In the eleventh century the Western people launched a series of armed expeditions to free the Holy land from Islamic rule. These expeditions are known as the Crusades and they encouraged growth of many towns and contributed to a stable political order in Europe. However, these expeditions could be seen as failures, draining resources and worsening relations with not only Muslims but also Eastern Christians. Motives for the crusades were mainly religious but also had other goals. The First Crusade was by far the most successful. There were minimal losses and ended up controlling most of Israel including Jerusalem.
The Second and Third Crusades fell apart due to the massive amount of Muslims they were fighting. In the end, they won a small short term victory compared to the huge amount of effort put into it. But even with all the losses, the Crusades opened trade and helped expand Europe. Although motives in the Crusades were mainly religious, there were many other intentions for the Crusades.
A group of Muslim nomads, known as Turks, were already threatening pilgrim traffic in the Middle East by imposing numerous taxes and tolls on them. The Turks also seemed to be able to run over the empire of Byzantium, an empire seen as a barrier in to the West. Unlike most Christian writers, many people in Europe believed that the church should correct the evils of this world not just endure them. The continuing expansion of the Western world also contributed to the Crusades. The time of the Crusades was when the European population was growing rapidly and most wanted to move to new lands. The younger sons of knights in particular were encouraged to fight and discover new lands because the parental lands they were to inherit was running out.
They also had been getting restless because of the constant efforts of the church to prohibit them from fighting other Christians. Another incentive for them was that the violent population of knights would be drained from society. So as various princes and armies gathered the crusades were ready to begin. The most successful crusade was the First Crusade. Already under pressure to wage war against the Turks, Europe finally went to war after the Emperor of Byzantium asked for assistance against the Muslims. Headed by the northern French Army, the Crusaders moved towards Constantinople and arrived there in 1097.
Although the leaders of the Crusade had intended to conquer the lands under their own name, the Emperor of Byzantium demanded that the lands be his to keep. This led to arguing among the leaders and weakened the army. In 1907 the crusaders entered the Seljuk kingdom, where they won a series of battles at Dorylaeum, Edessa, and Antioch. After these victories the road to Jerusalem was open. They laid siege to the city and slaughtered its population of Eastern Christians, Muslims, and Jews. Besides their own high level of organizational skill, the Crusaders had a distinct advantage because of the tumultuous fighting that had been going on with the political situation in the East.
In the end they controlled Jerusalem and most of Israel. In 1144, the Muslims recaptured the city of Edessa giving birth to the Second Crusade. Kin Louis VII and Emperor Conrad led two armies to capture Damascus in order to strengthen their defenses. However, the Crusaders were forced to retreat by a much larger Muslim force. The Third Crusade started when the Muslim chief Saladin captured Jerusalem. Various kings including Philip II, Richard I, and Emperor Frederick Barbarossa headed east to once again challenge the Muslim population.
Although the Crusaders managed to capture Acre, the rest of the war ended in a stalemate. In the end unarmed Christians were allowed to make pilgrimages to Jerusalem but this paled in comparison to the massive amount of effort and resources put into the Crusade..