Three major religious groups all claimed
Jerusalem in the land of Palestine as their holy city.
To Christians, it was the place where Jesus
was crucified and ascended to heaven
To Muslims, it was the place where Muhammad
ascended to heaven
To Jews, it was the site of the ancient
temple built by Solomon
In 600 CE, Arabs entered the city and took
The Arabs allowed Christian and Jewish pilgrims to visit
Jerusalem. In fact, Jews and Christians could live in Palestine as
long as they paid their taxes like everyone else.
Problem: Around 1095, a new group of Arabs took control of
Jerusalem. They closed the city to Jewish and Christian pilgrims.
Solution: The Pope acted. He called for a crusade -
a volunteer army whose goal was to retake Jerusalem. Many people
volunteered. About 30,000 men left Western Europe to fight in
For knights, this was a chance to use their
fighting skills, something they enjoyed and did well. They were
delighted to have such a worthy battle to fight.
For peasants, this was a chance to escape
from their dreary life in the feudal system. The pope promised
that if they died while fighting a holy crusade, they would
automatically be welcomed into heaven.
For others, it was a chance to have an
adventure, and perhaps even to get rich.
of the Crusade - The Red Cross: Each crusader had a huge
red cross, made out of fabric, stitched onto their shirts or armor. It
made all crusaders, irrespective of rank or background, appear to be a
unified army. It reminded the crusaders that they were fighting a holy
cause. The red cross was added to flags and banners
Results: After about two years of harsh traveling, hunger,
disease, freezing weather, and quarrels amongst themselves, the
crusaders finally arrived in Jerusalem. After a two-month siege of the
city, the city fell. The crusaders had won back Jerusalem. Some men
stayed. Some headed home. Those who returned brought back new foods
and new forms of culture.
Crusades: It was a short victory. Less than 50 years later,
Muslims once again conquered Jerusalem. Again the pope called for a
crusade to take back the city.
The Second Crusade lasted from 1147-1149. It
was not successful.
The Third Crusade lasted from 1189-1192. It
was not successful.
The Fourth Crusade lasted from 1202-1204.
Instead of attacking Jerusalem, the crusaders attacked
Constantinople. They stole statues, money, paintings and jewelry.
They burned libraries. They destroyed churches. Their ridiculous
excuse was that they needed money to defend Constantinople from
the same fate as Jerusalem, as well as to fund the rescue of
Jerusalem. The people of Constantinople did not find this excuse
acceptable, and they were filled with hatred for the west.
The Children's Crusade in 1212 was a terrible
tragedy. Many thousands of French and German children died trying
to reach Jerusalem. They believed God would help them because they
were children. Many died of hunger. Other froze to death. When the
survivors reached the Mediterranean Sea, they expected the waters
to part and let them pass. When this did not happen, those who
were left returned dismally home.
Over the next 70 years, there were several
other crusade attempts, but they were motivated more by personal
gain than by religious purpose. None succeeded. By 1291, 200 years
after the first crusade, European leaders lost interest. Western
Europe never admitted defeat. They simply stopped asking for
Crusades - Fling the Teacher
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