The Success, Failures, and Outcomes of the Seven Major Crusades

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The Success, Failures, and Outcomes of the Seven Major Crusades

The seven major Crusades spanned the Middle Ages from A.D. 1073 to 1305 (Lovasik 96). Many modern historians tend to appraise most of the later Crusades as more blunder than success in the course for the preservation of western Christianity and the advancement of western civilization. However, a closer scrutiny of the totality of the Crusades reveals that the Law of Unintended Consequences (in the long course of history) provided great advantages for mankind, even amidst the many tragedies of the individual Crusades. With the exception of the misnamed “Children’s Crusades”, (which were actually two tragic Crusades of the 13th Century) Christian Crusaders not only succeeded in their original goal of reclaiming the Holy Land for Christians (as well as for Jews) succeeded in evangelizing many Muslims throughout the strongholds in the Middle East and even ultimately in providing better living conditions for the people of western and Middle-eastern civilizations. In the end, the Crusades were actually a great success because without them, the Holy Land would have stayed Muslim, Islam would have been strengthened against the Christians and the Jews and neither the east nor the west would have benefited from shared trade. The Crusades began in A.D. 1073 when Pope Urban II organized the kings, for nobles, and knights of Europe under one banner (bearing a cross of red fabric on a white background called a “crociati” [crusaders]) to win back the Holy Land from the Seljuk Turks (Lovasik 98). Many atrocities had occurred to the Jews and the Christians, particularly near the Holy Sites in Jerusalem, since 1071 when the Turks brutally invaded. Until this time-in fact, since the time of Charlemagne-peaceful relations among Christian pilgrims to the Holy Land, the Jews of the Holy Land, and the Muslims of the Caliphate of Egypt who ruled the Holy Land, had been enjoyed by all (Lovasik 96). By the 11th Century, the Muslim Turks threatened Christian pilgrims and the Jewish and Christian inhabitants of Jerusalem alike. They also threatened to seize the capital of the Byzantine Christians (Constantinople), and Emperor Alexis I beseeched the Pope to come to the aid of the church, the lands, and the persecuted pilgrims. The First Crusade was successful, and Christian strongholds to protect everyone were established in Edessa and Antioch (Lovasik Chapter 18). However, over the course of the next 200 years the Holy Lands were reclaimed and lost and reclaimed with mostly ultimate success for Christianity (Laux 344). However, each subsequent Crusade became increasingly problematic because each one took on a life of its own, further and further away from any Pope’s urgings, any king’s involvements, or finally from any trained organization and protection (such as knights and soldiers). The so-called Children’s Crusades are the most tragic examples of this phenomenon. By 1212, (between the 4th and 5th major Crusades) and almost 150 years after the first successful Crusade to rescue the Holy Land for subsequent disorganized Crusades had mixed results as they focused on evangelization of the Muslims as well as on gathering religious relics and sites for Christian kings, having mixed results (La Belle 210-211). These Crusades had been rallied from an assortment of knights, who wanted to continue to fight, kings who sought booty, the clergy who passionately sought to convert Muslim “infidels" and ultimately and tragically, by the poor and the sick who wanted to be pilgrims to the Holy Land for many reasons of their own. Beginning in 1204, however, the worst moments in the history of the Crusades (ten years after the conquest of Constantinople by the West) occurred when thousands of the sickly, elderly, and poor (including many groups of children) began their journey of faith known as “The People’s Crusade” (Madden 138). These Crusades were not organized under the...
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