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Sixth Crusade

Sixth Crusade

The Sixth Crusade (1228-1229 CE), which for many historians was merely the delayed final chapter of the unsuccessful Fifth Crusade (1217-1221 CE), finally saw the Holy Roman Emperor Frederick II (r. 1220-1250 CE) arrive with his army in the Holy Land, as he had long vowed to do. Jerusalem had been out of Christian hands since 1187 CE but was finally won back from Muslim control thanks to Frederick's skills at diplomacy rather than any actual fighting. In February 1229 CE a treaty was agreed with the Sultan of Egypt and Syria, al-Kamil (r. 1218-1238 CE), to hand over the Holy City to Christian rule. Thus, the Sixth Crusade managed to achieve by peaceful means what four bloody previous Crusades had failed to do.

Prologue: The Fifth Crusade

The Fifth Crusade was called by Pope Innocent III (r. 1198-1216 CE) in 1215 CE. Capturing Jerusalem for Christendom was again the objective but the method this time changed to attacking what was seen as the weaker underbelly of the Ayyubid dynasty (1174-1250 CE): Egypt rather than the Holy City directly. The Crusader army, although eventually conquering Damietta on the Nile in November 1219 CE, was beset by leadership squabbles and a lack of sufficient men, equipment and suitable ships to deal with the local geography. Consequently, the westerners were defeated by an army led by al-Kamil, the Sultan of Egypt and Syria, on the banks of the Nile in August 1221 CE. The Crusaders, forced to give up Damietta, returned home, once again with very little to show for their efforts. There were bitter recriminations afterwards, especially against Frederick II Hohenstaufen, king of Germany and Sicily, for not turning up to the show at all when his army could well have tipped the balance in the favour of the Crusaders. One consequence of the Fifth Crusade was that the decision by the west to attack Egypt did highlight to the Ayyubids their own vulnerability in the southern Mediterranean.

Frederick II

Although Frederick II had done nothing in the Fifth Crusade except overshadow it by his absence, he would eventually become one of the great figures of the Middle Ages, as the historian T. Asbridge here colourfully summarises:

In the thirteenth century he was lauded by supporters as stupor mundi (the wonder of the world), but condemned by his enemies as 'the beast of the apocalypse'; today historians continue to debate whether he was a tyrannical despot or a visionary genius, the first practitioner of Renaissance kingship. A paunchy, balding figure with bad eyesight, physically Frederick was rather unprepossessing. But by the 1220s, he was the Christian world's most powerful ruler. (563)

At the time of the Sixth Crusade, then, Frederick was still negotiating the early rocky patches of his long road to greatness. Frederick had not left Europe during the Fifth Crusade, despite his promise to do so, because he had found himself in a power struggle with the Papacy over his right to be crowned Holy Roman Emperor. First Pope Innocent III, and then his successor Honorius III (r. 1216-1227 CE), had been concerned at Frederick's control of both central Europe and Sicily, effectively encircling the Papal States in Italy. Honorius pushed for Frederick to fulfill his original crusader vows and take back Jerusalem for Christendom; the distraction might also prove advantageous to the Papacy and allow them some breathing space in Italy.

Frederick was finally made Holy Roman Emperor in 1220 CE and he acquired a more personal connection to the Middle East when, in November 1225 CE, he married Isabella II, the heiress to the throne of the Kingdom of Jerusalem. The emperor would, after all, travel to the Levant and take the Kingdom of Jerusalem, throne and all, for himself. Assembling a large Crusader army, Frederick's departure, long-since scheduled for 15 August 1227 CE, was delayed once again, this time by illness (possibly cholera). The new pope, Gregory IX (r. 1227-1241 CE) ran out of patience and excommunicated the dithering would-be Crusader in September 1227 CE as the papacy had earlier vowed to do if the emperor's promises were not honoured. It was not a good start to the Crusade. Still, those leaders of the Crusade who had already made it to the Middle East took the opportunity of the delay to put their men to good use and get on with some building work, refortifying such key strongpoints as Jaffa, Caesarea, and even a brand new headquarters castle for the Teutonic Knights at Montfort.

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Frederick II had the best trained & equipped men of any previous Crusader army, almost all his warriors being paid professionals.

Frederick in the Levant

Despite his problems with the Church, Frederick II was undeterred and arrived in Acre in the Middle East on 7 September 1228 CE determined to do what so many nobles before him had failed to do: take Jerusalem. He certainly had the best trained and equipped men of any previous Crusader army, almost all his warriors being paid professionals and numbering some 10,000 infantry and perhaps 2,000 knights. There remained the inconvenience of Frederick's excommunication and this had the practical result that some of the leaders of the pious military orders in the Levant, especially amongst the Knights Templar and Knights Hospitaller, felt that they could not be seen to be serving a figure outside the Church. The emperor got around this problem by appointing separate and (theoretically) independent commanders for these knights to follow.

The emperor's plans had also been slightly knocked out of tilt with the tragic death of Isabella during childbirth in May 1228 CE. Frederick decided to reign as regent for his newborn son Conrad, replacing his father-in-law John of Brienne, who had been regent for his daughter Isabella prior to her marriage. John, who had led the army of the failed Fifth Crusade, was not best pleased to be ousted from power and swore revenge. Frederick was not without other opposition in the kingdom of Jerusalem where many nobles resisted any changes to the political status quo. Frederick's plans to redistribute certain hereditary lands and his promotion of the Teutonic Knights military order were particular sticking points.

Jerusalem: A Negotiated Peace

Frederick and his army marched from Acre to Jaffa in early 1229 CE to pose the threat such a force had promised to do ever since the Fifth Crusade. At the same time, al-Kamil faced a dangerous coalition of rivals within the Ayyubid dynasty. In the last two years, the Sultan's own brother, al-Mu'azzam, the emir of Damascus, had joined forces with fierce Turkish mercenaries, the Khwarizmians, to threaten al-Kamil's territory in northern Iraq. Al-Mu'azzam died of dysentery in 1227 CE but the threat from his followers, especially to al-Kamil's ambitions in Damascus, which was now led by al-Kamil's rebel nephew al-Nasir Dawud, remained. Consequently, the two leaders began negotiations to avoid a war which would seriously damage both side's commercial interests in the region.

Frederick was, no doubt, helped in his diplomatic efforts by his knowledge of Arabic & a general sympathy towards the culture.

Frederick was, no doubt, helped in his diplomatic efforts by his knowledge of Arabic and a general sympathy towards the culture, the emperor having his own personal corp of Muslim bodyguards and a harem - products of his time in Sicily with its significant Arab population. Al-Kamil, on the other hand, had already offered Jerusalem as a bargaining chip during negotiations with the Fifth Crusaders and, if need be, he could always retake Jerusalem once this Crusader army had departed back to Europe. It seems that both leaders were keen to safeguard their own empires and their much more important assets elsewhere than squabble over Jerusalem. At the same time, any gains could be maximised and the concessions minimised when presenting the deal to each leader's followers.

On 18 February 1229 CE the Treaty of Jaffa was signed between the two leaders which permitted Christians to reoccupy the holy places of Jerusalem, except the Temple area which remained under the control of the Muslim religious authorities. Resident Muslims were to leave the city but could visit the holy sites on pilgrimage. Under the detailed terms of the agreement, no new construction or even artistic additions were permitted at those holy sites. Neither could any fortifications be built (although it would later be disputed that this applied to Jerusalem). Included in the deal were other important sites of great significance to Christians such as Bethlehem and Nazareth. The Sultan, in return for these concessions, got a 10-year truce guarantee and the promise that Frederick would defend al-Kamil's interests against all enemies, even Christians.

Frederick then entered Jerusalem in triumph on 17 March 1229 CE and crowned himself in an impromptu ceremony in the Holy Sepulchre. However, the local nobles were aggrieved at not having been consulted during the negotiation process and the commoners were not very appreciative of this foreign monarch meddling in their affairs either. A group of disgruntled Latins in Acre even pelted the emperor with meat and offal as he left for home in May 1229 CE. Frederick was sorely needed back in Italy where Pope Gregory IX had cynically taken the opportunity of the emperor's absence to invade southern Italy with Sicily the ultimate target. Significantly, the leader of the pope's army was Frederick's own father-in-law, John of Brienne.


Jerusalem would remain in Christian hands until 1244 CE, although throughout Acre remained the capital of the Kingdom of Jerusalem. With the emperor gone and his two nominated regents unpopular, the Latin nobles continued, as before, with their damaging rivalry for control of the Crusader states. Meanwhile, al-Kamil received criticism for his peace deal from Muslims far and wide, even from amongst the Ayyubid princes, but he did finally take control of Damascus. The Muslim control of the Middle East was greatly strengthened when a large Latin army was defeated at the battle of La Forbie in October 1244 CE. These events resulted in the Seventh Crusade (1248-1254 CE) and the Eight Crusade (1270 CE) which continued the strategy of attacking Muslim-held cities in North Africa and Egypt. Both campaigns were led by no less a figure than the French King Louis IX (r. 1226-1270 CE) but neither were very successful, even if Louis was later made a saint for his efforts.

Sixth Crusade - History

The Holy Roman Emperor, Frederick II, failed to lead the Fifth Crusade. He felt guilty for the crushing defeat the Christian armies suffered against the Egyptian sultan, so he decided to launch a new crusade paid entirely with the Holy Roman Empire funds to recover Jerusalem.

The pope, who feared Frederick's growing power, excommunicated the emperor for failing his vow to launch a crusade - this wasn't true, but rather an excuse by the pope to somehow diminish Frederick's growing popularity. It worked as Frederick's support slowly declined due to his excommunication. Nevertheless, without the pope's blessing Frederick recruited an enormous army and sailed to Syria in 1228, arriving at Acre.

Frederick sailed to the island of Cyprus to gain a strong base before attacking Egypt. However a dispute with John of Ibelin further reduced Frederick's popularity and forced him to leave earlier than expected. Despite this drawback, Frederick sailed to the Holy Land shortly thereafter. His army was much smaller than the one of the Fifth Crusade and he realized that engaging the powerful Ayyubid Empire in battle would be a tactical mistake. Instead, he marched toward the sultan of Egypt, Al-Kamil, pretending to have a larger army with the hope of gaining Jerusalem through diplomacy. It worked, the sultan who was busy with a rebellion in Syria, ceded Jerusalem, Nazareth and other smaller towns in exchange for a ten-year truce.

Frederick entered Jerusalem on 17 March 1229 and accomplished what four previous crusades failed to do: recover the Holy Land. Even though he was excommunicated, he accomplished more than the Second, Third, Fourth and Fifth crusades combined. Many in Europe viewed him as godly inspired and the pope lifted the excommunication shortly.

The Sixth Crusade had many historical accomplishments. The most important being that the Papacy's power decline was now evident. Frederick also set the pace for the Seventh, Eighth and Ninth crusades as these were led by single kingdoms rather than an union of several ones, such as all the first crusades.

Jerusalem fell to the Turks only fifteen years later when the Turks successfully conquered it in 1244. However, the Christians had by then assimilated much of the Middle Eastern culture greatly influencing medieval life.

6th crusade (Frederick II)

Frederick II and al-Kamil both felt that they was in a weak position, so instead of fighting they made a deal where Jerusalem and other areas was given to the crusaders.

I always liked that one of the more successful crusades was achived without battles. A triumph for diplomacy.

Anyone have information on his his contemporaries judged him? Did they see him as a coward/heretic for not fighting the moslems or as a successful hero of war for winning?

The question seems to have a subtext that the goal in war is killing people. The goal is attaining objectives. Jerusalem was a key objective of the whole enterprise.

Sorry, im not a native english speaker. I personally hate both war and killings and like this crusade because he achived his goals without fighting the moslems.

My question was how the people of his age viewed him. Did they also think non-voilence was good or was he more harshly judged?

Frederick II had a lot of enemies in the Christian world, and he actually undertook this sixth crusade while being excommunicated from the church. Most of the nobles and notables of the Kingdom of Jerusalem were not well disposed to him, either, which ironically resulted in the holy city itself being put under interdict once it had been turned over to Frederick.

The recapture of Jerusalem was a personal victory for Frederick, one which doubtlessly contributed to his reputation as "Stupor Mundi" (the wonder of the world), but it was not seen in a particularly positive light by most contemporaries, and this lack of support for his efforts meant that the recapture of Jerusalem didn't last long.

Sixth Crusade - History

Monday (19th): Felucca tour stop 3: Dayr al-Bahri. Read section 5 “Pharaoh Hatshepsut: Promoter of Egyptian Trade”

Complete the tour station work. Complete the section 5 Reading Notes

Tuesday(20th) Felucca tour stop 4: Abu Simbel. Read section 6 “Pharaoh Ramses II: Military Leader and Master Builder”

Solve the Egyptians problem with Abu Simbel. Complete the section 6 Reading Notes

Wednesday (21st) Activity: Writing for Understanding Phase 2: Writing a Letter About Your Felucca Tour. (assesses their learning)

Thursday (22nd) Continue Phase 2. Peer check writing assignment. (time permitting)

Friday (23rd) Chapter 8 Test. All Chapter 8 assignments are due. This includes the Geography Challenge assignment, Vocabulary Development, Reading Notes, and Processing assignment .

Monday (12th): Geography Challenge: Ancient Egypt, Kush, and Israel

Tuesday(13th) Preview Exercise, Read Section 1 "Introduction". Complete the vocabulary development assignment.

Wednesday (14th) Activity: Writing for Understanding Phase 1: Taking a Felucca Tour of Ancient Egyptian Mountains

Begin the Felucca Tour. Read section 2 “Ancient Egypt and its Rulers” Complete the section 2 Reading Notes

Thursday (15th) Felucca tour stop 1: Giza. Read section 3 “Pharaoh Khufu: The Pyramid Builder. With your partner, discuss which hypothesis you think best explains how the Great Pyramid was built. Complete the reading notes for section 3. (Writing a postcard)

Friday (16th) Felucca tour stop 2: Karnak Read section 4 “Pharaoh Senusret I: Patron of the Arts” Hypothesize about what the carving means. Complete the section 4 reading notes.

The Sixth Crusade – October 17, 1244 AD

The Crusades were Catholic Church sanctioned military campaigns during the Middle Ages, beginning with pleas from the Byzantine Empire, under Alexius I, to the Pope to help with the Turkish threat in Constantinople, in 1095 AD. The last Crusade was undertaken in the 15 th Century and meant to counter the expansion of the Ottoman Empire. The First Crusade resulted in the creation of four Crusader StatesCounty of Edessa, Principality of Antioch, County of Tripoli and Kingdom of Jerusalem.

Frederick II was ambitious and many modern historians call him “the first modern ruler” because of the efficient centralized government system he established in Sicily and southern Italy. When he was three, he was crowned King of Sicily and co-ruled with his mother. He was King of Germany, Burgundy and Italy when he was 18. With his papal coronation in 1220 AD, he became ruler of the Holy Roman Empire until his death in 1250. In 1225, he married Yolande of Jerusalem, the daughter of the nominal ruler of the Kingdom of Jerusalem, John of Brienne. As such, he had a compelling reason to want to restore the kingdom.

In 1227, Gregory IX was elected pope and Frederick left Italy for Acre, the capital of the Kingdom of Jerusalem, to begin another crusade. An epidemic struck and Frederick was forced to turn back, which resulted in Pope Gregory excommunicating him. Despite the actions of the pope, Frederick left for Syria in 1228 and arrived at Acre in September to reclaim Jerusalem from the Ayyubid Empire, officially beginning the Sixth Crusade.

The Sixth was mostly political maneuvering instead of actual fighting, which is why it continued from 1228-1239 and again from 1241-1244. Frederick took what forces he had to Acre and the sultan of Egypt, al-Kamil, who ruled over Jerusalem as part of the Ayyubid Empire, was dealing with rebels in Syria and ceded the city to the Franks. This was done through the Treaty of Jaffa and Tell Ajul on February 18, 1229 AD, but made numerous stipulations about the city, and safeguarded the truce for ten years. Frederick entered Acre on March 17, 1229 and was crowned King the next day. Having other matters to attend to back home, Frederick left Jerusalem in May 1229, leaving Latin Christians to rule most of Jerusalem and a strip of land from Acre to Jerusalem, with Muslims still retaining control of the holy areas of Jerusalem itself. The Sixth Crusade ended on October 17, when an Egyptian-Khwarismian force under the command of al-Kamil’s son, al-Salih Ayyub, nearly annihilated the Frankish army at Gaza and forcibly took back Jerusalem from the Christians in less than 48 hours.

FORVM Kingdom of Sicily Frederick II 1198-1250 Billon Denaro Cross/ Large F Rare FRANCE, VALENCE – DIOCESE, Denier 1150-1250
CRUSADER STATES.JERUSALEM.Henry of Champagne AD 1192-1197.AE.Pougeoise of Acre CRUSADER STATES.Kingdom of JERUSALEM.Anonymous.Dirham.Christain legends.Immobolized Christian date AD 1251.Mint of ACRE.

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Your top questions about the crusades – answered

What motivated the crusades? How many crusades were there? And how many died? In a recent episode of our ‘Everything you wanted to know about’ podcast series, we put the key questions about the crusades to Professor Rebecca Rist

This competition is now closed

Published: June 1, 2020 at 2:52 pm

What are the most common questions about the crusades?

We recently sat down with Professor Rebecca Rist of the University of Reading – who has written several books including The Papacy and Crusading in Europe, 1198-1245, and Popes and Jews, 1095-1291 – to find out more about the medieval Christian campaigns in the Middle East for an episode of the HistoryExtra podcast.

Tackling questions submitted by readers and the top queries posed to the internet, Rist explored everything you ever wanted to know about the crusades. Here we share a transcript* of the five most popular questions…

*Please note that minor edits have been made for clarity

Q: What motivated the crusades that took place between 1095­–1204?

A: This is a very large question. Historians have suggested several different motivations – religious, political, social, economic. To highlight a few definite motivating factors: I think the papacy granting a ‘remission of sins’ in the 12th century – which will eventually be formulated as the plenary indulgence – is a driving force. People want to be free from their sins, to try to wipe the slate clean, and they know that crusading will assure them that spiritual privilege. You only have to look at someone like Robert of Clari [a knight from Picardy] talking about the Fourth Crusade, saying people joined because the crusade indulgence was so great.

Listen to the full episode with Professor Rebecca Rist:

There is another religious motivation: to help fellow Christians. The pope had called for the First Crusade to help the Byzantines in the east. The Byzantine emperor, Alexius Comnenus, had asked for help from the west because the Byzantines were struggling against the Seljuk Turks at this time. (Now, we know that some of the First Crusaders were very cynical about that.)

There are many other non-religious motivations, such as the charismatic preaching that we see happening with these crusades. Take a figure like Bernard of Clairvaux on the Second Crusade. He preaches all over Europe drawing large crowds, and influences kings to ‘take the cross’: Louis VII, Conrad III.

I think crusaders were also spurred on by the idea of the deeds of their ancestors, the glory that can pertain to their families if they take part in these great expeditions. Certainly, kings and emperors think it will do their ‘PR’ no harm. They take the cross often when they become kings. Often, it’s a way of showing that there is a new reign and that they’re different from their fathers.

There’s no doubt that there were also ideas of adventure. At the time of the First Crusade, there had been very bad harvests there was famine in Europe, so people wanted something different and new. Of course, when they get out there, they didn’t necessarily like it. But there were all kinds of romantic and adventurous ideas associated with the crusades.

Then there were the economic ideas. But an individual crusader doesn’t just have to have one motivation. He can be conventionally very pious. He can also be hoping to be in favour with his lord. He can be hoping that there might be some land parcelled out to him. He can be inspired by charismatic preaching. He is an individual. These days in the historiography, historians do try and show that mixed motivation. And I think that’s important. Religious, political, social, economic motivations all play their part.

Q: How many crusades were there?

A: This is very debated by historians writing about the crusades today. For me, there are eight crusades during the period from 1095 to 1291 in the Near East (so not crusading within Europe).

If I run through them very quickly: The First Crusade (1095–99), where the crusaders take Jerusalem and set up the crusader states. The Second Crusade (1147–50), which is a response to the fall of the first crusader kingdom of Edessa (the crusader kingdom in the north). The Third Crusade (1189–92) is launched to try to win back Jerusalem and, of course, is perhaps the most famous one for us, because we think about Richard the Lionheart. The Fourth Crusade (1202–04) doesn’t end up in the Holy Land at all, but the crusaders instead sack the town of Zara and then Constantinople, very famously. The Fifth Crusade (1217–21) is an attack that the crusaders make on Egypt, on the town of Damietta in particular (and this ends in failure). The Sixth Crusade (1228–29) is very interesting because it’s not authorised by the papacy, but it’s a crusade where an emperor, namely Frederick II, goes out under excommunication. He has a lot of success and makes a truce with the sultan and gets Jerusalem back for 10 years. Finally, I like to think of the Seventh (1248–54) and Eighth (1270) Crusades, which are the two crusades of Louis IX, launched respectively at Egypt and at Tunis.

But let’s not forget that there were also many more minor expeditions. People were taking a passage out to the east: there were small groups of fighters between these major crusades as well. So we can think of the Barons’ crusade of 1236, for example, or the crusade right at the end of our period, by Edward, prince of England, sometimes called the Ninth Crusade (1271–72). These little ventures are going on between these major responses. (And by major responses, I’m talking about great papal calls being put out there, and very large armies then taking up that call and going out to the east.)

Watch: Did women go on crusades? | 60-second history with Natasha Hodgson

Q: How did the crusades end?

A: The crusades ended when the Mamluks (one particular Muslim group) captured Acre in 1291.

For decades, Acre had been the centre of what remained of the kingdom of Jerusalem – and so it was the most important city that was still left of the crusader states. It fell to the Mamluk Sultan Khalil in 1291. In the days that followed, the rest of the remaining crusader towns – Beirut, Haifa, Tyre, Tortosa – all fell in a domino effect. This happened in 1291, the end of Outremer, as they called it, the end of the land across the sea.

Q: Who won the crusades?

A: As we know, the crusader states were lost. The final bastions of the crusader states were lost in 1291 (having been founded originally in 1099) to Muslim forces. In that sense, obviously the Muslims won the crusades and the Christians were defeated.

However, the crusades span a very long period of time, starting with the First Crusade in 1095 and ending with the loss of Acre in 1291. There were many individual crusades within that period, some of which were won by the Christians – by the Western Franks, like the First Crusade – and others by Muslims. For example, the Muslim forces were successful in the Fifth Crusade in capturing Damietta.

And then in some crusades, we have partial victories. If we take the Third Crusade, Richard the Lionheart was partially successful, in the sense that he was able to take and maintain Acre. But, of course, he didn’t win back Jerusalem with a military victory.

Overall, the answer to the question is: the Muslims won and the Christians lost. But we need to look at individual crusades and see how each one pans out. We can look at particular battles and sieges and try to evaluate within each crusade who comes out as victorious.

Q: How many died in the crusades?

A: I should give a caveat here: it is very difficult to estimate because of our source material. Medieval chroniclers are notoriously unreliable when they give figures of battles and losses. Other types of evidence – for example charter evidence – may help to give us a better picture. Nevertheless, we’re dealing with very unreliable sources. As I’ve also already said, some of the crusades are big expeditions and others much smaller. These factors need to be taken into account when we try and make estimates.

There are figures ranging from 1 million to 9 million over the whole period from 1095 to 1291. John Robertson famously, in his Short History of Christianity – a very old but seminal book first published in the early 20th century – had that really huge figure of 9 million. But I’ve seen other historians estimate much lower numbers. When I’m giving these figures, I’m including Christians, Muslims and all those who followed the armies, not just the combatants. So, yes, there are estimated figures within the historiography, everything between 1 million and 9 million.

Listen: Dan Jones and Helen Castor discuss Jones’s book Crusaders, which tells the stories of these religious conflicts through the people who were involved in them

Because historians regard it as so difficult to try to get any accurate figures, they prefer in general – and certainly in the recent historiography – to try to give estimates for individual battles rather than for a crusade overall. And I think that gives us a better sense of what’s going on – the carnage, the losses.

For example, historians these days tend to think that in the princes’ element of the First Crusade, when they set out after they’ve heard Urban II’s speech at Clermont, there were probably 70-80,000 people who took part in that expedition. Maybe some more joined en route, but it’s those kinds of numbers.

Then, when historians look at the fall of Jerusalem to the Christians in 1099, they estimate that somewhere between 700 and 3,000 people were actually killed by the crusaders in Jerusalem. I’d probably go for the higher end of that. Sometimes I think those kinds of figures are more helpful.

Regarding the overall estimates between 1 million and 9 million, certainly one million seems far too few to me. I would go for a much higher figure: 5 or 6 million.

Rebecca Rist is a professor of medieval history and the Director of the Graduate Centre for Medieval Studies at the University of Reading. She is also the author of a number of books on the crusades, including The Papacy and Crusading in Europe, 1198-1245 (Continuum, 2009), The Cathars and the Albigensian Crusade: A Sourcebook, ed. C Léglu, R Rist and C Taylor (Routledge, 2014) and Popes and Jews, 1095-1291(OUP, 2016). You can find her on Twitter: @RebeccaACRist


Crusades , a series of military campaigns that the Christian countries of Europe waged to conquer the Holy Land from the Muslims. The name came from the Latin crux (cross), and referred to the emblem worn by the warriors. The Muslims called the Crusaders "Franks," even though they came not only from France but from many other parts of Europe as well. The Muslims were known to the Crusaders as "Saracens," which is Greek for "Easterners."

There were eight major Crusades, which are referred to by number, and there were lesser ones as well. The First Crusade began in 1096, the Eighth in 1270. The Crusaders won some early victories but were eventually driven from the Holy Land.

The Crusades contributed to many social and political changes that were taking place in Europe. Western peoples gained geographical knowledge of the East. Contact with Arab culture encouraged the intellectual awakening that was already under way. Europeans gained Eastern products and plants, adopted Arabic words, and benefited from Arab learning in such fields as mathematics and astronomy. Commerce and trade expanded.

The Crusades were one phase of the long struggle between Christians and Muslims. This period came after centuries of Muslim advance, during which time many Christian lands had been overrun by successive invasions of Arabs and Seljuk Turks.

There were various reasons for the Crusades. They started as a result of a proclamation by Pope Urban II in 1095, declaring holy war against the Muslims in an effort to free Palestine from their control. The pope's proclamation came in response to an appeal by Alexius I Comnenus, the Byzantine emperor, for military aid against the Seljuk Turks, who had conquered much of the Byzantine Empire.

Local church officials made impassioned pleas for volunteers. People joined the Crusades for a variety of reasons. Some joined out of religious devotion. Others joined for the prospect of military glory. Still others joined for the chance of acquiring loot or land.

Peasants' Crusade

(1096). Peter the Hermit, a French monk, recruited thousands of peasants for a march on the Saracens. His forces were reduced on the march to Constantinople as a result of hunger, disease, and skirmishes with Bulgarians. At Constantinople, Peter joined his forces with a band led by Walter the Penniless, a knight. Against Peter's advice, the Crusaders crossed the Bosporus. They were slaughtered by Seljuk Turks at Nicaea.

First Crusade

(1096-99). This expedition was led by feudal lords, most of whom were French. The chief, leaders were Bohemund of Taranto, Robert of Flanders, Robert of Normandy, Raymond of Toulouse, and Godfrey of Bouillon. Their forces defeated the Turks, captured Antioch, and in 1099 took Jerusalem.

The victors created the Latin Kingdom of Jerusalem and the lesser states of Antioch, Tripoli, and Edessa. The Byzantine Empire regained much of Asia Minor. The Turks were disorganized and poorly led, but the Muslims continued the struggle over the Holy Land. The European feudal lords quarreled among themselves and with the Byzantine emperor. The religious military orders, the Hospitalers (Knights of the Hospital of St. John) and the Templars (Knights of the Temple), protected Palestine but were bitter rivals.

Second Crusade

(1147-49). When the Muslims captured Edessa in 1144, Bernard of Clairvaux. an influential French monk, led the call for a new Crusade. Conrad III of Germany and Louis MI of France led the campaign. This Crusade collapsed after its siege of Damascus failed.

Third Crusade

(1189-92). The Muslims, led by Saladin, had recaptured Jerusalem after the Battle of Hattin in 1187. This defeat inspired a new expedition, led by Holy Roman Emperor Frederick I (Barbarossa), Richard the Lion-Hearted of England, and Philip Augustus of France. Frederick died in Asia Minor, and Richard became the leader of the expedition. His forces captured the port of Acre in 1191. Saladin then granted Richard a truce that permitted Christians to visit Jerusalem.

Fourth Crusade

(1202-04). This campaign was intended to strengthen Crusader positions at Acre On their way to Acre, however, the Crusaders, prompted by their desire for loot and new lands to rule, decided to sack Constantinople, the capital of the Byzantine empire. They captured the city and established the Latin Kingdom of Constantinople, which lasted until 1261.

Children's Crusade

(1212). Two bands of children were organized, one French, the other German. Many thousands died of hardships, and others were sold into slavery. Both bands were destroyed before they reached Constantinople.

Fifth Crusade

(1218-21). This Crusade attacked the center of Muslim power in Egypt. The Muslims held off the attackers.

Sixth Crusade

(1228-29). Frederick II of the Holy Roman Empire led this expedition, and by negotiation won control of Jerusalem.

Seventh Crusade

(1248-54). In 1244 the Muslims recaptured Jerusalem. Louis IX of France (Saint Louis) organized a new expedition that attacked Egypt. The French king was captured and forced to pay a heavy ransom.

Eighth Crusade

(1270). In 1268 the Muslims captured Antioch, which the Crusaders had held since 1098. Louis IX then organized his second Crusade, which attacked Tunis in North Africa. This campaign ended when the French king died of the plague.

Other Crusades were planned but never carried out. When the Muslims captured Acre in 1291, the Latin Kingdom of Jerusalem was ended.


Crusades – A Definition
The Crusades were a series of military missions, usually organized and promoted by the Pope and/or Roman Catholic Church. The crusades took place through the 11th and 13th centuries A.D. The original intent of the crusades was to recapture “Christian” lands that had been invaded by Muslims.

The Crusaders used the Christian cross as their symbol. They believed that the symbol of the cross made them invincible against the armies of the Muslims. The word "Crusade" came from the Latin word for “cloth cross.” Eventually, the word "crusade" was used to describe the entire journey from Europe to the Holy Land.

Crusades - Overview of Main Crusades
First Crusade: The first crusade was launched by Pope Urban II after the Council of Clermont in 1095 A.D. The Eastern Orthodox Patriarch of Constantinople sent a letter to Pope Urban II, asking for his assistance against the progressing Muslim invaders. Urban gave a call to Christians throughout Europe to recapture the Holy Land, and especially Jerusalem, from the Muslims. The crusaders of the First Crusade departed in 1096 and eventually recaptured Jerusalem in 1099. On the way to Jerusalem, the crusaders established “kingdoms” for themselves in various cites in the middle east.

Second Crusade: Shortly after the First Crusade, the Muslims counter-attacked and captured the city of Edessa in 1144 A.D. St. Bernard of Clairvaux traveled throughout Europe, encouraging people to “take up the cross” and push the Muslims back from what they had retaken. Lacking a clear and persuasive goal, and marked by incompetence in leadership, the Second Crusade was an utter failure.

Third Crusade: The Third Crusade was launched in 1189 A.D. In 1187 A.D., the Muslim armies, led by Saladin, had re-conquered Jerusalem. Although at first a huge army was amassed, the Third Crusade was ultimately unsuccessful. The Holy Roman Emperor, Frederick I Barbarossa of Germany, drowned, under uncertain circumstances, on the way to the Holy Land. Richard the Lionheart of England was able to recapture several coastal cities, but did not attempt to retake Jerusalem due to a lack of resources. Lionheart did negotiate a peace treaty with Saladin, allowing for Christian pilgrims to enter Jerusalem without danger.

Fourth Crusade: The Fourth Crusade began in 1202 A.D. Lacking clear direction and strong leadership, the fourth crusade eventually resulted in a battle between Catholic and Orthodox Christians and the conquering of Constantinople by the Christian armies. The conflict destroyed any unity that remained between Catholic and Orthodox Christians.

Fifth Crusade: The Fifth Crusade took place in 1217 A.D., and was led by Andrew II of Hungary and Leopold VI of Austria. The Fifth Crusade was successful in capturing the city of Damietta, but could not hold it for long, especially after a crushing defeat at the Battle of Al-Mansura. Leopold and Andrew were actually offered control of Jerusalem and other Christian sites in the Holy Land in exchange for the return of Damietta to Muslim control. However, in his misplaced arrogance, Cardinal Pelagius refused the offer, turning a victory into an utter defeat.

Sixth Crusade: The Sixth Crusade was launched in 1228 A.D., and was led by Holy Roman Emperor Frederick II. The Sixth Crusade ended with a peace treaty that gave Christians authority over several important Christian sites, including Jerusalem.

Seventh and Eighth Crusades: The Seventh and Eight Crusades were led by King Louis IX of France. Both were complete disasters. In the Seventh Crusade, Louis recaptured Damietta, but later had his army routed. In 1270 A.D., Louis died before he was able to reach the goal of the Eighth Crusade.

The Ninth Crusade: The Ninth Crusade was Led by King Edward I of England in 1271 A.D. It was an attempt to defeat the Mamluk sultan of Baibers. The crusade failed, and Edward returned home to England upon learning of the death of his father, Henry III.

Crusades - Why were the Crusades launched?
The Crusade were responses to Muslim invasions on what was once land occupied primarily by Christians. From approximately 200 A.D. to approximately 900 A.D. the land of Israel, Jordan, Egypt, Syria, Turkey, etc. was inhabited primarily by Christians. Between 900 and 1075 A.D., Muslims invaded these lands and brutally oppressed, enslaved, deported, and even murdered the Christians living in those lands. In response, the Roman Catholic Church and "Christian" kings/emperors from Europe ordered the crusades to reclaim the land the Muslims had taken. As the crusades progressed, they became far more focused on establishing kingdoms than on reclaiming lands that had once belonged to Christians.

WHAT DO YOU THINK? - We have all sinned and deserve God's judgment. God, the Father, sent His only Son to satisfy that judgment for those who believe in Him. Jesus, the creator and eternal Son of God, who lived a sinless life, loves us so much that He died for our sins, taking the punishment that we deserve, was buried, and rose from the dead according to the Bible. If you truly believe and trust this in your heart, receiving Jesus alone as your Savior, declaring, "Jesus is Lord," you will be saved from judgment and spend eternity with God in heaven.

The First Crusade: The Battle Of The Sixth Crusade

The First Crusade
The First Crusade was the first of a number of crusades which were endeavors made by the Christians to invade and regain the Holy Lands. The First Crusade began in 1095, when Emperor Alexius I of the Byzantine Empire arranged a meeting with Pope Urban II to ask for advice and assistance to defend the Byzantine empire. After this meeting, Pope Urban II realized that they had an opportunity to organize and recapture the Holy Lands. Consequently, the Pope called for a meeting of the Council of Clermon, and at this time he gave an inspiring speech in which he asked the lords of Europe to join his efforts to take back the holy land from the "the infidels", who were the Muslims. With Godfrey of Bouillon and other French lords leading, the army began their march from Constantinople to Antioch. During this long march, the army had to cross through lands that were held by the Seljuk Turks. Thus, the Crusaders had to battle Turk forces along their journey. However.

The Sixth Crusade began because the Pope was still angry about the outcome of the Fifth Crusade when the crusaders were not successful in taking control of Jerusalem. However, the Pope did not control the Sixth Crusade and there were no great battles during this Crusade as the Muslims and Christians sat down and negotiated, rather than fighting each other. Eventually, the Holy Roman Emperor Frederick II was successful in negotiating and reaching a compromise with the Muslims, which resulted in the Christians once again controlling Jerusalem and other sites in the Holy Land. Consequently, the Sixth Crusade succeeded in reclaiming the Kingdom of Jerusalem and achieved the peaceful transfer of control to the Crusaders without fighting the Muslims again. Unfortunately, this treaty was short lived and within a decade, when the treaty expired, the Muslims regained control of Jerusalem once.

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