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Crusades

Crusades: After the first Christian Crusade that begun in 1095 there
were eight classified crusades that generally aimed towards the area of Sirya
and Palestne that lasted untill the 1270s. Yet after much humiliation and the
repeated defeat of the Crusaders in the Lavant, most of the Eropean powers
understood the fact that the Holy Land was unnatainable. Most the crusading
efforts were aimed at the enemies of Catholics such as the Turkish invaders who
sought to destroy Christianity and the doctrinal heretics in Bohemia.
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Category:
History
Paper Title:
Crusades
Text:
Later Crusades Essay.

After the first Christian Crusade that begun in 1095 there were eight
classified crusades that generally aimed towards the area of Sirya and Palestne
that lasted untill the 1270s. Yet after much humiliation and the repeated
defeat of the Crusaders in the Lavant, most of the Eropean powers understood the
fact that the Holy Land was unnatainable. Most the crusading efforts were aimed
at the enemies of Catholics such as the Turkish invaders who sought to destroy
Christianity and the doctrinal heretics in Bohemia. Two such crusades are The
Crusade agains the Ottoman turks which started around the mid 14th century and
the crusade agains the Hussite heretics which started in 1420. To further
understand the similarities and differences between these two crusades perhaps
it would be best to associate them to our definition of a crusade and see how
they compare and differ from each other as well as compare them to the first
crusade. The reason I chose to analize particularly these two crusades is
because they fall into the same time frame, have different objectives and
perhaps hinder the each others succes.

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After the defeat of the Seljuk Turks by the Mongols in 1243 a Ghazi prince by
the name of Ertugrul had assimilated a small state by his death in 1280. This
state, later ruled by his son Osman had spread its rule over a large area in
north-west Asia Minor, as far as the Agean and the Black sea. This was the
beginning of the Ottoman Turks as well as the beginning of their wide spread
conquest of the region due to their state being well governed as well as having
a disciplined army. By 1331 the Ottoman Turks have taken Nicaea and Uskudar
(across the Bosporus from Constantinople) and by 1389 had singificant dominance
over the Balkans. In 1370 the new Catholic pope, Gregory XI was already raising
the threat of the Ottomans to the European lords. Yet a major unity of
European powers were wrecked by the self-interest of each country and its
benefit. For example the German princes did not want to have a major crusade for
the fear of rising imperial authority. During this time every ruler in Europe
acknowledged the need for a crusade, as the only practicable means of
pooling the resources required to combat this massive and hostile power; but in
practice nearly all of them blocked its organization . Thus except a few
small naval victories such as the victory of a Christion colatiotion over a
Turkish fleet in 1359 , the Eropenas were drastically unsuccessfull at pushing
the turks back.

How does this compare with our definition of crusade. We define a
crusade as an holy war that is sanctioned by the pope where the aims and
objective are clearly laid out by the pope as well. Where a votum (oath) is
taken to carry out the crusade from beginning to end. In the crusades agains the
Ottoman turks the European royalty controlled all the military actions (however
unsucsessfull) and were not obligated to the pope. Perhaps It was more of a
direct threat of annialation by the destructive armys of Ertugruls
descendants that threatened the Catholics then their belief in a different god.

Perhaps the lack of military success against the Ottomans can be
contibuted to the fact that between 1420 and 1431 a major crusade agains herecy
was launched agains the Hussites in Bohemia. Within the Bohemian lands a
preacher by the name of John Hus was responsible for radically reinterpreting
basic Catholic beliefs and thus creating a mass population of heretic followers,
the Hussites. The King of Hungary who had inherited the crown after 1419 had
very strong concerns about this problem and as a commander had diverted a large
Hungarian army to enter its own lands on a crusade to exterminate the
Hussites. This was a very foolish move as those same men were fighting the Turks
at hungarys southern border.

This long term military conflict that lasted up to 1467 proved ultimatly
unsuccsessfull in wiping the Hussites out. In the primitive condition of 15th
sentury warfare the Hussites benefited from the military knowledge of John Ziska
whos short lines of communication and supply proved victorious over the
crusader abilities to launch surprise multi-directional attacks.

This crusade also did not match up with the traditional crusade definition as
it was fought mainly in the interest of the Hungarian Kings dominance of his
own land. It was also not defined by the pope as to what the objectives would be
and the final solution resulted in negotiations rather then the Hungarian
catholics fighting out the crusade to the bitter end, as the crusading oath
would note. Going back to 1095 to the council of Clermont one can say how
inspiring it would be to hear “Dieu Le Volt : God wills it” by Pope
Urban the second as he proclaimed the 1st Crusade. A crusade that can be
considered the most successful of all and which resulted in the Frankish victory
in taking the holy city of Jerusalem.

Yet something that might distinguish these later two crusades from the first
is decline in papal power. The papal authority of pope during the first crusade
was stronger, perhaps for fear of the ban of excomunication that could have been
placed on those who defy him and/or Catholicism. The preaching of crusades by
later popes was always analized by the European monarchs as they were not in a
hurry to take the cross. This can be looked upon from two viewpoints. One being
purely secular, where the riches of the Lavant were much greater then the booty
gathered from defeats of the Ottoman Turks or the Hussite Heretics. As the
Eropean princes looked upon such material objects for the improvement of their
own state. The other being religious. Where the roots of the division between
church and state and the seperation of eclesiastical and secular authority were
being planted. This we see from the letters of John of Paris in which he states
(talking about religious and secular powers) Nor in this respect is the
one subjected to the other since it does not originate from it, but both
originate from it, but both originate directly from one supreme power, the
divine power. Therefore the lower is not subject to the higher in all things.

Here John balances the religious and secular affairs on a scale and in his case
they balance out. Yet pope Urban the second would have been kicking and
screaming in his grave if he heard news of this. To him Catholic dogma was the
last word as he was the eclesiastical sword and whatever he said, went.

However cautious the later crusaders were about the goals of their crusade
they surely had remembered about the day when Constantinople fell and there was
more booty consumed from it then all the past raids on all the cities in Europe
combined. Any one of the kings, princes and dukes would have hoped for some cash
prize at the end of their crusade. Being the sacking of Ottoman cities uppon
their defeat or in the case of the Hungarian king, some sort of monetary benefit
from exterminating heretics from his own countrys farmlands.

The few similatities of the later two crusades discussed, is their
ineffectiveness at achieving any king of descicive victory. The Otoman Turks
were ultimatly slowed down by the Mongol Timurs victory at Ankara in 1402 and
by succsession disputed within the Ottoman empire which lasted untill 1413. The
Hussite crusades were also unsuccessfull as the king of Hungary reached a
compromise settlement with the heretics, leaving them entrenched in Bohemia.

Thus we see how these later crusades compare to each other in success in
failure as well as their comparison to the first of the Christian crusades.

Perhaps the Ottoman Turks would have had a much more difficult time fighting
with the Christians if a large Hungarian army would not be diverted from the
action. On the other hand the herecy from Bohemia might of spread out into other
lands. Such questions are almost impossible to answer today. What we can say is
that since the first crusade the theme of the crusades was a sad one and the
armies piled up large losses. But even though they were mostly unsussessfull
they played huge importance in the history of the Middle Ages.


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