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  1. The crusades
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There was a long tradition of authorised Christian warfare but it was the first time the church had called for violence on such a scale.

The crusades

All who die by the way, whether by land or by sea, or in battle against the pagans, shall have immediate remission of sins. Christian writers describe crusaders wading ankle deep in blood, killing civilians and resorting to cannibalism. However, they may have exaggerated their accounts as they thought extreme violence would be rewarded in heaven. The First Crusade ended with the establishment of several Christian principalities around the eastern Mediterranean, including the kingdom of Jerusalem.

The Crusades: A Complete History | History Today

They boiled pagan adults in cooking-pots, impaled children on spits and devoured them grilled. For decades the crusaders defended hard-won territory against disparate Muslim Syrian, Turkish and Egyptian factions. The Turks finally retook Edessa in Western Christians launched a second crusade from Europe. They now faced a more united Muslim Syria unified by the powerful leader Nur ed-Din. Christian armies tried and failed to take Damascus in Syria and their crusade was largely a failure. But Nur ed-Din succeeded in strengthening the unified Muslim response to the Western invaders.

A just prince, valiant and wise, and according to the traditions of his race, a religious man. In the s, the Kurdish general Saladin united Syria and Egypt. His Muslim army retook most of the Kingdom of Jerusalem in Richard defeated Saladin in battle and a truce re-established the state of Jerusalem.

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The city of Jerusalem remained in Muslim control, but Christian pilgrims were granted access. After , the city was home to Jewish, Muslim and local Palestinian Christians whose fortunes changed depending on which religion was in charge. They lived together in fragile peace.

History Channel - Crusades: Crescent & the Cross - Amazing Documentary

But opportunism and lack of commitment changed his plans. A well organised force was meant to invade Egypt en route to Jerusalem, but was diverted to the Eastern Christian city of Constantinople at the request of the son of its deposed emperor.

Instead of welcoming the invading army, residents dug in. Between , when the First Crusade was launched, and , when the Latin Christians were finally expelled from their kingdom in Syria , there were numerous expeditions to the Holy Land, to Spain , and even to the Baltic ; the Crusades continued for several centuries after Crusading declined rapidly during the 16th century with the advent of the Protestant Reformation and the decline of papal authority.

There were at least eight Crusades. The First Crusade lasted from to The Second Crusade began in and ended in The Third Crusade started in and was concluded in The Fourth Crusade got underway in and ended in The Fifth Crusade lasted from until The Sixth Crusade occurred in — The Seventh Crusade began in and ended in And the Eighth Crusade took place in There were also smaller Crusades against dissident Christian sects within Europe, including the Albigensian Crusade — The Crusades were organized by western European Christians after centuries of Muslim wars of expansion.

Their primary objectives were to stop the expansion of Muslim states, to reclaim for Christianity the Holy Land in the Middle East, and to recapture territories that had formerly been Christian. Many participants also believed that undertaking what they saw as holy war was a means of redemption and a way of achieving expiation of sins.

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Louis led the last two Crusades. The First Crusade, called in response to a request for help from the Byzantine emperor Alexius Comnenus , was astonishingly successful. The Crusaders conquered Nicaea in Turkey and Antioch and then went on to seize Jerusalem , and they established a string of Crusader-ruled states.

What Were the Crusades?

Richard signed a peace treaty with Saladin allowing Christians access to Jerusalem. The Fourth Crusade—rather than attacking Egypt , then the centre of Muslim power—sacked the Byzantine Christian city of Constantinople.

None of the following Crusades were successful. The Crusades slowed the advance of Islamic power and may have prevented western Europe from falling under Muslim suzerainty. The Crusader states extended trade with the Muslim world, bringing new tastes and foods to Europe.

The Crusades had a marked impact on the development of Western historical literature, bringing a plethora of chronicles and eyewitness accounts.

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