts between the papacy and its political opponents in Italy in the eleventh century. In 1135 the Council of Pisa for the first time granted a crusade indulgence to those supporting the papal cause in Italy. The first political crusade to be preached in Italy was directed against Markward of Anweiler, a German ministerial eager to assert his power in Southern Italy after the death of Emperor Henry VI and thus acting against papal claims of overlordship. This crusade, however, never got off the ground properly and became redundant after Markward's death in 1203. By the middle of the thirteenth century political crusading had come into its own. From 1239 the cross was preached in Italy, Germany and Hungary against the excommunicate Emperor Frederick II and his followers. After the emperor's death in 1250 the crusade was renewed against his heirs Manfred and Conradin. In Germany the anti-king William of Holland was the main beneficiary of the crusading contingents recruited by the papal propagandist. In Italy a number of papal armies were operating in the 1250s, but the final success for the anti-Hohenstaufen crusade was provided by the leadership of Charles of Anjou, brother of King Louis IX of France. Charles led his crusaders on a triumphal crusade through Italy, beating Manfred at Benevento in 1266, Conradin at Tagliacozzo in 1268 and finally conquering the last Hohenstaufen outpost, the Muslim colony of Lucera, in 1269. The establishment of Angevin rule in the kingdom of Sicily did not, however, put an end to political crusading in Italy. After the Aragonese conquest of Sicily in 1282, the papacy launched a number of crusades for its return to the Angevins. These crusades came to an end in 1302 when the papacy finally accepted Aragonese rule on the island of Sicily. In northern Italy, however, the crusade against papal enemies, fuelled by the popes' exile at Avignon, operated intermittently until the 1360s in the attempt to restore the papal states to Guelf rule.

In another context, it has been argued that the political conflicts in England in the 1210s and the 1260s showed elements of political crusading, with the popes supporting King Henry IIII against their internal opponents.


Northeastern Europe. There is evidence from as early as 1108 that the wars fought by the German nobility against the non-Christian Wends east of the river Elbe were viewed in terms of crusading. In the context of the Second Crusade the Wendish wars were explicitly granted the status of a crusade by Pope Eugene III. The Wendish crusades were closely bound up with the colonising and missionary activities in North-Eastern Germany. In the late 1140s four crusade armies were led against the Wends made up of Danish, German and Polish participants with the archbishop of Bremen and the duke of Saxony as their principal leaders. The conquest of Dobin, Demmin and Stettin as well as the Danish occupation of Rügen in 1168 foreshadowed the Christian expansion along the Baltic coast between the late twelfth and the late fourteenth centuries, which heavily relied on crusading support. The main protagonists of these colonising and missionary wars were the archbishops of Bremen, the northern German, Danish and Swedish nobility and the military orders of the Swordbrothers and the Teutonic Knights. The first wave of colonisation between the late 1190s and the 1230s led to the occupation of Western Pommerania, Livonia and Estonia. This was supported by regular crusade propaganda in Germany and Scandinavia principally organised by the mendicant orders. Whereas Swedish crusaders continued their activities in the second half of the thirteenth century by conquering large parts of Finland, the long drawn out struggle for the occupation of Prussia and Lithuania was directed and controlled by the Teutonic Knights from the 1230s onwards, sometimes in competition with the Polish nobility. While they initially drew on crusaders recruited by the mendicant orders, the organisation of crusade support was granted directly to the Knights in the second half of the thirteenth century. Until the end of the fourteenth century, by which time most of Lithuania was christianized, a steady influx of knightly crusaders from across Europe supported the Teutonic Order in their colonizing activities.

Mongols. Although no crusade army ever confronted the Mongols in the field, the crusade machinery was set in motion against them several times. When a huge Mongol army, after having devastated parts of Poland and Hungary, threatened to invade Germany in 1241, the German bishops proclaimed a crusade, which was later confirmed by the pope. King Conrad IV agreed to lead the crusade and a great number of crusaders were recruited and large sums of money collected. But the Mongols did not cross the Danube after all and the crusade never took place. Similarly a crusade was preached in the late 1250s when another Mongol invasion of Christian Europe seemed a possibility. But once again the Mongols did not move towards Central Europe and the crusade never materialized.

Bibliography: The Atlas of the Crusades, ed. j. s. c. rileysmith (London 1991). A History of the Crusades, 6 v., ed. k. m. setton, (2d ed. Madison, Wisconsin, 196989). The Oxford Illustrated History of the Crusades, ed. j. s. c. rileysmith (Oxford 1995). p. alphandÉry et a. dupront, La chrétienté et l'idée de croisade, 2 v. (Paris, 195459, reprint 1995). j. a. brundage, Medieval Canon Law and the Crusader, (Madison, Wisconsin and London, 1969). m. g. bull, "Knightly Piety and the Lay Response to the First Crusade," The Limousin and Gascony, c. 970c. 1130 (Oxford, 1993). r. chazan, European Jewry and the First Crusade (Berkeley 1987). e. christiansen, The Northern Crusades: The Baltic and the Catholic Frontier 11001525 (London 1980). p. j. cole, The Preaching of the Crusades to the Holy Land, 10951270 (Cambridge, Massachusetts, 1991). p. w. edbury, The Kingdom of Cyprus and the Crusades, 11911374 (Cambridge 1991). k. erdmann, The Origin of the Idea of Crusade, tr. m. w. baldwin and w. goffart (Princeton 1977). j. flori, La première croisade. L'occident chrétien contre l'Islam (Brussels 1992). j. france, Victory in the East: A Military History of the First Crusade (Cambridge 1994). n. j. housley, The Italian Crusades: The Papal-Angevin Alliance and the Crusades against Christian Lay Powers, 12541343 (Oxford 1982); The Avignon Papacy and the Crusades, 13051378 (Oxford 1986); The Later Crusades, 12741580. From Lyons to Alcazar (Oxford 1992). w. c. jordan, Louis IX and the Challenge of the Crusade: A Study in Rulership (Princeton, New Jersey, 1979). b. z. kedar, Crusade and Mission: European Approaches towards the Muslims (Princeton 1984). s. d. lloyd, English Society and the Crusade, 12161307 (Oxford 1988). d. m. lomax, The Reconquest of Spain (London 1978). a. macquarrie, Scotland and the Crusades 10951560 (Edinburgh 1985). c. t. maier, Preaching the Crusades: Mendicant Friars and the Cross in the Thirteenth Century (Cambridge 1994). h. e. mayer, The Crusades, tr. j. gillingham (2d ed. Oxford 1988). j. phillips, Defenders of the Holy Land: Relations Between the Latin East and the West, 11191187 (Oxford 1996). j. m. powell, Anatomy of a Crusade, 12131221 (Philadelphia 1986). m. purcell, Papal Crusading Policy, 12441291 (Leiden 1975). d. e. queller and t. f. madden, The Fourth Crusade: The Conquest of Constantinople (2d ed. Philadelphia 1997). j. richard, The Crusades, c.1071c.1291, tr. j. birell (Cambridge 1999). j. s. c. riley-smith, The Crusades: A Short History (London 1987); The First Crusade and the Idea of Crusading (London 1986); What Were the Crusades, (2d ed. London 1992); The First Crusaders, 10951131 (Cambridge 1997). m. roquebert, L'épopée Cathare, 5 v. (Toulouse, 197098). h. roscher, Papst Innocenz III: und die Kreuzzüge (Göttingen, 1969). p. rousset, Histoire d'une idéologie: La croisade (Lausanne 1983). f. h. russell, The Just War in the Middle Ages (Oxford 1985). s. schein, Fideles Crucis: The Papacy and the Recovery of the Holy Land, 12741314 (Oxford 1991). e. siberry, Criticism of Crusading, 10951274 (Oxford 1985). j. r. strayer, The Albigensian Crusade (New York 1971). c. j. tyerman, England and the Crusades, 10951588 (Chicago 1988); The Invention of the Crusades (London 1998).

[c. maier]


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CRUSADES , military expeditions of the European Christians in the 11th, 12th, and 13th centuries to conquer Ereẓ Israel from the Muslims or to repel their counterattacks. The explicit cause was the reports received from Jerusalem concerning the maltreatment of Christian pilgrims and the manner in which their access to the Holy Places was obstructed. In many of these reports, the malevolence of the Jews was also stressed, so that from the beginning the ground was prepared for including the Jews in the freshly stimulated animosity against the unbelievers: indeed, at the period of the analogous expeditions of French knights to assist the Spanish Christians against the Moors (c. 1065), the Jews of *Narbonne and elsewhere had been attacked notwithstanding the admonitions of Pope *Alexander ii. It was originally intended that the crusaders should concern themselves solely with the success of their expedition overseas, without intervening in the affairs of the Christian countries of Europe. However, precisely because the crusaders ignored this stipulation, the Crusade was partially deflected from its initial course, with tragic consequences for the Jews of Europe.

The First Crusade

The Crusade was preached by Pope Urban ii at Clermont-Ferrand (subsequently referred to as Har Afel, "the mount of gloom," by Jewish chroniclers of the Crusades) on Nov. 27, 1095, at the close of a council which had convened there. Those who obeyed the call affixed crosses to their outer garments, thus the name croisés, crociati, or crusaders. The Jews termed them to'im ("[misguided] wanderers"). At the outset, nothing in the proclamation of Urban ii seemed to threaten the Jews, but it would appear that the Jews in France sensed danger, since they sent emissaries to the Rhine communities to warn them of the possible threat. The first group of crusaders gathered in France on their way to Germany. They may already have attacked some Jewish communities on their way, possibly in *Rouen, and more certainly in *Lorraine. It was already clear that the crusaders, or at least some of them, were gathering in the Rhine valley in order to follow the traditional route to the Orient along the Rhine and Danube rivers. The community of *Mainz was more troubled about the French communities and thought that those in the Rhineland had no reason for concern on their own account. However, their sense of security was soon to be brutally shaken shortly after the first muster of the crusaders and before the Jewish communities of Germany could take whatever precautions were open to them. The sight of the wealthy Rhenish communities acted as an incentive to the crusaders, who decided to punish "the murderers of Christ" wherever they passed, before their encounter with their official enemies, the Muslims. Soon it was rumored that Godfrey of Bouillon himself had vowed that he would not set out for the Crusade until he had avenged the crucifixion by spilling the blood of the Jews, declaring that he could not tolerate that even one man calling himself a Jew should continue to live.

The first bands of crusaders arrived outside *Cologne on April 12, 1096. For a month they left the Jews in peace, perhaps because the Jews of France had given Peter the Hermit a letter asking the Jewish communities he passed through on his journey to supply him and his followers with all the food they required, in exchange for Peter's undertaking to use his influence in their favor. However, the swelling throng of crusaders, which surpassed all expectations, and the religious frenzy preceding the departure of the army rapidly induced a change of mood which rendered the influence of Peter the Hermit ineffectual. Aware of the inherent danger in the situation, the leaders of the Mainz community hastily dispatched a delegation to Emperor Henry iv, who wrote immediately to the princes, bishops, and counts of the empire to forbid them to harm the Jews. Godfrey himself replied that he had never had any such intention. For their greater security, the communities of Cologne and Mainz each presented him with a gift of 500 pieces of silver, and he promised to leave them in peace, which he did.

Meanwhile, the Crusade had evolved into a ponderous machine made up of various elements: the greater nobility, the lesser nobles such as Count Emicho of Leiningen, and the people. It was the last element which proved particularly receptive to the anti-Jewish slogans spreading rapidly among its ranks and it was less amenable to discipline. Although the bishops and prominent nobles were generally opposed to such ideas, they had no wish to see Christians fight Christians over the Jews. Frequently their assistance to the attacked Jews was passive at the most. It was in the region where the crusaders assembled that violence broke out, in the weeks between Passover and Shavuot. The rioting continued until Tammuz (June–July). On the eighth of Iyyar (May 3, 1096), the crusaders surrounded the synagogue of *Speyer; unable to break into it, they attacked any Jews they could find outside the synagogue, killing eleven of them. One of the victims, a woman, preferring death to conversion, the only choice left open by the crusaders, inaugurated the tradition of freely accepted martyrdom. *Kiddush ha-Shem, martyrdom for the glory of God, thus became the exemplary answer of Jews threatened in their life and faith by the crusaders. On the 23rd of Iyyar (May 18, 1096) *Worms suffered a similar fate. The crusaders first massacred the Jews who had remained in their houses, then, eight days later, those who had sought an illusory refuge in the bishop's castle. The victims numbered about 800; only a few accepted conversion and survived, the great majority choosing to be killed or suicide rather than apostasy. Hearing of the massacre, the Jews of Mainz asked for the bishop's protection, paying him 400 pieces of silver to this end. When the crusaders, led by Emicho, arrived outside the town on the third of Sivan (May 27, 1096), the burghers hastened to open the gates. The Jews took up arms under the leadership of Kalonymus b. Meshullam. Weakened through fasting, for they had hoped to avert the disaster through exemplary piety, the Jews had to retreat to the bishop's castle; however the latter could do nothing for them, as he himself had to flee before the combined assault of crusaders and burghers. After a brief struggle, a wholesale massacre ensued. More than 1,000 Jews met their deaths, either at the enemy's hands or their own. Those who managed to escape were overtaken; almost no one survived. A comparable disaster occurred in Cologne, where the community was attacked on the sixth of Sivan (May 30, 1096). The bishop dispersed the town's Jews in order to hide them in nearby localities: at Neuss, Wevelinghofen, Eller, Xanten, Mehr, Kerpen, Geldern, and Ellen. The crusaders located them and a bloodbath followed. At *Trier the bishop could not protect his Jews, as he himself had to go into hiding, and he consequently advised them to become Christians. The great majority refused, preferring suicide. At *Regensburg, all the Jews were dragged to the Danube where they were flung into the water and forced to accept baptism. At *Metz, *Prague, and throughout *Bohemia, one massacre followed another. These came to an end when Emicho's crusaders were decisively halted and crushed by the Hungarians, who, incensed by their excesses when they poured through the country, had risen against them. Seeing in this the hand of God, the Jews promptly set about reconstructing their ruined communities. There had been more than 5,000 victims.

The Jews who had been baptized under duress generally continued to practice Judaism in secret. As early as 1097, Emperor Henry iv allowed them openly to return to their former faith, an action which was strongly condemned by the antipope Clement iii. Henry also ordered in May 1098 an inquiry into the manner of disposal of the property of massacred Jews in Mainz thus provoking the displeasure of the local bishop. In about 1100, Jews returned to Mainz, but their position was not yet quite secure, and the Jews of the upper town could scarcely communicate with those in the lower. In 1103, Henry iv and the imperial lords finally proclaimed a truce which, among other things, guaranteed the peace of the Jews.

the crusaders in ereẒ israel

Meanwhile, the crusaders had reached *Jerusalem (June 7, 1099), and the siege had begun. The city was captured on July 15, with Godfrey entering it through the Jewish quarter, where inhabitants defended themselves alongside their Muslim neighbors, finally seeking refuge in the synagogues, which were set on fire by the attackers. A terrible massacre ensued; the survivors were sold as slaves, some being later redeemed by Jewish communities in Italy. The Jewish community of Jerusalem came to an end and was not reconstituted for many years, but the Jewish centers in Galilee went unscathed. However, the great community of *Ramleh dispersed, as did that of *Jaffa, so that overall the Jewish community in the Holy Land was greatly diminished.

The Second Crusade

On the loss of Edessa by the crusaders (1144) the West became troubled over the fate of the Latin Kingdom of Jerusalem, and a new Crusade to save it was preached by Pope Eugene iii. The popes attempted to encourage the crusaders at the Jews' expense. Innocent iii in 1198 ordered that no interest should be chargeable during the absence of crusaders on debts they incurred to the Jews and that anything already received should be returned. Since the return of a crusader was problematical, this restriction when it was observed implied at best the immobility of Jewish capital over prolonged periods, at worst the possibility of total confiscation (which was to become more widespread with the extension from the 13th century of the term "Crusade" to any campaign in any part of the world in which the popes might be politically interested). Naturally, this caused great difficulties to their Jewish creditors. In one way or another, as soon as the Second Crusade was announced, the clouds began to gather once more over the Jews of Europe. As early as the summer of 1146, a Cistercian monk, Radulph, while preaching the Crusade, violently attacked the Jewish communities of the Rhineland, exhorting the crusaders to avenge themselves on "those who had crucified Jesus" before setting out to fight the Muslims. The spiritual leader of the Crusade, *Bernard of Clairvaux, pointed out the theological error in his arguments, strictly forbidding any excess against the Jews, who were to be neither killed nor expelled. Although the anti-Jewish riots had begun before his intervention, he succeeded in preventing them from spreading so that, in the final count, they were far less extensive than those in the First Crusade. The persecution began in Elul (August–September). A few isolated Jews were put to death. At Cologne, the Jews bought the protection of the bishop and managed to find refuge in the fortress of Walkenburg. The bishop even went as far as having the leader of a mob blinded for killing a number of Jews. There were few victims at Worms and at Mainz, but more than 20 at *Wuerzburg. Scores of Jews sought refuge in the castles and the mountains. In Bohemia, about 150 lost their lives, and victims were equally numerous in *Halle and *Carinthia. As in the First Crusade, the community of France suffered less than the Rhineland communities. Jacob b. Meir *Tam was set upon a group of crusaders, who stabbed him in five places in memory of the wounds suffered by Jesus, but he succeeded in escaping with the help of a knight with whom he was acquainted. In England, the Jews were left in peace. Everywhere, Jews who had been converted by force were allowed to return to Judaism undisturbed. By the next summer, order had been restored, and the Jewish communities had everywhere recovered.

In the Holy Land, the Second Crusade had concluded with the conquest of *Ashkelon by the crusaders. *Benjamin of Tudela and *Pethahiah of Regensburg, who visited the crusading kingdom around 1160 and 1180 respectively, found well-established Jewish communities in *Ashkelon, *Ramleh, *Caesarea, *Tiberias, *Acre, among other localities, with scattered individuals living elsewhere: it seems that the Jewish settlement of Jerusalem was restricted to a handful of individuals, though a few years later Judah *Alḥarizi (1216) found a prosperous community there. The *Samaritans seem to have remained undisturbed in *Nablus as well as Ashkelon and Caesarea. It would therefore appear that the warriors of the Second Crusade left the Jewish communities relatively undisturbed.

Meanwhile the Latin Kingdom had begun to crumble under the blows of its enemies. When Jerusalem fell to Saladin in 1187, the Jews of Europe suffered the consequences of this defeat. It had already become habitual to harass the Jews whenever a Crusade was in the offing. In 1182, Emperor Frederick i took the Jews of the empire under his protection, receiving, as was customary, substantial payment for his pains. As soon as the news of the fall of Jerusalem reached Europe, he forbade all anti-Jewish sermons and renewed his promise of protection. At the beginning of 1188, a tragedy was narrowly averted in Mainz. Drawing a lesson from past experience, the Jews of Mainz, Speyer, *Strasbourg, Worms, Wuerzburg, and elsewhere left their towns to seek refuge in the nearby fortified castles. The few Jews who remained at Mainz owed their lives to the Diet which had convened there; and in the course of the proceedings the emperor and his son forbade on direst penalties any interference with the Jews, threatening death to anyone who killed a Jew. These warnings were echoed by the bishops, who threatened excommunication for those who persecuted Jews. All this had cost the Jews of the empire huge sums, and, more than ever before, they became dependent on the favors and the passing whims of their masters.

The Third Crusade and After

In *England, the Third Crusade had the most savage repercussions. England had taken little interest and no part in the first two Crusades, but her zeal was none the less intense when Richard the Lion-hearted decided to take part in person in the third. In January the first abuses struck the port of *Lynn, where the bulk of the Jewish community was massacred. The same occurred in *Norwich and *Stamford. At *Lincoln, the Jews were saved through the intervention of royal agents. The worst outrage took place in *York, where a number of local nobles, in heavy debt to the Jews, seized the opportunity to rid themselves of their burden. When attacked, the Jews took refuge in the Castle Keep, which the guard had opened for them; those who remained in the town were slaughtered. On their refusal to allow access to the keep, the Jews were besieged. On March 16, on the eve of Passover, the rabbi, *Yom Tov b. Isaac of Joigny, realizing that all hope was lost, asked his brethren to choose suicide rather than submit to baptism. First setting fire to their possessions, one after the other killed himself. More than 150 died in this way, and the few survivors were murdered by the mob, who also destroyed the register of debts to the Jews. In *Bury St. Edmunds 57 Jews were put to death. As the king was out of the country, where he neither could nor cared to intervene too vigorously, the perpetrators of the massacres also left England for the Crusade. There is little doubt that the Jews in England lost faith in the prospect of their continued survival in the West. The emigration in 1211 of 300 rabbis from Western Europe to the Holy Land may be connected with this general disillusionment. As the enthusiasm of the masses waned, the Jews in Western Europe were little troubled during the 13th-century Crusades. However, it appears that there was a massacre in central France around 1236 during the preparations for a Crusade; in fact, Pope *Gregoryix accused the crusaders of having slaughtered over 2,500 Jews.

Yet, at the very moment when the great wave of Crusades was ebbing, the Jewish community in France suffered most acutely from a popular Crusade, that of the *Pastoureaux (1320). Forty thousand of these "shepherds," aged on an average around 16 and without any clearly designated leader, marched through France from north to south. Although Pope *John xxii excommunicated all who set forth on this unauthorized march, this did not hinder the new crusaders from hurling themselves at the Jews in the manner of their predecessors. Their savagery was especially marked south of the River Loire, where they destroyed some 120 communities. Hoping to be protected there by the authorities, numbers of isolated Jews and small communities took refuge in the larger towns. Five hundred who had sought safety in the town of *Verdun sur-Garonne found death there. At *Toulouse there were 115 victims. In the *Comtat Venaissin, a direct papal dependency, there were many cases of forced conversion; the subsequent attempt to return to Judaism provoked the prompt intervention of the Inquisition. Meanwhile, the very abuses of the Pastoureaux aroused a violent reaction on the part of the Christian authorities: the governor of *Carcassonne even had some of the ringleaders executed. Those who had crossed the Pyrenees into Spain were routed by James ii of Aragon and forced to disperse. Nevertheless, this uprising had struck a savage blow at the Jewish communities in the Midi and northern Spain.

The long era of the Crusades undoubtedly marked a turning point in the history of the Jews in medieval Western Europe. The Church herself was forced to reexamine and define her position of the problem posed by the large-scale persecution of the Jews. Clearly the situation of the Jews prior to the Crusades was not always free from danger: the animosity of the Christians toward the Jews was nothing new and the Crusades did not lead to any reappraisal of Christian doctrine. However, it was probably in the wake of the First Crusade that Pope *Calixtusii (1119–24) promulgated the bull Sicut Judaeis, which was renewed after the Second and Third Crusades and on at least five other occasions between 1199 and 1250. It stipulated that although no new privileges should be granted to the Jews, they should not be deprived of a single one of the rights secured to them. Christians should take special care not to endanger the lives of Jews, not to baptize them by force, and not to desecrate their cemeteries. Naturally papal protection was not extended to Jews who plotted against the Christian faith. It was sufficient for the Church to protect them from the excesses of the crusaders, especially since the latter, from the moment they took up the standard of the cross, were themselves placed under the jurisdiction of the Church. The Jews therefore requested the popes to intervene on their behalf: thus *Innocentiii ordered the French bishops to take particular care that the crusaders did not harm the Jews. As mentioned, Gregory ix later (1236) accused the crusaders of conspiring to murder the Jews: such a crime committed in the name of sanctity could not be allowed to go unpunished. However, it would appear that these directives were in vain, although it is difficult to assess with any precision the measures relating to the Jews.

The Significance of the Crusades

In the memory of the Jews, the Crusades became the symbol of the opposition between Christianity and Judaism, and the tension aroused by the persecutions was far more severe than that which had existed since the origins of Christianity. The debate ceased to be a theological one, to the extent that this had ever been the case. The Christians saw the Jews as the implacable enemies of their faith and in this climate the *blood libel became widespread. From the 12th century comes the first expression of the idea of a Jewish plot against the Christian world: it was alleged that the Jews had to sacrifice one Christian each year, and held an annual council to decide the site of the sacrifice and the name of the victim. At *Blois in 1171, all members of the Jewish community were burned at the stake following such an accusation, and from the 13th century similar charges were raised in Germany.

The Jewish community found a source of inspiration in the memory of the martyrs. There being no hope of immediate vengeance, the massacre of the innocents was glorified and compared to the sacrifice of Isaac. The suicide of the martyrs was seen as a collective act for the sanctification of the Divine Name. Rather than a bitter memory of cruel affliction, it became an example of true piety and submission to the will of God. For the succeeding generations the martyrs were an object of admiration and even of envy, for they had been the generation whom God had put to the test and they had proved themselves worthy. A man of true faith could achieve no more than to be their equal. It therefore became important for the Jews to cherish the memory of their sacrifice, to retell it, and to be inspired by it. A number of piyyutim on the subject were incorporated in the liturgy, especially for the Ninth of *Av. It became customary in Western communities which had been closest to the massacres to recite the prayer of the martyrs, Av ha-Raḥamim, on the Sabbath before Shavuot and especially to remember their sacrifice in the fast of the Ninth of Av, which had fallen during the time of the massacres. The period of the counting of the *omer acquired an especially sorrowful significance.

It was probably this era that gave rise to the custom, originating in Mainz, of reciting in public the deeds of the martyrs on the anniversary of their sacrifice, and recording their names and dates in a *Memorbuch, which was kept in the synagogue. The most widely known martyrs and the most severely affected communities and regions figured in the Memorbuecher of all communities and not only locally. The martyrs became a symbol for the whole people, not just for their own communities; more than simply an object of pride, they became a common ideal in which the whole Jewish community, despite all its humiliations, could find inspiration. Their martyrdom was transformed into victory, for they had defied torture, finding in their faith the necessary strength for preferring death to apostasy. They had chosen death rather than conversion, even though the latter need probably have been only temporary. In their martyrdom lay the very justification of the sufferings of the Jewish people. Spiritual power proved the strongest force of all and the martyrs were seen as a demonstration of the absolute truth of Judaism.

Yet in fact the massacres attendant on the Crusades were far from being the worst persecutions which befell the Jews. The communities destroyed in the Rhine valley were quickly reestablished: Worms, Speyer, Mainz, Cologne, and Treves rapidly regained their former importance. The Jewish community in the kingdom of France proper, or at least in the north, hardly suffered throughout the course of the era. Italy and Spain were almost untouched. In England the royal authorities speedily put an end to local disorders. There is nothing to suggest that during this period the Jews in Western Europe lost their sense of security in the localities where they were living: no great exodus took place in 1096 or in 1146. The majority of those converted by force, at least until the Crusade of the Pastoureaux, were able easily to return to Judaism. It would seem that the actual number of Jews in Western Europe increased in this era and several communities became larger and more populous. For Jewish scholarship the 12th century was one of the most glorious in the West: it was the age of the Tosafists, renowned throughout France and Germany. Personal relationships between Jews and Christians apparently changed little; it was only at the beginning of the 13th century that they took a new turn. It would appear that the Crusades themselves did not play a decisive role in the evolution of the condition of the Jews in Europe. Placed in a larger context, they are only an element in the whole, though a far from negligible one.

At all events, the Crusades revealed the physical danger in which the Jewish communities stood and the impotence of their ecclesiastical protectors to defend them. On the outbreak of an actual attack, they pushed the Jews into the arms of the only powers capable of protecting them: duke, king, or emperor, and these secular protectors considered that they had a duty to protect the Jews only to the extent that they derived some benefit from them. The Crusades also encouraged the Jews to move to the fortified cities, where they would be less vulnerable in the event of an attack. The reactions on Jewish economic life were in their way disastrous. The former unique position of the Jews as intermediaries between East and West was undermined; henceforth, it was commonplace for western merchants to travel backward and forward between the two worlds, while at the same time the stimulation of religious fanaticism made the path of the Jewish merchant more dangerous. Hence it was the Crusades which marked the end of the heyday – at one time quasi-monopoly – of the international Jewish merchant. At the same time, they gave a stimulus ipso facto to the economic degradation of the Jew and his transformation, so far as Western Europe was concerned, into the recognized moneylender of the Christian world (see *moneylending). Partly this was due to the imperative necessity of finding a new outlet for their capital; partly to the increased demands on the part of the crusaders for ready cash to equip themselves and to carry with them on their travels. From now on therefore the Jewish moneylender became the typical Jewish figure of the Western European scene.

The Crusades and their attendant degradation were firmly imprinted on the historic consciousness of the Jews. This period became singled out in the popular mind as the start of and explanation for the misfortunes of the Jews, although in fact the excesses were only symptomatic of a process which had already been set in motion earlier. The Crusades marked in various ways a turning point in the history of the Western world, and this was reflected also in Jewish history. Indeed, it is from this point only that the history of the Jews in the Rhineland and Central Europe may be said to acquire continuity: whereas before the general picture has had to be constructed from scattered fragments and documents, henceforth the record is more or less sustained and complete. As in the case to some extent with general historiography, it is only at this period, with the remarkably graphic and moving records of the Rhineland massacres in 1096, that consistent Jewish *historiography, or at least chronography, begins to be preserved, even though there are fragmentary records written earlier. The history that now unfolded was predominantly a tragic one. Whereas in European Jewish history before this date episodes of violence and persecution are occasionally known, there now began a period of intermittently recurring massacre and persecution which colored European Jewish experience for centuries to come. The heightened religiosity of the age resulted in the sharpening of the system of anti-Jewish discrimination and of Jewish humiliation, culminating in the legislation of the Fourth *Lateran Council of 1215. The chronicles of *Solomon b. Samson, *Eliezer b. Nathan of Mainz, *Ephraim b. Jacob of Bonn, *Eleazar b. Judah of Worms, and many other whose names are not known, described the events of the Crusades, the scenes of the massacres, and the martyrs. They are also to be regarded as basic sources from which statistical accounts of the Crusades must start. Through capturing these events they magnified their significance, but thereby furnished an ideal of conduct which was constantly recalled to mind whenever severe persecutions befell the Jews.


Graetz, Hist, index; Baron, Social2, index; A.M. Habermann, Sefer Gezerot Ashkenaz ve-Ẓarefat (1946); Prawer, Ẓalbanim; Germ Jud, 1 (1963); S. Grayzel, The Church and the Jews in the 13th Century (19662), index; Roth, England; H. Liebeschuetz, in: jjs, 10 (1959), 97–111 incl. bibl. notes; S. Runciman, History of the Crusades, (3 vols., 1951–54); J. Katz, in: Sefer… Y. Baer (1961); idem, Exclusiveness and Tolerance (1969), 67–92; Baer in: Sefer Assaf, 110–26; S.D. Goitein, Mikhtavim me-Ereẓ Yisrael mi-Tekufat ha-Ẓalbanim; Neubauer-Stern, Hebraeische Berichte ueber die Judenverfolgung waehrend der Kreuzzuege (1892); Salfeld, Martyrol; N. Golb, in: paajr, 34 (1966), 1–63; M.N. Adler, The Itinerary of Benjamin of Tudela; Hacker, in: Zion (1966); M. Benvenisti, Crusaders in the Holy Land (1970). add. bibliography: J. Prawer, The History of the Jews in the Latin Kingdom of Jerusalem (1988).

[Simon R. Schwarzfuchs]


views updated Jun 27 2018


Among the best-known events of the Middle Ages, the Crusades were a series of armed expeditions by European Christians to conquer Muslim-controlled territory in the Holy Land. Historians have traditionally bracketed these campaigns between the years 1095, when Pope Urban II preached the First Crusade, and 1291, when the Mamelukes, a caste of Muslim slave soldiers, conquered the city of Acre (Israel), bringing to an end any significant European Christian presence in the Holy Land. Historians disagree over the exact number of crusades, though most agree that there were either seven or eight in total.

Like many historical events, the Crusades are difficult to define. The crusading spirit experienced in Europe also was expressed against Muslims in Spain, pagans in northern Europe, heretics in southern France, and even orthodox Christians in the Byzantine Empire. In addition, just as the geographic boundaries of the Crusades are unstable, so too are their chronological parameters. Although Western European Christians lost for good their last significant base in the Middle East in the late thirteenth century, they continued to make minor attempts to recover territory for centuries.


The Crusades were military campaigns waged between two very different cultures that had developed separately but along paths that eventually brought them into violent contact. The Muslims of the Middle East were believers in an energetic religion of conquest and considered themselves the successors to the covenants God had established first with Jews and, later, with Christians. In the twenty-first century, Muslim-Christian relations in the Middle Ages were complicated. At times, believers in the two faiths lived comfortably side by side; at others, relations between them were difficult at best.

Messages in the Qur'an, the sacred book of Islam, about Christians are mixed. While there is hostility toward Christians on account of some of their beliefs, there is also a sense that Jesus's followers are to be respected because they, like Jews, are "people of the Book." Most European Christians, however, failed to realize that Muslims considered themselves successors to a covenant that they (Christians) had once enjoyed. Instead, most Christians considered Muslims to be pagans, and were unaware of Islam's monotheism and its perceived connection between Islam, Judaism, and Christianity.

It is difficult to determine what role these beliefs played in Muslim-Christian relations during the Crusades. It seems likely, though, that the catalyst that channeled European energy into armed pilgrimages to the Holy Land is to be found in developments occurring simultaneously in the Muslim world. The most significant of these was the advent of the Seljuk Turks. Since 1066 the Seljuks had been attacking the Byzantine Empire, a Christian state, and in 1071, under the command of Sultan Alp Arslan, they defeated the armies of Byzantine emperor Romanus IV at the Battle of Manzikert (in present-day Turkey). The victory was significant, a major defeat that wrested Asia Minor (Turkey) from Byzantine control and placed it under Turkish rule. Soon after, Arslan captured Jerusalem from the Fatimids, an Islamic dynasty whose power base was located in Egypt. Under Seljuk rule, Jerusalem became less accessible to Christian pilgrims, who at times were barred from holy sites, attacked, and even murdered.

For the next two decades, the Byzantine Empire continued to lose territory to the Turks. By 1095 the situation was grave and the Seljuks were poised to strike the Byzantine capital city, Constantinople. Seriously threatened, Emperor Alexius I Comnenus turned to the western Church for help. It was a timely appeal. On the eve of the Crusades, Western Europe was entering a period of cultural creativity, economic revival, political stability, and increased religious devotion. It was a time of energy and confidence, during which many men were willing to take up the cross and travel long distances in search of opportunity and adventure. Pope Urban II, and the nobility of France were willing to indulge this request, believing that it was their duty to help their fellow Christians in the East.

Many also saw the vast potential in such a campaign. Pope Urban called the First Crusade at the Council of Clermont in 1095. His speech played on the pride of the Franks, noted the opportunities available to those who participated, drew attention to the plight of Christian pilgrims to the Holy Land, emphasized the conquests of the Muslim Turks, cast Muslims as the enemies of Christ, and offered those who joined the protection of property as well as indulgences. The speech met with great success, including cries of "Deus vult!" ("God wills it!"), and by the following year the First Crusade was mobilized. In 1099, after a bitter siege followed by a bloody massacre that cost the lives of many women and children as well as combatants, the city of Jerusalem fell to the crusaders. As one Christian writer put it "the slaughter was so great that our men waded in blood up to their ankles."


The success of the First Crusade astonished many, including the crusaders themselves. Indeed, it is easily arguable that, from a Western European perspective, the first was the most successful of all the Crusades. The successive campaigns, by and large, were called to help Christians who were already in the Holy Land. For example, when the city of Edessa (Turkey), reverted to Muslim control in 1144, Pope Eugenius III called the Second Crusade, which was preached by no less a person than Bernard of Clairvaux, one of the most influential personalities of the twelfth century. Although backed by the churchman's clout and by the participation of King Louis VII of France and Emperor Conrad III of Germany, the crusade was a miserable failure for Western Europeans. In 1147, the same year the crusade began, Conrad's army was defeated by the Turks at Dorylaeum (Turkey). The remaining soldiers joined with the army of Louis VII, which had left for the field of battle later than the German forces. Both contingents had traveled through the Balkans to reach their destination and, while doing so, had pillaged territories of the Byzantine Empire. Like the Byzantine emperor Alexius, who greeted the armies of the First Crusade, Emperor Manuel I was nervous about having an unruly army in his kingdom. He, again like Alexius, provided transportation for the crusaders to Asia Minor as soon as he could. The crusaders never did recapture Edessa; instead they targeted the city of Damascus (Syria), the unsuccessful siege of which signaled the end of the campaign in 1148.

The Third Crusade was also called as a defensive response, this time in reaction to the military conquests of the Muslim warrior Saladin, who in 1187 recaptured Jerusalem. Although Pope Gregory VII's appeal motivated numerous European leaders, including Kings Richard I and Henry II of England (who died before the crusade left), Philip II of France and Emperor Frederick Barbarossa (who drowned en route in June 1190), the crusade achieved little for those who participated. It came to an end when King Richard signed the Treaty of Jaffa with Saladin in 1192.

The infamous Fourth Crusade followed ten years later, when Pope Innocent III called for a crusade to Egypt. The crusaders arrived in Venice with insufficient money for their passage. In lieu of payment, the Venetians redirected the crusade to the city of Zara, which they wanted recaptured from the Hungarians. The city fell in 1202, and no sooner did it succumb than the army was again redirected—this time by Alexius IV, son of the recently blinded and deposed Emperor Isaac II. Alexius offered the crusaders 200,000 marks, reunification of the Orthodox and Roman churches, and a large army for a crusade if the crusaders would help restore his father to the throne.

The majority of the crusaders agreed to the proposition and in 1203 headed toward Constantinople. They attacked the city in July, and their successful campaign resulted in the co-coronation of Isaac and his son. Within months, however, the clergy and the people of the city, led by the future Alexius V, rioted against the monarchs. Isaac and his son were murdered in January 1204. In response, the crusaders took Constantinople by force. In May, Count Baldwin of Flanders was crowned the first Latin Emperor of Constantinople, an empire that would last until Emperor Michael VIII reclaimed the throne in 1261.

After the Fourth Crusade's failure to reach Egypt, Pope Innocent called another in 1213. The Fifth Crusade left Europe under the direction of Duke Leopold of Austria in 1217, and within two years the crusaders had captured the city of Damietta. However, the crusaders soon became bogged down by internal conflicts, and the Egyptians took advantage of the delay to fortify their positions. With their supply lines cut and facing considerable flooding due to deliberately broken dykes, this first wave of crusaders retreated from Egypt in 1221. There was a hiatus in the crusade until 1228, when Holy Roman Emperor Frederick II took up the cross. The emperor spent the next year peacefully negotiating a treaty that restored a section of Palestine (which included Jerusalem) to Christian control.

The two final crusades, the Six and Seventh, were led by King Louis IX of France. The army departed in August 1248, and by the following June the crusaders retook the city of Damietta and within a few months began marching toward Cairo. In 1250, Louis's army suffered a disastrous defeat at Mansurah (Egypt), which ultimately forced the crusaders to retreat. By April 6, Louis's forces were surrounded and the king was captured; he was ransomed one month later. Louis remained in the Holy Land until 1254 to negotiate various truces and fortify the cities of Acre, Jaffa, Caesarea, and Sidon. He returned to France in April, where he remained until 1270 when, energized by a report that Emir Muhammad I wanted to convert to Christianity, he departed for Tunis. However, immediately upon arrival in Tunis, Louis became gravely ill and died on August 25. Although the leadership of the crusade passed to the king's brother, Charles of Anjou, Louis's death brought an effective end to the crusade. In some ways the end of this crusade sounded the death knell of the movement. Within twenty years there would no longer be any significant Western European presence in the Holy Land.

Consequences for Muslims, Jews, and Orthodox Christians

From the Muslim perspective, the lasting effects of the Crusades on the Islamic Middle East were fairly negligible. To many Muslims, they were just episodes in a long running clash with Christians. In fact, as Carole Hillenbrand notes, it is only in the recent past that Muslims have taken an interest in the Crusades as a discreet set of historical events: modern Arabic terms for "the Cross wars" (al-salibiyya) or "the war of the Cross" (harb al-salib) were not introduced into the language until the nineteenth century. However, as Thomas Madden points out, the crusading movement did have some negative effects on the Muslim world, including slowing the conquest of Islam. The mere presence of European Christians in the region distracted Muslims and prevented the local populations from forming into a unified Islamic state. It is possible that by diverting Muslim energy and material resources, the Crusades may have bought Europe time to prepare itself for the threats that the Turks would pose to the continent in the fifteenth, sixteenth, and seventeenth centuries.

The consequences of the early crusades for the Jews of Western Europe were dramatic. As Robert Chazan notes, a great paradox of the Crusades is that, although numerous high churchmen condemned violence against Jews, they also initiated undertakings that led to the persecutions that some later tried to suppress. Long embedded in the European psyche was the notion of Jews as the enemies of Christ. The year 1096 was a notably devastating one for German Jews. Whereas John, bishop of the German city of Speyer, was willing and able to protect the Jews of his diocese, the Jews of Worms were not as lucky. Turned on by their neighbors and unable to be protected effectively by the town's bishop, many in this city were massacred or forced to convert. The Jews of Mainz also fell prey to violence, and many chose to die by their own hands rather than succumb to the crusaders. Suddenly and tragically, the once renowned Jewish community of Mainz was decimated.

The Second Crusade brought more attacks upon the Jews of Europe, although none were as severe as those of 1096. The Jews, the Church, and secular governments took precautions as the crusade was called. Indeed, one of the most vocal protectors of the Jews was the preacher of the crusade, Bernard of Clairvaux. The Third Crusade, which came on the heels of the coronation of King Richard I of England, inflamed anti-Jewish passions once again. Riots broke out in London in 1189, followed by others in the kingdom which destroyed a number of Jewish communities. Clearly, then, the Crusades had disastrous social and cultural consequences for Europe's Jews. They had highly negative economic consequences as well, because anti-Jewish violence was not only a religious instrument, it was also a financial one that could be used to force Jews to forgive the debts of the Christian populace.

The consequences of the Crusades for the orthodox Christians of the Byzantine Empire were also devastating. As George Dennis states in The Crusades from the Perspective of Byzantium and the Muslim World:

Muslims believed force might be used to bring all people under the sway of Islam; Western knights believed that they were called not only to defend but "exalt" Christianity and that attacks on its enemies could be holy and meritorious. The Byzantines believed that war was neither good nor holy, but was evil and could be justified only in certain conditions that centered on the defense of the empire and its faith. They were convinced that they were defending Christianity itself and the Christian people, as indeed they were (Laiou and Mottahedeh, 2001, p. 39 ).

The defense came at a great cost. The pillage and desecration of the holy city of Constantinople in 1204 by their fellow Christians ripped wounds into the communal Orthodox memory that have yet to be healed. The empire lost many of its cultural and sacred treasures, which were carried off to western Europe in general and to Venice in particular. In addition, as the Latin Empire of Constantinople reigned, the outlying territories broke apart into separate independent states, striking a great and lasting blow to the unity of the empire. After the reassertion of Greek political authority in 1261, the politically fragmented state was unable to withstand the military blows it continued to sustain. Its strength would continue to be weakened for the next two hundred and fifty years by attacks from Charles of Anjou, the Venetians, the kingdoms of Serbia and Bulgaria and, most notably, the Ottoman Turks. The Turks would ultimately bring the once great empire to an inglorious end during a siege led by the founder of the Ottoman Empire, Sultan Mehmet II, on May 29, 1453.

SEE ALSO Catholic Church; Religion; Religious Groups


Chazan, Robert (1980). Church, State and Jew in the MiddleAges. New York: Behrman House.

Chomates, Niketas (1984). O City of Byzantium: Annals of Niketas Choniates, trans. Harry J. Magoulias. Detroit, Mich.: Wayne State University Press.

Commena, Anna (1969). The Alexiad of Anna Comnena, tran. E. R. A. Sewter. Baltimore, Md.: Penguin Books.

The Crusades. (2003). Available from Internet Medieval Sourcebook at

Gabrielli, Francisco, ed. (1969). Arab Historians of theCrusades, tran. E. J. Costello. London: Routledge and Kegan Paul.

Hallam, Elizabeth, ed. (1989). Chronicles of the Crusades:Nine Crusades and Two Hundred Years of Bitter Conflict Brought to Life through the Words of Those Who Were Actually There. New York: Weidenfeld and Nicolson.

Joinville and Villehardouin (1963). Chronicles of theCrusades, tran. M. R. B. Shaw. Harmondsworth, U.K.: Penguin Books.

Odo of Deuil (1948). De profectione Ludovici VII in orientem (The Journey of Louis VII to the East), ed. and tran. Virginia Gingerick Berry. New York: Norton.

Dawn Marie Hayes


views updated Jun 11 2018


Both the word "crusades" and its Arabic equivalent, al-hurub al-salibiyyah, are modern terms. What these words refer to, however, can be quite different depending on who is using them. The dominant trend in secular academic research on the Crusades since the 1970s has been one of expansion of the topic in terms of activities and military campaigns included, of time span, and of geographic expanse. Despite this revisionism, there is little doubt that in the popular parlance of nonspecialists, the Crusades refers to the almost two-century-long presence (1097–1291 c.e.) of Latin Christians from central and western Europe in the Holy Land of the eastern Mediterranean coastal strip. Thus, while events after 1291—such as the Christian reconquest of Spain, campaigns against heretics in or on the borders of Latin Christendom, or the European conflicts with the Ottoman Empire—are now within the domain of current scholarship on the Crusades (particularly in Europe), they do not figure large in the discourse of the Crusades ongoing in the contemporary population of the Holy Land.

Overview of the Crusades

At the Council of Clermont in 1095, Pope Urban II delivered a sermon that set in motion the Crusades. Precisely what he said is unknown, nor is there agreement as to his motivations and goals, but in the aftermath of Clermont, clergy, nobles, and commoners mobilized for campaigns to reconquer Jerusalem, which had been in Muslim hands since 638 c.e. While what comes next follows the common shorthand of referring to major Crusade campaigns by numbers, it should be emphasized that this practice does not take into account the steady stream of armed pilgrims flowing into and out of the Holy Land nor the numerous smaller military campaigns that they undertook.

The First Crusade (1097–1101) resulted in the establishment of four Crusader states in lands of the eastern Mediterranean littoral: the County of Edessa, the Principality of Antioch, the County of Tripoli (although the city itself was not captured until 1109), and the Kingdom of Jerusalem. In light of the obstacles these first crusaders faced in their long journey east—shortages of supplies, uneasy relations with the Byzantine Empire, travel across rough and unfamiliar terrain inhabited by hostile populations, lack of organization, and internal rivalries, to name but a few—this initial success was remarkable. Indeed, the First Crusade almost ended at Antioch between 1097 and 1098, where the Crusaders first laid siege to the Muslims for several trying months, and upon victory were subsequently besieged themselves by numerically superior forces.

This Crusader victory is usually linked to the disunited opposition they faced. In the late eleventh century c.e., there was no single powerful Muslim state to oppose the invasion of the ifranj (Franks), as the Muslims called the invaders. In many cities of the Seljuk confederation, military authorities known as atabegs were busy establishing their autonomy, and were often preoccupied by rivalries with other local Muslim rulers. The Sunni Abbasid caliphate in Baghdad was unable to directly influence military affairs. The Shi˓ite Fatimid caliphate in Cairo, itself engaged in a struggle against the Seljuks for control of Jerusalem, did comparatively little to counter the Crusader incursion. In the words of the Muslim chronicler Ibn al-Athir: "When the Franks—may God curse them—extended their control over what they had conquered of the lands of Islam, and it turned out well for them that the troops and the kings of Islam were preoccupied with fighting each other, at that time opinions were divided among the Muslims, desires differed and wealth was squandered" (Hillenbrand, 31). Over the next four decades the Crusaders entrenched themselves in the landscape of Outremer (literally, "across-the-sea"), skirmished with the Muslims, and began the construction of numerous castles, made necessary by their constant shortage of manpower.

The first major success of the Muslim counter-Crusade was achieved by the Turkish military leader Zangi, the atabeg of Mosul and Aleppo. After consolidating his control over northern Syria and the Jazira (northwestern Iraq), he launched a series of campaigns against the Crusaders, culminating in his capture of Edessa in 1144. Zangi's elimination of this Crusader state gave added impetus to calls in Europe for another major Crusade. Forces of the Second Crusade subsequently arrived in Syria in 1147, and after heated discussion between the resident Crusaders and the new arrivals, decided to attack Damascus, ironically one of the Muslim cities whose ruler up to that point had coexisted with the Franks. This campaign ended in defeat for the Crusaders on the outskirts of Damascus in July 1148.

Zangi's career as a counter-Crusader was cut short by his assassination in 1146, but was continued by his son Nur al-Din. Nur al-Din expanded the area under his control, occupying Damascus in 1154, and, utilizing the vocabulary of jihad, he launched attacks against the Franks. In response to numerous Crusader sorties against Egypt in the 1160s, Nur al-Din sent a contingent of his forces to aid the Fatimid state. This force was led by the Kurdish general Shirkuh, who had in his service his nephew Salah al-Din Yusuf b. Ayyub, subsequently known as Saladin to the Crusaders. Upon his uncle's death, Saladin took command of this force, and by March 1169, took control of Egypt, subsequently bringing the Fatimid Caliphate to an end. Following the death of Nur al-Din in 1174, Saladin moved against his former overlord's heirs and brought Damascus and eventually most of Syria (Aleppo submitted in 1183) and the Jazira (Mosul submitted in 1186) under his control. He then mounted a major campaign against the Franks, defeating the bulk of their forces at the battle of the Horns of Hattin near Tiberius on 4 July 1187. Jerusalem fell to him by October of that year, and the Crusader holdings were reduced to a few castles and coastal cities.

These victories made Saladin a hero. A contemporary poet wrote of him,

You took possession of Paradises palace by palace,

When you conquered Syria fortress by fortress.

Indeed, the religion of Islam has spread its blessings over created beings,

But it is you who have glorified it. (Hillenbrand 1999, p. 179)

The defeat of the Latin forces also sparked the Third Crusade (1189–1192), in which three European monarchs were personally involved: the German emperor Frederick I, King Philip II of France, and King Richard I (the Lionheart) of England. Frederick drowned in Anatolia on his way to Outremer, and Philip and Richard quarreled from the moment of their arrival in the Latin East. Nevertheless, their combined forces helped recapture Acre, henceforth the capital of the truncated Kingdom of Jerusalem. After Philip's return to France, Richard led a series of campaigns against Saladin and, by his departure in 1192, had aided in the reestablishment of Latin control over most of the coastal cities and their immediate hinterlands.

Saladin's death in 1193 provided a temporary respite to the Crusaders, as his successors (collectively known as the Ayyubids, from the name of Saladin's father) engaged in struggles over preeminence in the lands that had been united by Saladin. In these struggles, some Ayyubid princes were not adverse to making temporary alliances with the Franks against their Ayyubid rivals. The diversion of the Fourth Crusade (1204) to Constantinople, which was sacked and subsequently occupied, did little to change this situation in Outremer. These divisions among the Ayyubids contributed to the complex narrative of the Fifth Crusade (1217–1229). Recognizing the strategic importance of Egypt, this crusade began with the Franks besieging and eventually occupying the Egyptian port city of Damietta. In the face of intra-Ayyubid rivalries, the Ayyubid ruler of Egypt, al-Malik al-Kamil, offered to give Jerusalem to the Franks if they would leave Egypt, but the Crusaders refused. By 1221, the Crusaders were forced out of Egypt. The Fifth Crusade came to an end in the bizarre events of 1228–1229, in which the emperor Frederick II, excommunicated for his delays in fulfilling his crusading vows, successfully negotiated a treaty with al-Malik al-Kamil allowing the Christians to take control of certain sites in Jerusalem, yet was bombarded with offal by the residents of Acre as he left to return to Europe. The last Crusader presence in Jerusalem was eliminated in 1244, when the city was sacked by Kharazmian warriors, themselves displaced from their homelands by the Mongol invasions from Central Asia.

The final major crusade to the Latin East was that of King Louis IX of France (1248–1254). Louis and his forces succeeded in capturing Damietta in 1249, but were subsequently defeated at Mansura in 1250 by the forces of the late Ayyubid ruler of Egypt, al-Malik al-Salih. Upon surrender and payment of a large ransom, Louis went to Acre, where he spent four years strengthening fortifications before returning to France.

To understand the end of the Crusader presence in Outremer, one must return to events of 1249–1250. During the course of Louis's Crusade in late 1249, the Ayyubid al-Malik al-Salih died. When his son Turanshah arrived from Syria in early 1250 to succeed his father, he took steps to limit the influence of key groups among his father's supporters. The main target of Turanshah's punitive actions was the corps of his father's mamluks, or military slaves. In his struggles against his Ayyubid rivals, al-Malik al-Salih had built up a sizable regiment of these military slaves, who while still youths had been purchased as slaves from regions outside the Islamic world and subsequently converted to Islam and trained in military techniques. His regiment was known as the Bahri mamluks, since their barracks were located on an island in the river (bahr) Nile. Faced with loss of influence and possibly life, these mamluks of al-Malik al-Salih turned against Turanshah, and murdered him shortly after the victory of Mansura.

After this regicide, the history of the subsequent decade of the history of Muslim Egypt and Syria is dominated by a complex struggle for power, further complicated by the Mongol invasions. The decade ended with the definitive establishment of the Mamluk Sultanate in 1260 by Baybars, one of those Bahri mamluks. After consolidating Mamluk control, Sultan Baybars launched his forces against the Crusaders, capturing Antioch (in 1268) and several major Crusader castles. After Baybars' death in 1277 there was a brief lull, but attacks against the Crusaders resumed later in the reign of the Sultan Qalawun, who conquered Tripoli shortly before his death in 1289. Upon the capture of Acre in 1291 by the forces of Qalawun's son, al-Ashraf Khalil, the few Crusaders left on the coastal strip abandoned their holdings and fled, thus bringing Frankish presence in Outremer to an end, although no one at the time realized it. In order to discourage Crusader attempts to reoccupy the Muslim coastal cities, the Mamluks razed their fortifications.

The Crusades in the Muslim World Today

A survey of scholarly literature and public discourse in the modern Muslim world reveals that the Crusades have great relevance and resonance today. They are commonly seen as the forerunner of the European colonial efforts of the first half of the twentieth century, placed in the context of perceived centuries of Western antagonism to the Islamic world, and often explicitly linked to the establishment of the modern state of Israel. (Crusade references appeared, for example, in a series of post–1956 Suez crisis Egyptian postage stamps celebrating Egypt as "Tomb of the Invader." One stamp celebrates Saladin's victory at Hattin; a second shows Louis IX in chains after his defeat at Mansura.) It is not uncommon to find references to Saladin and his victory at Hattin in political speeches or celebrated in books. In 1992, a larger-than-life statue of Saladin was unveiled in Damascus. The Crusades also figure in some modern Islamist writing, in which the failures of current leaders to resist Western incursions are compared to the successes of the heroes of the counter-Crusades. And while Hillenbrand (and others) have pointed out the pitfalls of the anachronistic use of nationalistic labels in the study of medieval history, the symbols and perceived lessons of the Crusades have been incorporated into the rhetoric of Arab nationalist movements in particular. Thus in the words of one Arab intellectual, the Crusades when viewed through Arab eyes are seen as an act of rape (Maalouf, 266).

See alsoChristianity and Islam ; Saladin .


Hillenbrand, Carole. The Crusades: Islamic Perspectives. Chicago and London: Fitzroy Dearborn, 1999.

Maalouf, Amin. The Crusades Through Arab Eyes. London: Al Saqi Books, 1984.

Mayer, Hans Eberhard. The Crusades. 2d ed. Translated by John Gillingham. Oxford, U.K.: Oxford University Press, 1986.

Riley-Smith, Jonathan. The Crusades: A Short History. New Haven, Conn., and London: Yale University Press, 1987.

Riley-Smith, Jonathan. The Atlas of the Crusades. London and New York: Facts on File, 1991.

Runciman, Steven. A History of the Crusades. 3 vols. Cambridge, U.K.: Cambridge University Press, 1951–1954.

Warren C. Schultz


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crusades. The main crusades were (1) 1095–9 summoned by Pope Urban II; (2) 1145–8 by Eugenius III; (3) 1188–92 by Gregory VIII; (4) 1198–1204 by Innocent III. Subsequent crusades included the ‘Children's Crusade’ of 1212, in which the English were not involved. The crusades constituted the most popular mass movement of the later Middle Ages. They may be defined as a species of holy war, authorized by the pope and proclaimed in the name of Christ; a just war, that is a justifiable reaction to aggression towards Christian people or territory, their participants enjoying a set of privileges offered by the pope and enshrined in canon law. Such a definition, crucially, did not require a crusader to fulfil his vow in the Holy Land, nor did it postulate Muslims as the target. Crusades came to be deployed against a variety of opponents and in a number of crusading theatres at different times—against Moors in Spain, Mongols in eastern Europe, pagan Slavs in north-eastern Europe, heretics in Bosnia and in southern France, and a variety of papal political opponents within western Europe.

Many of these applications were controversial at the time and remain so today. The same is true of the very notion of crusade, from the time that Pope Urban II made his call to what we now know as the First Crusade at the Council of Clermont in November 1095. In protestant Britain, not surprisingly, the crusade was harshly judged for centuries. For Thomas Fuller, a 17th-cent. royalist Anglican, as for the 16th-cent. martyrologist John Foxe, the ‘holy war’ was fatally tainted by catholicism, while the notion of savage fanaticism was effectively developed by Edward Gibbon in the 18th cent., in a general attack on the lamentable consequences of religious frenzy. This train of thought was famously stated by David Hume in his condemnation of crusade: ‘the most signal and durable monument to human folly that has yet appeared in any age or nation.’ This tradition is still alive, found, for example, in the summing-up by Runciman, whose massive work ends in a ringing denunciation: ‘the Holy War itself was nothing more than a long act of intolerance in the name of God, which is the sin against the Holy Ghost.’

Such a tradition has militated against serious consideration of the significance of the crusades in and for British history. Allowance must also be made for that narrowly insular outlook of many 19th- and early 20th-cent. historians. Apart from the deeds of Richard I, incongruously a source of English national pride as Richard was not English, nor even Anglo-Norman, the limited English role in the crusading movement was scarcely conducive to extensive historical study. What is more, the very wisdom of English involvement was questionable, especially that of kings. Were the crusades not a terrible distraction, deflecting the king from his primary concerns at home, and resulting in Richard I's case in disastrous consequences for his subjects as well as himself? It followed that the crusades could be seen as a deplorable squandering of resources that could have been more usefully employed in England or to England's advantage.

Times and attitudes have changed. One recent trend has been a move towards thorough investigation of the impact of the crusades upon the societies in which they were preached, and it is now apparent that the crusade affected vast areas of life. It is in these effects, on what might be termed the home front of the crusading movement, that the crusades exerted a most profound influence. The heyday of crusading was in the 12th and 13th cents., at least so far as English participation is concerned, but as an institution and as a real force in English life the crusade only finally withered and died in the later 16th cent., as a result of the reordering of values during the Reformation. Every king of England between 1154 and 1327 took the cross, though only one, Richard I, fulfilled it in person. Many of their subjects continued the tradition into the 16th cent.

S. D. Lloyd


Lloyd, S. D. , English Society and the Crusade 1216–1307 (Oxford, 1988);
Runciman, S. , A History of the Crusades (3 vols., Cambridge, 1954);
Tyerman, C. J. , England and the Crusades 1095–1588 (Chicago, 1988).


views updated May 21 2018

cru·sade / kroōˈsād/ • n. (often Cru·sade) a medieval military expedition, one of a series made by Europeans to recover the Holy Land from the Muslims in the 11th, 12th, and 13th centuries. ∎  a war instigated by the Church for alleged religious ends. ∎  an organized campaign concerning a political, social, or religious issue, typically motivated by a fervent desire for change: a crusade against crime.• v. [intr.] lead or take part in an energetic and organized campaign concerning a social, political, or religious issue.DERIVATIVES: cru·sad·er n.ORIGIN: late 16th cent. (originally as croisade): from French croisade, an alteration (influenced by Spanish cruzado) of earlier croisée, literally ‘the state of being marked with the cross,’ based on Latin crux, cruc- ‘cross’; in the 17th cent. the form crusado, from Spanish cruzado, was introduced; the blending of these two forms led to the current spelling, first recorded in the early 18th cent.


views updated May 21 2018

Crusades Military expeditions from Christian Europe to recapture the Holy Land (Palestine) from the Muslims in the 11th–14th centuries. Among the motives for the Crusades were rising religious fervour, protection of pilgrims to the Holy Land and aid for the Byzantine Empire against the Seljuk Turks. Self-advancement of individual Crusaders and commercial motives were also significant. The First Crusade (1096–99), initiated by Pope Urban II, captured Jerusalem and created several Christian states. Later Crusades had the objective of supporting or regaining these states. The Third Crusade (1189–91) was a response to the victories of Saladin. Its leaders included the Holy Roman Emperor and the Kings of France and England. It had some successes, but failed to reconquer Jerusalem. Although Crusader states survived for another century, later Crusades were less successful. In the 13th century, the Church sponsored crusades against other foes, such as the Albigenses in France. See also Children's Crusades


views updated May 14 2018

Crusades (Lat., cruciata, ‘cross-marked’, i.e. cruce signati, those wearing the insignia of scarlet crosses). Military expeditions in the name of Christianity, directed chiefly against Muslim territories to recapture the Holy Land, but sometimes also against other non-Christians, and occasionally against Christian heretics. Of the crusades to reconquer the Holy Land, the traditional count lists eight.

Juridically, a crusader was one who had ‘taken the cross’, i.e. vowed to go on a crusade. Failure to fulfil the vow might entail excommunication, but in return for it the Church granted indulgences (crusade bulls by the mid-13th cent. promised full remission of temporal punishment incurred by sin) and security of a crusader's property in his absence on the crusade. These privileges came to be offered by the papacy to those engaging in almost any campaign which could be presented as a defence of the Church including, in the 13th and 14th cents., the defence of the Church's property in Italy.


views updated May 29 2018

Crusade a medieval military expedition, one of a series made by Europeans to recover the Holy Land from the Muslims in the 11th, 12th, and 13th centuries. The First Crusade (1096–9) resulted in the capture of Jerusalem and the establishment of Crusader states in the Holy Land, but the second (1147–9) failed to stop a Muslim resurgence, and Jerusalem fell to Saladin in 1187. The third (1189–92) recaptured some lost ground but not Jerusalem, while the fourth (1202–4) was diverted against the Byzantine Empire, which was fatally weakened by the resultant sack of Constantinople. The fifth (1217–21) was delayed in Egypt, where it accomplished nothing, and although the sixth (1228–9) resulted in the return of Jerusalem to Christian hands the city was lost to the Turks in 1244. The seventh (1248–54) ended in disaster in Egypt, while the eighth and last (1270–1) petered out when its leader, Louis IX of France, died on his way east.

The transferred use of crusade to mean a vigorous movement or enterprise against poverty or a similar social evil dates from the late 18th century. However, George W. Bush's use of the word to describe the projected ‘war on terrorism’ in the aftermath of 11 September, 2001 caused considerable unease.


views updated May 17 2018

crusade military expedition for the recovery of the Holy Land from the Muslims XVI; gen. XVII. The earlier forms were (i) croisade (XVI) — F., alt. of earlier croisée by assim. to the Sp. form (see -ADE); (ii) crusado, -ada (XVI) — Sp. cruzada; (iii) croisado, -ada (XVII), blends of (i) and (ii). Cf. CROSS 1. The current form is first recorded XVIII.