The Crusades were a series of religious wars initiated, supported, and sometimes directed by the Latin Church in the medieval period. The best known of these Crusades are those to the Holy Land in the period between 1095 and 1291 that were intended to liberate Jerusalem and its surrounding area from Islamic rule. Concurrent military activities in the Iberian Peninsula against Moors (the Reconquista) and in northern Europe against pagan Slavic tribes (the Northern Crusades) also became known as crusades. Through the 15th century, other church-sanctioned crusades were fought against heretical Christian sects, against the Byzantine and Ottoman empires, to combat paganism and heresy, and for political reasons. Unsanctioned by the church, Popular Crusades of ordinary citizens were also frequent. Beginning with the First Crusade which resulted in the recovery of Jerusalem in 1099, dozens of Crusades were fought, providing a focal point of European history for centuries.
In 1095, Pope Urban II proclaimed the First Crusade at the Council of Clermont. He encouraged military support for Byzantine emperor Alexios I against the Seljuk Turks and called for an armed pilgrimage to Jerusalem. Across all social strata in western Europe, there was an enthusiastic popular response. The first Crusaders had a variety of motivations, including religious salvation, satisfying feudal obligations, opportunities for renown, and economic or political advantage. Later crusades were generally conducted by more organized armies, sometimes led by a king. All were granted papal indulgences. Initial successes established four Crusader states: the County of Edessa; the Principality of Antioch; the Kingdom of Jerusalem; and the County of Tripoli. The Crusader presence remained in the region in some form until the fall of Acre in 1291. After this, there were no further crusades to recover the Holy Land.
Proclaimed a crusade in 1123, the struggle between the Christians and Muslims in the Iberian Peninsula was called the Reconquista by Christians, and only ended in 1492 with the fall of the Muslim Emirate of Granada. From 1147 campaigns in Northern Europe against pagan tribes were considered crusades. In 1199 Pope Innocent III began the practice of proclaiming political crusades against Christian heretics. In the 13th century, crusading was used against the Cathars in Languedoc and against Bosnia; this practice continued against the Waldensians in Savoy and the Hussites in Bohemia in the 15th century and against Protestants in the 16th. From the mid-14th century, crusading rhetoric was used in response to the rise of the Ottoman Empire, only ending in 1699 with the War of the Holy League.
The term "crusade" first referred to military expeditions undertaken by European Christians in the 11th, 12th, and 13th centuries to the Holy Land. The conflicts to which the term is applied has been extended to include other campaigns initiated, supported and sometimes directed by the Roman Catholic Church against pagans, heretics or for alleged religious ends. These differed from other Christian religious wars in that they were considered a penitential exercise, and so earned participants forgiveness for all confessed sins. The term's usage can be misleading, particularly regarding the early Crusades, and the definition remains a matter of debate among contemporary historians.
At the time of the First Crusade, iter, "journey", and peregrinatio, "pilgrimage" were used to describe the campaign. Crusader terminology remained largely indistinguishable from that of Christian pilgrimage during the 12th century. Only at the end of the century was a specific language of Crusading adopted in the form of crucesignatus—"one signed by the cross"—for a Crusader. This led to the French croisade—the way of the cross. By the mid 13th century the cross became the major descriptor of the Crusades with crux transmarina—"the cross overseas"—used for crusades in the eastern Mediterranean, and crux cismarina—"the cross this side of the sea"—for those in Europe. The modern English "crusade" dates to the 17th century, with the work of Louis Malmbourg.
The terms "Franks" (Franj) and "Latins" were used by the peoples of the Near East during the crusades for western Europeans, distinguishing them from the Byzantine Christians who were known as "Greeks". Saracen was used for an Arab Muslim, derived from a Greek and Roman name for the nomadic peoples of the Syro-Arabian desert. Crusader sources used the term "Syrians" to describe Arabic speaking Christians who were members of the Greek Orthodox Church, and "Jacobites" for those who were members of the Syrian Orthodox Church. The Crusader states of Syria and Palestine were known as the "Outremer" from the French outre-mer, or "the land beyond the sea".
The period of Islamic Arab territorial expansion had been over since the 8th century. Syria and Palestine's remoteness from the focus of Islamic power struggles enabled relative peace and prosperity. Only in the Iberian Peninsula was Muslim-Western European contact more than minimal. Byzantine emperor Basil II extended the empire’s territorial recovery to its furthest extent in 1025, with frontiers stretching east to Iran. It controlled Bulgaria, much of southern Italy and suppressed piracy in the Mediterranean Sea. The empire's relationships with its Islamic neighbours were no more quarrelsome than its relationships with the Slavs and the Western Christians. The Normans in Italy, to the north Pechenegs, Serbs and Cumans, and Seljuk Turks in the east all competed with the empire.
The political situation in the Middle East was changed by waves of Turkish migration—in particular, the arrival of the Seljuk Turks in the 10th century. Previously a minor ruling clan from Transoxania, they were recent converts to Islam who migrated into Iran to seek their fortune. In two decades, they conquered Iran, Iraq, and the Near East. The Seljuks and their followers were Sunni, which brought them into conflict in Palestine and Syria with the Shi'ite Fatimids.
Emperor Romanos IV Diogenes's attempted confrontation in 1071 to suppress the Seljuks sporadic raiding led to his defeat and capture at the Battle of Manzikert. In the same year, Jerusalem was taken from the Fatimids by the Turkish warlord Atsiz, who seized most of Syria and Palestine as part of the expansion of the Seljuks throughout the Middle East. The Seljuk hold on the city resulting in pilgrims reported difficulties and the oppression of Christians. The Byzantine desire for military aid then converged with increasing willingness of the western nobility to accept papal military direction. The result was the First Crusade.
Crusades and the Holy Land, 1095–1291
The Crusades to the Holy Land are the best known of the religious wars discussed here, beginning in 1095 and lasting some two centuries. Since the destruction of the Church of the Holy Sepulchre early in the 11th century, the Holy Land was an increasingly hostile environment for both Christian pilgrims and inhabitants. These Crusades began with the fervent desire to liberate the Holy Land from the Muslims, and ran through eight major numbered crusades and dozens of minor crusades over two centuries. Larger-than-life nobels such as Richard the Lionheart, Eleanor of Aquitaine and Saladin continue to dominate in popular culture, but lesser-known participants and a multitude of battles provide for a complex history that continues to be relevant today.
First Crusade, 1095–1099
The First Crusade, summoned in 1095, consisted of the unsuccessful People's Crusade followed by what became known as the Princes' Crusade that resulted in the final liberation of the Holy Land with the successful and bloody siege of Jerusalem in 1099. The Kingdom of Jerusalem was established, first under Godfrey of Bouillon, a Frankish leader of the Crusade, and lasting until the loss of the last stronghold at the siege of Acre in 1291.
The summons to Jerusalem
In 1074, just three years after of the disastrous defeat of the Byzantines at Manzikert and the Seljuk takeover of Jerusalem, Pope Gregory VII began planning to launch a military campaign for the liberation of the Holy Land. Christian pilgrimages to Jerusalem and other holy sites were more frequently being disrupted by the occupying Seljuks and other Muslim tribes. Twenty years later, Pope Urban II realized that dream, hosting the decisive Council of Piacenza and subsequent Council of Clermont in November 1095, that resulted in the mobilization of Western Europe to go to the Holy Land. Byzantine emperor Alexios I Komnenos, worried about the continued advances of the Seljuks, sent envoys to these councils asking Urban for aid against the invading Turks. There are five versions of the speech of Urban's at Clermont, agreeing that the pope talked of the violence of Europe and the necessity of maintaining the Peace of God; about helping Byzantium; about the crimes being committed against Christians in the east; and about a new kind of war, an armed pilgrimage, and of rewards in heaven, where remission of sins was offered to any who might die in the undertaking. The enthusiastic crowd responded with cries of Deus lo volt! ––God wills it!
The People's Crusade
Immediately after Urban's proclamation, the French priest Peter the Hermit led thousands of mostly poor Christians out of Europe in what became known as the People's Crusade. In transit through Germany, these Crusaders spawned German bands who massacred Jewish communities in what became known as the Rhineland massacres. This was part of wide-ranging anti-Jewish activities, extending from limited, spontaneous violence to full-scale military attacks. Jews were perceived to be as much an enemy as Muslims and were more immediately visible than the distant Muslims. Many people wondered why they should travel thousands of miles to fight non-believers when there were already non-believers closer to home. Crusaders' motivations were varied. One factor was spiritual – a desire for penance through warfare. An early first-hand account known as the Gesta Francorum talks about the economic attraction of gaining "great booty". This was true to an extent, but the rewards often did not include the seizing of land, as fewer Crusaders settled than returned. Another explanation was adventure and an enjoyment of warfare, but the deprivations the Crusaders experienced and the costs they incurred weigh against this. The crusaders left Byzantine-controlled territory on their journey to Nicaea, the capital of the Seljuk Sultanate of Rûm. Their first encounter with the Seljuks was at the siege of Xerigordos from 21 to 29 September 1096, in which a portion of Peter's forces were destroyed. The destruction was completed on 21 October 1096 when the main body of Crusaders was annihilated in a Turkish ambush at the battle of Civetot. The sultan Kilij Arslan mistakenly believed the ease with which these Crusaders were dispatched would hold true in the future.
The Princes' Crusade
In response to Urban's call, members of the high aristocracy from France, western Germany, the Low Countries, Languedoc and Italy led independent military contingents in loose, fluid arrangements based on bonds of lordship, family, ethnicity and language. Foremost amongst these was the elder statesman Raymond IV of Toulouse, who with bishop Adhemar of Le Puy commanded southern French forces. Other armies included men from Upper and Lower Lorraine led by Godfrey of Bouillon and his brother Baldwin of Boulogne; Italo-Norman forces led by Bohemond of Taranto and his nephew Tancred; as well as various contingents consisting of northern French and Flemish forces under Robert Curthose, Stephen of Blois, Hugh of Vermandois, and Robert II of Flanders. The armies, which may have contained as many as 100,000 people including non-combatants, travelled eastward by land to Byzantium where they were cautiously welcomed by the emperor. Due to conflicts with the pope, Philip I of France and Holy Roman Emperor Henry IV declined to participate.
Alexios persuaded many of the princes to pledge allegiance to him. He also convinced them their first objective should be Nicaea, Buoyed by his success at Civetot, the over-confident Kilij Arslan left the city to resolve a territorial dispute, thus enabling its capture after the siege of Nicaea and a Byzantine naval assault in May–June 1097. This was a high point in Latin and Greek co-operation and the beginning of Crusader attempts to take advantage of disunity in the Muslim world. The first experience of Turkish tactics using lightly armoured mounted archers occurred when an advanced party led by Bohemond and Robert was ambushed at battle of Dorylaeum of 1 July 1097. The Normans resisted for hours before the arrival of the main army caused a Turkish withdrawal.
The crusader army marched for three arduous months to the former Byzantine city Antioch, that had been in Muslim control since 1084. Numbers were reduced by starvation, thirst and disease and by Baldwin's decision to carve out his own territory in Edessa, which became the County of Edessa, the first of the Crusader states. The Crusaders began the siege of Antioch, to last from 21 October 1097 until 3 June 1098, and fought for eight months but lacked the resources to fully invest the city and the residents lacked the means to repel the invaders. Finally, Bohemond persuaded a guard in the city to open a gate. The Crusaders entered, massacring the Muslim inhabitants as well as many Christians amongst the Greek Orthodox, Syrian and Armenian communities. A force to recapture the city was raised by Kerbogha, the atabeg of Mosul. The discovery of the Holy Lance may have boosted the morale of the Crusaders. The Byzantines did not march to the assistance of the Crusaders because the deserting Stephen of Blois told them the cause was lost. Instead Alexius retreated from Philomelium, where he received Stephen's report, to Constantinople. The Greeks were never truly forgiven for this perceived betrayal and Stephen was branded a coward. Losing numbers through desertion and starvation in the besieged city, the Crusaders attempted to negotiate surrender but were rejected. Bohemond recognised that the only remaining option was open combat and launched a counterattack. Despite superior numbers, Kerbogha's army — which was divided into factions and surprised by the Crusaders commitment and dedication— retreated and abandoned the siege.
The Crusading force delayed for months while they argued over who would have the captured territory. Hunger led to widespread raids on the countryside, culminating with the siege of Ma'arrat in late 1098, with reported cannibalism by the Crusaders. The debate ended when news arrived that the Fatimid Egyptians had taken Jerusalem from the Seljuks, making it imperative to attack before the Egyptians could consolidate their position. Bohemond remained in Antioch, retaining the city, despite his pledge to return it to Byzantine control, while Raymond led the remaining crusader army rapidly south along the coast to Jerusalem. An initial attack on the city failed, and the siege of Jerusalem of 1099 became a stalemate, until the arrival of craftsmen and supplies transported by the Genoese to Jaffa tilted the balance. Crusaders constructed two large siege engines. The one commanded by Godfrey breached the walls on 15 July 1099. For two days the Crusaders massacred the inhabitants and pillaged the city. Godfrey further secured the Frankish position by defeating an Egyptian relief force at the battle of Ascalon in August 1099.
Godfrey of Bouillon and the foundation of the Kingdom
At this point, most Crusaders considered their pilgrimage complete and returned to Europe. When it came to the future governance of the city it was Godfrey who took the leadership, not called king but rather with the title Advocatus Sancti Sepulchri (Defender of the Holy Sepulchre). The presence of troops from Lorraine ended the possibility that Jerusalem would be an ecclesiastical domain and the claims of Raymond. At that point Godfrey was left with a small force––a mere 300 knights and 2,000 infantry––to defend the kingdom. Tancred was the other prince who remained. His ambition was to gain a Crusader state princedom of his own.
The Islamic world seems to have barely registered the First Crusade and there is limited written evidence before 1130. This may be in part due to a reluctance to relate Muslim failure, but it is more likely to be the result of cultural misunderstanding. The Muslim world mistook the Crusaders for the latest in a long line of Byzantine mercenaries, rather than religiously motivated warriors intent on conquest and settlement. The Muslim world was divided between the Sunnis of Syria and Iraq and the Shi'ite Fatimids of Egypt. Even the Turks remained divided, finding unity unachievable since the death of sultan Malik-Shah I in 1092, with rival rulers in Damascus and Aleppo. In Baghdad, the Seljuk sultan Barkiyaruq competed for power with Abbasid caliph al-Mustazhir. This gave the Crusaders a crucial opportunity to consolidate without any pan-Islamic counterattack.
Kingdom of Jerusalem, 1099–1144
The newly-formed kingdom quickly faced major challenges, both internally and externally. Most of the Crusaders had gone home, leaving few seasoned fighters to protect the realm. A leadership crisis, with the death of Godfrey and continued push by the clergy against secular rule, was immediately felt. In addition, both the Seljuks to the north and west, and the Fatimids to the south, were not content with the presence of the Western Christians. Urban II had died in 1099, not living to see his vision realized, and was replaced by Pope Paschal II, with new pressures from Europe.
The death of Godfrey and coronation of Baldwin I
On 1 August 1099, Arnulf of Chocques, chaplain to Robert Curthose, was elected Latin Patriarch of Jerusalem. He had supported Godfrey's decision to make Jerusalem a secular kingdom rather than one ruled by the clergy and had accompanied Godfrey to Ascalon with a relic of the True Cross. Nonetheless, before he could be ordained, he was replaced with Bohemund's support by Dagobert of Pisa, whom Paschal had appointed legate. Dagobert was anxious to establish the patriarch's power, demanding that Godfrey hand over Jerusalem to him. Godfrey partly yielded, and at a ceremony on Easter Day, 1 April 1100, he announced that he would retain possession of the city and the Tower of David until his death, or until he conquered two great cities from the infidel, but he bequeathed Jerusalem to the patriarch.
Godfrey of Bouillon died on 18 July 1100, likely from typhoid. The news of his death was greeted with mourning in Jerusalem, laying for five days in state before his burial at the Church of the Holy Sepulchre. Meanwhile, Dagobert had been accompanying a campaign against Jaffa with Tancred, and in his absence, the Jerusalem knights offered the lordship to Godfrey's brother Baldwin, then Count of Edessa. With the support of Tancred, Dagobert wrote offering the lordship of Jerusalem to Bohemond, Prince of Antioch, and asking that he prevent Baldwin's expected travel to Jerusalem. But the letter was intercepted and Bohemond was captured with Richard of Salerno by the Danishmends after the battle of Melitene in August 1100.
Baldwin I was crowned as the first king of Jerusalem on Christmas Day 1100 by Dagobert at the Church of the Nativity. Baldwin's cousin Baldwin of Bourcq, later his successor as Baldwin II, was named Count of Edessa, and Tancred became regent of Antioch during Bohemond's captivity, lasting through 1103.
The Crusade of 1101
The Crusade of 1101 was initiated by Paschal when he learned of the precarious position of the remaining forces in the Holy Land. The host consisted of four separate expeditions to the Holy Land and is frequently regarded as a second wave of armies following the First Crusade rather than as a separate Crusade. The four armies departed for Constatinople from September 1100 through March 1101, arriving in the spring of 1101.
The first army to depart for the East was composed of Italians from Lombardy, led by Anselm, archbishop of Milan. At Constantinople, the Lombard army was joined by a force led by Conrad, constable to the German emperor, Henry IV. A second army, the Nivernois, was commanded by William II, Count of Nevers. The third group was a large combined army from northern France, Flanders, and Burgundy led by Stephen of Blois and Stephen, Count of Burgundy, and included Guy II the Red of Rochefort, his brother Milo I the Great, and Joscelin of Courtenay, later count of Edessa. The were joined by Raymond of Saint-Gilles, now in the service of the emperor. The fourth army to depart was made up of two contingents. One was led by William IX of Aquitaine, joining with German crusaders commanded by Welf IV of Bavaria. Accompanying them was Ida of Austria, mother of Leopold III of Austria, as well as Hugh of Vermandois who had left the First Crusade before the siege of Jerusalem. The joint Aquitanian-Bavarian army passed through Hungary and after some conflict with Byzantine forces, arrived in Constantinople at the beginning of June 1101.
The Crusaders faced their old enemy Kilij Arslan who, despite losing his capital city of Nicaea to the First Crusaders, was still a formidable foe. He was joined by the Danishmends, the captors of Bohemond, as well as Ridwan, emir of Aleppo. The Seljuk forces first met the Lombard and French contingents in August 1101 at the battle of Mersivan. The battle lasted four days, with the crusader camp captured. The knights fled, leaving women, children, and priests behind to be killed or enslaved. Raymond of Toulouse, Stephen of Blois, and Stephen of Burgundy fled north, returning to Constantinople. The Nivernois contingent was decimated that same month at Heraclea, with nearly the entire force wiped out, except for the count William and a few of his men. The Aquitainians and Bavarians reached Heraclea in September where again the Crusaders were massacred. William IX and Welf escaped, but Hugh was morally wounded. Ida of Austria disappeared during the battle and was never heard from again. The Crusade of 1101 was a total disaster both militarily and politically, showing the Muslims that the Crusaders were not invincible.
Bohemond's mission that resulted in his capture was ostensibly to aid Gabriel of Melitene, whose daughter Morphia of Melitene would later become queen of Jerusalem. Baldwin I, with other priorities, sent only a small force to pursue Bohemond's captors, who were marching with the heads of the slain Franks on pikes. The Lombard contingent was intent on freeing Bohemond impacting the Crusade of 1101, but neither Baldwin I nor Tancred saw an urgency, preferring the politics of status quo. Baldwin I, seeing Tancred’s ambition, convinced Alexios I to offer a ransom. Kilij Arslan interfered, demanding half, and causing a rift between the Danishmends and the Seljuks. Offering favorable terms, including an alliance against Alexios I and Kilij, the Danishmends settled for a small ransom, raised by Bernard of Valence, Kogh Vasil and Baldwin of Bourcq. Tancred did not contribute. The captives were released in 1103, with Bohemond immediately resuming his position as ruler of Antioch.
Consolidation of the Latin States, 1100-1118
The reign of Baldwin I began in 1100 and oversaw the consolidation of the kingdom in the face of enemies to the north, the Seljuks, and the Fatimids to the south. To the south of Jerusalem, al-Afdal Shahanshah, the powerful Fatimid vizier, was anxious to recover the lands lost to the Franks in the First Crusade. He initiated the First battle of Ramla on 7 September 1101 in which his forces were defeated, albeit narrowly, by those of Baldwin I. On 17 May 1102, the Crusaders were not so lucky, suffering a major defeat at the hands of the Fatimids, under the command of al-Afdal's son Sharaf al-Ma’ali at the Second battle of Ramla. Among the slain were veterans of the Crusade of 1101, Stephen of Blois and Stephen of Burgundy. Conrad of Germany fought so valiantly that his attackers offered to spare his life if he surrendered. The kingdom was on the verge of collapse after the defeat, recovering after the successful battle of Jaffa on 27 May. Al-Afdal tried once more in the Third battle of Ramla in August 1105 and, defeated, the Fatimid threat to the kingdom subsided for two decades.
With the threat from the Fatimid caliphs in Cairo diminished and the ineffectiveness of the Abbasid caliphs in Baghdad, the principal threats to the kingdom in the early part of the 12th century were the frequently-battling groups from Syria and Persia. Kilij Arslan had died in 1107 during an internal Seljuk struggle, and his son and successor Mesud I would play a key role in the Second Crusade. The Sultanate of Rûm would not pose additional threats until the 13th century. The Danishmends were also to play just a minor part in the Crusaders' history. The principal threats then came from the powerful atabegs and emirs of the key cities of Aleppo, Damascus and Mosul.
- Aleppo: Ridwan, son of the powerful Seljuk sultan Tutush I; Luʾluʾ al-Yaya, regent to Ridwan's sons; Ilghazi, a founder of the Artuqid dynasty; Timurtash, son of Ilghazi; and Belek Ghazi, Ilghazi's nephew.
- Damascus: Duqaq, brother of Ridwan; Irtash, Duqaq's brother and successor; and Toghtekin and his son Taj al-Muluk Buri, founders of the Burid dynasty.
- Mosul: Kerbogha, an Abbasid; Jikirmish, the successor to Kerbogha; Jawali Saqawa, a Turkish adventurer; Mawdud, a renown Seljuk general; and il-Bursuqi, one of Mawdud's officers.
Additional players were the emir Sökmen, Ilghazi's brother and one-time co-ruler of Jerusalem, and the Persian Bursuq ibn Bursuq. All three cities would be conquered in the mid-12th century by Imad al-Din Zengi, the adopted son of Kerbogha, providing a united Syrian front to the kingdom. A further complication to the Muslim world were the Assassins who originally targeted Fatimid, Abbasid and Seljuk leaders, murdering many of those listed above.
Tancred remained defiant to Baldwin until he was offered the regency of the Principality of Antioch in March 1101. For the next two years, Tancred ruled Antioch and conquered Byzantine Cilicia and parts of Syria. In 1102, Raymond of Toulouse, having fled the Crusade of 1101, traveled to Antioch, where Tancred imprisoned him, dismissed only after promising not to attempt any conquests in the country between Antioch and Acre. He immediately broke his promise, attacking and capturing Tartus, and began to build a castle on the Mons Peregrinus––Pilgrim's Mountain––which would help in his Siege of Tripoli. He was aided in his quest by Alexius I, creating the County of Tripoli, the last of the Crusader states, before the city was conquered, in order to balance the hostile state in Antioch . Raymond died in 1105 and his cousin William II Jordan continued the siege. It was successfully completed in 1109 when Raymond's son Bertrand of Toulouse arrived. Baldwin brokered a deal, sharing the territory between them, until William Jordan's death united the county. Bertrand acknowledged Baldwin's suzerainty, despite William Jordan having been Tancred's vassal. Baldwin captured Beirut in 1110, forming the Lordship of Beirut as one of the vassals of the Kingdom of Jerusalem.
The battle of Harran was fought in 1104, pitting the Crusader states of Edessa and Antioch against Jikirmish, now atabeg of Mosul, and Sökmen, commander of the Seljuk forces. The Seljuk victory also resulted in the capture of Baldwin of Bourcq, count of Edessa, and his cousin and vassal Joscelin of Courtenay. Baldwin was first taken by Sökmen, but he was soon absconded by Jikirmish. Joscelin remained in Sökmen’s custody at Ḥiṣn Kaifa. Joscelin’s subjects at Turbessel paid a ransom for his release in 1107. Jikirmish, after an unsuccessful siege at Edessa, fled with Baldwin to Mosul. Tancred, now in control of Edessa, captured a Seljuk princess of Jikirmish’s household, who then offered to pay a ransom, or to release Baldwin in return for her liberty. Bohemond and Tancred preferred the money and Baldwin remained imprisoned. Jawali Saqawa killed Jikirmish in 1106, seizing Mosul and his hostage. Freed, Joscelin began negotiations with Jawali for Baldwin's release. Expelled from Mosul by Mawdud, Jawali fled with his hostage to the fortress of Qal’at Ja’bar. Jawali, in need of allies against Mawdud, accepted Joscelin's offer, released Baldwin in the summer of 1108.
When Bohemond was ransomed in 1103, he resumed control of Antioch and continued Tancred's conflicts with the Byzantine empire. Bohemond had joined Baldwin of Bourcq in the attack at Harran in 1104, and afterward Tancred assumed the regency of Edessa, with his cousin Richard of Salerno as governor. The Byzantines had taken advantage of Bohemond's absence and retaken lands lost, and Bohemond returned to Italy on late 1104 to recruit allies and gather supplies. Tancred again assumed leadership in Antioch, while his uncle began what is known as Bohemond's Crusade (or the Crusade of 1107–1108). Bohemond crossed into the Balkans and began the failed siege of Dyrrachium of 1107–1108. The subsequent Treaty of Devol of 1108 forced Bohemond to become vassal to the emperor, restore taken lands and other onerous terms. Bohemond never returned. He died in 1111, leaving Tancred as regent to his son Bohemond II, and ignored the treaty.
The Norwegian Crusade also known as the Crusade of Sigurd Jorsalfar, king of Norway, took place from of 1107–1110. More of a pilgrimage than a crusade, it did include the participation in military action, with the king's forces participation in the siege of Sidon of 1110. Baldwin's army besieged the city by land, while the Norwegians came by sea, and the victorious Crusaders gave similar terms of surrender as given to previous victories at the siege of Arsuf in 1102 and at the siege of Acre of 1100–1104, freeing the major port of the kingdom. This crusade marked the first time a European king visited the Holy Land. The Lordship of Sidon was created and given to Eustace Grenier, later bailiff of the kingdom during Baldwin II's second captivity, described below.
Beginning in 1110, the Seljuks launched a series of attacks on the Crusader states, in particular Edessa, led by Mawdud. These included the battle of Shaizar in 1111, a stalemate. At the battle of al-Sannabra of 1113, a Crusader army led by Baldwin I was defeated by a Muslim army led by Mawdud and Toghtekin whose ultimate objective was Edessa. Mawdud was unable to annihilate the Crusader forces and was soon murdered by Assassins. Bursuq ibn Bursuq took command of the failed attempt against Edessa in 1114. Finally, Roger of Salerno routed the last Seljuk invading army at the First battle of Tell Danith on 14 September 1115.
The Knights Hospitaller and Knights Templar
Military orders like the Knights Hospitaller and Knights Templar provided Latin Christendom's first professional armies in support of the Kingdom of Jerusalem. The Hospitallers date to the 7th century, with the establishment of a hospital in Jerusalem to serve Christian pilgrims and were formalized by Paschall's papal bull Pie postulatio voluntatis in 1113. They included a military arm formed by Raymond du Puy and began to support the Crusades under Baldwin II of Jerusalem, continuing through the 16th century. The Templars were formed in 1119 in Jerusalem by Hugues de Payens, and formally codified through the bull Omne datum optimum in 1139. Templar knights, sporting distinctive white mantles with a red cross, were amongst the most skilled fighting units of the Crusades. They supported the Crusades through their dissolution in the 14th century at the infamous trial of the Knights Templar of 1307.
The reign of Baldwin II, 1118–1131
Baldwin I, a founding father of the kingdom, would not live long after the routing of the Seljuks. After building a series of castles including Krak de Montreal to control the caravan routes from Syria to Egypt, he undertook efforts to shore up the southern flank of the kingdom. Baldwin I launched an attack against Egypt in 1118. His troops attacked the city of Pelusium on the Nile, razing all of the mosques. While there, an old wound from 1103 flared up and he was taken to al-Arish in the Sinai where he died on 2 April 1118. He was buried in Jerusalem.
Baldwin II of Jerusalem became king on 14 April 1118, but was there was not a formal coronation until Christmas Day 1119 due to issues concerning his wife Morphia of Melitene. There was some dissension as to the transition since Baldwin I had willed that his brother Eustace III of Boulogne. In addition, there were significant transitions in Byzantium and the Muslim world. Alexios I Komnenos died on 15 August, with his son John II Komnenos becoming the new Byzantine emperor. Seljuk sultan Muhammad I Tapar, son of Malik-Shah I, also died that year and was succeeded in Baghdad by his son Mahmud II.
The early days of Baldwin II's reign included actions against the Egyptians and a defeat dealt to Taj al-Muluk Buri. The first major military action was the battle of Ager Sanguinis, the Field of Blood, on 28 June 1119. At Ager Sanguinis, an Artuqid army led by Ilghazi annihilated the Antiochian forces led by Roger of Salerno, a major blow to the kingdom. Roger was killed during the battle. The Muslim victory was short-lived, with Baldwin II and Pons of Tripoli narrowly defeating Ilghazi's army at the Second battle of Tell Danith on 14 August 1119.
On 16 January 1120, Baldwin II and the new patriarch Warmund of Jerusalem held the Council of Nablus, establishing a rudimentary set of rules for governing the kingdom now known as the assizes of Jerusalem. The formal establishment of the Knights Templar was likely also granted by the council, complimenting the military arm of the Knights Hospitaller that was protecting pilgrims to the Holy Land. Both military orders were accumulating holdings in the kingdom and Crusader states, with the Hospitallers eventually obtaining the famous Krak des Chevaliers, an important military and administrative center.
The Venetian Crusade, also known as the Crusade of Calixtus II, was conducted from 1122–1124. The Western participants included those from the Republic of Venice as well as Pons of Tripoli. The actions resulted in the successful siege of Tyre, taking the city from the Damascene atabeg Toghtekin. This marked a major victor for Baldwin II prior to his second captivity in 1123.
During an encounter at Sarūj in 1122, Belek Ghazi captured Joscelin of Courtenay, now count of Edessa, and Waleran of Le Puiset. The next year, as Baldwin II was leading a raid to rescue the hostages, he and a nephew were also captured and taken to Kharput. In Baldwin's absence Eustace Grenier, lord of Caesarea and Sidon, was elected constable and bailiff of Jerusalem to administer the kingdom. A group of Joscelin's Armenian supporters came to Kharput, disguising themselves as monks, and expelled the Seljuk garrison from the fortress. Joscelin left Kharput to gather troops in Turbessel and Antioch, with Baldwin II and the Armenians remaining defend the fortress. Belek returned to Kharput and forced Baldwin II to surrender. The Armenians were among those executed, with only Baldwin II, a nephew, and Waleran spared. Belek died in May 1124 and Baldwin II was seized by Ilghazi's son, Timurtash. Timurtash commenced negotiations for Baldwin's release with Joscelin’s family and Baldwin’s wife Morphia. Baldwin II was to pay a ransom and cede a number of fortresses to Timurtash. Baldwin II also promised that he would assist Timurtash against a certain Bedouin warlord. After a portion of the ransom was paid, additional hostages, to include Baldwin's youngest daughter Jovetta and Joscelin's son Joscelin II, were handed over to secure the payment of the balance, Baldwin II was released from the Citadel of Aleppo on 29 August 1124.Jovetta and Joscelin II were held by il-Bursuqi at Aleppo following Timurtash’s overthrow, and were ransomed by Baldwin II in 1125 using his spoils from the Battle of Azaz of 1125. Waleran and Baldwin’s nephew were executed.
Toghtekin died on 12 February 1128, and Baldwin II began the Crusade of 1129, also known as the Damascus Crusade, shortly thereafter. The objective was Damascus, now led by the new atabeg Taj al-Muluk Buri, the son of Toghtekin. The Crusaders were able to capture the town of Banias, but were unable to take Damascus despite coming within six miles of the town.
Bohemond II had married Alice of Jerusalem, the second daughter of Baldwin II and Morphia of Melitene, in 1126, and he joined Baldwin in his Damascus campaign. Baldwin II and Morphia married their eldest daughter Melisende of Jerusalem to Fulk V of Anjou in 1129 in anticipation of a royal succession. After Bohemond II was killed during an invasion of Cilician Armenia in early 1130, Alice wanted the city for herself. She attempted to make an alliance with Zengi, offering to marry her daughter to a Muslim prince. The messenger sent by Alice to Zengi was captured on the way by Baldwin, and was tortured and executed. Alice refused to let Baldwin enter Antioch, but some of the Antiochene nobles opened the gates for Baldwin's representatives, Fulk and Joscelin I, now Count of Edessa. Alice was expelled from Antioch, but was allowed to keep the cities that had been her dowry. Baldwin left Antioch under the regency of Joscelin I, ruling for Alice and Bohemond's daughter Constance of Antioch.
Fulk and Melisende, 1131–1143
Fulk and Melisende were crowned joint rulers of Jerusalem on 14 September 1131 in the same church where Baldwin II had been laid to rest. Fulk assumed full control of the government, excluding Melisende, as he favored fellow Angevins to the native nobility. The Crusader states to the north feared that Fulk would attempt to impose the suzerainty of Jerusalem over them, as Baldwin II had done. But as Fulk was far less powerful than his deceased father-in-law, the northern states rejected his authority. Melisende's sister Alice, exiled from Antioch, took control of Antioch once more after the death of her father. She allied with Pons of Tripoli and Joscelin II of Edessa to prevent Fulk from marching north in 1132. Fulk and Pons fought a brief battle before peace was made and Alice was exiled again. In 1134, Fulk repressed a revolt by Hugh II of Jaffa, a relative of Melisende. Taking advantage of Antioch's weakened position, Leo I of Armenia seized the Cilician plain.
The Antiochene nobility asked Fulk to propose a husband for Constance, and he selected Raymond of Poitiers, a younger son of William IX of Aquitaine. Raymond arrived in Antioch in 1136. Alice, thinking Raymond was coming to marry her, allowing him into Antioch. Instead, he and Constance were married. In 1137, Pons of Tripoli was killed battling the Damascenes, and Zengi invaded Tripoli. Fulk intervened, but Zengi's troops captured Pons' successor Raymond II of Tripoli, and besieged Fulk in the border castle of Montferrand. Fulk surrendered the castle and paid Zengi a ransom for his and Raymond's freedom. The emperor John II Komnenos reasserted Byzantine claims to Cilicia and Antioch. He compelled Raymond of Poitiers to give homage and agree that he would surrender Antioch by way of compensation if the Byzantines ever captured Aleppo, Homs, and Shaizar for him. On 20 April 1138, the Byzantines and Franks jointly besieged Aleppo and, with no success, then began the siege of Shaizar, abandoning it on 221 May 1138. Having prepared his army for a renewed attack on Antioch, John II went hunting wild boar on Mount Taurus, cutting himself with a poisoned arrow. He died on 8 April 1143 and was succeeded as emperor by his son Manuel I Komnenos.
On 13 November 1143, while the royal couple were in Acre, Fulk was killed in a hunting accident and buried at the Church of the Holy Sepulchre near his predecessors. On Christmas Day 1143, their son Baldwin III of Jerusalem was crowned co-king with his mother. Among Fulk and Melisende's other children, Amalric of Jerusalem would one day also become king, in 1163.
The rise and fall of Zengi, 1127–1146
For the first time, the advent of Imad ad-Din Zengi saw the Crusaders threatened by a Muslim ruler attempting to restore jihad to Near Eastern politics, joining the powerful Syrian emirates in a combined effort against the Franks. Zengi's father Aq Sunqur al-Hajib was governor of Aleppo under the Seljuk sultan Malik-Shah I and was beheaded by Malik's brother Tutush I for treason in 1094. At the time, Zengi was about 10 years old and brought up by Kerbogha, who later met the Crusaders at Antioch in 1098. Little is known of his early years. He became atabeg of Mosul in September 1127 and used this to expand his control to Aleppo on 18 June 1128.
When sultan Mahmud II died in 1131, a civil war for the succession occurred and, taking advantage of the chaos, Zengi marched on Baghdad to add it to his domain. He was soundly defeated and escaped thanks to the help of an otherwise obscure governor of Tikrit, Najm ad-Din Ayyub, father of Saladin and founder of the Ayyubid dynasty. Several years later, Zengi would reward the governor with a position in his army, paving the way for the 100-year Ayyubid domination of Asia Minor.
In 1135, Zengi moved against Antioch. When the Crusaders failed to put an army into the field to oppose him, he captured the Syrian towns of Atharib, Zerdana, Ma'arrat al-Numan and Kafr Tab. He defeated Fulk at the battle of Ba'rin of 1137. Afterward, he seized Ba'rin Castle which the Crusaders never recovered. In 1138, he helped repel a Frankish–Byzantine attack at the siege of Shaizar. Because of his continued efforts to seize Damascus, that city sometimes allied itself with the Kingdom of Jerusalem. In 1144, Zengi began his successful attack against the weakest of the Crusader states––Edessa. Zengi was murdered in uncertain circumstances on 14 September 1146. His legacy was continued in the Zengid dynasty, with his elder son Saif ad-Din Ghazi I succeeded him as atabeg of Mosul while a younger son Nūr-ad-Din succeeded him in Aleppo.
The Siege of Edessa, 1144
While John II Komnenos was alive, he and his army deterred the constant attacks by Zengi. Following John’s death in 1143, the Byzantine army withdrew, leaving Zengi unopposed. Fulk's death later in the year left Joscelin II of Edessa with no powerful allies to help defend Edessa. In autumn 1144, Joscelin II formed an alliance with the young emir Kara Aslan of Ḥiṣn Kaifa, grandson of Sökmen, and marched a sizable army north to assist in their struggle with Zengi. Zengi came north to begin the first siege of Edessa, arriving on 28 November 1144. The city had been warned of his arrival and was prepared for a siege, but there was little they could do but wait for Joscelin and his army.
Zengi realized there was no defending force and surrounded the city. He built siege engines and had the walls mined, and his forces were reinforced by Kurds and Turcomen. The city’s defensive towers were unmanned and, with no knowledge of counter-mine techniques, the walls collapsed on 24 December. Zengi's troops rushed into the city, killing all those who were unable to flee, and thousands were trampled to death in the panic, including Archbishop Hugh, archbishop of Edessa. All the Frankish prisoners were executed, but the native Christians were allowed to live. The Crusaders were dealt their first major defeat, lessening the number of Crusader states by one.
Second Crusade and aftermath, 1144–1187
The first of the Crusader states––Edessa––was also the first to fall, causing great consternation in Jerusalem and Western Europe and tampering the enthusiastic success of the First Crusade. Calls for a Second Crusade were immediate, and was the first led by European kings. The disastrous performance of this campaign in the Holy Land damaged the standing of the papacy, soured relations between the Christians of the kingdom and the West for many years, and encouraged the Muslims of Syria to even greater efforts to defeat the Franks. The dismal failures of this Crusade then set the stage for the fall of Jerusalem, leading to the Third Crusade. Concurrent campaigns as part of the Reconquista and Northern Crusades are also sometimes associated with this Crusade.
The response in the kingdom and Europe
Zengi, fresh from his success at Edessa, did not however pursue an attack on the remaining territory of Edessa, or on Antioch, as was feared. Events in Mosul compelled him to return home, and he once again set his sights on Damascus. However, he was assassinated by a slave and was succeeded in Aleppo by his son Nūr-ad-Din. Joscelyn II of Edessa and Baldwin of Marash recaptured the city during the Second siege of Edessa of 1146 by stealth but could not take or even properly besiege the citadel. After a brief counter-siege, Nūr-ad-Din took the city. The population was massacred, with the women and children enslaved, and the walls razed. This victory was pivotal in the rise of Zengid dynasty.
Eugene III, recently elected pope, issued the bull Quantum praedecessores on 1 December 1145, the first such papal bull issued calling for a new crusade––the Second Crusade. Hugh of Jabala, the bishop who brought the news of Edessa to the pope, also told of a Nestorian Christian king known as Prester John who would bring relief to the Crusader states. The pope did not share Hugh's enthusiasm for this savior (who was in fact mythical), but nevertheless did propose a Second Crusade meant to be more organized and centrally controlled than the First. The armies would be led by the strongest kings of Europe and a route that would be pre-planned. However, some anti-Semitic preaching of a Cistercian monk named Radulphe initiated further massacres of Jews in the Rhineland until stopped by Bernard of Clairvaux.
Eugene called on Bernard to preach the Second Crusade, granting the same indulgences which had accorded to the First Crusaders. Among those answering the call were by two European kings, Louis VII of France and Conrad III of Germany. Louis, his wife, Eleanor of Aquitaine, and many princes and lords prostrated themselves at the feet of Bernard in order to take the cross. Conrad and his nephew Frederick Barbarossa also received the cross from the hand of Bernard.
The Second Crusade, 1147–1149
Conrad III and the German contingent planned to leave for the Holy Land at Easter, but did not depart until May. When the German army began to cross Byzantine territory, emperor Manuel I had his troops posted to ensure against trouble. A brief battle of Constantinople on 10 September 1147 ensued, and their defeat at the emperor's hand convinced the Germans to move quickly to Asia Minor.
Without waiting for the French contingent, Conrad III engaged the Seljuks of Rûm under sultan Mesud I, son and successor of Kilij Arslan, the nemesis of the First Crusade. Mesud and his forces almost totally destroyed Conrad's contingent at the Second battle of Dorylaeum on 25 October 1147.
The French contingent departed in June 1147. In the meantime, Roger II of Sicily, an enemy of Conrad's, had just invaded Byzantine territory. Manuel I needed all his army to counter this force, and so both the Germans and French entered Asia without any Byzantine assistance, unlike the armies of the First Crusade. The French met the remnants of Conrad's army in northern Turkey, and Conrad joined Louis's force. They fended off a Seljuk attack at the battle of Ephesus on 24 December 1147. A few days later, they were again victorious at the battle of the Meander, late in 1147. Louis was not as lucky at the battle of Mount Cadmus on 6 January 1148, where Mesud I's army inflicted heavy losses on the Crusaders. The army limped into Adalia on 20 January shortly thereafter sailed for Antioch, almost totally destroyed by battle and sickness.
The Crusader army arrived at Antioch on 19 March 1148 with the intent on moving to retake Edessa, but Baldwin III of Jerusalem and the Knights Templar had other ideas. The Council of Acre was held on 24 June 1148, changing the objective of the Second Crusade to Damascus, a former ally of the kingdom that had shifted its allegiance to that of the Zengids. At the invitation of Altuntash, the emir of Bosra and Salkhad, the Crusaders attempted to occupy these cities, and fought the battle of Bosra with the Damascenes in the summer of 1147. The governor of Damascus Mu'in ad-Din Unur (Unur) immediately began to implement defensive measures. Bad luck and poor tactics led to the disastrous five-day siege of Damascus from 24–28 July 1148. The barons of Jerusalem withdrew support and the Crusaders retreated before the arrival of a relief army led by Zengi's sons Nūr-ad-Din and Saif ad-Din Ghazi I. Morale fell, hostility to the Byzantines grew and distrust developed between the newly arrived crusaders and those that had made the region their home after the earlier crusades. The French and German forces felt betrayed by the other, lingering for a generation due to the defeat, to the ruin of the Christian kingdoms in the Holy Land.
Campaigns in Iberia and Northern Europe, 1147
In the spring of 1147, Eugene authorized the expansion of his mission into the Iberian peninsula, equating these campaigns against the Moors with the rest of the Second Crusade. The successful Siege of Lisbon, from 1 July to 25 October 1147, was followed by the six-month siege of Tortosa, ending on 30 December 1148 with a defeat for the Moors. In the north, some Germans were reluctant to fight in the Holy Land while the pagan Wends were a more immediate problem. The resulting Wendish Crusade of 1147 was partially successful but failed to convert the pagans to Christianity.
The career of Nūr-ad-Din, 1146–1174
When Zengi died in 1146, his son Nūr-ad-Din succeeding him as the leader of the Zengid dynasty. Nūr-ad-Din and his older brother Saif ad-Din Ghazi I divided Zengi's domain of Aleppo and Mosul amongst themselves, with Damascus to be conquered later, in 1154. In the aftermath of the disastrous Second Crusade, he destroyed the Crusader army at the battle of Inab on 29 June 1149. Raymond of Poitiers, then Prince of Antioch, came to the aid of the besieged citadel. Raymond was killed and his head was presented to Nūr-ad-Din, who forwarded it to the caliph al-Muqtafi in Baghdad.
In the beginning of his rule, Nūr-ad-Din attacked Antioch, seizing several castles in the north of Syria, while at the same time defeating the attempt of Joscelin II to recover Edessa. In 1147, he signed a treaty with Unur, regent to Mujir ad-Din Abaq, the Burid governor of Damascus. He also married Unur's daughter Ismat ad-Din Khatun. Unur's truce with Jerusalem's was tested with the battle of Bosra in 1147, the first military action of the new king Baldwin III of Jerusalem. Unur turned to his new Zengid ally to help repel the Crusaders. His truce restored, Unur was suspicious of Nūr-ad-Din's intentions who then curtailed his stay in Damascus and turned instead towards the Principality of Antioch, where he was able to seize Artah, Kafar Latha, Basarfut, and Bara.
In 1150, he defeated Joscelin II of Edessa for a final time, after allying with Mas'ud I, the son of Kilij Arslan. Joscelin was publicly blinded and died in his prison in Aleppo in 1159. At the battle of Aintab in August 1150, Nūr-ad-Din tried but failed to prevent Baldwin III's evacuation of the residents of Turbessel. The unconquered portions of the County of Edessa would nevertheless fall to the Zengids within a few years. In 1152, Raymond II of Tripoli became the first Frankish victim of the Assassins. Later that year, Nūr-ad-Din captured and burned Tortosa, briefly occupying the town, before it was taken by the Knights Templar as a military headquarters.
After the siege of Ascalon ended on 22 August 1153 with a Crusader victory, Mujir ad-Din forbade Nūr-ad-Din from travelling across his territory, paying an annual tribute in exchange for protection provided by Jerusalem. Mujir ad-Din was overthrown by Nūr-ad-Din in 1154, uniting all of Syria under Zengid rule. Ever cautious, he did not antagonize Jerusalem, continuing the annual tribute. On 18 May 1157, Nūr-ad-Din began a siege on the Knights Hospitaller at Banias, with the Grand Master Bertrand de Blanquefort captured. Baldwin III was able to break the siege, only to be ambushed at Jacob's Ford in June 1157. Reinforcements from Antioch and Tripoli were able to relieve the besieged Crusaders. Bertrand's captivity lasted until 1159, when emperor Manuel I negotiated an alliance with Nūr-ad-Din against the Seljuks against Baldwin III's wishes. Nūr-ad-Din, allied with the Danishmends, attacked the Seljuk sultan Kilij Arslan II from the east the next year, while Manuel I attacked from the west.
His intervention in the First Crusader invasion of Egypt in 1163 allowed his general Shirkuh accompanied by his nephew Saladin to enter Egypt. Banias, long a target of Nūr-ad-Din, was finally captured in 1164. He died on 15 May 1174 and was buried in the Nūr-ad-Din Madrasa in Damascus. He was succeeded by his son As-Salih Ismail al-Malik at Damascus and Aleppo. Saladin declared himself his vassal, but would soon unite Syria and Egypt under his own rule.
The Kingdom of Jerusalem from Baldwin III through Sibylla, 1143–1190
Baldwin III of Jerusalem was crowned co-king with his mother Melisende on Christmas Day 1143 shortly after the death of his father Fulk of Jerusalem. Just 13 year old when he ascended to the throne, he immediately had to deal with the loss of Edessa in 1144 and the Second Crusade through 1149. He engaged his mother in a civil war from 1152–1154, with the two eventually reconciling. He was responsible for the military first success after the Second Crusade, the siege of Ascalon of 1153, resulting in the capture of a strategic fortress from the Fatimids. In 1156, Baldwin was forced into a treaty with Nūr-ad-Din, and later entered into an alliance with the Byzantine Empire. Melisende died on 11 September 1161, and Baldwin succumbed two years later on 10 February 1163. Childless, he was succeeded by his brother, Amalric.
Amalric of Jerusalem was crowned as King of Jerusalem on 18 February 1163. He married Agnes of Courtenay and, after an annulment, Maria Komnene. Three of Amalric's children would assume the throne of Jerusalem. He undertook a series of four invasions of Egypt from 1163–1169, taking advantage of weaknesses of the Fatimids. The campaign was generally indecisive, but did lay the groundwork for the takeover of Egypt by Saladin in 1171. Amalric died at a young age, on 11 July 1174, and was succeeded by his son Baldwin IV of Jerusalem.
Baldwin IV of Jerusalem became king on 5 July 1174 at the age of 13. As a leper he was not expected to live long, and served with a number of regents, and served as co-ruler with his cousin Baldwin V of Jerusalem beginning in 1183. Baldwin IV's rule began simultaneously with the death of Nūr-ad-Din and the rise of Saladin. Notably, Baldwin and Raynald of Châtillon defeated Saladin at the celebrated battle of Montgisard on 25 November 1177, and repelled his attacks at the battle of Belvoir Castle in 1182 and later in the siege of Kerak of 1183. He died on 6 March 1185.
Baldwin V of Jerusalem became sole king upon the death of his uncle in 1185 under the regency of Raymond III of Tripoli. Raymond negotiated a truce with Saladin which went awry when Baldwin V died in the summer of 1186. He was succeeded in the kingdom by his mother Sibylla of Jerusalem—daughter of Amalric—and his stepfather, the French knight Guy of Lusignan.
Sibylla of Jerusalem and Guy of Lusignan were crowned as queen and king of Jerusalem in the summer of 1186, shortly after the death of Baldwin V. They immediately had to deal with the threat posed by Saladin, and, in particular the battle of Hattin in 1187. During the battle Guy was captured, and remained in Saladin's custody until 1188. After the fall of Jerusalem, Sibylla fled to Tripoli, later meeting up with Guy in Acre to meet the vanguard of the Third Crusade. She died on 25 July 1190.
The rise of Saladin, 1137–1193
Saladin was a Kurd born in 1137 in Tikrit, a city in Iraq whose district is named Salah ad-Din after him. His father was Najm ad-Din Ayyub served as the warden of the city and had aided Zengi after his aborted attempt at Baghdad. Zengi in turn appointed Ayyub commander of his fortress in Baalbek. Saladin's military career began his uncle Shirkuh, a commander under Nūr-ad-Din. In 1163, Shawar, the vizier to the Fatimid caliph al-Adid, had been driven out of Egypt and requested help from Nūr-ad-Din, who dispatched Shirkuh, accompanied by Saladin. Shawar, once reinstated as vizier, demanded that Shirkuh withdraw from Egypt but he refused. Shawar then allied with Amalric I of Jerusalem, attacking Shirkuh at the second siege of Bilbeis in August–October 1164, following Amalric's unsuccessful first siege in September 1163.
After the sacking of Bilbais, the Crusader-Egyptian force was to meet Shirkuh's army in the indecisive battle of al-Babein on 18 March 1167. Saladin commanded the right-wing of the Zengid army,. The Crusader force enjoyed early successes, but the terrain was ill-suited for their horses, and commander Hugh Grenier was captured while attacking Saladin's unit. Hugh was released after a truce was reached.
In 1169, Shawar was assassinated by Saladin, Shirkuh died later that year, and al-Adid appointed Saladin as vizier. At the end of 1169, Saladin, with reinforcements from Nūr-ad-Din, defeated a massive Crusader-Byzantine force at the siege of Damietta. Nūr-ad-Din died in 1174, the first Muslim to unite Aleppo and Damascus in the crusading era. Saladin assumed control and was become the pre-eminent Muslim ruler in the eastern Mediterranean. This new power gained Saladin the attention of the Assassins, with attempts on his life in January 1175 and again on 22 May 1176.
In November 1177, Baldwin and Raynald of Châtillon defeated Saladin with the help of the Knights Templar at the celebrated battle of Montgisard. In August 1179, the unfinished castle at Jacob's Ford fell to Saladin, with the slaughter of half its Templar garrison. The kingdom began to harass the trading caravans travelling between Egypt and Damascus. After Saladin retaliated for these attacks in the campaign but was defeated at the battle of Belvoir Castle in 1182 and later in the siege of Kerak of 1183.
While Nūr-ad-Din's territories fragmented, Saladin legitimised his ascent by positioning himself as a defender of Sunni Islam, subservient to both Baghdad and to Nūr-ad-Din's son As-Salih Ismail al-Malik. He claimed to be the young prince's regent until the boy died seven years later, at which point Saladin seized Damascus and much of Syria but failed to take Aleppo. After building a defensive force to resist a planned attack by the Kingdom of Jerusalem that never materialised, his first contest with the Latin Christians was not a success. Overconfidence and tactical errors had led to his defeat at the battle of Montgisard in 1177. Despite this setback, Saladin established a domain stretching from the Nile to the Euphrates through a decade of politics, coercion and low-level military action.
The Battle of Hattin and the loss of Jerusalem, 1187
The ultimate fall of Jerusalem was due to a variety of reasons, including the rise of Saladin and the internal problems of the kingdom. In 1186, Saladin's survival of a life-threatening illness provided the motivation to make good on his propaganda as the champion of Islam. He increased campaigning against the Latin Christians. Guy of Lusignan responded by raising the largest army that Jerusalem had ever put into the field. Saladin lured the force into inhospitable terrain without water supplies, surrounded the Latins with a superior force, and routed them at the battle of Hattin on 4 July 1187. One of the major commanders was Raymond III of Tripoli who saw his force slaughtered, with some knights deserting to the enemy, and narrowly escaping, only to be regarded as a traitor and coward. Guy was one of the very few captives spared by Saladin after the battle, along with Raynald of Châtillon and Humphrey IV of Toron. Raynald was beheaded, settling an old score. Guy and Humphrey were imprisoned in Damascus and later released in 1188.
As a result of his victory, much of Palestine quickly fell to Saladin. After a short five-day siege of Jerusalem from 20 September 20 to 2 October 1187, Balian of Ibelin surrendered the Holy City to Saladin. According to some, on 19 October 1187, Urban III died upon of hearing of the defeat. Jerusalem was once again in Muslim hand.
Third Crusade, 1187–1197
The years following the Kingdom of Jerusalem were met with multiple disasters. The Second Crusade did not achieve its goals and left the Muslim East in a stronger position, with the rise of Saladin. A united Egypt-Syria saw the loss of Jerusalem itself, and Western Europe had no choice but to launch the Third Crusade, this time led by the kings of Europe.
The call for a Crusade, 1187
The news of the disastrous defeat at Hattin and subsequent fall of Jerusalem gradually reached Western Europe. Urban III died shortly after hearing the news, and his successor Gregory VIII issued the bull Audita tremendi on 29 October 1187 describing the terrible events in the East and urging all Christians to take up arms and go to the aid of those in the Kingdom of Jerusalem. In his view, the capture of Jerusalem was punishment for the sins of Christians across Europe, calling for a new crusade to the Holy Land––the Third Crusade. Crusaders would receive generous benefits, including release from penance imposed for all sins for which they had made proper confession. Archbishop Joscius of Tyre traveled to the West to seek aid and was given papal permission to preach the Crusade in Northern Europe. In January 1188, he succeeded in negotiating a peace settlement between Philip II of France and Henry II of England, in which both kings agreed to take the cross and lead a joint expedition to the East. Financing for the Crusade by the English and, to some extent, the French, came from a levy known as the Saladin tithe. Henry's death left the Third Crusade to his son and successor Richard I the Lionheart. A German contingent under Holy Roman Emperor Frederick I Barbarossa was also forming.
The Sieges of Tyre and Acre, 1187–1190
By the fall of 1187, much of the Holy Land had been lost to Saladin. The remnants of the Crusader army retreated to Tyre, one of the last major cities still in Christian hands. Reginald Grenier, Count of Sidon, was in the process of negotiating its surrender with Saladin, but for the arrival of Conrad of Montferrat who assuming leadership. Saladin's army arrived on 12 November 1187, beginning the siege of Tyre. The fighting was intense, with multiple siege engines attacking the city's walls, while the ships of the Crusaders harassed the attacking army. Attempting to win the siege with sea power at sea, Saladin summoned a fleet of galleys that some initial successes, but the Christian fleet iinflicted a decisive defeat on the Muslim force. After another attempt to take the city, Saladin decided to retire to Acre, ending the siege ended on 1 January 1188.
Saladin released Guy of Lusignan from prison in 1189, and he attempted to take command of the Christian forces at Tyre, but Conrad held power there after his successful defence of the city from Muslim attacks. He then turned his attention to the wealthy port of Acre. Guy of Lusignan attempted to recover Acre from Saladin by beginning the siege of Acre on 28 August 1189. He amassed an army to besiege the city and received aid from Philip's newly arrived French army. The combined armies were not enough to counter Saladin, however, whose forces besieged the besiegers. The crusaders became so deprived at times they are thought to have resorted to cannibalism. The situation at Acre was not to resolved until the arrival of Richard the Lionheart in June 1191.
In summer 1190, in one of the numerous outbreaks of disease in the camp, Sibylla of Jerusalem and her young daughters died. Guy, although only king by right of marriage, endeavoured to retain his crown, although the rightful heir was Sibylla's half-sister Isabella of Jerusalem. After a hastily arranged divorce from Humphrey IV of Toron, Isabella was married to Conrad of Montferrat, who claimed the kingship in her name.
Crusade of Frederick Barbarossa, 1190
By November 1187, Frederick Barbarossa received pleas from the rulers of the Crusader states urging him to join the Crusade. He expressed his support but declined to take the cross because of his ongoing conflict with the archbishop of Cologne. He did urge Philip II of France to take the cross, meeting with him in December. On 27 March 1188, at the Curia Christi, Frederick asked the assembly whether he should take the cross to universal acclaim. At the universal acclaim of the assembly, he took the crusader's vow. His son Frederick VI of Swabia, followed suit, whereas his eldest Henry VI of Germany remained behind as regent. The army was scheduled to assemble on 23 April 1189.
In 1189, Frederick sent an ultimatum to the sultan, demanding the return of Palestine and challenging him to battle. He then received various envoys, with the Hungarians and Seljuks promising provisions and safe-conduct, and the Serbians. The envoys of Serbia announced that the grand prince would receive Frederick and an agreement was finally reached, with some difficulty, with Byzantium. On 11 May 1189, Frederick's host departed from Germany, passing through Hungary, Serbia, and Bulgaria before entering Byzantine territory. Matters were complicated by a secret alliance between the emperor Isaac II Angelos and Saladin. While in Hungary, Frederick asked the prince Géza, brother of the king, to join the Crusade, and a Hungarian army led by Géza escorted the emperor's forces.
In the autumn of 1189, Frederick camped in Philippopolis, then in Adrianople to avoid the winters of Anatolia. There he received imprisoned German emissaries who were held in Constantinople, and exchanged hostages with Isaac II, as a guarantee that the crusaders do not sack local settlements until they depart the Byzantine territory. In March 1190, Frederick left Adrianople to Gallipoli at the Dardanelles to embark to Asia Minor. The armies coming from western Europe pushed on through Anatolia, where they were victorious at the battle of Philomelium and defeated the Turks in the battle of Iconium, eventually reaching as far as Cilician Armenia. The approach of Frederick's army concerned Saladin who was forced to weaken his force at the siege of Acre and send troops to the north to block the arrival of the Germans.
Frederick took the local Armenians' advice to follow a shortcut along the Saleph river while his army traversed a mountain route. On 10 June 1190, he drowned near Silifke Castle. His death caused several thousand German soldiers to leave the force and return home. The remaining army was struck with an onset of disease near Antioch, weakening it further. A third of the original force, arrived in Acre. Frederick VI of Swabia took over command of the remnants of the German army, with the aim of burying the emperor in Jerusalem, but efforts to preserve his body failed. His various earthly remains were spread among the Church of St. Peter in Antioch, a cathedral of Tyre, and Saint Paul's Church in Tarsus. The remaining German army moved under the command of the English and French forces that arrived shortly thereafter.
Crusade of Richard the Lionheart, 1187–1192
Richard the Lionheart had already taken the cross as the Count of Poitou in 1187. His father Henry II of England and Philip II of France had done so on 21 January 1188 after receiving news of the fall of Jerusalem to Saladin. After Richard became king, he and Philip agreed to go on the Third Crusade, since each feared that during his absence the other might usurp his territories.
Travelling by sea, they arrived in Sicily in September 1190. After the death of William II of Sicily in 1189, his cousin Tancred of Lecce had seized power imprisoned William's widow, Joan of England, Richard's sister. Richard demanded her return, along with her dowry. When Tancred balked at these demands, Richard attacked the city of Messina, capturing it on 4 October 1190. Tancred agreed to the terms. In March 1191, Eleanor of Aquitaine arrived in Messina with Richard's fiancé Berengaria of Navarre. Richard established his base there, remaining until Tancred signed a treaty on 4 March 1191.
In April 1191 Richard left for Acre, but a storm dispersed his fleet, with the ship carrying Joan and Berengaria anchored off Cyprus, along with the wrecks of several other vessels, including the treasure ship. Survivors of the wrecks had been taken prisoner by the island's ruler, Isaac Komnenos. On 1 May 1191, Richard arrived at Limassol, demanding that Isaac to release the prisoners and treasure. Isaac refused, so Richard landed his troops and took the city. Various princes of the Holy Land arrived in Limassol at the same time, in particular Guy of Lusignan. All declared their support for Richard provided that he support Guy against his rival, Conrad of Montferrat. Guy led Richard's troops in conquering the island on 5 June 1191. Richard, married to Berengaria on 12 May 1191, left for Acre, arriving on 8 June 1191. Cyprus was later sold to the Knights Templar.
Richard immediately led his support to the stalemated siege of Acre. Philip II had arrived separately on 20 April 1191, and the Muslim defenders surrendered on 12 July 1191. Richard remained in sole command of the Crusader force after the departure of Philip II on 31 July 1191. On 20 August 1191, Richard had the more than 2000 prisoners beheaded at the so-called massacre of Ayyadieh. Saladin subsequently ordered the execution of his Christian prisoners in retaliation.
Richard moved south, defeating Saladin's forces at the battle of Arsuf on 7 September 1191. The Muslim army suffered considerable casualties, but was not destroyed. Three days later, Richard took Jaffa, held by Saladin since 1187, and advanced inland towards Jerusalem. He offered to begin negotiations with Saladin, who sent his brother Al-Adil as him emissary. Negotiations, which included attempts to marry Richard's sister Joan of England or niece Eleanor of Brittany to Al-Adil, failed (both women refused) and Richard marched to Ascalon, recently demolished by Saladin.
In November 1191, Richard's army advanced inland towards Jerusalem, and on 12 December Saladin disbanded the greater part of his army. Learning this, Richard pushed his army forward, to within 12 miles from Jerusalem before retreating back to the coast. The spring of 1192 saw continued negotiations and skirmishing between the opposing forces. On 22 May 1192, the fortress at Darum on the frontiers of Egypt fell to the Crusaders and the army made another advance on Jerusalem, coming within sight of the city in June before being forced to retreat again, due to dissention amongst its leaders. Richard wanted to force Saladin to relinquish Jerusalem by attacking the basis of his power through an invasion of Egypt. The leader of the French contingent, the Hugh III of Burgundy, however, was adamant that a direct attack on Jerusalem should be made. This split the Crusader army into two factions, and neither was strong enough to achieve its objective. Without a united command the army had little choice but to retreat back to the coast.
On 27 July 1192, Saladin's army began the battle of Jaffa, capturing the city. Richard's forces stormed Jaffa from the sea and the Muslims were driven from the city. Attempts to retake Jaffa failed and Saladin was forced to retreat. This battle greatly strengthened the position of the coastal Crusader states.
On 2 September 1192, following this defeat, Richard and Saladin entered into the Treaty of Jaffa, providing that Jerusalem would remain under Muslim control, while allowing unarmed Christian pilgrims and traders to freely visit the city. The Christians would hold the coast from Tyre to Jaffa, practically reducing the Latin kingdom to the corresponding coastal strip. This treaty ended the Third Crusade and Richard departed the Holy Land on 9 October 1192.
Saladin died in Damascus of a fever on 4 March 1193, not long after Richard's departure. Despite the inevitable quarrels over the Ayyubid succession, the Ayyubid dynasty would rule Egypt, Syria and Arabia for much of the next century before succumbing to the Mamluks in the East and Mongols in the West. Richard was imprisoned and ransomed for a time after his leaving the Holy Land under suspicion of complicity in the murder of Conrad of Montferrat by Assassins in 1192. He was released by Holy Roman Emperor Henry VI on 4 February 1194.
Crusade of 1197
Three years later, Henry VI launched the Crusade of 1197, also known the German Crusade, in response to his father's aborted crusade that ended in 1190. While his forces were en route to the Holy Land, Henry VI died in Messina on 28 September 1197. The emerging succession conflict between his brother Philip of Swabia and his rivals caused many higher-ranking Crusaders return to Germany in order to protect their interests. The nobles that remained captured the Levant coast between Tyre and Tripoli before returning to Germany. The Crusade ended on 1 July 1198 after capturing Sidon and Beirut from the Muslim defenders, now commanded by Saladin's brother Al-Adil.
The Kingdom of Acre from Isabella through Almaric II, 1190–1212
The Third Crusade began with Sibylla and Guy of Lusignan co-rulers of the reconstituted Kingdom of Acre. With Sibylla's death in 1190, Guy no longer had claim to the throne, had he become the first King of Cyprus with Richard's help. The rulers of the kingdom through 1212 were as follows.
Isabella I was sister to Sibylla and so became heiress to the kingdom upon her death, sometime after 25 July 1190. After much political haranguing, she married Conrad of Montferrat on 24 November 1190, with him become de jure king. In April 1192, Conrad was elected king but on 28 April 1192, he was felled by two Assassins before he could be crowned. Richard was suspected as supported the murder, a suspicion that remains unproven.
Henry I of Jerusalem became king on 5 May 1192 when he married Isabella. At 20 years younger that his wife, Henry was the nephew of both Richard I of England and Philip II of France, but did not use the royal title. He died in Acre on 10 September 1197 after a fall from his window at the palace in Acre.
Almaric II of Lusignan was Isabella's next husband, and they were crowned king and queen of in January 1198. A former commander at the Battle of Hattin of 1187 as well as King of Cyprus since the death of Guy of Lusignan in 1194, his rule was a period of peace and stability in both of his realms. In particular, he signed a truce with Al-Adil, now Ayyubid sultan of Egypt in 1198 which secured the Christian possession of the coastline from Acre to Antioch. He died on 1 April 1205. His son Hugh I of Cyprus succeeded him in Cyprus, while Isabella I continued to rule the Kingdom of Jerusalem. Isabella died four days later on 5 April 1205 and was succeeded by her daughter by Conrad, Maria of Montferrat, who served through 1212, with her husband John of Brienne after 1210.
Fourth Crusade and the Latin Empire, 1197–1204
Fourth Crusade, 1202–1204
In 1198, the recently elected Pope Innocent III announced a new crusade, organised by three Frenchmen: Theobald of Champagne; Louis of Blois; and Baldwin of Flanders. After Theobald's premature death, the Italian Boniface of Montferrat replaced him as the new commander of the campaign. They contracted with the Republic of Venice for the transportation of 30,000 crusaders at a cost of 85,000 marks. However, many chose other embarkation ports and only around 15,000 arrived in Venice. The Doge of Venice Enrico Dandolo proposed that Venice would be repaid with the profits of future conquests beginning with the seizure of the Christian city of Zara. Pope Innocent III's role was ambivalent. He only condemned the attack when the siege started. He withdrew his legate to disassociate from the attack but seemed to have accepted it as inevitable. Historians question whether for him, the papal desire to salvage the crusade may have outweighed the moral consideration of shedding Christian blood. The crusade was joined by King Philip of Swabia, who intended to use the Crusade to install his exiled brother-in-law, Alexios IV Angelos, as Emperor. This required the overthrow of Alexios III Angelos, the uncle of Alexios IV. Alexios IV offered the crusade 10,000 troops, 200,000 marks and the reunion of the Greek Church with Rome if they toppled his uncle Emperor Alexios III.
The sack of Constantinople
When the crusade entered Constantinople, Alexios III fled and was replaced by his nephew. The Greek resistance prompted Alexios IV to seek continued support from the crusade until he could fulfil his commitments. This ended with his murder in a violent anti-Latin revolt. The crusaders were without ships, supplies or food, leaving them with little option other than to take by force what Alexios had promised. The Sack of Constantinople involved three days of pillaging churches and killing much of the Greek Orthodox Christian populace. While not unusual behaviour for the time, contemporaries such as Innocent III and Ali ibn al-Athir saw it as an atrocity against centuries of classical and Christian civilisation.
The majority of the crusaders considered continuation of the crusade impossible. Many lacked the desire for further campaigning and the necessary Byzantine logistical support was no longer available. The result was that the Fourth Crusade never came within 1,000 miles (1,600 km) of its objective of Jerusalem. Instead it increased Latin territory in the East including Constantinople, demonstrated that poor organisation could wreck an expedition and set a precedent that crusades could legitimately attack not only Muslims but other enemies of the Papacy. A council of six Venetians and six Franks partitioned the territorial gains, establishing a Latin Empire. Baldwin became Emperor of seven-eighths of Constantinople, Thrace, northwest Anatolia and the Aegean Islands. Venice gained a maritime domain including the remaining portion of the city. Boniface received Thessalonika, and his conquest of Attica and Boeotia formed the Duchy of Athens. His vassals, William of Champlitte and Geoffrey of Villehardouin, conquered Morea, establishing the Principality of Achaea. Both Baldwin and Boniface died fighting the Bulgarians, leading the papal legate to release the crusaders from their obligations. As many as a fifth of the crusaders continued to Palestine via other routes, including a large Flemish fleet. Joining King Aimery on campaign they forced al-Adil into a six-year truce.
Latin Empire of Constantinople
The Latin states established were a fragile patchwork of petty realms threatened by Byzantine successor states—the Despotate of Epirus, the Empire of Nicaea and the Empire of Trebizond. Thessaloniki fell to Epirus in 1224, and Constantinople to Nicaea in 1261. Achaea and Athens survived under the French after the Treaty of Viterbo. The Venetians endured a long-standing conflict with the Ottoman Empire until the final possessions were lost in the Seventh Ottoman–Venetian War in the 18th century. This period of Greek history is known as the Frankokratia or Latinokratia ("Frankish or Latin rule") and designates a period when western European Catholics ruled Orthodox Byzantine Greeks.
Struggle for Recovery: Fifth and Sixth Crusades, 1205–1247
In the 13th century the Mongols became a new military threat to the Christian and Islamic worlds. They defeated the Seljuks and threatened the crusader states while sweeping west from Mongolia through southern Russia, Poland and Hungary. The Mongols were predominately pagans, but some were Nestorian Christians giving the Papacy hope they were possible allies. Saladin's brother Al-Adil supplanted Saladin's sons in the Ayyubid succession, but lacked the authority required to unite the Muslim world of his brother. As a result, the kingdom of Jerusalem revived in a period of peace between 1194 and 1217. in 1213, Innocent III called for another Crusade at the Fourth Lateran Council. In the papal bull Quia maior he codified existing practice in preaching, recruitment and financing the crusades. The plenary indulgence was defined as forgiveness of the sins confessed to a priest for those who fought in, or even provided funding for, crusades. Geoffrey Chaucer's The Pardoner's Tale may demonstrate a cynical view of vow commutation but it was a pragmatic approach that led to more people taking the cross and raising more money in the following century than in the previous hundred years. Innocent died and in 1217 crusading resumed on the expiration of a number of treaties.
Fifth Crusade, 1217–1221
A force—primarily raised from Hungary, Germany, Flanders—led by King Andrew II of Hungary and Leopold VI, Duke of Austria achieved little in what is categorised as the Fifth Crusade. The strategy was to attack Egypt because it was isolated from the other Islamic power centres, it would be easier to defend and was self-sufficient in food. Leopold and John of Brienne, the King of Jerusalem and later Latin Emperor of Constantinople, besieged and captured Damietta, but an army advancing into Egypt was compelled to surrender. Damietta was returned, and an eight-year truce agreed.
Sixth Crusade, 1228–1229
Holy Roman Emperor Frederick II was excommunicated for frequently breaking an obligation to the pope to join the crusade. In 1225, his marriage to Isabella II of Jerusalem, John of Brienne's daughter and heir, meant he had a claim to the kingdom of Jerusalem. In 1227 he embarked on crusade but was forced to abandon it due to illness but in 1228 he finally reached Acre. Culturally, Frederick was the Christian monarch most empathetic to the Muslim world, having grown up in Sicily, with a Muslim bodyguard and even a harem. Despite his excommunication by Pope Gregory IX, his diplomatic skills meant the Sixth Crusade was largely a negotiation supported by force. A peace treaty granted Latin Christians most of Jerusalem and a strip of territory that linked the city to Acre. The Muslims controlled their sacred sites and an alliance was made with Al-Kamil, Sultan of Egypt, against all his enemies of whatever religion. This treaty, and suspicions about Frederick's ambitions in the region, made him unpopular, and when Pope Gregory IX attacked his Italian domains he was compelled to return and defend them.
Barons' Crusade, 1239–1241
The conflict between the Holy Roman Empire and the papacy meant that the responsibility for the campaigns in the Crusader states often fell to secular, rather than papal, leadership. What is known as the Barons' Crusade was led first by Count Theobald I of Navarre and when he returned to Europe, by the king of England's brother, Richard of Cornwall. The death of Sultan al-Kamil and resulting succession conflict in Egypt and Syria allowed the crusaders to follow Frederick's tactics of combining forceful diplomacy with playing rival factions off against each other. Jerusalem was sparsely populated but in Christian hands and the kingdom's territorial reach was the same as before the 1187 disaster at Hattin. This brief renaissance for Frankish Jerusalem was illusory. The Jerusalem nobility rejected the succession of the Emperor's son to the kingdom's throne. The kingdom could no longer rely on the resources of the Holy Roman Empire and was left dependent on Ayyubid division, the crusading orders and other western aid for survival.
The Mongols displaced a central Turkish Asian people, the Khwarazmian, providing Al-Kamil's son As-Salah with useful allies. The Khwarazmians captured Jerusalem and only 300 Christian refugees reached safety at Ramla. A combined Egyptian-Khwarazmian army then defeated a Frankish-Damascene army at the battle of La Forbie. This was the last occasion the Crusader State nobility had the resources to put an army in the field. The Patriarch of Jerusalem put the total losses at 16,000; only 36 out of 348 Templars, 26 out of 351 Hospitallers and 3 out of 400 Teutonic knights escaped alive.
Crusades of Saint Louis and Edward I, 1249–1290
Seventh Crusade, 1248–1254
Politics in the 13th-century eastern Mediterranean were complex, with numerous powerful and interested parties. The French were led by the very devout Louis IX, king of France, and his ambitiously expansionist brother Charles. Communication with the Mongols was hindered by the enormous distances involved. Louis sent an embassy to the Mongols in Iran in 1249 seeking a Franco-Mongol alliance. When the reply found him in Palestine in 1251 it was again only a demand for tribute. Louis organised a new crusade, called the Seventh Crusade, to attack Egypt, arriving in 1249. He was defeated at Mansura and captured as he retreated to Damietta. Another ten-year truce was agreed. Louis and his nobles were ransomed while the other prisoners were given a choice between conversion to Islam or beheading. He remained in Syria until 1254 to consolidate the crusader states. A brutal power struggle developed in Egypt between various Mamluk leaders and the remaining weak Ayyubid rulers. The Mamluks were slave soldiers that had been used by Muslim rulers for centuries. Most of them were Turks from the Eurasian Steppe or Christians from Anatolia; kidnapped as boys, converted to Islam and given military training. The threat presented by an invasion by the Mongols led to Qutuz seizing the sultanate in 1259 and uniting with another faction led by Baibars to defeat the Mongols at Ain Jalut. The Mamluks then quickly gained control of Damascus and Aleppo before Qutuz was assassinated, most probably by Baibers.
Eighth Crusade, 1270
Between 1265 and 1271, Sultan Baibars drove the Franks to a few small coastal outposts. Baibars had three key objectives: to prevent an alliance between the Latins and the Mongols, to cause dissension among the Mongols (particularly between the Golden Horde and the Persian Ilkhanate), and to maintain access to a supply of slave recruits from the Russian steppes. He supported King Manfred of Sicily's failed resistance to the attack of Charles and the papacy. Dissention in the crusader states led to conflicts such as the War of Saint Sabas. Venice drove the Genoese from Acre to Tyre where they continued to trade with Baibars' Egypt. Indeed, Baibars negotiated free passage for the Genoese with Michael VIII Palaiologos, Emperor of Nicaea, the newly restored ruler of Constantinople. In 1270 Charles turned his brother King Louis IX's crusade, known as the Eighth, to his own advantage by persuading him to attack his rebel Arab vassals in Tunis. The crusader army was devastated by disease, and Louis himself died at Tunis on 25 August. The fleet returned to France.
Lord Edward's Crusade, 1271–1272
Prince Edward, the future king of England, and a small retinue arrived too late for the conflict but continued to the Holy Land in what is known as the Ninth Crusade. Edward survived an assassination attempt, negotiated a ten-year truce, and then returned to manage his affairs in England. This ended the last significant crusading effort in the eastern Mediterranean.
The causes of the decline in crusading and the failure of the crusader states are multi-faceted. The nature of crusades was unsuited to the defence of the Holy Land. Crusaders were on a personal pilgrimage and usually returned when it was completed. Although the ideology of crusading changed over time, crusades continued to be conducted without centralised leadership by short-lived armies led by independently minded potentates, but the crusader states needed large standing armies. Religious fervour was difficult to direct and control even though it enabled significant feats of military endeavour. Political and religious conflict in Europe combined with failed harvests reduced Europe's interest in Jerusalem. The distances involved made the mounting of crusades and the maintenance of communications difficult. It enabled the Islamic world, under the charismatic leadership of Zengi, Nur al-Din, Saladin, the ruthless Baibars and others, to use the logistical advantages of proximity.
Decline and fall of the Crusader States, 1291
The causes of the decline in crusading and the failure of the crusader states are multi-faceted. Historians have attempted to explain this in terms of Muslim reunification and jihadi enthusiasm but Thomas Asbridge, amongst others, considers this too simplistic. Muslim unity was sporadic and the desire for jihad ephemeral. The nature of crusades was unsuited to the conquest and defence of the Holy Land. Crusaders were on a personal pilgrimage and usually returned when it was completed. Although the philosophy of crusading changed over time, the crusades continued to be conducted by short-lived armies led by independently minded potentates, rather than with centralised leadership. What the crusader states needed were large standing armies. Religious fervour enabled significant feats of military endeavour but proved difficult to direct and control. Succession disputes and dynastic rivalries in Europe, failed harvests and heretical outbreaks, all contributed to reducing Latin Europe's concerns for Jerusalem. Ultimately, even though the fighting was also at the edge of the Islamic world, the huge distances made the mounting of crusades and the maintenance of communications insurmountably difficult. It enabled the Islamic world, under the charismatic leadership of Zengi, Nur al-Din, Saladin, the ruthless Baibars and others, to use the logistical advantages of proximity to victorious effect.
The mainland Crusader states were finally extinguished with the fall of Tripoli in 1289 and Acre in 1291. It is reported that many Latin Christians evacuated to Cyprus by boat, were killed or enslaved. Despite this, Ottoman census records of Byzantine churches show that most parishes in the former Crusader states survived at least until the 16th century and remained Christian.
The military expeditions undertaken by European Christians in the 11th, 12th, and 13th centuries to recover the Holy Land from Muslims provided a template for warfare in other areas that also interested the Latin Church. These included the 12th and 13th century conquest of Muslim Al-Andalus by Spanish Christian kingdoms; 12th to 15th century German Northern Crusades expansion into the pagan Baltic region; the suppression of non-conformity, particularly in Languedoc during what has become called the Albigensian Crusade and for the Papacy's temporal advantage in Italy and Germany that are now known as political crusades. In the 13th and 14th centuries there were also unsanctioned, but related popular uprisings to recover Jerusalem known variously as Shepherds' or Children's crusades.
Urban II equated the crusades for Jerusalem with the ongoing Catholic invasion of the Iberian Peninsula and crusades were preached in 1114 and 1118, but it was Pope Callixtus II who proposed dual fronts in Spain and the Middle East in 1122. By the time of the Second Crusade the three Spanish kingdoms were powerful enough to conquer Islamic territory—Castile, Aragon and Portugal. In 1212 the Spanish were victorious at the Battle of Las Navas de Tolosa with the support of 70,000 foreign fighters responding to the preaching of Innocent III. Many of these deserted because of the Spanish tolerance of the defeated Muslims, for whom the Reconquista was a war of domination rather than extermination. In contrast the Christians formerly living under Muslim rule called Mozarabs had the Roman Rite relentlessly imposed on them and were absorbed into mainstream Catholicism. Al-Andalus, Islamic Spain, was completely suppressed in 1492 when the Emirate of Granada surrendered.
In 1147, Pope Eugene III extended Calixtus's idea by authorising a crusade on the German north-eastern frontier against the pagan Wends from what was primarily economic conflict. From the early 13th century, there was significant involvement of military orders, such as the Livonian Brothers of the Sword and the Order of Dobrzyń. The Teutonic Knights diverted efforts from the Holy Land, absorbed these orders and established the State of the Teutonic Order. This evolved the Duchy of Prussia and Duchy of Courland and Semigallia in 1525 and 1562, respectively.
By the beginning of the 13th century Papal reticence in applying crusades against the papacy’s political opponents and those considered heretics. Innocent III proclaimed a crusade against Catharism that failed to suppress the heresy itself but ruined the culture the Languedoc. This set a precedent that was followed in 1212 with pressure exerted on the city of Milan for tolerating Catharism, in 1234 against the Stedinger peasants of north-western Germany, in 1234 and 1241 Hungarian crusades against Bosnian heretics. The historian Norman Housley notes the connection between heterodoxy and anti-papalism in Italy. Indulgence was offered to anti-heretical groups such as the Militia of Jesus Christ and the Order of the Blessed Virgin Mary. Innocent III declared the first political crusade against Frederick II's regent, Markward von Annweiler, and when Frederick later threatened Rome in 1240, Gregory IX used crusading terminology to raise support against him. On Frederick II's death the focus moved to Sicily. In 1263, Pope Urban IV offered crusading indulgences to Charles of Anjou in return for Sicily's conquest. However, these wars had no clear objectives or limitations, making them unsuitable for crusading. The 1281 election of a French pope, Martin IV, brought the power of the papacy behind Charles. Charles's preparations for a crusade against Constantinople were foiled by the Byzantine Emperor Michael VIII Palaiologos, who instigated an uprising called the Sicilian Vespers. Instead, Peter III of Aragon was proclaimed king of Sicily, despite his excommunication and an unsuccessful Aragonese Crusade. Political crusading continued against Venice over Ferrara; Louis IV, King of Germany when he marched to Rome for his imperial coronation; and the free companies of mercenaries.
The threat of the expanding Ottoman Empire prompted further campaigns. In 1389, the Ottomans defeated the Serbs at the Kosovo, won control of the Balkans from the Danube to the Gulf of Corinth, in 1396 defeated French crusaders and King Sigismund of Hungary at the Nicopolis, in 1444 destroyed a crusading Serb and Hungarian force at Varna, four years later again defeated the Hungarians at Kosovo and in 1453 captured Constantinople. The 16th century saw growing rapprochement. The Habsburgs, French, Spanish and Venetians and Ottomans all signed treaties. Francis I of France allied with all quarters, including from German Protestant princes and Sultan Suleiman the Magnificent. Anti-Christian crusading declined in the 15th century, the exceptions were the six failed crusades against the religiously radical Hussites in Bohemia and attacks on the Waldensians in Savoy. Crusading became a financial exercise; precedence was given to the commercial and political objectives. The military threat presented by the Ottoman Turks diminished, making anti-Ottoman crusading obsolete in 1699 with the final Holy League.
The First Crusade was an unexpected event for contemporary chroniclers, but historical analysis demonstrates it had its roots in developments earlier in the 11th century. Clerics and laity increasingly recognised Jerusalem as worthy of penitential pilgrimage. The desire of Christians for a more effective church was evident in increased piety. Pilgrimage to the Holy Land expanded after safer routes through Hungary developed from 1000. There was an increasingly articulate piety within the knighthood and the developing devotional and penitential practises of the aristocracy created a fertile ground for crusading appeals. The papacy’s decline in power and influence had left it as little more than a localised bishopric, but its’ assertion grew under the influence of the Gregorian Reform in the period from the 1050s until the 1080s. The doctrine of papal supremacy conflicted with the view of the Eastern church that considered the pope as only one of the five patriarchs of the Christian Church, alongside the Patriarchates of Alexandria, Antioch, Constantinople and Jerusalem. In 1054 differences in custom, creed, and practice spurred Pope Leo IX to send a delegation to the Patriarch of Constantinople, which ended in mutual excommunication and an East–West Schism.
The crusaders' propensity to follow the customs of their Western European homelands meant that there were few innovations developed in the crusader states. Three notable exceptions to this were the military orders, warfare and fortifications. The Knights Hospitaller, formally the Order of Knights of the Hospital of Saint John of Jerusalem, had a medical function in Jerusalem before the First Crusade. The order later adding a martial element and became a much larger military order. In this way knighthood entered the previously monastic and ecclesiastical sphere. The Templars, formally the Poor Fellow-Soldiers of Christ and the Temple of Solomon were founded around 1119 by a small band of knights who dedicated themselves to protecting pilgrims en route to Jerusalem. King Baldwin II granted the order the Al-Aqsa Mosque in 1129 they were formally recognised by the papacy at the 1129 Council of Troyes. Military orders like the Knights Hospitaller and Knights Templar provided Latin Christendom's first professional armies in support of the Kingdom of Jerusalem and the other crusader states.
The Hospitallers and the Templars became supranational organisations as papal support led to rich donations of land and revenue across Europe. This, in turn, led to a steady flow of new recruits and the wealth to maintain multiple fortifications in the crusader states. In time, they developed into autonomous powers in the region. After the fall of Acre the Hospitallers relocated to Cyprus, then ruled Rhodes until the island was taken by the Ottomans in 1522, and Malta until Napoleon captured the island in 1798. The Sovereign Military Order of Malta continues in existence to the present-day. King Philip IV of France probably had financial and political reasons to oppose the Knights Templar, which led to him exerting pressure on Pope Clement V. The Pope responded in 1312 with a series of papal bulls including Vox in excelso and Ad providam that dissolved the order, explaining that the order has been defamed by accusations of sodomy, heresy and magic, although he did not condemn it on theses contested charges.
Art and architecture
According to the historian Joshua Prawer no major European poet, theologian, scholar or historian settled in the crusader states. Some went on pilgrimage, and this is seen in new imagery and ideas in western poetry. Although they did not migrate east themselves, their output often encouraged others to journey there on pilgrimage.
Historians consider the crusader military architecture of the Middle East to demonstrate a synthesis of the European, Byzantine and Muslim traditions and to be the most original and impressive artistic achievement of the crusades. Castles were a tangible symbol of the dominance of a Latin Christian minority over a largely hostile majority population. They also acted as centres of administration. Modern historiography rejects the 19th-century consensus that Westerners learnt the basis of military architecture from the Near East, as Europe had already experienced rapid development in defensive technology before the First Crusade. Direct contact with Arab fortifications originally constructed by the Byzantines did influence developments in the east, but the lack of documentary evidence means that it remains difficult to differentiate between the importance of this design culture and the constraints of situation. The latter led to the inclusion of oriental design features such as large water reservoirs and the exclusion of occidental features such as moats.
Typically, crusader church design was in the French Romanesque style. This can be seen in the 12th-century rebuilding of the Holy Sepulchre. It retained some of the Byzantine details, but new arches and chapels were built to northern French, Aquitanian and Provençal patterns. There is little trace of any surviving indigenous influence in sculpture, although in the Holy Sepulchre the column capitals of the south facade follow classical Syrian patterns.
In contrast to architecture and sculpture, it is in the area of visual culture that the assimilated nature of the society was demonstrated. Throughout the 12th and 13th centuries the influence of indigenous artists was demonstrated in the decoration of shrines, paintings and the production of illuminated manuscripts. Frankish practitioners borrowed methods from the Byzantines and indigenous artists and iconographical practice leading to a cultural synthesis, illustrated by the Church of the Nativity. Wall mosaics were unknown in the west but in widespread use in the crusader states. Whether this was by indigenous craftsmen or learnt by Frankish ones is unknown, but a distinctive original artistic style evolved.
Manuscripts were produced and illustrated in workshops housing Italian, French, English and local craftsmen leading to a cross-fertilisation of ideas and techniques. An example of this is the Melisende Psalter, created by several hands in a workshop attached to the Holy Sepulchre. This style could have both reflected and influenced the taste of patrons of the arts. But what is seen is an increase in stylised, Byzantine-influenced content. This extended to the production of icons, unknown at the time to the Franks, sometimes in a Frankish style and even of western saints. This is seen as the origin of Italian panel painting. While it is difficult to track illumination of manuscripts and castle design back to their origins, textual sources are simpler. The translations made in Antioch are notable, but they are considered of secondary importance to the works emanating from Muslim Spain and from the hybrid culture of Sicily.
Until the requirement was abolished by Innocent III married men needed to obtain their wives' consent before taking the cross, which was not always readily forthcoming. Muslim and Byzantine observers viewed with disdain the many women who joined the armed pilgrimages, including female fighters. Western chroniclers indicated that female crusaders were wives, merchants, servants and sex workers. Attempts were made to control the women's behaviour in ordinances of 1147 and 1190. Aristocratic women had a significant impact: Ida of Formbach-Ratelnberg led her own force in 1101; Eleanor of Aquitaine conducted her own political strategy; and Margaret of Provence negotiated her husband Louis IX's ransom with an opposing woman—the Egyptian sultana Shajar al-Durr. Misogyny meant that there was male disapproval; chroniclers tell of immorality and Jerome of Prague blamed the failure of the Second Crusade on the presence of women. Even though they often promoted crusading, preachers would typecast them as obstructing recruitment, despite their donations, legacies and vow redemptions. The wives of crusaders shared their plenary indulgences.
The Crusades created national mythologies, tales of heroism, and a few place names. Historical parallelism and the tradition of drawing inspiration from the Middle Ages have become keystones of political Islam encouraging ideas of a modern jihad and a centuries-long struggle against Christian states, while secular Arab nationalism highlights the role of western imperialism. Modern Muslim thinkers, politicians and historians have drawn parallels between the crusades and political developments such as the establishment of Israel in 1948. Right-wing circles in the western world have drawn opposing parallels, considering Christianity to be under an Islamic religious and demographic threat that is analogous to the situation at the time of the crusades. Crusader symbols and anti-Islamic rhetoric are presented as an appropriate response. These symbols and rhetoric are used to provide a religious justification and inspiration for a struggle against a religious enemy.
Crusade finance and taxation left a legacy of social, financial, and legal institutions. Property became available while coinage and precious materials circulated more readily within Europe. Crusading expeditions created immense demands for food supplies, weapons, and shipping that benefited merchants and artisans. Levies for crusades contributed to the development of centralised financial administrations and the growth of papal and royal taxation. This aided development of representative bodies whose consent was required for many forms of taxation. The Crusades strengthened exchanges between oriental and occidental economic spheres. The transport of pilgrims and crusaders notably benefitted Italian maritime cities, such as the trio of Venice, Pisa, and Genoa. Having obtained commercial privileges in the fortified places of Syria, they became the favoured intermediaries for trade in goods such as silk, spices, as well as other raw alimentary goods and mineral products. Trade with the Muslim world was thus extended beyond existing limits. Merchants were further advantaged by technological improvements, and long-distance trade as a whole expanded. The increased volume of goods being traded through ports of the Latin Levant and the Muslim world made this the cornerstone of a wider middle-eastern economy, as manifested in important cities along the trade routes, such as Aleppo, Damascus and Acre. It became increasingly common for European merchants to venture further east, and business was conducted fairly despite religious differences, and continued even in times of political and military tensions.
The historiography of the Crusades is concerned with the "history of the histories" of the military campaigns discussed herein as well as the general history of the Holy Land (including the Outremer and Cyprus) during the Crusader period. The subject is a complex one, with overviews provided in The Routledge Companion to the Crusades, Modern Historiography, and Crusades (Bibliography and Sources). The histories describing the Crusades are broadly of three types: (1) The primary sources of the Crusades, which include works written in the medieval period, generally by participants in the Crusade or written contemporaneously with the event, letters and documents in archives, and archaeological studies; (2) secondary sources, beginning with early consolidated works in the 16th century and continuing to modern times; and (3) tertiary sources, primarily encyclopedias, bibliographies and genealogies.
Primary sources. The primary sources for the Crusades are generally presented in the individual articles on each Crusade and summarized in the list of sources for the Crusades. For the First Crusade, the original Latin chronicles, most notably the Gesta Francorum, together with The Alexiad by Byzantine princess Anna Komnene, the Complete Work of History by Muslim historian Ali ibn al-Athir, and the Chronicle of Armenian historian Matthew of Edessa, provide for a starting point for the study of the Crusades' historiography. Many of these and related texts are found in the collections Recueil des historiens des croisades (RHC) and Crusade Texts in Translation. The work of William of Tyre, Historia Rerum in Partibus Transmarinis Gestarum, and its continuations by later historians complete the foundational work of the traditional Crusade. Some of these works also provide insight into the later Crusades and Crusader states. Other works of note include:
- Eyewitness accounts of the Second Crusade by Odo of Deuil and Otto of Freising. The Arab view from Damascus is provided by ibn al-Qalanisi.
- Works on the Third Crusade such as Libellus de Expugnatione Terrae Sanctae per Saladinum expeditione, the Itinerarium Regis Ricardi, and the works of Crusaders Tageno and Roger of Howden, and the narratives of Richard of Devizes, Ralph de Diceto, Ralph of Coggeshall and Arnold of Lübeck. The Arabic works by al-Isfahani and al-Maqdisi as well as the biography of Saladin by Baha ad-Din ibn Shaddad are also of interest.
- The Fourth Crusade is described in the Devastatio Constantinopolitana and works of Geoffrey of Villehardouin, in his chronicle De la Conquête de Constantinople, Robert de Clari and Gunther of Pairis. The view of Byzantium is provided by Niketas Choniates and the Arab perspective is given by Abū Shāma and Abu’l-Fida.
- The history of the Fifth and Sixth Crusades is well represented in the works of Jacques de Vitry, Oliver of Paderborn and Roger of Wendover, and the Arabic works of Badr al-Din al-Ayni.
- Key sources for the later Crusades include Gestes des Chiprois, Jean de Joinville's Life of Saint Louis, as well as works by Guillaume de Nangis, Matthew Paris, Fidentius of Padua and al-Makrizi.
After the fall of Acre, the crusades continued in through the 16th century. Principal references on this subject are the Wisconsin Collaborative History of the Crusades and Norman Housley's The Later Crusades, 1274-1580: From Lyons to Alcazar. Complete biblographies are also given in these works.
Secondary sources. The secondary sources of the Crusades began in the 16th century, with the first use of the term crusades was by 17th century French historian Louis Maimbourg in his Histoire des Croisades pour la délivrance de la Terre Sainte, with an earlier work by Thomas Fuller, The Historie of the Holy Warre, referring to the entire enterprise as the Holy War, with individual campaigns called voyages. Notable works of the 18th century include Voltaire's Histoire des Croisades, and Edward Gibbon's Decline and Fall of the Roman Empire, excerpted as The Crusades, A.D. 1095–1261. This edition also includes an essay on chivalry by Sir Walter Scott, whose works helped popularize the Crusades.
Early in the 19th century, the monumental Histoire des Croisades was published by the French historian Joseph François Michaud, a major new narrative based on original sources which was translated into English as The History of the Crusades. The English school of Crusader historians included the Englishman Charles Mills, who wrote History of the Crusades for the Recovery and Possession of the Holy Land, a complete history of nine Crusades. The German school of historians was led by Friederich Wilken, whose Geschichte der Kreuzzüge is a complete history based on Western, Arabic, Greek and Armenian sources.
Later, Heinrich von Sybel, who studied under Leopold von Ranke (the father of modern source-based history) wrote his Geschichte des ersten Kreuzzuges, both a history of the first three Crusades and contains a full study of the authorities and, as such, is the earliest historiography study. The greatest German historian of the Crusades was then Reinhold Röhricht. His histories Geschichte der Kreuzzüge im Umriss and Geschichte des Königreichs Jerusalem laid the foundation of all modern Crusades research. His Bibliotheca geographica Palaestinae summarizes over 3500 books on the geography of the Holy Land, providing a valuable resource for historians (see Related studies discussion below).
These histories have provided evolving views of the Crusades as discussed in detail in the Historiography writeup in Crusading movement. Modern works that serve as secondary source material are listed in the Bibliography section below and need no further discussion here.
Tertiary sources. The first encyclopedia article on the Crusades is credited to Denis Diderot in the 18th century, whose entry on Crusades in his Encyclopédie is based on Voltaire's work. In the 19th and early 20th centuries, three notable encyclopedia articles appeared. These include Philip Schaff's article in the Schaff-Herzog Encyclopaedia of Religious Knowledge. In addition, Louis Bréhier's multiple works on the Crusades in the Catholic Encyclopedia; and the works of Ernest Barker in the Encyclopædia Britannica (11th edition), later expanded into a separate publication, remain useful references. All have interesting bibliographies showing histories deemed important at the time. Any such discussion must necessarily include the 8-volume Cambridge Medieval History, planned by J. B. Bury. The modern work The Crusades—An Encyclopedia, edited by historian Alan V. Murray, is a comprehensive treatment with over 1000 entries written by 120 authors from 25 countries.
Related studies. Numerous works in the auxiliary sciences of history are also key to the study of the Crusades. Topics include the genealogy of the nobles of the kingdom such as in Lignages d’Outremer, chivalry, and legal texts as described in the assizes of Jerusalem and in the charters reproduced in Röhricht's Regesta Regni Hierosolymitani. Additional topics include the following:
- Archaeological disciplines have contributed to the understanding of the history of the Crusades by verifying or refuting accounts presented in original sources. Particular emphasis has been on Crusader castles, history of Crusader art, and document analysis techniques such as palaeography, diplomatics and epigraphy.
- Historical cartography, geography and topography are important sources in the study of the history of the Crusades.
- The disciples of numismatics, the study of coins and other money, and sigillography, the study of seals of Byzantium and the Latin East, play an important role in interpreting histories.
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