The Crusades

EQ:Do belief systems unite or divide people?

Before we get into The Crusades, let's get some into background information on Christianity and Islam and Jersualem, its holy land for both religions.

The Rise of Christianity

  • Jesus was a prophet whose mission was to complete God's work to save Israel. He preached ethical concepts of humility and charity. The Romans didn't like that, so they arrested and crucified him. However, his followers believed he arose from death and the resurrection of Jesus spread the religion Christianity quickly. Christianity appealed to all people, rich and poor. Christianity also embraced all people, gave hope to the powerless. Finally, Christianity offered a personal relationship with God, promised eternal life after death. Due to this, Christianity spread throughout Europe and by the time of the Crusades, Christianity was competing with Islam as the most populated religion in the world.

The Rise of Islam

  • Muhammad was a prophet whose mission was to spread God's messages to other people. Although at first, Muhammad only had 30 followers, but after he and his followers moved to Madinah, Islam started gain more followers and by 630, Islam had 10,000 followers. Islam appealed to poor about if you submit yourself to the will of God, you will live a good and prosperous life. Empires like the Umayyads and the Ottomans spread Islam and by the time of the Crusades, Islam was the major religion in the Middle East and North Africa.


  • Jerusalem is a city that's in modern-day Israel. The city is important to the Jewish,Muslim, and Christians. Jerusalem is important to Judaism because the Western Wall is there, a remnant of the retaining wall on the mount on which the Holy Temple once stood. For the Islamic religion, Jerusalem is important due to the Dome of the Rock, where prophet Muhammad ascended to heaven on his journey from Mecca.Finally, for the Christians, Jerusalem is important due to the Church of the Holy Sepulchre, where Jesus was crucified there, and Jesus's tomb is inside the Sepulchre and his resurrection also took place there.

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Factors and Motives that led to The Crusades

Islam spread throughout the Middle East and when the Byzantine Empire started to weaken. By 638 AD, Jerusalem was captured by the Arabic people. However, Christian pilgrims could still go to Jerusalem because the early Islamic people were tolerant of others. However, 400 years later, the Seljuk Turks weren't that religiously tolerant. They made it very difficult for the Christians to travel to Jerusalem. As the Byzantine Empire asked for help because they felt like they were being threatened by the Seljuk Turks. So Pope Urban II called on a Crusade to recapture the Holy Land. To make the idea to the point where knights,peasants, and other Christians would go, the Pope offered them forgiveness for all their sins if they would fight. There were also lots of motives for the call upon The Crusades.

  • If The Crusades were successful, The Catholic Church would have power and prestige for such a glorious victory
  • There were small fights in Europe. The Catholic Church wanted to unite Christian Europe by giving them one common enemy, the Islamic people who controlled Jerusalem.This would unite Europe as they would fight for God and retake the Holy Land

On to the Crusades!

The First Crusade

  • The First Crusade started in 1096 when Pope Urban II made the call for the Crusades. Many peasants volunteered for The Crusades. Peter the Hermit was a preacher who was the leader of the peasants. But disorganized warfare and no experience in war led them to be destroyed by the Seljuk Turks. However, the nobles who were actually planning out how to take Jerusalem, succeeded when the French and British armies combined with the Byzantine Empire's armies defeated the Muslims and in 1099, captured Jerusalem. The territory conquered was divided into 4 parts, one of them being Jerusalem.

The Second and Third Crusade

  • The Islamic people wanted to reunite the region and take back the city of Jerusalem. The Muslims conquered one of the four counties that the Christians divided when they conquered those same territories. This caused Pope Eugenius III to call another Crusade. France, the Roman Emperor all joined in but the Second Crusade ultimately failed for the Christians as the leaders were not on the same page politically and soldiers that were not trained to the best of their abilities combined with the fact as a united Muslim army were on the gates of Jerusalem
  • As the Muslims were proud of their successes in the failed Second Crusade for the Christians, this caused them to keep attacking the Crusader territories. Finally, in 1187, Jerusalem fell and the Muslims regained Jerusalem thanks to the brilliant success of Saladin. Saladin was a brilliant Muslim general who, as you've read, retook Jerusalem. This caused the Christians to call a Third Crusade. However, disputes between the leadership left only King Richard to regain the lost territory. Richard and Saladin fought each other and Richard regained a lot of the lost territory but never took Jerusalem.

Later Crusades

  • The Catholic Church did launch other Crusades against the Muslims for control of the Holy Land but none were successful and by the beginning of the 1300's, all the land that was won by the Christians in the First Crusade(1096-1099) was taken by the Muslims.

EQ: Do belief systems unite or divide people?

Below is a video on the Crusades

CTQ: What conclusions can be drawn about religion and how it influence people after the Crusades?Provide an Example

Think about what you learned about the Crusades. How does religion affect decisions made by religious leaders? How has religion impacted the world especially after the Crusades were over.

Made by Sagnik Mukherjee and Cody Masters

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