A delegation led by the Byzantine Emperor Alexius Comnenus visited Pope Urban II to raise the problems he was having fighting the Muslims in the East. Pope Urban removed the excommunication that had been placed on the Emperor by Pope Gregory and promised to help.
Robert of Normandy became under pressure from William who laid claim to Normandy. William was gaining support from some Norman barons and Robert took the opportunity to leave Normandy to answer Pope Urban II's call for a Crusade. Robert agreed that William could lease Normandy for three years for a sum of 10,000 marks. This money would help him fund the expedition.
Following Pope Urban's speech at Clermont Peter the Hermit, a simple man with a powerful ability to move people by his words, started preaching for Christians to help their fellow Christians in the East. He started to gain a large number of followers eager to go to Jerusalem with promises of absolution and freedom from a life of hunger and depravation. His followers were poor, not prepared for the journey and not armed.
Peter the Hermit's army of ordinary people was large and it needed feeding. One of the more noble members of the army was Walter Sans Avoir, also known as Walter the Penniless. When the army reached Cologne in April Peter decided to halt the army to take advantage of the good supply of food. Walter was impatient and with a small section of the army continued on. They passed through Hungary but at the town of Semlin a dispute broke out when some of his men stole food. When his men were refused food at Belgrade because the harvest had not yet been gathered Walter's army began pillaging the surrounding area. Finally Alexius Comnenus sent supplies and an escort to guard the Crusaders as they marched to Constantinople. The guard ensured that the Crusaders didn't cause any more trouble.
At Constantinople the Emperor Alexius welcomed Peter's army but there were too many people and no provision had been made for them. There was a general lack of discipline that resulted in repeated attacks and thefts from surrounding villages. Alexius warned Peter to wait for better trained troops to arrive before moving on but the pressure of the army was so great on Constantinople that they were forced to move before help could arrive.
The Crusaders began their campaign with a siege of the city of Nicaea. Before the Crusaders stormed the city, the Turks surrendered. They did not surrender to the Crusaders but to the Emperor instead. This infuriated the Crusaders who were expecting a large haul of treasure from the city.
In October of 1097 the Crusaders had reached Antioch. The march had been long and difficult and many had died or deserted due to starvation, diseases and the very wet weather. At once they laid siege to the city. The Turks in the city were prepared and waited to be rescued.
The siege of Antioch was ended not by force but by betrayal. A hand full of Crusaders climbed a ladder into the city and simply opened the gates from the inside. The hoard of the Christian army surged into the city killing anyone or anything in their way. The destruction was brutal and no mercy was shown. As soon as the Crusaders were in the city the situation changed. Outside a Moslem army arrived and in turn besieged the city. Some Crusaders managed to escape over the walls and flee but the majority were trapped without food in the city.
Spurred on by the find of the Spear of Longinus, the spear that was supposed to have pierced Jesus on the cross, the Crusaders emerged from the city of Antioch to face the Moslems. The Moslems were defeated many being killed and many fleeing.
The last battle of the First Crusade was fought between the Christians and Muslims at Ascalon. Led by Godfrey of Bouillon, the king of Jerusalem, the heavily out-numbered Christian army used their heavy armour to good affect. The Muslim army consisted mainly of Egyptians intent of driving the Christians out of Jerusalem.
Godfrey of Bouillon died just a year after the crusaders had captured Jerusalem. Agreeing who should succeed Godfrey as ruler of Jerusalem was not easy. The head of the Church in Jerusalem, Dagobert of Pisa, claimed that the Church itself should rule and as he was its representative he should have the job. Godfrey's brother, Baldwin of Edessa, had other ideas and travelled to Jerusalem with an army to claim the throne.
Supported by an army of over a thousand men, Baldwin claimed the throne of Jerusalem. Baldwin of Edessa was Godfrey's brother and he claimed the throne as his heritage. Baldwin was crowned on Christmas Day at Bethlehem.
After a siege lasting many years Tripoli fell to the Crusaders. The Banu Ammar Emirs had an important library in the city but it was attacked and all the books were destroyed. The Crusader state of Tripoli was then founded, the last of the Crusader states. Bertrand of Toulouse, the son of Raymond IV, Count of Toulouse, became the ruler of the state alongside William-Jordan.
Fulk V of Anjou married his daughter Matilda to William Adelin, heir to the English crown. Wanting to go on Crusade, Fulk needed to ensure security and a marriage between his family and the English crown could help.
The decision was made to attack Damascus. The armies were assembled in Acre. Present were Baldwin, the Patriarch Fulcher, Kings Louis and Conrad, Archbishops of Caesarea and Nazareth, Masters of the Knights Temple and Hospital.
Hostilities between the French and German leaders of the Second Crusade became such a problem that the German Emperor, Conrad III, abandoned the crusade and returned to Constantinople. The Second Crusade ended in failure.
The al-Asqu mosque was returned to Islam. The Muslims allowed four Christian Priests to hold services in the Church of the Holy Sepulchre. This was opposed to the first Crusaders who since they first captured the city in 1099 had treated Jerusalem as theirs alone. The Muslim leader was Al-Malik al-Nasir Salad ed-Din Yusuf (Saladin).
Richard took the Cross. Before going on a Crusade a vow was taken and the person was given a piece of cloth in the shape of a cross to be sown onto the surcoat. To go on a Crusade meant a person was granted a plenary indulgence which freed them from the terrors of purgatory and hell if they killed the enemy and gave them the promise of eternal life in heaven.
This tax was imposed on the people of England (and France?) to raise funds for the Third Crusade. Called for by Henry II in 1188 it was used by his son Richard I who became king in 1189 and then quickly left England for the Crusades.
Richard I and Philippe II, Augustus, met at Vézelay and agreed to divide the spoils of the Crusade equally between themselves. They planned to take different routes, Richard via Marseilles and Philippe via Genoa. Richard has around 100 ships at his disposal. Several were from the Cinque Ports, others from Shoreham and Southampton and others donated by private persons. Other ships were hired from ports in Normandy. Richard could have had a force of around 8000 men half of which could have had horses.
Richard was in no hurry to reach the Holy Land as he had an issue to resolve in Italy first. William II, the King of Sicily, had recently died. He was married to Richard's sister, Joan, who was bequeathed a large dower, a payment meant to support her if she outlived her husband. William had also bequeathed a large sum of money to Henry II, the king of England. Through force, Tancred of Lecce claimed the throne of Sicily and imprisoned Joan refusing to pay the money to her or the King of England. When Richard arrived in Messina he demanded that his sister should be released and all the money owing should be paid.
The people of Messina, supporting Tancred, shut the gates on Richard and attacked his soldiers. In the harbour French ships turned against Richard as the friendship between Richard and Philippe had broken down because Philippe believed Richard was about to refuse to go through with his marriage to Alais, Philippe's half-sister. This was true as Richard had arranged a marriage to Berengaria of Navarre who was travelling to meet him. Richard's men stormed Messina and captured the town. Richard was lenient on the people of Messina and decided to build a fort overlooking the town. Tancred agreed to pay the money owed, freed Joan from prison and paid Richard a large amount of gold. Friendly relations were restored between Richard and Philippe when Richard agreed to split the gold with the French king.
The fleet left Sicily to sail to Rhodes. On route, three ships were separated from the group and landed on Cyprus at the port of Limassol. The governor of Cyprus at the time was Isaac Dacus Comnenus, who had come to power from trickery. He had sided with Saladin, and treated Richard's ships as the enemy.
Richard located the three lost ships at Limissol, and promptly attacked Comnenus' troops in the town and drove them out. Comnenus was again attacked outside the town, but escaped, leaving behind his standard, embroidered with gold cloth. This was later presented to the abbey of Bury St. Edmunds.
Richard met Guy of Lusignan (King of Jerusalem), Geoffrey (Richard's brother), Bohemund (Prince of Antioch), Raymond (Count of Tripoli), Humphrey of Toron and other knights to discuss the attempt by Philippe II of France to replace Guy of Lusignan with Conrad of Montferrat as the King of Jerusalem.
By the 1st of June, Richard had control of the whole of Cyprus and imposed a 50% tax in return for letting the Cypriots return to a more traditional way of life. Richard of Camville and Robert of Turnham were left in charge of Cyprus.
Richard landed at Tyre and quickly moved towards Acre, where he needed to help an army that was besieging the town which was being held by a garrison of Saladin's troops. By July 12th, the town fell to Richard. Richard held Saladin's men hostage in exchange for 200,000 dinars and 1500 of Richard's own troops who were being held by Saladin. When no ransom was paid, Richard publicly executed 2700 of the garrison. It was at this point that Richard angered Leopold of Austria, who was to imprison Richard as he tried to return to Normandy. Leopold's banner was ripped down from alongside Richard's and the French. The banners indicated that the spoils of war should be shared, but Richard was not prepared the share with Leopold, who had not contributed that much to the fall of Acre.
Conrad of Montferrat was killed by two Assassins disguised as monks as he walked home. The Assassins, one of whom had been captured alive and questioned, had been sent by their leader Sinan. The suspected reasons for the murder are varied, some theories suggest Conrad had intercepted a shipment of wealthy goods bound for the Assassin Order while others suggest Saladin had ordered the murder of both Conrad and Richard I. Some also suggest it was Richard himself who had ordered the murder.
A mysterious Crusade supposed to have consisted of children from Germany and possibly France. How young the children were who took part is not known and they may not have been children at all. The Crusaders did not get very far and many of those that took part never came back. They were either killed or sold into slavery.
The Sixth Crusade was won with diplomacy by Frederick II, who had married the heiress of Jerusalem in 1225. He went to the East to claim his right to the throne, and taking advantage of internal disputes between the Sultan's family members, concluded the Treaty of Jaffa, which gave Jerusalem, Bethlehem and Nazareth back to the Christians.
The Crusade of Theobald of Champagne and the King of Navarre was a French expedition that did little, except obtain concessions from Damascus in Galilee, and Ascalon from Egypt. Richard of Cornwall, the brother of Henry III, arrived after Theobald had left, but managed to strengthen both concessions in Galilee, and the fortifications at Ascalon.
After the Christians were defeated at Gaza in 1244, Louis IX of France (St. Louis) took the cross. He actually managed to set sail for Cyprus, his base some four years later. Landing at Damietta in June 1249, Louis, he to wait until the Nile floods had reduced before continuing for Cairo. Held up and cut off from Damietta, Louis' camp was struck with disease and most were killed or captured. Louis was taken prisoner, and had to pay a ransom to be freed.
Louis IX once again set out on Crusade, not to the east but towards Tunis. Charles, the brother of Louis, influenced the direction as Charles had plans in the East (?). At Cathage in July, the plague broke out and in August Louis died.