Portal:Crusades

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THE CRUSADES PORTAL

Introduction

Medieval illustration of a battle during the Second Crusade
A battle of the Second Crusade (illustration of William of Tyre's Histoire d'Outremer, 1337)

The Crusades were a series of religious wars sanctioned by the Latin Church in the medieval period. The most commonly known Crusades are the campaigns in the Eastern Mediterranean aimed at recovering the Holy Land from Muslim rule, but the term "Crusades" is also applied to other church-sanctioned campaigns. These were fought for a variety of reasons including the suppression of paganism and heresy, the resolution of conflict among rival Roman Catholic groups, or for political and territorial advantage. At the time of the early Crusades the word did not exist, only becoming the leading descriptive term around 1760.

In 1095, Pope Urban II called for the First Crusade in a sermon at the Council of Clermont. He encouraged military support for the Byzantine Empire and its Emperor, Alexios I, who needed reinforcements for his conflict with westward migrating Turks colonizing Anatolia. One of Urban's aims was to guarantee pilgrims access to the Eastern Mediterranean holy sites that were under Muslim control but scholars disagree as to whether this was the primary motive for Urban or those who heeded his call. Urban's strategy may have been to unite the Eastern and Western branches of Christendom, which had been divided since the East–West Schism of 1054 and to establish himself as head of the unified Church. The initial success of the Crusade established the first four Crusader states in the Eastern Mediterranean: the County of Edessa, the Principality of Antioch, the Kingdom of Jerusalem and the County of Tripoli. The enthusiastic response to Urban's preaching from all classes in Western Europe established a precedent for other Crusades. Volunteers became Crusaders by taking a public vow and receiving plenary indulgences from the Church. Some were hoping for a mass ascension into heaven at Jerusalem or God's forgiveness for all their sins. Others participated to satisfy feudal obligations, obtain glory and honour or to seek economic and political gain.

The two-century attempt to recover the Holy Land ended in failure. Following the First Crusade there were six major Crusades and numerous less significant ones. After the last Catholic outposts fell in 1291, there were no more Crusades; but the gains were longer lasting in Northern and Western Europe. The Wendish Crusade and those of the Archbishop of Bremen brought all the North-East Baltic and the tribes of Mecklenburg and Lusatia under Catholic control in the late 12th century. In the early 13th century the Teutonic Order created a Crusader state in Prussia and the French monarchy used the Albigensian Crusade to extend the kingdom to the Mediterranean Sea. The rise of the Ottoman Empire in the late 14th century prompted a Catholic response which led to further defeats at Nicopolis in 1396 and Varna in 1444. Catholic Europe was in chaos and the final pivot of Christian–Islamic relations was marked by two seismic events: the fall of Constantinople to the Ottomans in 1453 and a final conclusive victory for the Spanish over the Moors with the conquest of Granada in 1492. The idea of Crusading continued, not least in the form of the Knights Hospitaller, until the end of the 18th-century but the focus of Western European interest moved to the New World.

Selected article

The Children's Crusade, by Gustave Doré
The Children's Crusade is the name given to a variety of fictional and factual events in 1212 that combine some or all of these elements: visions by a French and/or German boy, an intention to peacefully convert Muslims in the Holy Land to Christianity, bands of children marching to Italy, and children being sold into slavery.

With the publication of Peter Raedt's groundbreaking scientific study in 1977, it is now generally accepted that they were not "children" but multiple bands of "wandering poor" in Germany and France, some whom tried to reach the Holy Land and others who never intended to do so. Early versions of events, of which there are many variations told over the centuries, are largely apocryphal. According to more recent research there seem to have actually been two movements of people (of all ages) in 1212 in France and Germany. The similarities of the two allowed later chroniclers to combine and embellish the tales.

In the first movement Nicholas, a shepherd from Germany, led a group across the Alps and into Italy in the early spring of 1212. About 7,000 arrived in Genoa in late August. However, their plans didn't bear fruit when the waters failed to part as promised and the band broke up. Some left for home, others may have gone to Rome, while still others may have traveled down the Rhône to Marseilles where they were probably sold into slavery. Few returned home and none reached the Holy Land.

The second movement was led by a shepherd named Stephen of Cloyes (a village of near Châteaudun) who claimed in June that he bore a letter for the king of France from Jesus. Attracting a crowd of over 30,000 he went to Saint-Denis where he was seen to work miracles. On the orders of Philip II, on the advice of the University of Paris, the crowd was sent home, and most of them went. None of the contemporary sources mentions plans of the crowd to go to Jerusalem.

Selected biography

John of Austria
John of Austria (24 February[1], 1547 - 1 October 1578), in English traditionally known as Don John of Austria, and in Spanish as Don Juan de Austria

[2], was an illegitimate son of Holy Roman Emperor Charles V. He became a military leader in the service of his half-brother, Philip of Spain and is best known for his naval victory at the Battle of Lepanto in 1571.

Did you know...

Baldwin of Boulogne receiving the hommage of the Armenians.

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Specific:

# Al-Afdal ibn Salah ad-Din
# Imad ad-Din al-Isfahani
# Baha ad-Din
# Children's Crusade

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  1. ^ The date assigned, 24 February, was actually his father Charles's birthday.
  2. ^ "Don" is a Spanish honorific, equivalent to English Sir, not a name. "Austria" refers not to the country but to the Habsburg dynasty then commonly known as "Casa de Austria".
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