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(1)  1066 was a very important year for Anglo-Saxon England. There were 3 Kings, 2 Battles and a comet. There hasn't been another y...


1st, The Muslim Expansion - The Rise of Islam

Islamic expansion began 3 years after Muhammad's death and emerged from the Arabian peninsula as an aggressively expanding religion, which aimed to conquer all the lands of the region.  They swept across North Africa into Spain, conquered the Middle East and Near East/Asia Minor.  Pagans were dealt with ruthlessly and not tolerated.  The 'people of the book', Christians and Jews were tolerated for their common Biblical inheritance but forced to pay high taxes.  Any advancement in Muslim society was given only to those who converted and between this and the prohibitive taxes many Jews and Christians converted.  This continuous war or 'jihad' continued for the next thousand years.  In this time Muslim armies overran the Christian Lands:-

630 AD Jordan, Lebanon and Palestine
637 AD Syria
639 AD Armenia and Egypt
652-665 AD North Africa, Libya, Tunisia, Algeria and Morocco
711 AD Spain
717-718 AD Constantinople siege
732 AD Southern France
827 AD Southern Italy
850 AD Sicily
900 AD Turkish borders
1050 AD Armenia and Georgia
1070 AD Central Turkey
1300 AD Greece
1400 AD Bulgaria, Serbia and the Balkans
1453 AD Constantinople fall to Turks

ROME is the only place that escaped Muslim domination.

Most Muslim Scholars see the world as divided into 2 realms or abodes, the Abode of Peace and the Abode of War.  The lands controlled by Muslims belong to the Abode of Peace, while those who have not yet submitted to Islam belong to the Abode of War until they are 'utterly subdued'.  So the entire context of the Eastern Crusades is one of response to continuous Islamic aggression. 

2nd, access to Christianities holiest sites was threatened.
In 1009 the Fatimid Caliph al-Hakim bi-Amr Allah ordered the destruction of the Church of the Holy Sepulchre.  In 1039 his successor, after requiring large sums be paid for the right, permitted the Byzantine Empire to rebuild it.  Pilgrims were being threatened and sometimes captured and killed.  Tje 3 of the original patriarchates had fallen under Muslim rule:  Antioch, Alexandria, Jerusalem and the 4th Constantinople was threatened. 

3rd, Seljuk Turks threaten the Byzantine Empire.
In 1071 at the Battle of Manzikert, the Byzantine Empire was defeated, which led to the loss of all of Asia Minor (modern Turkey) save the coastlands.  In 1074 Emperor Michael VII sent letters to Pope Gregory VII asking for aid and in again 1095 from Emperor Alexios I Komnenos to Pope Urban II.


Pope Urban II at the Council of Clermont
Plenary Indulgence: Pope Urban II's remitted all penance incurred by crusaders who confessed their sins, considering participation in the crusade equivalent to a complete penance.  Precedent in 1063 Pope Alexander II had given his blessing to Iberian Christians in their wars against the Muslims, granting both a papal standard and an indulgence to those who were killed in battle. 

Augustine's Just War
Augustine developed a theology of just war, that is, war that is acceptable under certain conditions.  Firstly, war must occur for a good and just purpose rather than for self-gain or as an exercise of power.  Secondly, just war must be waged by a properly instituted authority such as the state.  Thirdly, love must be a central motive even in the midst of violence.  Augustine concludes, 'The commandment forbidding killing was not broken by those who have waged wars on the authority of God, or those who have imposed the death penalty on criminals when representing the authority of the state, the justest and most reasonable source of power'. 

Siege of Jerusalem 1099
Results: Returned Jerusalem to Christian control and saved the Byzantines from the Muslim conquerors.  Established Crusader Kingdom of Jerusalem the principality of Antioch and the counties of Edessa and Tripoli.

1144 County of Edessa falls to the Turks and a new crusade is launched led by Louis VII of France and Conrad III of Germany and preached by St. Bernard of Clairvaux himself.  It failed and most of the crusaders died en route.

The Muslims are united under the great leader Saladin and wipe out the armies of the Kingdom of Jerusalem at the Battle of Hattin.  They capture the relic of the True Cross from the Christians and one by one the Christian cities begin to fall ending with the capture of Jerusalem on Oct 2, 1187.  Phillip II of France, Richard I (the Lionheart) of England and Frederick Barbarossa embark on a new crusade.  Frederick drowns before they reach the Holy Land and his armies return home.  The remaining French and English armies recapture Acre and then the French return home due to conflicts.  Richard continues on and recaptures most of the coast but fails to regain Jerusalem.  He makes a deal with Saladin to ensure safe passage to Jerusalem for pilgrims.  Richard is captured on his way home by the Austrian king and held for ransom.

The disastrous 4th Crusade was never endorsed by Pope Innocent III and he excommunicates the whole crusade.  Lacking funds they appeal to the Venetians to get them to the Holy Land and also get involved with a rival claimant to the Byzantine throne.  The Crusade gets detoured to Byzantium and they end up sacking the city, both to attempt to repay the Venetians and to support the new emperor.

Also known as Cathars, they were medieval Manichaeans, a strong and organized sect based in the south of France, particularly in Languedoc who had the support of powerful and great nobles like Raymond of Toulouse.  Divided into perfecti and credenti.  St. Bernard attempted to convert them, Pope Innocent III sent envoys on preaching missions in 1198 and 1203.   In 1208 the papal legate Peter of Castelnau, was assassinated and a crusade was declared.  Finally violently defeated in 1213 and by 1226 was under control of the French crown but continued until the massacre of 1244.

Grew of the crusading enthusiasm and originated in France and the Low Countries where a group of children and adults (30,000) set out for the Holy Land to free Jerusalem.  It ended badly, some of the children came home others perished and some were shipped to ports in southern France to be sold as slaves in Muslim-controlled North Africa.

The fifth crusade led by St. Louis IX goes to Egypt in an attempt to establish a launching point there.  They briefly capture Damietta but it is soon retaken by the Muslims.  Louis is unable to free Jerusalem and leads another crusade to Tunis in 1270 where he dies of a fever.

Headed by Frederick II. of Germany, succeeded in securing from the Saracens the restoration of Jerusalem, together with several other cities of Palestine.

The seventh crusade was under the lead of Louis IX of France, surname, the Saint.

When Louis IX was captured on Crusade in 1250 a spontaneous movement inside France to free him.  They took to pillaging and plundering en route and where put down by royal forces.

The eighth crusade was incited by the fresh misfortunes that, towards the close of the 13th century, befell the Christian kingdom in Palestine.  The leader of the eighth crusade was King Louis IX of France.  King Louis IX directed his forces against the Moors about Tunis, in North Africa.  Here the king died of the plague.  Nothing was effected by this crusade.

The ninth crusade was also incited by the misfortunes that, towards the close of the thirteenth century, befell the Christian kingdom in Palestine.  The leader of this crusade was Prince Edward of England, afterwards King Edward I.  The English prince, was, however, more fortunate than the ill-fated King Louis IX.  Edward succeeded in capturing Nazareth and in compelling the Sultan of Egypt to agree to a treaty favorable to the Christians in the Last Crusade. 

The flame of the Crusades had burned itself out leading to the Last Crusade.  The fate of the little Christian kingdom in Asia, isolated from Europe and surrounded on all sides by bitter enemies, became each day more and more apparent.  Finally the last of the places (Acre) held by the Christians fell before the attacks of the Mamelukes of Egypt and with this event the Latin Kingdom of Jerusalem came to an end (1291).  The 2nd great combat between Mohammedanism and Christianity was over and "silence reigned along the shore that had so long resounded with the world's debate."

Crusade Myths

1. The crusades were never referred to as such by their participants.  The original crusaders were known by various terms, includingfideles Sancti Petri  (the faithful of Saint Peter) or milites Christi (knights of Christ).  They saw themselves as undertaking a journey, or aperegrinatio, a pilgrimage, though pilgrims were usually forbidden from carrying arms.  Like pilgrims, each crusader swore a vow (a votus), to be fulfilled on successfully reaching Jerusalem and they were granted a cloth cross (crux) to be sewn into their clothes.  This "taking of the cross", the crux, eventually became associated with the entire journey; the word "crusade" (coming into English from the French croisade, the Italian crociata, the Portuguese cruzada, or the German Kreuzzug) developed from this.

2. Knights went crusading for the riches and booty.  The study of medieval charters shows another story.  Crusaders were wealthy landowners already.  Outfitting oneself and one’s men for a crusade was very costly.  Very little treasure was found and few returned home made wealthier by crusading for most it was just the opposite.

3.  Attacks against Jews in the Rhineland were terrible and led by renegade leaders in the did 1st and 2nd Crusades.  Local bishops tried to stop the attack and condemned them as the popes.  St. Bernard of Clairvaux himself traveled to Germany during the 2nd Crusade to stop a fellow Cistercian monk for inciting crusaders to kill local Jews.