The Crusades were a series of military campaigns which involved the Christian re-conquest of Jerusalem and of all of Palestine. They were the most significant and, in a way, transformative events in Medieval Europe. From the time Pope Urban II preached the crusade, in late November of 1095, until the fall of Acre in 1291, hundreds of thousands of men, women and children made the perilous journey east to aid in the liberation and defense of Jerusalem–the Holy Land–from the Muslims. Pilgrims, knights, men-at-arms, priests, bishops, barons and counts suffered intense heat, cold, and starvation and died as a result. Many more died at the hands of Turkish raiders.
Why did so many people venture into unknown territory, knowing all too well the danger that lay ahead? The answer is simple: they believed that their efforts to liberate Jerusalem and the Holy Land at large from the Muslims would earn them eternal salvation as promised by Pope Urban himself.
The Crusades paved the way for advancement of Western Civilization on two fronts: they unified the warrior elite who, prior to 1095, spilt each other’s blood over land disputes, and they opened up a lucrative trading route between Western Europe and the Near East. Europeans — then known as Franks and/or Latins — had access to new military technology, spices and literature on the study of science, astrology and mathematics. Such literature was written and observed by Arab Theologians and Philosophers.
Not every pilgrim and warrior who survived the journey to Jerusalem returned home though. In fact, from the early 12th century until the fall of Acre in 1291, thousands of men and women settled in the Holy Land, raised families, fought battles, and established a vibrant and thriving economy.
My Intentions for This Study
My intentions for this study on the Crusades is to give you much more than an overview. I will delve deep into detail of events that took place during the Crusading era and I will also write extensively about the men – and women – who played a major role in these wars for the Holy Land. At some point, I will dedicate a section of my study on the Spanish Reconquista and on the Crusades in northern Europe.
Other intentions I have for this study: The Crusades is a controversial subject, but it really shouldn’t be because as far as I’m concerned, history is history. No one can rewrite history according to a popular opinion because that just doesn’t do history any justice and gives no one a chance to learn from it. With that in mind, I have approached this subject matter with neutrality and will continue to do so. In other words, I do not take sides. I read between the lines and strive to portray the history of the Crusades as it actually happened.