Tuesday, November 27, 1095, Pope Urban II launched a series
of battles known as the Crusades. The goal was to launch a
counterattack against the Seljuks in Anatolia then defeat
the Muslims in Syria and Palestine and eventually retake Jerusalem
from the Egyptians. Most of the crusaders were nobles. By
1096, five major armies of noblemen--mainly French--had been
assembled and set out on their journey.
common people also got caught up in the excitement and organized
their own "popular Crusade" led by a preacher known
as Peter the Hermit. Very few of the popular Crusaders made
it to the Middle East and even less lasted until Jerusalem.
First Crusade was successful in its holy war, slaughtering
Muslims everywhere they went and taking many cities. But after
these attacks, the Muslims became more unified and organized
under Imad ad-Din Sangi, ruler of Al Mawsil and Halab (Aleppo).
They fought back and retook the city of Edessa in 1144.
in 1145 the Second Crusade was launched. These Crusaders fell
into ambushes and lost battles and basically failed. The Muslims
regrouped again and began retaking more territory from the
Crusaders. In 1187, they took back Jerusalem, leaving Typre
in Lebanon as the only major city still occupied by the Crusaders.
Third Crusade didn't work very well either. Although they
had lots of people, all they got was a chain of cities along
the Mediterranean. From there, the Crusades basically went
down hill. The fourth one, in 1202-1204, had financial difficulties.
To get money, they took Constantinople and plundered it. In
1217, the Fifth Crusade was launched. The plan was to attack
Egypt, take Cairo, and then get control of the Sinai Peninsula.
But promised reinforcements didn't show and the campaign failed.
Roman Emperor Frederick II kept promising to lead his own
Crusade but postponing it because of political stuff at home.
Finally, in 1227, he set off but returned in a few days because
he got sick. The Pope was not a happy camper and excommunicated
him. Frederick decided to go again in 1228, even though he
was excommunicated. His Crusade was unique, consisting almost
completely of diplomatic negotiations with the Egyptian sultan
Al-Kamil. Frederick got a peace treaty giving Jerusalem to
the Crusaders and guaranteeing a 10-year break from fighting.
But the Pope still didn't like him and proclaimed a Crusade
against Frederick, got an army and attacked his Italian possessions.
years later the next big Crusade to the Middle East was launched
by King Louis IX of France when the Muslims took back Jerusalem
in 1244. After four years of planning, he headed to Egypt.
After capturing the port of Damietta, they attacked Cairo.
The Crusaders hadn't guarded their flanks and the Egyptians
kept control of the water reservoirs by the Nile. They opened
the gate and trapped the whole Crusading army in floods. The
Crusaders had to pay a huge ransom and give back Damietta
before returning home.
last major Crusade came in 1270, again organized by King Louis
(he apparently liked being humiliated). The French nobles
weren't particularly enthusiastic. Instead of Egypt, Louis
decided to attack the city of Tunis. But the Crusade ended
quickly when Louis died in the summer of 1270.