Crusades the name given to the religious wars carried on from the close of the eleventh to the close of the thirteenth century by the Christian countries of Europe against the Mohammedans for the conquest of the Holy Land. (In this article we make free use of the article in Chambers's Encyclopaedia.) From an early period in the history of the Church it was considered a pious act to make a pilgrimage to the Holy Sepulchre, and to visit the various spots which the Savior had consecrated by his presence. When Palestine was conquered by the Arabs in the seventh century, that fierce but generous people respected the religious spirit of the pilgrims, and allowed them to build a church and a hospital in Jerusalem. Under the Fatimides of Egypt, who conquered Syria about 980 A.D., the position both of the native Christian residents and of the pilgrims became less favorable; but the conquest of Jerusalem in 1078, and the subjugation of the country by brutal hordes of Seljuk Turks from the Caucasus, rendered it intolerable. The news of their atrocities produced a deep sensation over the whole of Christendom, and kindled a general desire for the liberation of the Holy Land from the hands of the infidels. The popes encouraged this movement to the best of their ability. They saw in it an opportunity to extend the Church, to re-enforce their power, and to turn the warlike ardor of the Western princes, which so often led to conflicts between Church and State, against the infidels. In 1073, the Greek emperor, Manuel VII, sent to supplicate the assistance of the great pope, Gregory VII, against the Turks, accompanying his petition with many expressions of profound respect for his holiness and the Latin Church. Gregory cordially responded, but circumstances prevented him from ever carrying the vast designs which he entertained into execution. The idea of a crusade was, however, revived by his successor, Urban II, an able and humane man, whose sympathies were kindled by the burning zeal of Peter the Hermit, a native of Amiens, in France, who had made a pilgrimage to the Holy Land, witnessed the cruelties perpetrated by the Turks, and was now traversing Europe, preaching every where to crowds in the open air, and producing the most extraordinary enthusiasm by his impassioned descriptions of how pilgrims were murdered, robbed, or beaten, how shrines and holy places were desecrated, and how nothing but greed restrained the ruffian Turks (who made the Christians pay heavy taxes for their visits to Jerusalem) from destroying the Holy Sepulchre, and extirpating every vestige of Christianity in the land.
First Crusade, 1096-1099. — When, by the addresses of Peter the Hermit and others, the feelings of Europe had been sufficiently heated, two councils were held in 1095, one at Piacenza, in May, and the other at Clermont, in France, in November, to organize the war. At the second, at Clermont, a crusade was definitely resolved on. The pope himself delivered a stirring address to a vast multitude of clergy and laymen, and as he proceeded, the pent-up emotions of the crowd burst forth, and cries of Deus vult (God wills it) rose simultaneously from the whole audience. These words, Deus vult, by the injunction of Urban, were made the war- cry of the enterprise, and every one that embarked in it wore, as a badge, the sign of the cross; hence the name Crusade (Fr. croisade, from Lat. crux, a cross). From all parts of Europe thousands upon thousands hurried at the summons of the pope to engage in the holy war. In May, 1096, the crusade was actually begun by an undisciplined force of about 20,000 foot, commanded by a Burgundian gentleman, Walter the Penniless. It marched through Hungary, but was cut to pieces by the natives of Bulgaria, only a few, among whom was Walter himself, escaping to Constantinople. The second, consisting of 40,000 men, women, and children, was led by Peter the Hermit. It followed the same route as its predecessor, and reached Constantinople greatly reduced. Here the two united, crossed the Bosphorus, and were utterly defeated by the Turks at Nice, the capital of Bithynia A third expedition of a similar kind, composed of 15,000 Germans, led by a priest named Gottschalk, was slaughtered or dispersed in Hungary, which also proved the grave of the fourth, a terrible horde, consisting of about 200,000 wretches from France, England, Flanders, and Lorraine, who had swept along through Germany, committing horrible ravages, especially against the Jews, whom they murdered without mercy. Now, however, the real Crusaders made their appearance-the gentry, the yeomanry, and the serfs of feudal Europe, under chiefs of the first rank and renown. Six armies appeared in the field, marching separately, and at considerable intervals of time. Their respective leaders were Godfrey of Bouillon, duke of Lorraine; Hugh the Great, count of Vermandois, and brother of Philippe, king of France; Robert Curthose, duke of Normandy, the son of William the Conqueror; count Robert of Flanders; Bohemond, prince of Tarentum, son of the famous Guiscard, under whom was Tancred, the favorite hero of all the historians of the Crusade; and, lastly, count Raymond of Toulouse. The place of rendezvous was Constantinople. The Greek emperor, Alexius, afraid that so magnificent a host — there were in all not less than 600,000 men, exclusive of women and priests — might be induced to conquer lands for themselves, cajoled all the leaders, excepting Tancred and count Raymond, into solemnly acknowledging themselves his liegemen. After some time spent in feasting, the Crusaders crossed into Asia Minor (accompanied by the unfortunate Peter the Hermit). Here their first step was the siege and capture of Nice, the capital of Sultan Soliman, June 24, 1097. This monarch was also defeated by Bohemond, Tancred, and Godfrey, at Dorylaeum. Baldwin, brother of Godfrey, now crossed into Mesopotamia, where he obtained the principality of Edessa. After some time the Crusaders reached Syria, and laid siege to Antioch. For seven months the city held out, and the ranks of the besiegers were fearfully thinned by famine and disease. Many, even brave warriors, lost heart, and began to desert. Melancholy to relate, among the list of cowards was the poor enthusiast who had planned the enterprise. Peter was actually several miles on his way home when he was overtaken by the soldiers of Tancred, and brought back to undergo a public reprimand. At length, on the 3d of June, 1098, Antioch was taken, and the inhabitants were massacred by the infuriated Crusaders, who were in their turn besieged by an army of 200,000 Mohammedans sent by the Persian sultan. Once more famine and pestilence did their deadly work. Multitudes also deserted, and, escaping over the walls, carried the news of, the sad condition of the Christians back to Europe. But again victory crowned the efforts of the besieged. On June 28, 1098, the Mohammedans were utterly routed, and the way to Jerusalem opened. It was on a bright summer morning (1099) that 40,000 Crusaders, the miserable remnant of that vast array which two years before had laid siege to Nice, obtained their first glimpse of Jerusalem. On July 15, after a siege of rather more than five, weeks, the grand object of the expedition was realized. Jerusalem was delivered from the hands of the infidel. Eight days after the capture of the city, Godfrey of Bouillon was unanimously elected king of Jerusalem.
Second Crusade, 1147. — In 1144 the principality of Edessa was conquered by the emir of Mosul, and the Christians slaughtered. His son Noureddin advanced to destroy the Latin kingdoms of Syria and Palestine. Europe once more trembled with excitement. A second crusade was preached by the famous St. Bernard, abbot of Clairvaux, in Champagne; and early in 1147 two enormous armies, under the command of Louis VII, king of France, and Conrad III, emperor of Germany, marched for the Holy Land. Their united numbers were estimated at 1,200,000 fighting- men. The expedition, nevertheless, proved a total failure. The Greek emperor, Manuel Comnenus, was hostile; and through the treachery of his emissaries the army of Conrad was all but destroyed by the Turks near Iconium, while that of Louis was wrecked in the defiles of the Pisidian Mountains. After a vain attempt to reduce at first Damascus and subsequently Ascaion, the relics of this mighty host returned to Europe.
Third Crusade, 1189-1192. — The death-blow to the kingdom of Jerusalem was given by Salah-Eddin, commonly called Saladin, a young Kurdish chief, who had made himself sultan of Egypt, and who aspired to the presidency of the Mohammedan world, in October, 1187, Jerusalem itself capitulating after a siege of fourteen days. The news of this led to a third crusade, the chiefs of which were Frederick I (Barbarossa), emperor of Germany, Philippe Auguste, king of France, and Richard Cour-de-Lion, king of England. Barbarossa took the field first in the spring of 1189, but accidentally lost his life by fever caught from bathing in the Orontes. His army, much reduced, joined the forces, of the other two monarchs before Acre (or Ptolemais), which important city was immediately besieged, and after a beleaguering of twenty-three months surrendered. But the Crusaders were not united among themselves. Philippe soon after returned to France; and Richard, after accomplishing prodigies of valor, which excited the admiration of the Saracens, concluded a treaty with Saladin, by which "the people of the West were to be at liberty to make pilgrimages to Jerusalem, exempt from the taxes which the Saracen princes had in former times imposed." On October 25, 1192, Richard set sail for Europe.
Fourth Crusade, 1203. — In 1203 a fourth expedition was determined upon by pope Innocent III, although the condition of the Christians was by no means such as to call for it. It assembled at Venice, the government of which republic, from political reasons, promised to support the movement by its navy. The army never went to Palestine at all, but preferred to take possession of the Byzantine empire. The leader of this host of pseudo- Crusaders, Baldwin, count of Flanders, was seated on the throne of the East in 1204, where he and his successors maintained themselves for fifty- six years. Some writers do not number this expedition- among the regular crusades, but count as the fourth crusade another expedition, in 1217, which king Andrew II of Hungary was prevailed upon by pope Honorius III to undertake. He was supported by the kings of Jerusalem and Cyprus, conquered a fortress on Mount Tabor and some small forts, but in 1218 returned home. In the same year count William of Holland, being allied with the kings of Jerusalem and Cyprus, landed in Egypt. He conquered in 1219 Damietta, but in 1221 this town and all other conquests were lost again.
Fifth Crusade, 1228-1229. — This was commanded by Frederick II, emperor of Germany. It began in 1228, and terminated in a treaty of ten years between that monarch and the sultan of Egypt, by which Palestine was ceded to Frederick, who, after being crowned king of Jerusalem in 1229, returned to Europe, leaving his new possessions in a state of tranquillity.
Sixth Crusade, 1248. — In 1244 a new race of Turks burst into Syria, and once more the Holy Land fell into the hands of these ferocious barbarians. Jerusalem was burned and pillaged. In 1248, Louis IX of France (St. Louis) headed a crusade against them. At the head of 40,000 soldiers he embarked from Cyprus, and from there went to Egypt, conquering the coast and the town of Damietta, but when he advanced further he was utterly defeated, and taken prisoner by the sultan of Egypt. By the payment of a large ransom he obtained his liberty (1250), and that of the other prisoners. On his return to Europe he was regarded as a sort of martyr in the cause of Christ.
Seventh Crusade, 1270. — This also was primarily undertaken by St. Louis, but he having died at Tunis in 1270, on his way to Palestine, prince Edward of England, afterwards Edward I, who had originally intended to place himself under the command of St. Louis, marched direct for Palestine, where his rank and reputation in arms gathered round him all who were willing to fight for the Cross. Nothing of consequence, however, was accomplished, and Edward soon returned to England, the last of the Crusaders. Acre, Antioch, and Tripoli still continued in the possession of the Christians, and were defended for some time by the Templars and other military knights; but in 1291 Acre capitulated, the other towns soon followed its example, and the knights were glad to quit the country, and disperse themselves over Europe in quest of new employment, leaving Palestine in the undisturbed possession of the Saracens.
Since that time there have been no further crusades, although the popes have more than once attempted to excite the Christians to the undertaking. Some writers do not hesitate to affirm that the popes, under this device, aimed at universal power over the kings and armies employed in their service, which were numerous, because a plenary indulgence was the reward of a Crusader. The Christian princes were exhausted in the struggle, while the pope became omnipotent both over clergy and people. The people sold their property for a mere trifle, or made a gift of it to monasteries and abbeys. It is computed that nearly two millions of Christians lost their lives during the crusades by slaughter, hunger, pestilence, etc.
It is impossible to overlook the fact that, in some respects, the crusades exercised a most beneficial influence on modern society. M. Guizot, in his Lectures on European Civilization, endeavors to show their design and function in the destinies of Christendom. "To the first chroniclers," he says, "and consequently to the first Crusaders, of whom they are but the expression, Mohammedans are objects only of hatred: it is evident that those who speak of them do not know them. The historians of the later crusades speak quite differently: it is clear that they look upon them no longer as monsters; that they have to a certain extent entered into their ideas; that they have lived with them; and that relations, and even a sort of sympathy, have been established between them." Thus the minds of both, but particularly of the Crusaders, were partly delivered from those prejudices which are the offspring of ignorance. "A step was taken towards the enfranchisement of the human mind." Secondly, the Crusaders were brought into contact with two civilizations, richer and more advanced than their own — the Greek and the Saracenic; and it is beyond all question that they were mightily struck with the wealth and comparative refinement of the East. Thirdly, the close relationship between the chief laymen of the West and the Church occasioned by the crusades enabled the former "to inspect more narrowly the policy and motives of the papal court." The result was very disastrous to that spirit of veneration and belief on which the Church lives, and in many cases an extraordinary freedom of judgment and hardihood of opinion were induced, such as Europe had never before dreamed of. Fourthry, great social changes were brought about. A commerce between the East and West sprang up, and towns — the early homes of liberty in Europe-began to grow great and powerful. The crusades, indeed, "gave maritime commerce the strongest impulse it had ever received." As the crusades were a rising of the Christian nations of Europe for the triumph of the Church under the direct control of the popes, they naturally gave a powerful influence to the hierarchical plans of the popes. The emperors and kings, by following the exhortations of the popes and taking the cross, acknowledged the claims of the popes that the ecclesiastical power was higher than the secular. As the popes did not personally join the crusades, but were represented by lea gates, the system of papal legates was developed, which became in the hands of the popes a powerful weapon for curtailing the jurisdiction of archbishops and bishops. The origin of bishops in partibus infidelium can also be traced to the crusades. The raising of immense armies was a good pretext for the popes to extort large sums of money from princes and nations. The warlike enthusiasm against the Mohammedans kindled the popular fanaticism against all heretics, and stimulated the bloody persecutions of the Cathari, Waldenses, and other sects in Western Europe.
The influence of the crusades upon scientific theology was only indirect. The better acquaintance with the philosophical and theological literature of the Greek Church and the Mohammedans could but yield a favorable influence. In particular, the study of Aristotle was greatly promoted by the crusades, and several of his works were then first made known in the western countries of Europe. See Chambers, Cyclopaedia, s.v.; Brockhaus, Conversations-Lex, 9:76; Christian Remembrancer 1:44, 5; Herzog, Real- Encyklop. 8:68; Mosheim, Church History, 2:112, 141, 233, etc.; Milman, Latin Christianity, vol. 4; Wilken, Geschichte der Kreuzziuge (Leips. 1807-26, 4 vols.); Michaud, Histoire des Croisades (Paris, 1825; translated by Robson, London, 3 vols. 12mo, 1854); Mills, History of the Crusades (Lond. 1828, 4th ed. 2 vols. 8vo); Keightley, The Crusades (London, 1847, 2 vols. 12mo); Hume, History of England, 1:226 et al.; 2:60 et al.; Hase, Ch. Hist. p. 196, 220, 269; Sybel, Geschichte des ersten Kreuzzuges (Leipsic, 1841); Kugler, Studien zur Geschichte des zweiten Kreuzzuges (Stuttgardt, 1866). A list of writers on the subject is given by Michaud, Bibliotheque des Croisades (Paris, 1830, 4 vols.).