To what extent could the Crusades be described as failure within the years 1095-1195?
"To what extent could the crusades be described as failures within the years 1095-1195?"
Crusades – religious military expeditions carried out by European Christians with a goal of “saving” the Holy Land from the Muslim control. The Crusades were one of the most important events in the Medieval. The Crusaders not only included the kings, feudal aristocracy and knights but also other parts of the society such as clergy, servants and ordinary people.
People taking the Crusade vow had different reasons to do so: some wanted to get richer, others were looking for adventures and some were following their religious feelings.
Thanks to legends, the Crusades were surrounded by halo of romance and grandeur, chivalry and courage. However the stories about brave and gallant knights are exaggerated to a great extent. Moreover, they “forget” about the fact that although knights had shown the courage and heroism, heard calls from Pope and believed in God’s help they still failed to “save” the Holy Land. By the end of 1195 the Palestine was under Muslim control. The reasons why this happened to be looked upon in this coursework.
The Reasons for the Crusades
The Crusades were launched by Popes, who were seen as a legitimate authority who could declare a “Holy War” and promise God’s forgiveness. Pope and other masterminds of the movement promised the celestial and earthly rewards to those who expose their life in jeopardy for the sake of a sacred cause. Volunteer campaign has been particularly successful, thanks to the religious fervor that reigned in Europe. Whatever the personal reasons to participate (and in many cases, they have played a significant role) warriors had, the soldiers of Christ were convinced they are fighting for a cause.
The main cause of the Crusades was the growth of the power of Seljuk empire and the conquest by them in 1070-ies the Middle East and Asia Minor. Coming from Central Asia, Seljuks at the beginning of the century entered into Arab controlled regions, where they were first used as mercenaries. Gradually,
however, they became increasingly self-sufficient, having won in 1040-ies Iran
and in 1055 Baghdad. Then the Seljuks began to expand the boundaries of their empire to the west, leading attack mainly on the Byzantine Empire. Decisive defeat of Byzantines at Manzikert in 1071 gave Seljuks the entrance to the coast of
Aegean Sea, helped to conquer Syria and Palestine in 1078 and to take Jerusalem. The threat from Muslims forced the Byzantine Empire, which had Orthodox Church, to ask for help from the European Catholic Church. The fall of Jerusalem has been a great worry for Christendom.
Conquests of the Seljuk Turks coincided with the general religious
revival in Western Europe in the X-XI centuries. Which was largely initiated by the activities of Benedictine monastery of Cluny in Burgundy founded in 910 by Duke of Aquitaine Guillaume Pious. Due to efforts of a number of priors, persistently calling for clarification of the church and spiritual transformation of the Christian world, the abbey has been a very influential force in the spiritual life of Europe.
Simultaneously in XI century the number of pilgrimages to the Holy Land had increased. " Infidel Turk "was portrayed as a barbarian, whose presence in the Holy Land is intolerable to God and man. In addition, the Seljuks created immediate threat to the Christian Byzantine Empire.
For many kings and barons Middle East had been the world of the broad opportunities. Land, wealth, power and prestige - all of this, they thought, will be a reward for the release of the Holy Land. Due to expansion of practice of inheritance on the basis of primogeniture, many younger sons of lords, especially in the north of France, could not expect to participate in the division of father's land. By taking part in the crusade, they could hope for lands and status in society, which had their oldest, more fortunate brothers.
For peasants, the Crusades were a great opportunity to get rid of lifetime serfdom. As the servants and cooks peasants formed a wagon train troops of the crusaders.
European cities were also interested in Crusades, from purely economic reasons. For several centuries the Italian cities Amalfi, Pisa, Genoa and Venice fought Muslims for control of western and central Mediterranean. By 1087 the Italians ousted Muslims from southern Italy and Sicily, founded settlement in North Africa and took control of the western Mediterranean Sea. They have made the sea and ground incursions into Muslim territories in North Africa, and got their trading privileges by force. For these Italian cities Crusades meant only the transfer of military action from the West Mediterranean to East.
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The Beginning of Crusades
Pope Urbant 2 gave the Start of Crusade on November 26 in Clermont 1095.
Urban addressed a huge audience, consisting of several thousand representatives of aristocracy and clergymen, and called to go into war against the infidel Muslims, in order to liberate the Holy Land. In his speech, Pope stressed the sanctity of Jerusalem and Christian relics of Palestine, spoke about the looting and shame that they are subjected by the Turks, and sketched a picture of many attacks on pilgrims, and also mentioned the danger to fellow Christians in Byzantium. Then Urban II called on listeners to take up holy deal by promising to everyone who goes into war remission of sins, and to anyone who dies there - a place in paradise. Pope urged to stop the Barons fighting between each other. He explained that the crusade provide ample opportunities for the acquisition of land for Knights, wealth, power and glory - all at the expense of the Arabs and Turks, with whom Christian armies would deal easily and quickly. The crowd replied by cry: «Deus vult!» («God wants it!"). These words became a battle cry of Crusaders. Thousands of people vowed there and became first crusaders. Pope Urban II commanded the clergy to spread its appeal throughout Western Europe. The news quickly spread around the Europe. Often preachers stirred religious fervor of the peasants that owners couldn’t stop them from leaving, thousands of people were marching to Palestine without supplies and equipment, without having the slightest notions of distance and the hardships of the way, in the naive belief that God and leaders take care of that, so they do not get lost. These hordes have gone through the Balkans to Constantinople, believing that the brothers Christians will give them hospitality as for warriors of the holy cause.
However, local residents did not show their hospitality and some even showed their contempt, and then the western farmers started looting. In many places between the Byzantines and the hordes from the west real battles occurred. Those who managed to reach Constantinople were not welcome guests of the Byzantine emperor Alexis and his subjects. The government temporarily settle them outside the city limits, fed and quickly transported through the Bosporus to Asia Minor, where they soon were massacred by Turks.
The First Crusade, 1095-1099
The 1st Crusade began in 1095. Few feudal armies participated in it, each with its own commander in chief. Having three main routes, travelling by land and by sea, they arrived in Constantinople during the 1096 and 1097. Campaign led by the feudal barons, including Duke Gottfried Bouillon, Count Raymond of Toulouse and Duke Bohemond Tarentsky. Formally, they with their armies obeyed the papal legate, but virtually ignored his instructions and acted independently. The Crusaders, moving by land, looted local population in search of food and water, besieged and ransacked several Byzantine cities, repeatedly clashed with the Byzantine army. Presence of the 30 thousands troops in the capital, demanding shelter and food, created difficulties for Emperor and the inhabitants of Constantinople. These led to clashed between citizens of the capital and crusaders as well as to divisions between emperor and leaders of crusaders deepened. The Emperor, when asking help, expected to see the mercenary to whom he could pay money and who would be under his control. Instead he got from 50 to 70 thousand warriors of different kinds and with low combat skills as well as feudal commanders who, Emperor believed, did not share same goal of returning lost Byzantine’s lands.
The relationship between the emperor and the Knights continued to deteriorate to the extent of the promotion of Christians to the east. Crusaders suspected that the Byzantine conductors intentionally lured them into ambushes. The army was completely unprepared for the sudden attacks of the enemy's cavalry, who manage to escape, Before Knight's heavy cavalry rushed in pursuit. Lack of food and water compounded the hardships of the campaign. The Muslims often poisoned wells, encountered along the way. Those who have survived these were rewarded with their first victory when, in June 1098 Antioch was besieged and taken. Here, according to some accounts, one of the Crusaders discovered the shrine - a spear that the Roman soldier pierced the side of Christ crucified. It is reported that this discovery had extremely inspired Christians and contributed to further victories. The first goal for crusaders was Nicaea, once a place of great churches, and now the capital of the Seljuk Sultan Kilic-Arslan. 21 October 1096 Seljuks had already routed the peasant army of crusaders. Those peasants who had not fallen in battle were sold into slavery. Among the dead was Walter Golyakov.
Sultan Kilic Arslan, hoped to defeat the new enemy forces in the same easy way, and therefore did not take seriously the approaching enemy. But he was cruelly disappointed. His easy armed, with bows and arrows, cavalry was easily defeated by Western cavalry in open battle. However, Nicaea was positioned so that to take it without military support from the sea was not possible. Here, Byzantine fleet provided a necessary support and the city was taken. The army of the Crusaders went on and on 1 July 1097 Crusaders were able to defeat the Seljuks in the former Byzantine territories from Dorileya. A little further to the southeast the army was divided, the majority moved to Caesarea in the direction of the Syrian city of Antioch. On October 20 Crusaders fought their way through the iron bridge on the River Orontes and soon stood beneath the walls of Antioch. In early July 1098 after seven months of siege, the city surrendered. Byzantines and Armenians have helped take the city.
Meanwhile, some French crusaders established themselves in Edessa. Baldwin of Boulogne founded the state of his own, extending on both sides of the Euphrates. It was the first crusader state in the east. Later, to the south of it a few more similar states subsequently emerged.
After the capture of Antioch, the Crusaders without any obstacles moved along the coast to the south and along the way captured a few port cities. On June 6 1098 Tancred, nephew of Bohemond, finally joined his army in Bethlehem, the birthplace of Jesus. The Knights were on the way to Jerusalem.
Jerusalem thoroughly prepared for a siege, there was plenty of food stocks, and to leave the enemy without water, all the wells around the city have been brought into disrepair. Crusaders lacked ladders, battering rams and siege engines for the assault on the city. They had to get themselves around the city of wood and build military equipment. It took a long time and only in July 1099 Crusaders succeeded in taking Jerusalem. They quickly dispersed throughout the city, seizing gold and silver, horses and mules, taking houses. After that, sobbing with joy the warriors went to the tomb of the Savior Jesus Christ and made amends to him.
Soon after the capture of Jerusalem, the Crusaders captured most of the eastern Mediterranean coast. At the beginning of XII century the kingdom of Jerusalem was founded. It consisted of the county of Tripoli, the Principality of Antioch, the county of Edessa and of Jerusalem Kingdom. Authorities in these countries were based on a feudal hierarchy. The King of Jerusalem headed it, the other three were considered as the vassals, but in fact are independent. The Church had enormous influence in those states. It also had large land holdings.
With the conquest of the Holy Sepulcher the main goal had been achieved. After 1100 Crusaders continued to expand their holdings. Since May 1104 they captured Akkon, a large trade center on the Mediterranean. In July 1109 they captured Tripoli and the rounded their possession. “The Crusaders Empire” was stretching from Edessa in the north to the Gulf of Aqaba in the south.
Conquest in the first crusade did not mean the end of the fight. It was only a temporary truce, as the East still lived more Muslims than Christians. However as we can see, this Crusade was in fact a success. The official goal of Crusaders was to recapture Jerusalem and save Holy Sepulcher from the Muslim rule. Not only they got Jerusalem but also other parts of Middle East and also created some new states, which makes their expedition glorious at some extent. Also, other, personal, goals such as increasing wealth or getting land or simply need in adventure were achieved by many. Therefore we could argue that the First Crusade cannot be classified as a failure, in fact it was a great success that inspired many Christians and strengthened the power and prestige of Catholic Church. The reasons for such success are different. Firstly, Crusader leaders were well motivated both religiously and personally. Believing that God is “on their side” they put maximum efforts in achieving their goals. Also personal goals such as, perhaps, increasing wealth could push some to work and fight harder on their way. Also, Crusader leaders co-operated with each other. They managed to overcome mutual distrust and they worked together on achieving their goal. The tactics of Crusaders proves this. Some of them went by land some by sea. They did not fight, as one huge army, what they did, in fact, was to divide to smaller armies and then go to different directions and each army would capture its cities. This helped to quick move of the Crusaders and helped to win the war, as it was more efficient to capture few cities at the same time, rather than do it city by city with a big army. Also, the fact that Muslims did not anticipate Crusade taking place helped to Crusaders when it came to preparation and battle itself.
Although being successful, the First Crusade led to Muslim anger and so in the future the Christians faced many problems in the Middle East.
The Second Crusade, 1147-1149
Crusaders were surrounded by nations whose lands they captured before. Therefore it is not surprising that the Egyptians, the Seljuks and the Syrians attacked the possession of the invaders constantly. Also, the Byzantine Empire at every opportunity, too, participated in the battles against the Christian states in the East. At 1137 Byzantine Emperor John II invaded Antioch and conquered it. Failure of Crusader states to help Antioch showed to what extent the states were disorganized and the lack of support they had between each other. By the end of 1143 Muslim commander Imad al-Din Zenghi attacked the county of Edessa and tore it from the Crusaders. The loss of Edessa caused anger and frustration in Europe, because there were fears that Muslim states would now perform a broad counter attack against the invaders.
At the request of Jerusalem's King, Pope Eugene III called for a crusade. Abbot Bernard of Clairvaux took the organization. On March 31 1146 in front of the newly erected church of St. Magdalene in Wesel, in Burgundy, he gave a powerful speech exhorting his listeners to take part in the crusade. Innumerable crowd followed his call.
Soon the whole army went on campaign. German King Conrad III and French King Louis VII took the helm of the army. In the 1147 spring Crusaders came out of Regensburg. The French preferred the way across the Mediterranean. German troops also without any troubles went through Hungary and entered the Byzantine lands. When the army of the Cross-passed through Anatolia, it was attacked by the Seljuks and it lead to heavy losses amongst Germans. King Conrad managed to save and get into the Holy Land only by the Byzantine fleet.
The French, too, had problems on their way. At 1148 not far from Laodicea, Muslims attacked the army. The help from Byzantine army was totally insufficient - apparently, the Emperor Manuel in his heart wanted to defeat the Crusaders. This would play a role in a future defeat of Crusaders.
Meanwhile, Conrad III, Louis VII, Patriarch of Jerusalem and the king held a secret council of the true purpose of the crusade and decided by all available forces capture Damascus, which promised them a rich booty. But with such a solution, they only pushed the Syrian ruler to embrace the Seljuk prince of Aleppo, who was coming in with a great army and with whom relations in Syria were previously hostile. Thus we can argue that this was further mistake made by Christians, as they lost their superiority when they won Muslims in First Crusade due to them being not united, now they encouraged Muslims to unite and so created a greater enemy and more troubles for themselves.
It soon became clear that the Second Crusade will not reach its goal - to regain Edessa. On 3 July 1187 near the village of Hittin, west Genisaret Lake, a heavy battle broke out. Muslim army outnumbered forces of the Christians. As a result, the Crusaders suffered a heavy defeat. Countless them were killed in battle, and the survivors were taken prisoner. That defeat had disastrous consequences for the Crusader states. They had no more combat ready troops. O a few powerful fortresses in the north: Crac de Chevalier, Blanc Chatel and Margat, remained in the hands of Crusaders.
A Second Crusade was a total failure. Due to Muslim counter-attack the county of Edessa was lost. This happened due to failure of Crusader states to cooperate and organize help between each other. The fear of Muslims regaining all of their lands encouraged a new Crusade. However this time, Muslims have prepared properly. They knew there would be reaction and so they were waiting for new forces to come. Thus German and French forces were attacked at the beginning. Moreover this time, Crusaders encouraged Muslims to unite by having plans to attack Damascus. This greatly weakened position of Christians as they had more enemies to fight with. Finally, the position of Byzantine Empire also played its role. There are opinions that Byzantine Empire wanted Crusaders to lose to stop the influence of Catholic Church on the Byzantine doorstep. Thus its help was insufficient and so Crusaders had to be on their own. All of these led to an embarrassing defeat influenced the spirits and gave Muslims a chance to recapture their lands. Although some may argue that, there was no Crusader fault and the war could be won if not the outnumbered army of Muslims near the village Hittin that finished the war. Also some may argue that it was not a failure as it only encouraged Christians to fight further and not to give up quickly.
The Third Crusade, 1189-1192
While the Christian warlords continued arguing and fighting between each other, the Muslims under the authority of the Sultan Salah-ud-din united in the state, stretching from Baghdad to Egypt. Salah al-Din easily defeated Christian troops, captured Jerusalem in 1187 and established control over the entire Holy Land, with the exception of a few coastal cities.
This news shocked the Christian world. The calls for the new Crusade had emerged. Again, there were people in Western Europe who were ready to fight against Muslims. In December 1897 at Strasbourg first soldiers took the cross. In the spring of next year, the German Emperor Frederick I Barbarossa followed their example. There was lack of ships as too many people wanted to go, and so it was decided to go by land despite the fact that the path was not easy. Agreements with Balkan states were signed to have a free pass through their lands.
On May 11 1189 troops came out from Regensburg. Headed by 67-year-old Emperor Frederick I. Because of the attacks, the Seljuks and the hot weather Crusaders were moving very slowly, an epidemic of the disease began among them. On June 10 1190 Emperor drowned while crossing a mountain stream Salef. His death was a heavy blow to the Crusaders. Soldiers did not have much confidence in his oldest son and so turned back. Only a small number of faithful knights continued their way under the leadership of Duke Frederick. On October 7, they came to Akkonu. Nevertheless, the loss of Emperor had a great influence on whole expedition. It could be said that even if most of the soldiers continued their way, they would still not be able to be as effective as they could be due to loss of Emperor. It could be said that this event almost put a cross on the whole crusade. However the work of French and British saved the expedition.
French and British units came from Wesel only in late July 1190g. This happened due to constant discord between French and English. Meanwhile, the German army with the support of the fleet laid siege to Pisa Akkon. In April 1191 French and English fleet arrived in time. Saladin was forced to capitulate and surrender the city. He tried his best to avoid pre-specified redemption, and so the English King Richard I the Lionheart without hesitate ordered the killing of 2,700 Muslim prisoners. Saladin had to ask for a truce. Winners following the King of England moved to the south and went through the Jaffa towards Jerusalem. Kingdom of Jerusalem has been restored, although the Jerusalem still remained in the hands of Muslims. Capital of the kingdom was now Akkon.
The Third Crusade is very controversial. Although Muslims had fighted well and even, in some way, helped to the death of German Emperor they still had to capitulate. In fact, the Crusaders won here as even the Jerusalem Kingdom was restored. However it should be noted that actually Jerusalem still stayed in the hands of Muslims, whereas the goal was to recapture Jerusalem. The war, usually, is said to be lost if the main goal is not achieved and as we can see it is the case here. Therefore we can argue that although the Third Crusade was not a total failure, it still cannot be called as a success.