Crusades

The Later Crusades

The later Crusades were for the most part only expeditions to assist those who already were in the Holy Land and defend the lands they had captured; they are a single current, and dates are given them only for convenience.

Second Crusade

The Second Crusade, 1147–49, was preached by St. Bernard of Clairvaux after the fall (1144) of Edessa to the Turks. It was led by Holy Roman Emperor Conrad III, whose army set out first, and by King Louis VII of France. Both armies passed through the Balkans and pillaged the territory of the Byzantine emperor, Manuel I, who provided them with transportation to Asia Minor in order to be rid of them. The German contingent, already decimated by the Turks, merged (1148) with the French, who had fared only slightly better, at Acre (Akko). A joint attack on Damascus failed because of jealousy and, possibly, treachery among the Latin princes of the Holy Land. Conrad returned home in 1148 and was followed (1149) by Louis. The Second Crusade thus ended in dismal failure.

Third Crusade

The Third Crusade, 1189–92, followed on the capture (1187) of Jerusalem by Saladin and the defeat of Guy of Lusignan, Reginald of Châtillon, and Raymond of Tripoli at Hattin. The crusade was preached by Pope Gregory VIII but was directed by its leaders—Richard I of England, Philip II of France, and Holy Roman Emperor Frederick I. Frederick set out first, but was hindered by the Byzantine emperor, Isaac II, who had formed an alliance with Saladin. Frederick forced his way to the Bosporus, sacked Adrianople (Edirne), and compelled the Greeks to furnish transportation to Asia Minor. However, he died (1190) in Cilicia, and only part of his forces went on to the Holy Land. Richard and Philip, uneasy allies, arrived at Acre in 1191. The city had been besieged since 1189, but the siege had been prolonged by dissensions between the two chief Christian leaders, Guy of Lusignan and Conrad, marquis of Montferrat, both of whom claimed the kingship of Jerusalem.

The city was nevertheless starved out by July, 1191; shortly afterward Philip went home. Richard removed his base to Jaffa, which he fortified, and rebuilt Ascalon (Ashqelon), which the Muslims had burned down. In 1192 he made a three-year truce with Saladin; the Christians retained Jaffa with a narrow strip of coast (all that remained of the Latin Kingdom of Jerusalem) and the right of free access to the Holy Sepulcher. Antioch and Tripoli were still in Christian hands; Cyprus, which Richard I had wrested (1191) from the Byzantines while on his way to the Holy Land, was given to Guy of Lusignan. In Oct., 1192, Richard left the Holy Land, thus ending the crusade.

Fourth, Children's, and Fifth Crusades

Pope Innocent III launched the Fourth Crusade, 1202–1204, which was totally diverted from its original course. The Crusaders, led mostly by French and Flemish nobles and spurred on by Fulk of Neuilly, assembled (1202) near Venice. To pay some of their passage to Palestine they aided Doge Enrico Dandolo (see under Dandolo, family) and his Venetian forces in recovering the Christian city of Zara (Zadar) on the Dalmatian coast from the Hungarians. The sack of Zara (1202), for which Innocent III excommunicated the crusaders, prefaced more serious political schemes. Alexius (later Alexius IV), son of the deposed Byzantine emperor Isaac II and brother-in-law of Philip of Swabia, a sponsor of the crusade, joined the army at Zara and persuaded the leaders to help him depose his uncle, Alexius III. In exchange, he promised large sums of money, aid to the Crusaders in conquering Egypt, and the union of Roman and Eastern Christianity under the control of the Roman church. The actual decision to turn on Constantinople was largely brought about by Venetian pressure. The fleet arrived at the Bosporus in 1203; Alexius III fled, and Isaac II and Alexius IV were installed as joint emperors while the fleet remained outside the harbor. In 1204, Alexius V overthrew the emperors. As a result the Crusaders stormed the city, sacked it amid horrendous rape and murder, divided the rich spoils with the Venetians (who brought much of it back to Venice) according to a prearranged plan, and set up the Latin Empire of Constantinople (see Constantinople, Latin Empire of). The Crusader Baldwin I of Flanders was elected first Latin Emperor of Constantinople, but within a year he was captured and killed by the Bulgarians and succeeded by his brother Henry.

There followed the pathetic interlude of the Children's Crusade, 1212. Led by a visionary French peasant boy, Stephen of Cloyes, children embarked at Marseilles, hoping that they would succeed in the cause that their elders had betrayed. According to later sources, they were sold into slavery by unscrupulous skippers. Another group, made up of German children, went to Italy; most of them perished of hunger and disease.

Soon afterward Innocent III and his successor, Honorius III, began to preach the Fifth Crusade, 1217–21. King Andrew II of Hungary, Duke Leopold VI of Austria, John of Brienne, and the papal legate Pelasius were among the leaders of the expedition, which was aimed at Egypt, the center of Muslim strength. Damietta (Dumyat) was taken in 1219 but had to be evacuated again after the defeat (1221) of an expedition against Cairo.

Sixth Crusade

The Sixth Crusade, 1228–29, undertaken by Holy Roman Emperor Frederick II, was simply a peaceful visit, in the course of which the emperor made a truce with the Muslims, securing the partial surrender of Jerusalem and other holy places. Frederick crowned himself king of Jerusalem, but, occupied with Western affairs, he did nothing when the Muslims later reoccupied the city. Thibaut IV of Navarre and Champagne, however, reopened (1239) the wars, which were continued by Richard, earl of Cornwall. They were unable to compose the quarrels between the Knights Hospitalers and Knights Templars. In 1244 the Templars, who advocated an alliance with the sultan of Damascus rather than with Egypt, prevailed.

Seventh, Eighth, and Ninth Crusades

A treaty (1244) with Damascus restored Palestine to the Christians, but in the same year the Egyptian Muslims and their Turkish allies took Jerusalem and utterly routed the Christians at Gaza. This event led to the Seventh Crusade, 1248–54, due solely to the idealistic enterprise of Louis IX of France. Egypt again was the object of attack. Damietta fell again (1249); and an expedition to Cairo miscarried (1250), Louis himself being captured. After his release from captivity, he spent four years improving the fortifications left to the Christians in the Holy Land.

The fall (1268) of Jaffa and Antioch to the Muslims caused Louis IX to undertake the Eighth Crusade, 1270, which was cut short by his death in Tunisia. The Ninth Crusade, 1271–72, was led by Prince Edward (later Edward I of England). He landed at Acre but retired after concluding a truce. In 1289 Tripoli fell to the Muslims, and in 1291 Acre, the last Christian stronghold, followed.

The Columbia Electronic Encyclopedia, 6th ed. Copyright © 2012, Columbia University Press. All rights reserved.

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