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The Crusades were religious wars, that were often bloody and violent, were fought to reclaim the Holy Lands or land that is located between the Jordan River and the Mediterranean Sea. It also includes the banks of the Jordan River. They were trying to reclaim the Holy Land from Muslim rule. However, the term “Crusade” is also used for other church-sanctioned expeditions. The Crusades were also fought for the suppression of paganism. These crusades lasted from 1095 to 1291. There were nine total crusades, the first four being the most important and the rest eventually leading to the downfall of the crusades with the exception of the “Children’s Crusade”.

The first Crusade was fought during 1095 when Pope Urban II called for it in a sermon where he asked for the military support from the Byzantine Empire and their emperor Alexios I. They needed support from the Turks who were starting to colonize Anatolia. One of the speculated reasons why Pope Urban II called for the crusade was that he wanted to guarantee access for pilgrims to travel to the Mediterranean Sea to go to the Holy Lands. Preparing for the crusade, four armies were made up to reclaim the Holy Land. The four armies were led by Raymond of Saint-Gilles, Godfrey of Bouillon, Hugh of Vermandois and Bohemond of Taranto. These armies set out for Byzantium in August of 1096 and from their set of to Jerusalem in May of 1097. However, there was a lesser known army of disorganized knights and commoners called the “People’s Crusade” that headed for the holy lands before the other four main armies. They fought in a clash between the Turks in Cibotus, where they were absolutely demolished. The other four main armies attack Nicea ( the now city of Iznik, Turkey) the capital of the Seljuk Turks in Anatolia. The attack happened in May and the city surrendered in late June. The Crusaders continued throughout Anatolia and captured the great Syrian city of Antioch in 1098 and arrived in Jerusalem in 1099 where they forced the city governor to surrender the city.

The Second Crusade started in 1147. The land that was conquered by the Crusaders were turned into Crusader-States. These states were guarded by large castles and some of the Crusaders stayed in these newly formed Crusader-States. These states were in guarded by the castles until 1130 when the Muslims attacked the Crusader-State Edessa and declaring their own holy war, called the Jihad. In 1140, they finally captured Edessa. The news of the fall of Edessa reached Europe and the two most powerful rulers at the time, King Louis VII of France and King Conrad III of Germany. When the news reached them, they decided to declare another crusade, properly named the Second Crusade. The armies of France and Germany, with a total combined force of 50,000 people, the largest crusader force in Crusader history. The two armies went in two different routes, fighting battles along the way. However, they were defeated by the Seljuk Turks on different occasions. The remainder of the two armies gathered together and launched a disorganized attack on Jerusalem in 1148 but were defeated by the Muslims. This was a devastating defeat for the Christians and an outstanding victory for the Muslims.

Those are just two crusades out the four that I am going to talk about.

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