text by John Sloan

Western crusaders attacking Muslim warriors,
fourteenth-century manuscript (Bibliothèque Boulogne-s-Mer).

General Considerations Immediate Causes Strategic Map
First Crusade (1097-1099) Second Crusade (1145-1148) Third Crusade (1189-1192)
Fourth Crusade (1202-1204) Fifth Crusade (1218-1221) Sixth Crusade (1228-1229)
Crusade of 1239-1241) Seventh Crusade (1248-1254) Eighth Crusade (1270-1272)
Summary and Analysis Bibliography Chronology

General Considerations

'Crusades' describes military expeditions that are supposed to be religiously inspired. Their origin was mainly in medieval west European Christians' military expeditions, launched from 1097 to 1291, to regain and to retain the 'Holy Land' [Palestine] from the Moslems. The term's origin is from the Portuguese cruzado ('mark with a cross'); and a red Greek-cross was attached to the outer garments of many of the original participants. After the Levant campaigns ended, The expression continued to be used to label military expeditions against Islamic regimes and even to 'sanctify' warfare against heretics of the official Western Christian Church.
The original Crusades in the Levant were an outgrowth of the revival of religious feeling and missionary zeal which had begun in Europe in the tenth century. However the individual participants also acted from a variety of secular personal and group motives including personal, political, and economic expansionism. Contemporaries regarded them in the former aspect, as 'holy wars' towards Christ's Sepulchre. Considered as 'holy wars', the Crusades must be interpreted by the ideas of an age which was dominated by the spirit of other worldliness, and accordingly ruled by the priestly power that represented the other world. They were part of the secular policy of the papacy that headed the Western Christian Church. The popes had a number of reasons for desiring to direct the faithful to a great war of Christianity against the infidel.
For many of the faithful the expeditions were a new avenue to gain salvation through a pilgrimage. Such pilgrimages had been taking place throughout the previous four centuries, as had continuous fighting between Christians and Moslems in those theaters in which they shared a common frontier including Spain, Sicily, Italy, Asia Minor, and at sea. In Spain, especially, the two aspects had been closely linked as pilgrims journeyed to Santiago de Compostella and warriors fought the nearly 800 years long Reconquista to recover the peninsula from the Moors. Pilgrimages had been made to Jerusalem as well, often by groups under arms organized for mutual protection.
For the papacy, the Crusades were an opportunity to divert and channel the warlike energies of their most troublesome subjects away from the destructive violence endemic within Christendom. In this respect they were a development from the efforts to enforce God's Truce and God's Peace, and an outgrowth of chivalry itself.
One can readily understand the popularity of the crusades, when one reflects that they permitted men to get to the other world by fighting hard on earth, and allowed them to gain the fruits of asceticism by the way of obedience to natural instinct. Nor was the Church merely able, through the crusades, to direct the martial instinct of a feudal society; it was also able to pursue the object of its own immediate policy, and to attempt the universal spread of Christianity, even at the edge of the sword, over the whole of the known world.
The Western expeditions to secure the 'Holy Land' led to efforts to establish domains in the eastern rim of the Mediterranean -- 'The Levant'. Geographically and chronologically, this was only part of a broader struggle between Christian European and Moslem societies. The full contest included the Near East, Eastern Europe, North Africa, Spain and Mediterranean islands. It was continuous from the birth of Islam in 622 at least until the defeat of the Turks before Vienna in 1683. After that it was continued by the Orthodox East European Christians right up to World War I. In this context, the Crusades in the Levant represent one of the periods in which the relative military, political, and economic power of the Europeans versus their opponents enabled them to return to the offensive, for a time at least in a limited theater of operations. It also played a part in the development of Western military warfare, as will be explained in a later summary.


Immediate Causes

Although Jerusalem was captured by Moslems in 637 A.D., their policy of religious toleration allowed for continuous communication between the Christian churches in the Holy Land and their co-religionists in Europe. Charlemagne, Alfred of England, and Louis of Germany all contributed to institutions in Jerusalem. However, in the early 11th century the situation changed when the Caliph, Hakim, began to interfere and relations between the Latin and Byzantine churches were rent by the schism of 1054. The situation became even worse, when the Seljuk Turks captured Jerusalem from the Egyptians in 1071, the same year they destroyed a Byzantine army at Manzikert and seized Asia Minor up to the Hellespont. The Turks supported the Abbasid rulers of Baghdad in their wars with the Fatimites of Cairo increasing the intensity of warfare throughout Syria (including Palestine). This too interfered with the pilgrimages of the faithful.
During the later 10th century and first half of the 11th the west Europeans took the offensive from Spain to Greece. The naval powers such as Pisa, Genoa, and Venice were regaining vital control of the Mediterranean. The Normans were particularly active, not only in conquering Sicily and southern Italy and in assisting Christians in Spain, but also in efforts to wrest territory from the Byzantines. Thus, when the Byzantines were severely pressed by the Seljuk Turks, it was only natural that the Emperor Michael VII would appeal in 1073 to Pope Gregory VII, whom the Normans nominally supported, in hopes of transferring their attentions from taking his domains in Greece to helping him recover others in Asia Minor. Pope Gregory was interested in sponsoring an expedition to recover Asia Minor in hopes of also restoring the Church unity that had recently been broken. He assembled an army in 1074 but subsequently was embroiled in war with the German Emperor, Henry IV; involved in disagreements with Robert Guiscard, the Norman ruler; and finally driven into the Norman "protection" at Salerno.
The appeals for assistance were repeated by Emperor Alexius Commenus to Pope Urban II and other western leaders. Thus the stage was amply set for the Pope's initiative. The confluence of factors thus can be listed as follows:
  • unprecedented difficulty for Christians to fulfill their desires for pilgrimage directly to Jerusalem;
  • extraordinary weakness in Byzantine empire and losses to Turks;
  • increased military power of western Europeans, especially Normans and French; and restless eagerness on the part of military leaders to put it to their own use;
  • increased Christian naval strength throughout the Mediterranean, and heightened desire by the naval cities to exploit this for their commercial advantage;
  • Papal interest in an expedition to Asia Minor and Palestine as well as in asserting more control over the internal affairs of western Europe;
  • popular ideological and cultural interest linking religious fervor to concept of crusade;
  • a period of increased local famine and disease which encouraged the masses to consider undertaking dangerous treks in search of a better life.
The primary force, which thus transformed an appeal for reinforcements into a holy war for the conquest of Palestine, was the Church. The creative thought of the middle ages is clerical thought. It is the Church which creates the Carolingian empire, because the clergy think in terms of empire. It is the Church which creates the First Crusade, because the clergy believe in penitentiary pilgrimages, and the war against the Seljuks can be turned into a pilgrimage to the Sepulchre; because again it wishes to direct the fighting instinct of the laity, and the consecrating name of Jerusalem provides an unimpeachable channel. Above all, because the Papacy desires a perfect and universal church, and perfect and universal church must rule in the Holy Land. But it would be a mistake to regard the crusades as a pure creation of the church or as merely due to the policy of a theocracy directing men to the holy war, which is the only war possible for a theocracy. It would be almost truer, though only half the truth, to say that the clergy gave the name of the crusade to sanctify interests and ambitions which, while set on ends other than those of the Church, happened to coincide in their choice of means. There was, for instance, the ambition of the adventurer prince, the younger son, eager to carve a principality in the far East, of whom Bohemund is the type; there was the interest of Italian towns, anxious to acquire the products of the East more directly and cheaply, by erecting their own outposts in the eastern Mediterranean.
These motivations were latent and ready when Pope Urban convened a church synod at Piacenza in March of 1095, at which the Emperor's appeals were again presented, and then went on to Clermont to deliver his powerful speech on November 26th. In his speech the Pope appealed to most of these motives all wrapped together. He mentioned the urgent need of the Byzantine people and the general danger to Christianity, but stressed the penitential value of the expedition and the religious benefit of observing the truce of God at home, while dedicating one's martial valor to the conquest of Jerusalem.
The crusade movement resulted in an almost continuous flow of individuals and groups, armed and unarmed, from western Europe to the Levant. Hardly a year passed without several nobles arriving with their retainers. Moreover, once the Kingdom of Jerusalam and Counties of Tripoli and Antioch were established the main burden of fighting was born by the permanent settlement of crusaders and their descendants. Nevertheless, the period between 1096 and 1291 witnessed eight specific campaigns, which have been considered sufficiently discrete to be numbered as named Crusades. Another complication that must be understood in order to make sense of the complex nature of the political and military events is that not only were the Christians fighting the Moslems nearly continuously, but also both the Christian and Moslem sides were engaged in considerable internal fighting amongst themselves; to the extent that they even allied with one group of the opposite side against others of their coreligionists.


Strategic Map

The Crusades in the Lavent involved most of the Christian nations bordering the northern coastline of the Mediterranean. The political regions depicted above are ca. 1300. These regions changed dramatically, with varous small 'kingdoms' emerginging and then being overtaken in the eastern part of the Mediterranean, as Muslims societies pushed into Anatolia [modern Turkey] and confronted the Byzantine Empire. However, the focus of the Western military campaigns was to secure the Holy Land. This was temporarly accomplished by the initial Crusades establishing some small 'kingdoms' and 'counties' in the lands immediately bordering the eastern Mediterranean. This region was called the 'Lavent' [the land where the sun rises], a name given to other regions 'to the east'. Modern scholars also refer to the land held by the Western crusaders as 'the Latin East'. This term included lands around Constantinople temporarly conquored by the European knights from 1204 to 1261. The 'Latin' states held by the Western knights in theLevant are shown in the following map.


FIRST CRUSADE (1097-1099)

  • Godfrey of Bouillon, Duke of Lorraine
  • Baldwin of Bouillon, of Lorraine, [Godfrey's brother]
  • Raymund, Count of Toulouse, leader of Provencals
  • Bishop Adhemar, Provencals
  • Bohemund of Otranto, Normans of Sicily
  • Tancred of Otranto, Normans of Sicily
  • Hugh of Vermandois [brother of King Philippe I of France]
  • Robert 'Courthose' of Normandy [brother of King William II of England]
  • Stephen, Count of Blois
  • Robert, Count of Flanders
  • Seljuk Sultan Kijid Arslan
  • Vizier of Antioch, Yagi-sian
  • Emir of Mosul, Kerbogha

Strength - 150,000

The immediate outcome of Pope Urban II's appeal was the generation of a religious fervor which swept warrior and civil classes alike. The result was something different from what either pope or Byzantine emperor had in mind. The first to turn desire into action were the common people, whose lack of either property to look after or military understanding to counsel preparation enabled them to take up the cross on the spot. Already within two months of the speech, which was transmitted throughout Europe by wandering preachers, five large bodies of common folk had coalesced under various self-appointed leaders and were moving from the Rhine across Bavaria, down the Danube to Constantinople. Three of these mobs were destroyed in Hungary due to their own wild excesses. Two reached Constantinople and crossed into Asia Minor, only to be completely destroyed by the Seljuks. This so-called advanced, undiscplined rabble is sometimes called 'the Peoples Crusade'.

The real military forces took longer to assemble and organize. Beginning in March 1096, as individual knights and members of medieval hosts, they marched and sailed from throughout France and the Low Countries toward Constantinople, arriving there between December 1096 and May 1097.

The Byzantine Emperor, Alexius, had a problem with the arrival of such a host of foreign troops. He had two alternatives. He could have agreed to their being independent and allies. In this case they might have been offered the chance to conquer lands beyond his empire for themselves. But instead he demanded that they swear to be his vassals and consider that all the lands they crossed be former territories regained for the Empire. This unrealistic policy had adverse results for both the Empire and the Crusaders.

The situation in Asia Minor and Syria in 1097 was favorable to the crusaders. The Moslem rulers were even more disunited and engaged in warfare among themselves than the Christians were.

The Seljuk sultans had only recently completed the military occupation of the area. There were Seljuk garrisons in larger towns like Nicaea and Antioch, and there were some scattered Seljuk armies in the countryside. However the population was mostly hostile to their conquerors. Over wide areas there were no armed forces in being. Therefore, when the crusaders captured a town such as Nicaea and defeated the Seljuk field army at Dorylaeum, their way was clear through Asia Minor. They could count on the neutrality or assistance of the population (an important matter for logistics). They could also count on assistance from the remaining Christian country, Armenia, located in south east Asia Minor. Also, the various Seljuk commanders were more or less autonomous, without strong centralized control, and ambitious and independent-minded.

The last great Seljuk emperor, Malik Shah, died in 1092 leaving a disunited domain. The new sultan, Barkiarok, ruled in Baghdad from 1094 to 1104. But in Asia Minor Kilij Arslan ruled independently as Sultan of Iconium, while the whole of Syria was also independent. Syria was also divided by dissensions within and assailed by the Fatimite caliph of Egypt. In 1095 two brothers, Ridwan and Dekaa, ruled in Allepo and Damascus, but they were at war with each other and the ruler of Antioch, Yagisian, was also involved. Ridwan and Yagisian were only stopped in an attack on Damascus by news of the approach of the crusaders.

Meanwhile, the Fatimites were taking advantage of the divisions. The Fatimite Caliph of Cairo was head of the Shiite sect, while the Abbasid Caliph of Baghdad was head of the Sunnites. The Fatimites took advantage of the disruptions and the advance of the crusaders to conquer Jerusalem in August 1098. The disunion of the Syrian emirs and the division between Abbasids and Fatimites, helped make possible the conquest of the Holy City and the foundation of the Kingdom of Jerusalem. When a power arose in Mosul about 1130, which was able to unify Syria; and the unified Syria was in turn united to Egypt under Saladin, then the Christian kingdom was doomed.

Siege of Antioch

By May 1097 the crusaders crossed the Bosporus and entered the area of Kilij Arslan. Their first operation was the siege of Nicaea, defended by a Seljuk garrison. With Byzantine aid they captured it in June. Alexius took possession of the town and rewarded the crusading princes. After taking Nicaea, the crusaders had to deal with the Turkish field army. In a long and obstinate encounter it was defeated at Dorylaeum on June 1st. After that, the Crusaders marched unmolested in a southeasterly direction to Heraclea. Here Tancred, followed by Baldwin, turned into Cilicia and began to take possession of the Cilician towns, especially Tarsus. The main army turned to the north east toward Caesarea in order to get into contact with the Armenian princes. Then the crusaders marched southward again to Antioch. At Marash, half way between Caesarea and Antioch, Baldwin, who had meanwhile taken Tarsus from Tancred, rejoined the forces. He soon left again and struck eastward towards Edessa to found a principality there. All this independent action presaged future trouble among the crusader leaders. At the end of October the crusaders came to Antioch, held by Yagi-sian, and began the siege of the city. This lasted from October 21, 1097 to June 3, 1098. The great leader of the siege was naturally Bohemund. He repelled attempts at relief made by Dekak on December 31, 1097 and Ridwan on February 9, 1098. He put the besiegers in touch with the Genoese ships at St. Simeon, the port of Antioch. This brought much needed supplies. The city was finally taken by treachery from the garrison. Meanwhile, a relief army under Kerbogha of Mosul was only three-days away. The crusaders were no sooner in the city than they were besieged by Kerbogha for 25 days. The crusaders believed they found the Holy Lance and with this omen they went forth from the city to defeat Kerbogha in battle on June 28.

After this success, largely brought by Count Raymund of Toulouse, the crusader army moved south along the coast.

Bohemund remained in Antioch and Raymund besieged Arca from February to May of 1099 and attempted to capture Tripoli. With Raymund and Bohemund feuding, Godfrey of Bouillon took the leadership and pressed on to Jerusalem. The army arrived there in June; and, after a relatively brief siege, took the Holy City on 15 July, bringing the formal crusade to an end.


SECOND CRUSADE (1145-1148)

  • King Conrad III of Germany
  • King Louis VII of France
  • King Baldwin II of Jerusalem

  • Vizier of Damascus, Muin-eddin-Anar
  • in background, Amir of Aleppo, Nureddin

The Emir of Mosul captured Edessa on Christmas Day, 1144. This signaled the beginning of the destruction of the Latin kingdom of Jerusalem. The news reached Pope Eugenius III early in 1145 and he immediately launched an appeal for a new crusade. The call went especially to France, the most promising and fertile field for recruitment. Immediately King Louis VII took the vow on Christmas Day of 1145. St. Bernard carried the appeal into Germany, where the king, Conrad III, likewise swore his oath for crusade at Christmas of 1146. With the leadership in the hands of two great kings, the prospects for success seemed greater than for the First Crusade. However such was not to be the case. First off, the Byzantine Emperor, Manuel Commenus, asserted again the empire's right to possession of all regained territories. Moreover, he was engaged in a struggle with Count Roger of Sicily, which prevented effective aid from being given to the crusader forces. The knights from England and the Low countries sailed down the Iberian coast and stopped to help the Portuguese to capture Lisbon, the only positive result of the campaign. They then continued on to Antioch. Meanwhile, Conrad marched overland on the well-worn road through Hungary to Constantinople, while Louis arrived later by sea. By then the German army had attempted to raid into the Sultanate of Iconium and had been defeated at Dorylaeum in October 1147. At this Louis decided to march by the long, round-about coastal route. The result was that by the time the French and German forces reached the Holy Land in 1148 both had lost most of their troops. Here Conrad and Louis joined the Frankish, King Baldwin III, to plan some action. Foolishly, instead of choosing a worthwhile objective they decided on besieging Damascus, the one Moslem ally they had to block the advance of the more powerful amir Nureddin from Allepo and Baghdad. The vizier of Damascus, Muin-eddinAnar, bought off some of the attackers. The siege failed after 4 days, July 28th 1148, but helped reunite the Moslems.

Conrad returned to Constantinople and Louis returned to France. The effect of this great movement was detrimental to the Frankish position in the Holy Land. In addition, the fiasco so discredited the whole crusading idea that further efforts to recruit a new force in 1150 failed.

The result of the failure of the second crusade was that Nureddin was able to renew his attacks. He took the rest of the County of Edessa in 1150 and defeated Raymund of Antioch in 1149. For the next 20 years Baldwin III and his brother Amalric I attempted to maintain the kingdom through alliance with Manuel Commenus, whose relatives they both married, while Manuel married Mary of Antioch, Raymund's daughter. Meanwhile, Nureddin gradually tightened the noose, capturing Damascus in 1154, and pushing his power into Egypt.


THIRD CRUSADE (1189-1192)

  • King Richard I 'Coeur de Lion' of England
  • German Emperor Frederick Barbarossa
  • King Philippe II 'Augustus' of France
  • Marquis Conrad of Montferrat
  • King Guy de Lusignan of Jerusalem

  • Saladin, Emir of Egypt and etc.

The loss of Jerusalem on October 2, 1187 and practically the entire Holy Land to Saladin after the battle of Hattin in July 1187 generated another papal appeal throughout Europe for a crusade. This time the state powers took up the call. The German national Diet swore the crusade and their great Emperor Frederick Barbarossa, who had participated in the Second Crusade, organized a fine army. The kings of England and France laid aside their conflicts (temporarily) to join together for the expedition. But this crusade was little more successful than the second. The German army marched across the Balkans, crossed the Bosphorus, and passed through Asia Minor practically unscathed only to fall apart immediately on the accidental drowning of their emperor in a river in Armenia. Only 1,000 men reached Acre in October 1190 under the emperor's son, Frederick of Swabia.

The French and English sailed from southern France, stopped over the winter of 1190-1191 in Sicily, then reached Acre in midyear. Richard went by way of a stop to conquer Cyprus.

The initial rout of the Franks after Hattin had been checked at Tyre, their last remaining stronghold in the south by the last minute arrival of Conrad of Montferrat. He was immediately engaged in feuding with Guy de Lusignan over rights and privileges, and who would be king. However, they did manage to advance with the remanent of crusader forces to the siege of Acre, the key seaport for Jerusalem. Here they were in turn besieged by Saladin with the combined Moslem hosts of Egypt and much of Syria. The arrival of the French and English enabled the crusaders finally to take the city and then a little more of the sea coast, but they were unable even to consider an attempt on Jerusalem with Saladin's army so near. Philip returned to France quickly. Richard actually accomplished more by diplomatic negotiations with Saladin than by force of arms. He left also, with his nephew, Henry of Champagne, in charge as King of Jerusalem.

The crusade failed in its objective, but at least did buy some time by saving Antioch, Tripoli, and some of the coastal cities. Its main results lay in Europe itself, where it represented the shift in control of crusades from the religious power of the papacy to the secular power of the state. It also raised the internal endemic rivalries that beset all crusading forces from those of individual feudal adventurers to the budding national level.


FOURTH CRUSADE (1202-1204)

  • Theobald III, Count of Champagne (organizer who died in 1201)
  • Baldwin IX, Count of Flanders
  • Count of Blois
  • Boniface of Montferrat
  • Alexius III, usurper as Byzantine Emperor

Pope Innocent III raised a crusade in France with the objective of attacking the center of Moslem power in Egypt. However the Hohenstaufen Holy Roman Emperor, Philip of Swabia, who was engaged in the age-old Gulph versus Ghibelline struggle between empire and papacy, managed with the aid of Venice to divert the French crusaders to Constantinople with the aim of restoring the dethroned emperor, Isaac Angelus. The Venetians supplied the sea power and transports. However, after they accomplished this, Isaac and his son, Alexius, reneged on their promises, so the crusaders captured the city and placed Baldwin on the throne as the first Latin emperor of Constantinople.

The result of this excursion was the further diversion of crusades from spiritual motivation and papal control to secular (political and economic) motivations and secular state control. The results for the efforts to save the Holy Land were counter-productive in the extreme in that they not only diverted a major amount of fighting strength from Jerusalem for years to come, but also failed to enlist even as much Byzantine support for the enterprise as had been forthcoming until then.

The embarrassment of the Fourth Crusade contributed to the launching of a more pathetic expedition in 1212. It is not one of the numbered military expeditions, but is known as 'The Children's Crusade'. The story is not well documented and much of it is questioned by many historians. Reportedly a French boy, Stephen, led several thousand of his peers to the ports in Marseilles, where they expected the waters to part and allow them to march to the Holy Land. At the same time, another large number of children crossed over the Alps to ports in Italy with the same general intent. Both groups evidently fell victims to merchant slave-dealers and pirates. If nothing else, the account reflects the fustration Western Europe was feeling with the poor progress of the crusades to the Levant at this time.


FIIFTH CRUSADE (1218-1221)

  • Pelagius, cardinal legate
  • John of Brienne, King of Jerusalem

  • Sultan Malik-al-Adil - died 1218
  • Sultan Malik-al-Kamil

Undaunted by the disastrous miscarriage of his plans for the Fourth Crusade, Pope Innocent urged yet another at the Fourth Lateran Council of 1215. The initial reception was auspicious. The great Emperor Frederick II (Stupor Mundi) took the cross in Germany, where a considerable force was gathered. In 1217 the Duke of Austria and the King of Hungary went to the Holy Land. In 1218 another army from northwest Europe joined them. By this time it was clear to the crusaders that the real locus of Moslem power was Egypt. Moreover, with Syria under strong Moslem control the overland route through Asia Minor seemed too difficult. This was just fine for the maritime commercial cities, which wanted to establish trade routes through Egypt to India. Finally, there was an existing truce in force in the Holy Land. Consequently, Innocent decided that the purpose of the crusade would be to capture the Egyptian strong hold at Damietta and then seek to take Cairo as well. The crusaders took Damietta by the end of 1219, but spent all of 1220 waiting there for the arrival of Emperor Frederick II, the nominal leader. The sultan offered very favorable terms, which were rejected. In 1221 Hermann of Salza, Master of the Teutonic Order, and the Duke of Bavaria arrived, so Pelagius ordered an advance on Cairo, despite the protests of King John.

The crusader army reached the new Mameluke fortress at Mansura in July. The sultan again offered terms that were again rejected. The crusaders were then driven back to Damietta. At this the cardinal agreed to a treaty (Aug 1221) to gain freedom to withdraw. The crusader evacuation of Egypt ended the crusade.

The failure was due in part to the failure of Frederick II to come when his presence would have greatly strengthened the crusader cause and in part to the intransigence of Pelagius, who refused to listen to the advice of the experienced King John.

[It should be noted that a few of the historical summaries of the crusades do not assign this particular one a number. This, of course, affects tracking the subsequent numbered expeditions with such accounts.]


SIXTH CRUSADE (1228-1229)

  • Frederich II, The German Emperor [He was also King of Sicily and King of Jerusalem]

  • Sultan of Egypt, Malik

The Sixth Crusade succeeded, but under circumstances which made its success even more disastrous than the failure of the preceding crusade. Considering that Richard I was the main controller of the Third Crusade and the Hohenstaufen and Venetians controlled the Fourth, then it was the papal legate who was in control of the Fifth. At last, on the Sixth Crusade the Emperor Frederick II took his turn in a strictly lay-controlled enterprise. It was unique in that instead of receiving a papal blessing it was actually cursed. It was also peculiar in that it alone included no hostile acts against the Moslems. By virtue of marriage to Isabella, heiress to the kingdom of Jerusalem, Frederick undertook the crusade as king, despite being under excommunication by Pope Gregory IX. Without striking a blow he managed to obtain a treaty of 10 years duration under which he regained the city plus other territories connecting it to the coast. He was soon enmeshed in the traditional feudal politics of the kingdom and finally lost out to the barons. The struggle weakened the kingdom still further. Even the pope, being Frederick's staunch enemy, sought to prevent aid from reaching the Holy Land as long as Frederick was even nominally the King!


CRUSADE of (1239-1241)

  • Theobald [Thibaut] IV, Count of Champagne [He was also Teobaldo I, King of Navarre]
  • Richard, Earl of Cornwall [brother of King Henry III of England]

  • Ayyubid Sultans of Cairo (Egypt) and Damascus

Falling between the Sixth and Seventh traditionally numberd crusades, are two expeditions, one arriving in the Levant in 1239, and the other in 1241. They overlap as to their impact in the Levant, but usually are not designated as a major 'crusade'. Combined, they can be seen as follow-on expeditions that merely extended, only partially, the achievements of Emperor Frederick II's Sixth Crusade.
In France, Theobald, of Champagne was preapring to go on Crusade in 1229. Accompanying Theobald were the French nobles Hugh IV, Duke of Burgundy; Henry, Count of Bar; Amaury, de Montfort; and the lord of Clermont. The Pope wanted the crusade to go to the aid of troubled Latin kingdom at Constantinople. Theobald rejected going to Constantinople.* His crusade reached Acre in September 1239.
Theobald found division among the Latin communities in Palestine, and within the Muslim Ayyubid dynasty -- two factions, one at Damascus and one at Cairo were at war. Instead of taking advantage of the division among the Muslims, Theobald set out against both. As Theobald began to fortify Ascalon, his French nobles became restless for action and thought they could conduct some easy, low risk raids. Peter of Dreux led about 200 French knights in a successful ambush of a non-military Muslim convoy en route to Damascus. This encouraged other nobles to try the same. Henry of Bar led about 500 knights and some infantry in a raid on a Muslim camp near Gaza. This, however, was largly a military camp and had outposts that alerted the camp of the threat. The Muslims placed crossbowmen on sand dunes that surrounded the Crudasers. In the ensuing battle many of the Christians. were killed or captured -- Henry of Bar and lord of Clermont were killed, Amaury de Montfort was captured**. Soon after, a Muslim army attacked Jersalem and stormed the Tower of David. Theobald and his French tried negotiating with Sultan As-Salih of Damascus. As-Salih was at odds with his nephew, the new ruler of Egypt, and was receptive to an alliance with the Christians. However, when a combined army met at Jaffa, the Muslim forces from Damascus "melted away" before any assault was launched on Egypt. Theobald then began negotiations with the Egyptians. In this, he he managed to win a promise for the return of parts of Palestine. Then he departed with the King of Navarre and count of Brittany just little over a week before the arrival of the English Earl Richard of Cornwall.
Richard, Earl of Cornwall arrived at Acre in October 1240 with 800 knights, and with the support of his brother-in-law, Emperor Frederick II, to make whatever aggreeement Richard thought best. Richard was joined by the duke of Burgundy and some of the French who remained. Richard immediately renounced the Crusaders' former treaty with Damascus, and began concentrated negotiations with the Sultan of Egypt. Richard essentially was able to confirm what Count Thibald had sought, and what was a slight extension of concessions that Frederick II had obtained in the earlier treaty. The Muslims agreed to return the remainder of Galilee, including Mount Tabor, and the castle and town of Tiberias. Richard was to make himself quite popular in Europe for also negotiating the release of the French knights taken captive at Gaza. Richard of Cornwall completed rebuilding the citadel at Ascalon, and departed in May 1241.
The gains won by these two 'low-keyed crusades' were lost a few years later. The the barons of the Latin domains in the Levant again formed an alliance with Damascus, and against the Sultan of Egypt. This time the allies of the Egyptian Sultan, the Khorezmian Turks, swept down from the north and broke through the walls of Jerusalem. The Latin garrison surrendered on 23 August 1244. In the same year the coalition army of Christian and Muslims of Damascus were disastrously beaten near the town of La Forbie, northeast of Gaza. It was as great a defeat as had been Hattin (1187).

*With French assistance, another 'crusade' expedition was sent that sustained Latin Constantinople's existence a few years longer.
**Amaury de Montfort was the son of the Simon of the Albigsian Crusade. After being freed from captivity, Amaury died in 1241, at Otranto, Italy, while returing to France.



  • St. Louis IX, King of France

  • Malik-al-Salih Najm al-din Ayyub, Sultan of Egypt and Damascus

The loss of Jerusalem in 1244 produced a new crusade, after it was urged at the council of Lyons in 1245. The nature of medieval politics is revealed in the promise of Pope Innocent IV to grant crusader status to all who would take up his cause, not only in the Holy Land, but more especially against Emperor Frederick II himself. hus, it was the papacy that turned the concept of crusade to its own secular objectives. Meanwhile the King of France, St. Louis, took up the cross and organized a French army. He moved to Cyprus in 1248 and in the spring of 1249 landed in Egypt. Again, the crusaders succeeded in capturing Damietta and in marching as far as Mansura, where they were again defeated. This time the king was captured as well. After paying ransom and surrendering Damietta, he moved to Acre in 1250, where he remained for four years vainly seeking to enlist aid from Europe and to capture Jerusalem. Finally the death of his mother forced St. Louis to return to France in 1254.


EIGHTH CRUSADE (1270-1272)

  • St. Louis IX, King of France; accompanied by
  • Charles of Anjou, brother of Louis and King of Sicily
  • Prince Edward, afterward King Edward I of England

  • Bey of Tunis
  • Bibars, Sultan of Egypt

The successes of Bibars in capturing Caesarea in 1265 and Antioch in 1268 led St. Louis to consider another crusade. His brother, Charles of Anjou, meanwhile had supplanted the Hohenstaufen as King of Sicily and was planning crusades himself, to Constantinople as well as Jerusalem. St. Louis, however, had got the notion that the Bey of Tunis might be converted and decided to begin his crusade at that location before moving east. Charles certainly did not like this idea, but was forced to forgo his own plans in order to support his brother. Prince Edward of England was also enlisted in the enterprise. No sooner had St. Louis landed in Africa than he fell sick and died. Charles successfully negotiated a favorable treaty from the bey for his own Sicilian kingdom.

When Prince Edward arrived, the war was over. He then proceeded to Acre, where he entered into negotiations unsuccessfully with the Mongols in Persia in hopes of finding a military force capable of ousting the Mamlukes. He returned home in 1272 the last of the western crusaders to visit the Levant.


Summary and Analysis

The official end of the Levant crusades came when the Sultan of Egypt captured Acre in 1291, the last Latin kingdom in the region. The surviving Christian military orders had all been evicted. Western Europe assigned more priority to fighting among themselves. Even before the fall of Acre, the French became involved in their own 'Albigensian Crusades' (1209-1255) against the Cathars (a Christian heretic sect) in southern France. There remained one more expedition launched with largely French leadership. It ended with terrible defeat at Nicopolis (25 September 1396).
This was followed by the Turkish invasion of Greece 1397, and the strategic nature of the Christian-Moslem struggle shifted. The Christian domains in southeastern Europe were on the defensive. The focus of the conflict was to protect the Byzantine Greek capital of Constantinople -- reclaimed in 1261 from its loss to the 'Latin Western' conquerors of the Fourth Crusade. However, the Byzantine empire was seriously diminished and weak. Further, its Orthodox Christian Church was not supported by the Western Christian Church of Rome. This fragmented posture contrasted with the more united Moslems led by the rising Ottoman Turks in Asia Minor, who were ready to take advantage of the internecine sturggles in eastern Europe.
In 1303, the Byzantine emperor employed the 'Catalan Grand Company' (from their recent mercenary work in Sicily). This gang ended up fighting the Emperor, and inviting a Turkish warband to cross from Anatolia into Europe in 1308. Later, Facing a threat by the Serbs, the Byzantine emperor sought aid from the Turks in 1353. Battle of Kossovo (15 June 1389) reduced the Balkans to a Turkish domination. The Turkish onslaught was stalled for a time by the invasion of Tamerlane's Tartar army into Anatolia 1400-1403.
Finally, in 1453 the Turks succeeded in taking Constantinople. This is the same year in which the last battles of the Hundred Years' War were fought between France and England. However, by this time the main Western European participants to confront the Moslems were the Spanish-Austrian Empire, the leading Italian merchant states, and the Polish kingdom (associated with other developing north east European states). The conquest of Granada in 1492 completed the Reconquista and Spain (soon after made part of the Austrian Hapsburg dynasty) contributed invaluable military resources in the Christian cause.
While the turn of centuries are artificial, the beginning of the sixteenth century serves as a convenient focus to assess the new balance in the European Christian and Moslem confrontation. Though called 'crusades' European military operations were no longer directed toward recovering a 'holy land', but to defend against the advancement of the Ottoman Turks into Eastern Europe. The early part of this century saw the Turks take Belgrade (1521), drive the Knights of St. John from Rhodes (1522), crush Hungary at the battle of Mohacs (1526), and conduct their first siege of Vienna in 1529.
However, by mid-century the Turks faced increasingly stronger opposition in intermittent wars with the Hapsburg Empire and many other states in Europe as well as with other Moslem emirates. The Turks failed to take Malta in 1565, and suffered a serious naval defeat at Lepanto in 1571. It was a century later, during the Turkish-Austria War of 1682-1699, that the high-mark of the epic confrontation came. The Moslem army was besieging Vienna (17 July-12 September 1683) and was defeated by a combined Polish-German relief army under John Sobieski and Charles of Lorraine. Warfare between the Ottoman Turkish empire and Christian (both Orthodox and Roman Catholic) states continued until the twentieth century.

The Crusades in the Levant influenced many aspects of Western warfare. Most significant was the revised architecture in Western European castles that began in the eleventh century. By necessity, long range military logistical planning developed. Some credit the Crusades for providing the European military with experience in tactical maneuvering and employment of light cavalry. However, the West was not as uninformed of these methods as is popularly perceived. The 'lessons' were not all one way, the disciplined (relatively so compared to the early Moslem forces), heavy armored knights left their mark on the structure of Middle Eastern armies. The Crusades in the Levant drained resources from the West on one hand, but undoubtedly contributed to new knowledge due to cultural interaction (which also occured in other regions, such as in Spain until the end of the fifteenth century).



Brundage, James A. 1964. The Crusades Motives and Achievements, D.C. Heath and Company, Boston.

Contamine, Philippe. 1984. War in the Middle Ages, trans by Michael Jones, Basil Blackwell, London.

Finucane, Ronald C. 1983. Soldiers of the Faith, St. Martin's Press, New York.

Grousset, Rene. 1970. The Epic of the Crusades, trans. Noel Lindsay, Orion Press, New York.

Heath, Ian. 1978. Armies and Enemies of the Crusades 1096-1291, Wargames Research Group, Sussex.

Lamb, Harold. 1930. The Crusades, Doubleday, Doran & Co., New York.

Maalouf, Amin. 1984. The Crusades Through Arab Eyes, translated by Jon Rothschild, Al Saqi Books, London; and Schocken, New York, (1987).

Newhall, Richard A. Revised 1963. The Crusades, Berkshire Studies in European History, Holt, Rinehart and Winston, New York.

Nicolle, David, and illustrated by Christa Hook. 1996, Rep. 1999. Crusader Knight. Osprey Military series, London. Under the same author, publisher and series, are related works: Armies of the Ottoman Turks 1300-1774 (Angus McBride illustrator); The Venetian Empire 1200-1670 (Christopher Rothero); Hungary and the Fall of Eastern Europe 1000-1568 (Angus McBride); The Armies of Islam 7th-11th Centuries (Angus McBride); Saladin and the Saracans (Angus McBride).

Riley-Smith, Jonathan. 1991. The Atlas of the Crusades. Facts on File, New York / Oxford.

Runciman, Steven. 1964. A History of the Crusades, 3 vols., Harper Torchbooks, New York.

Shaw, Margaret R.B (translator). 1963. Chronicles of the Crusades: Conquest of Constantinople and The Life of Saint Louis. Former chronicle by Vilain deVillehardouin (c.1140/54 - c.1207), latter by Jean, sire de Joinvlle (c.1224/5 - c.1300). Penguin, London,

Smail, R.C. 1956. Crusading Warfare 1097-1193. Cambridge University Press, London.

Wise, Terrence. 1978. The Wars of The Crusades 1096-1291, Osprey, London (G.A. Embleton illustrator). Same author, publisher, and series: The Knights of Christ



1095Pope Urban preaches at Clermont.
1096March - knights begin to assemble.
Aug - 'Peoples Crusade' reached Constantinople.
Oct - Godfrey reaches Constantinople.
Dec - 'Peoples Crusade' crushed by Turks at Civetot (Anatolia).
1097April - Raymund, with main body of First Crusade reaches Constantinople.
May - Crusaders cross Bosporus.
June - Capture Nicaea from Seljuk.
July - Defeat Kilij Arslan at Dorylaeum.
Oct 21 - Begin siege of Antioch (Yagi-sian).
Dec 31 - Bohemund defeats relief by Dekak.
1098Feb. 9 - Bohemund defeats relief by Ridwan.
June 3 - Bohemund takes Antioch.
June 6 - Kerbogha, emir of Mosul, begins to besiege crusaders in Antioch.
June 28 - Crusaders defeat Kerbogha in battle of the Orontes.
1099Feb to May - Raymund besieges Arca.
June - Godfrey leads crusaders to Jerusalem.
July 15 - Godfrey takes city, held for Fatimite Egypt by Iftikhar ad-Daula.
Aug 12 - Godfrey repels Egyptian attack at Ascalon.
1100New Crusade begins in west.
William IX, count of Poitiers on crusade.
July - Godfrey dies, leaves throne to brother, Baldwin.
Dec - Baldwin crowned king.
Bohemund captured in battle.
Venetian fleet at Jaffa.
1101Great new crusading army destroyed in Asia Minor at Sivas, Aleppo and Harran.
Genoese alliance with Baldwin I.
Baldwin captures Arsuf and Caesarea.
Eric I of Denmark died at Cyprus, en route to Holy Land. His wife, Bothilda, leads the expedition to Jaffa.
1104Baldwin captures Acre.
Raymund captures Byblus.
Normans defeated at Harran.
Byzantines capture Cilician towns.
Tancred rules Antioch.
1108Bohemund defeated at Durazzo.
1109Raymund's successor, William, captures Tripoli.
1110Baldwin captures Sidon with aid of Sigurd I of Norway.
Beirut captured.
Krak des Chevaliers begun.
Expansion of crusader kingdom complete - Maudud at Mosul starts Moslem reaction - Edessa attacked in 1110, 1111, 1112, 1114, 1115.
Roger rules Antioch.
1116Baldwin builds Monreal between Aila and Dead sea.
1118Baldwin I dies, succeeded Baldwin II - annual Egyptian attacks.
1119Roger of Antioch defeated at Balat.
1123Venetian crusade fleet of 120 repulse Egyptian attack.
Baldwin II captured by Balak.
1124Venetian fleet helps capture Tyre.
Bohemund II rules Antioch - married Baldwin's daughter.
1129Zengi begins rule as atabeg [emir] of Aleppo and Mosul raises Moslem power
1130Alice, widow of Bohemund II, seeks alliance with Zengi who attacks Damascus - She favors marriage of constance to Manuel Comnenus, but Constance marries Raymund of Antioch and Raynald of Chatillon.
Amirate of Damascus helps against Zengi under vizer, Muin eddin Anar.
1131Baldwin II reign ends. Fulk of Anjou, husband of Melisende, new king till 1143.
1133Alliance between Damascus and Jerusalem
1135Zengi captures fortresses on Antioch frontier.
1137Zengi defeates Fulk at Barim - takes Montferrand Castle.
Emperor John Comnenus recieves hommage of Antioch and Tripoli.
1138Joint Byzantine - Frank campaign against Moslems, planned and conducted against Aleppo. At siege of Shaizar Robert of Antioch did not support John, so the latter raised siege. Collapse of Byzantine - Frank alliance.
1139Zengi besieges Damascus.
1140Fulk of Jerusalem brings relief army and Zengi retires - alliance of Damascus and Jerusalem 1140 - Krak of desert built in reign of Fulk of Jerusalem
1142Emperor John Comnenus returns but dies in 1143 along with Fulk, killed in hunting accident.
1143First Frankish native king, son of Fulk, Baldwin III.
1144Zengi reconquers Edessa on Christmas day, thanks to incompetence of Joscelin II and refusal of Raymond (Poitiers) of Antioch to come to rescue - major turning point for Franks.
1145Eugenius III urges new crusade - Louis VII agrees
1146Conrad III also agrees to crusade.
Zengi assassinated - his son, Nureddin, takes over Aleppo and son, Ghazi, takes Mosul.
Nureddin repells crusader attempt to retake Edessa.
1147Oct. Conrad III army defeated at Dorylaeum, Byzantine treachery.
Roger of Sicily at war with Manuel, Byzantine Emperor
1148Louis VII (with wife, Eleanor of Acquitaine, niece of Raymond) and Conrad reach Holy Land at Antioch. Byzantines have caused loss of much of both armies. Louis refuses to help Raymond against Aleppo, goes to Jerusalem.
Franks break alliance with Damascus (mistake).
July 28 - Louis and Conrad decide with Baldwin III to attack Damascus (mistake) vizier, Muin- eddin-Anar holds city.
1149June 29 - Raymond of Antioch killed in battle at Murad by Nureddin, Antioch looses frontier forts, city saved by Baldwin III.
1150Nureddin renews attacks, takes Tell-bashir, Baldwin wins renown by successful evacuation of Armenian population to Antioch.
1153Baldwin III takes Ascalon.
1154Nureddin takes Damascus, removes potential ally.
1163Frankish attempt toward Egypt.
1169Nureddin's lieutenant, Shirguh, becomes vizier of Egypt and then his nephew, Saladin, succeedes in March.
1171Saladin becomes ruler.
1172Henry the Lion comes on crusade.
1174Nureddin dies with only child as heir at Aleppo, who is supported by Raymund, count of Tripoli against Saladin.
Almaric also dies - Baldwin V is king.
Saladin takes Damascus.
1183Saladin takes Aleppo.
Latin kingdom sends for assistance.
1186Guy of Lusignan becomes king as husband of Sibylla, Almaric's daughter.
Raynald of Chatillon attacks caravan with Saladin's sister - Saladin begins jihad.
1187Saladin attacks, destroys crusader detachment at Tiberias in May and at Hattin in July the levy en masse of 20,000 is destroyed.
1187Oct 2 - Jerusalem captured.
1189Only Tyre remains plus Antioch and Tripoli and Margat.
Third Crusade.
Continuous crusading of every kind.
1189Guy de Lusignan begins siege of Acre.
May - German Emperor Frederick Barbarossa starts on crusade, drowns.
1190Oct - remanent of German army reaches Acre.
Richard I and Philippe II 'Augustus' at Sicily.
1191March - Philippe reaches Acre.
June - Richard reaches Acre.
July 12 - Acre falls to Richard and Philippe.
1192Sept 2 - Richard makes treaty with Saladin.
1193Saladin dies, sons dispute and divide territories.
1195Amalric, king of Cyprus, does homage to Henry VI, German Emperor, Henry eager to start new crusade & takes cross.
Isaac Angelus, Byzantine Emperor dethroned by brother, Alexius III; Isaac's daughter marries Henry's brother, Philip of Swabia; Henry prepares crusade to Constantinople.
1197Henry VI dies in Sicily - crusade collapses; German crusaders however support Amalric as new King of Jerusalem; Germans recover Beirut and other towns.
1198King Amalric II makes 5 year truce with Malik-al-Adil.
Innocent III becomes Pope.
1200Malik-al-Adil, succeeds Saladin, grants truces for 1198-1203, 1204-1210, 1211-1217.
1200Innocent pushes new crusade in France with objective Egypt.
1201Theobald of Champagne, Baldwin of Flanders, count of Blois prepare for crusade - send envoys to Venice to obtain transport.
1202Crusaders capture Zara in Adriatic coast for Venice.
1203July - Crusaders reach Constantinople.
1204April - Crusaders take Constantinople, May - Baldwin of Flanders becomes first Latin emperor of Constantinople.
1212Children's Crusade from Cologne and France.
1215Innocent urges crusade at Fourth Lateran Council.
German troops assemble, Frederick II takes cross, Duke of Austria and King of Hungary go to Holy Land in 1217.
1218Another German army joins at Acre.
Pelagius, papal legate in command at Damietta in Egypt; Malik-al-Kamil succeedes Malik-al-Adil. 1219 - Capture Damietta.
1220Crusaders waiting for Frederick II.
1221Pelagius marches on Cairo, defeated at Mansura.
1225Frederick II marries Isabella, daughter of John of Brienne and heiress of Jerusalem.
1227Frederick II begins crusade.
1229Feb 18 - Frederick makes treaty with Sultan for Jerusalem and territories on coast.
Frederick struggles with barons in Holy Land.
1239Theobald of Champagne goes on crusade to Jerusalem
Richard of Cornwall, brother of Henry III sails to Holy Land.
1244Jerusalem lost to Khwarismian Turks brought in by the Egyptians.
Crusaders ally with Damascus and are destroyed by Turks and Mamlukes at battle of Gaza.
1245Innocent IV preaches crusade at council of Lyons, sends envoy to Mongols.
1247Ascalon lost to Bibars.
1248St Louis goes to Cyprus.
1249St. Louis arrives in Egypt.
1249Dec - army lost battle at Mansura, St. Louis captured.
1250St Louis reaches Acre, stays 4 years.
1252St. Louis sends envoy to Mongols.
1260Hulagu Khan with Mongol army takes Damascus.
1260Bibars becomes Sultan of Egypt.
Christian Mongol general, Kitboga attacks Egypt, defeated by Bibars, who then captures Damascus.
1261Latins lose Constantinople.
1265Bibars takes Caesarea and Arsuf.
1267St. Louis decides on a new crusade.
1268Bibars takes Antioch.
1269James, 'the conqueror' of Aragon, comes on crusade but retires in storm. His army reaches Acre but leaves in 1270.
Hugh of Cyprus recognized as King of Jerusalem.
1270St. Louis and Charles of Anjou land at Tunis, Louis dies and Charles signs favorable treaty with bey of Tunis. Prince Edward of England arrives and then continues on to Acre in 1271.
Edward negociates with Mongols and conducts battles with Mamlukes.
1271Krak des Chevaliers lost to Bibars.
1272Bibars grants 10 year truce.
1274Pope Gregory X preaches crusade at Council of Lyons, many princes agree to serve.
1276Gregory dies and crusade plans collapse.
1277Mary of Antioch cedes claims to Charles of Anjou, King of Sicily, who etablishes himself at Acre.; 1278 - Charles takes Achaea and prepares new crusade against Constantinople, but 'the Sicilian Vespers' blocks his plans.
1289Kala'un, successor of Bibar's son, takes Tripoli.
1290Kala'un dies while preparing to take Acre.
1291Khalil, his son, takes Acre, ending the Latin Kingdom of Jerusalem.
1303Knights Templar lose Arwad, island off Syria.
1344Venice, Cyprus, and Knights of Hospital conduct crusade to take Smyrna.
1345Humbert, Dauphin of Vienne, leads crusade to failure.
Peter I, King of Cyprus, attempts to recover Holy Land.
1363Turks capture Philippopolis.
1365Turks capture Adrianople.
Peter sacks Alexandria.
1367Peter attacks coast of Syria.
1396Attempt for crusade against Turks, defeated decisively at battle of Nicopolis.
1402Tamerlane destroys Ottoman power at Angora.
1422Murad begins restoration of Ottoman power.
1443New crusade of adventurers, led by cardinal Caesarini joined forces with Wladislaus of Poland and John Hunyadi of Transylvania, forces Murad II into a truce at Szegedin in 1444.
1444Crusaders break truce and are defeated at Varna.
1453Mohammed II takes Constantinople.


Return to

International Web Page.
Return to

Société de l'Oriflamme Web Page.

This page last updated 8 September 2000.