The Crusades were defensive wars to take back Christian Lands
Saturday, September 22, 2018
The First Crusade was one of the most extraordinary, bloody and significant episodes in medieval history. It began with an appeal for aid from the Christian Byzantine Empire, threatened by the rising power of the Muslim Seljuk Turks. But when Pope Urban II preached a sermon at Clermont in 1095, the result was unlike anything ever seen before.
The Pope offered spiritual salvation to those willing to go east to aid their fellow Christians in a holy war, and help liberate Jerusalem from Muslim rule. Knights and peasants alike signed up in their thousands, leading to the disastrous People's, or Peasants', Crusade, then to a much more organised and powerful Princes' Crusade.
Their forces gathered at Constantinople, where they made an uneasy alliance with Byzantine Emperor Alexius I Comnenus. Entering Anatolia, they helped to win back the city of Nicaea, then won a decisive but hard-fought victory at Dorlyaeum, before marching on the great city of Antioch... story of the First Crusade continues with the Siege of Antioch. The Crusaders endure immense hardships outside the city walls, but finally take Antioch thanks to a ruse by Bohemond of Taranto.
Against the odds, and inspired by their recent discovery of a relic believed to be the 'Holy Lance', the Crusaders then defeat the Seljuk army of Kur Burgha. After disagreements within the Crusader camp, the army finally moves on to Jerusalem in the spring of 1099. During a full-scale assault of the city walls, Godfrey of Bouillon's troops gain a foothold in the defences, and Crusader troops pour into the city. A bloodbath follows.
Victory results in the creation of four Crusader states, but their existence is precarious, surrounded by hostile Muslim powers, who will one day return with a vengeance.