The military expeditions planned and fought by western European Christians that began around 1095 are known today as the Crusades. The soul purpose of these expeditions was to overtake and gain control of the Holy Land, Jerusalem, from the Muslims. Deus vult! (God wills it!) was the battle cry of the thousands of Christians who participated in the event of the Crusades. It was Christian belief that fate was to gain control of the Holy Land for the glory of God. The origin of the Crusades was a result of the Turkish expansion in the middle east; the Turks invaded the Christian empire, Byzantium, and thus the crusaders were sent out to recover the land which was rightfully theirs.

The first crusade was initiated by Pope Urban II. On November 27, 1095, Pope Urban preached to his followers outside the city of Clermont-Ferrand about the action which needed to take place. Preaching words about how God would lead the way because they would be doing his work, Pope Urban urged action to take place. In response to his speech, the people cheered and planned their crusade to regain control of the lost city. Urban brought all the bishops and urged them to encourage their friends and fellow villagers to take part in the expedition. Small self-directing groups began to form, each planning their own path to Constantinople; that was where they would meet and form unity.

Their plan was to attack the Turkish forces in Constantinople and regain control of the city. The Christian armies conversed with the Byzantium emperor, Alexius I Comnenus, and agreed to return any of the old land that was recaptured. The armies were unsure about this agreement, however, they agreed to the treaty anyhow. The first attack by the crusaders was on the Turkish capital, Anatolian. During the same time frame, the Byzantians were also making an attempt to regain the city of Anatolian. The Byzantians used the crusades to their advantage to achieve their goal in capturing the city.

Later in the year, Anatolian surrendered the city to the Byzantians, not the crusaders. The crusaders then met once again and together defeated the Turkish army, scoring a great victory and boosting their ego by far. Afterwards, the crusaders went and captured the city of Antioch, and then moved on to their primary goal-Jerusalem. Jerusalem was under heavy guard by the Egyptians at the time period when the crusaders were about to make their attack. The crusaders set up siege machines and called for reinforcements, and eventually, the Egyptians surrendered to them.

All who d welled in the city were massacred in belief that the blood of former possessors purified the city. For the next generation or so, the crusaders kept control over the Holy Land and invited their people to come inhabit the city. They began to colonize and set up states; the four major states which were set up consisted of: Tripoli, Antioch, Edessa, and Jerusalem. The crusaders used the strategy of isolating and cutting off supplies that could lead to strengthening to the Muslims and Egyptians. However, as the next generation came about, the children of the original crusaders were not quite as motivated and determined as the original fleet, so the Muslims escaped the isolation and regained power. The Muslims, under the leadership of the radical leader, Zang i, found victory in attacking Edessa.

The Muslims destroyed churches, homes, building, and murdered many crusaders, and regained control of the city. The Pope, seeing the events that were taking place, declared yet a second crusade to recapture the lost territory once again. Armies from France and Germany set out to meet once again in Jerusalem and join forces. However, the German crusaders were ambushed during their voyage depleting their supplies and cavalry. The few remaining joined the French fleet in Jerusalem, and together attempted an attack on Damascus. Being badly defeated, the French army returned home, while the Germans remained with the colonies of the former crusaders.

The states established by the crusaders were slowly being destroyed, and thus, the failure of the second crusade led into a third. Nur ad-Din, the new Muslim leader, motivated the Muslims into believing that they should take back what was thought to be theirs. However, the newfound leader died a few years proceeding, and yet another leader, Saladin, came to power. With the newly revived army, Saladin led his army in an attack to recapture Jerusalem in 1187. In early October, Saladin defeated the crusaders and gained control of Jerusalem. Pope Gregory V then called for a third crusade.

Frederick I, Roman Emperor, Philip II, French king, Richard I of England, all joined together to assemble one of the most powerful armies during the time of the middle ages. However, due to the many misfortunes the crusaders faced, they were not able to recapture control of Jerusalem. Returning home, the Roman, French, and English armies accomplished none of the goals which they had set. Almost immediately upon being elected pope, Innocent assumed the leadership of the Fourth Crusade.

He organized a crusade to attack the Muslims in Egypt. However, almost immediately, Innocent lost control over the Crusade. The original plan if the Fourth Crusade to meet in Venice and ship hosts to the Holy Land, however, financial problems formed because of the expenses involve in shipping so many. The Venetians agreed to give up the ships if the crusaders would help them capture the city of Zara.

After capturing Zara, the Venetians urged to take control over the city of Constantinople. Innocent forbade this expedition, however, most of the crusaders went anyhow; in July 1203, the crusaders took control over Constantinople. The Fourth Crusade was not a crusade that was bound for the Holy Land, but only an event of political and commercial greed. Following the Fourth Crusade was the Childrens Crusades. Singing and shouting, French children marched out across the countryside to the edges of the Mediterranean Sea, where old, rotted merchant ships provided free transport across to the Holy Land.

However, the ships were sunk by a storm, and all aboard the vessels drowned in the icy waters of the Mediterranean. Meanwhile, children in Germany began a march to convert the atheists to Christianity. However, these children also faced tragedy and death, for they were not equipped for the hardships of the Alps to Rome. As a result of the Crusades, life in Europe changed a great deal. Trade with the East increased and feudalism became scarce. The crusaders failed to regain the Holy Land, but the Eastern connections opened Europe to a brighter understanding of optimistic ways of living and thinking.

This began the formation of modern Europe. Annotated


Biel, Timothy Levi. The Crusades. San Diego: Lucent, 1995.
This reference was used as a primary source containing various poems and writings during the time of the Crusades; it was used to better understand the time period and was a reference in the essay. It was also used as a source of illustrations for our presentation board. Crusades. Compton's Interactive Encyclopedia. 1996 ed.
This reference was used as a secondary source to research background information and factual references on the Crusades. It was also used as a resource of illustrations for our presentation board. Crusades. Grolier Multimedia Encyclopedia. 1997 ed.
This reference was used to find maps of the routes taken by the crusaders during the Crusades and as a secondary source of factual information. Crusades. Microsoft (R) Encarta. Copyright (c) 1993 Microsoft Corporation.
Copyright (c) 1993 Funk & Wagnalls Corporation.
This reference was used as a secondary source of factual information in our essay. Ere ira, Alan, Jones, Terry. Crusades. New York: B B C Enterprises, 1995.
This reference was used in order to find illustrations and pictures for our presentation board; it was also used as a secondary source of research and material. Hallam, E.M. Chronicles of the Crusades: Eyewitness Accounts of the War between Christianity and Islam. New York: Weidenfeld & Nicholson, 1984.
This reference was used as a primary source to better understand the events of the Crusades with the eyewitness accounts of the crusades. Pope Innocent. Online. web crusades / documentaries / 16 February 1998.
This reference was used as a secondary source to better understand the role of Pope Innocent during the Fourth Crusade. Urban II: Speech at Clermont 1095 (Robert the Monk Version). Medieval Sourcebook. 1996 ed.
This reference was used as a primary reference to better understand Urbans speech at Clermont. Urban II: Speech at Council of Clermont, 1095, according to Filcher or Chartres. Medieval Sourcebook. 1996 ed.