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The Crusades

.. (6) The Muslims had time to regroup after the Second Crusade, and in 1169, Nur al-Din’s forces took Egypt. Saladin took control of the Muslims when Nur al-Din died on May 15, 1174 in Damascus. In 1180 he joined forces with the Anatolian Seljuk sultan, Kilij Arslan II. Saladin stopped the unification of Aleppo and Mosul in 1182, brought Aleppo under his control in 1183, and made a four year truce with the Franks in 1185 after invading Palestine in 1183. Reynald of Chtillon, leader of the Franks, broke the truce when he heard of a rich caravan of unarmed merchants traveling on the east bank of Jordan.

In retaliation, Saladin invaded Palestine in 1187. The Franks got their forces together to withezd Saladin at Zippori. On July 4 Saladin defeated the Latin army at Hattin in Galilee. Jerusalem surrendered on October 2. On October 29, 1187, Pope Gregory VIII, who succeeded Pope Urban II after he died from shock of the defeat at Hattin, declared the Third Crusade. Three major European monarches joined: the holy Roman Emperor, Frederick I; the French King, Philip II; and the English King, Richard I.

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It was the largest force of crusaders since 1095. Frederick died in Anitoch along with many others as a result of an epidemic. Most of his army returned to Germany. Philip and Richard reached Palestine but couldn’t regain Jerusalem. Many cities along the Mediterranean coast were freed from Saladin’s control. On July 12, 1191 Acre surrendered to the Christians.

Richard left the Holy Land on October 9, 1192. The Latin Kingdom had been restored. In 1198 Pope Innocent III proclaimed a Fourth Crusade. In April 1202 the crusaders asked the Venetians for transport because they overestimated the number of people who would sail. The Venetians agreed to postpone the payment due to them if the crusaders helped them recapture Zara which had been taken from them by Hungary.

The leaders of the crusade had no other choice. Some protested, saying that an attack on a Christian city is a sin. On November 24, Zara was captured. The entire army was excommunicated but the Pope lifted it when he heard of the situation. On June 24, 1203, the fleet anchored at Chalcedon, and on July 17, Coneztinople was attacked from sea and land. Emperor Alexius III fled in fear.

Isaac II Angelus and his son Alexius IV became co-emperors. In a revolt in January 1204, both were murdered. Alexius V Ducas Murzuphlus became emperor. On April 12, 1204, they stormed the city and took control of the walls. On April 14 Coneztinople was captured. The Crusaders and Venetians murdered and looted for three days.

Afterwards the crusaders started their own empire in the Byzantine ruins with a Catholic religion, French speech, and Italian commercial policies. The Albigensian Crusade was from 1202-1229. During the 12th Century Albigensians made many converts in western Languedoc. Innocent III preached a crusade against Raymond VI of Toulouse, protector of the Albigensians. The crusade turned into a fight for control of the Pyrenean kingdom of Catalonia and southern France.

There was a lot of blood shed. In the Peace of Paris in 1229, the Capetian monarchy began shaping Languedoc into a French kingdom. The church of Rome got a firm hold on southern France. The Christians failed to bring Albigenses under their control. The Children’s Crusade of 1212 began in Rhineland and Lower Lorraine. In the spring large crowds of children gathered there. The leader was a boy named Nicholas from Cologne. The goal of this crusade was to capture the Holy Land.

The French King persuaded a large group of French children to return home. The group led by Nicholas reached Genoa on August 25. They expected God to allow them to walk across the sea but that didn’t happen. What happened after that is a mystery. The story most believe says that two Marseilles merchants provided seven ships for the children.

Two wrecked off Sardinia and the children on the other five ships were sold into slavery in North Africa and Egypt. In 1213 Innocent III opened a new crusade. He had no doubt about the Fifth Crusade because the Book of Revelations said that Islam would last less than 666 years. It started in 622 A.D. so they thought it would end by 1288 A.D.

Innocent III died on July 16, 1216 and Honorlus III became his successor. “He was dedicated to the crusade but lacked the political strength and energy of Innocent III.”(7) In return for the capture of Zara during the Fourth Crusade , the Venetians agreed to transport the Hungarian army. The crusaders arrived at Acre in May 1218. Egypt was now the target. If they could get it, all of southern Palestine could be easily attained.

On May 29, 1218, the fleet anchored off shore and the army was placed on the west bank of the Nile. The crusaders overtook a tower protecting Damietta. Instead of attacking Damietta, the crusaders waited for reinforcements. Saladin’s nephew, Sultan al-Kamil, attacked the crusader camp but was defeated . In September al-Kamil offered Jerusalem, Palestine, Galilee, and the return of the true cross if the Christians evacuated Egypt. Cardinal Pelagius, leader of the Christian army, rejected the offer. He didn’t want to come to terms with the Muslims.

On November 5, 1219, Damietta was captured. In August 1221 the Crusaders attacked the Egyptians but were forced to surrender Damitetta. Emperor Frederick II took up the Sixth Crusade in 1215. Political problems in the west kept him from joining. He wanted to boost his appearance by regaining the Holy Land. Pope Gregory IX excommunicated him in 1227 when his journey was delayed more because of an illness.

He finally left for the Holy Land in June 1228. In February 1229, Sultan al-Kamil surrendered Jerusalem because he was afraid of Frederick’s expedition. A ten year truce was agreed upon. No blood was shed during this peaceful, political crusade. King Louis IX of France organized the Seventh Crusade after the Muslims recaptured Jerusalem in 1244.

Louis spent four years planning and at the end of August 1248, Louis and his army sailed to Cyprus. The army spent the winter in Cyprus while waiting for reinforcements. The fleet left at the end of May and stopped off at Damietta on June 5, 1249. On June 6 the citizens of Damietta evacuated in a panic. The crusaders spent the summer in Damietta waiting for reinforcements.

On November 20, 1249, the army started to march to Cairo. In the spring of 1250, they attacked Cairo. Louis surrendered to the Egyptians in April 1250. Damietta was given up and a ransom was paid. The Europeans’ calls for more crusades were stupid and didn’t accomplish much.(8) Italian cities had better commerce and there was a greater interest in exploring the orient thanks to the crusades.

New trade markets were established. The direct general taxation system was developed during the crusades. As you can see, the crusades were one of the most violent periods of time in the history of mankind.


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