5 Questions About The Crusades

5 Questions About The Crusades

What caused the Crusades?

  1. The Seljuk Turks conquered much of Anatolia (modern day Turkey) from the Byzantine Empire
  2. In 1095, the Byzantines sent a plea to the Catholic leader, Pope Urban II
  3. Pope Urban hoped this would be a chance to reunite Christianity and conquer territory for the Church
  4. Word spread and the Pope used his influence to convince various kings and rulers to assist
  5. Pilgrimage to Jerusalem was already a form of worship for many Christians
    1. Muslims generally allowed this pilgrimage, but it was still a dangerous journey
    2. The Crusades were not called that until later; during its time, it was called a pilgrimage by the Christians
  6. The first response was the People’s Crusade led by Peter the Hermit.
    1. This disorganized, unsanctioned Crusade was quickly wiped out by the Muslims
    2. The truly successful Crusade, was the First Crusade, but wasn’t really the first

How did the Christians do so well against a much larger Muslim foe?

  1. Primarily, disunity among Muslims
    1. The Seljuk Turks were the largest Muslim Empire at the time
    2. The Emperor was Malik Shah; his vizier, or Prime Minister was Nizam ul-Mulk
    3. Some say he was poisoned by his Prime Minister; but it could have been the Assassins
    4. The Assassins were also responsible for killing Nizam ul-Mulk
    5. After their deaths, the Empire fell into civil war and broke apart as brother fought brother
    6. These disjointed, individual states were easy for the Crusaders to defeat
  2. The mounted knight, was superior to the mounted archer
    1. Christians used armored knights on trained horses
    2. Knights were usually wealthy nobles who were well armed and trained
    3. They often had experience fighting against other Christian rivals
    4. The mounted charge was devastating when coordinated properly
  3. Over time, the Christians got used to Muslim fighting style and tactics
    1. The main Muslim tactic was to draw the opponent into an ambush
    2. After fighting several individual Turkish armies, the Christians learned not to fall for it
    3. Crusaders learned how to use this tactic against the Muslims
  4. Jerusalem itself was in a state of political flux
    1. Jerusalem was initially under Seljuk rule, but then the Fatimid Empire reconquered it
    2. The Fatimids were Ismailis and so were the Assassins; but they were rivals of one another
    3. Fatimids were based in Cairo; Assassins were the militant wing of another branch of Ismailis and were based in Persia
    4. The Fatimids in Cairo were going through major political upheaval and in fighting

How did the Muslim Caliph Respond?

  1. The Crusades took place during the Abbasid Caliphate
  2. As a military power, the Abbasids were very weak at this time
    1. The Abbasid capital was Baghdad at the time
    2. They were actually puppets of the Seljuks, even though the Seljuks were nominally subservient
  3. The Caliph during this time was Al-Mustazhir
    1. He did not have much power or influence outside of Baghdad
    2. He knew about the conquest of Jerusalem was could not or did not want to do anything
    3. He did not have the power to create a large army for such a long journey
    4. He did not care for the Fatimids so probably hoped this would lead to their downfall
  4. Muslim refugees to Baghdad begged for help, but there was no response
    1. Historically parallel to the situation today in Syria

Who are the Templars?

  1. Knights were a special class of warrior in Europe
  2. Europe was also filled with monks; religious men devoted to a life of worship
  3. The Crusade were considered a form of worship
    1. This led to a class of warrior monks
    2. They took a vow of poverty and worship, but also fought and killed
  4. Monks then and now usually belonged to a specific order
    1. A religious organization that ascribes to a certain lineage that in some way differentiates it from the rest of society
    2. In Islam, this is called a tariqa, as found in Sufiism
  5. After the conquest of Jerusalem, a group of knights created an order
    1. They vowed to protect Christians making pilgrimage to Jerusalem
    2. Also, to protect the Christian Kingdom of Jerusalem
    3. Their full name was Poor Fellow-Soldiers of Christ and the Temple of Solomon
      1. Was shortened to Knights Templars, or just Templars
    4. They were an elite fighting force and very well trained
  6. Their main purpose was as a military force to keep Jerusalem Christian
    1. This led to several atrocities against Muslims
    2. They were feared by many Muslims as they were brutal and efficient
  7. Though based in Jerusalem, they naturally had to keep close ties with Europe
    1. Many Europeans donated to them as a form of worship
    2. Europeans making pilgrimage to Jerusalem used them as banks
      1. Too dangerous to travel with money
      2. They’d deposit money with European Templars who’d give them a voucher
      3. That voucher would be turned into cash in Jerusalem
    3. This led to the modern banking system
      1. Also, led to the Templars becoming very rich and powerful
    4. After the Crusaders were kicked out of Jerusalem, the Templars continued to operate in Europe
      1. They were not warriors any longer, but still proclaimed to be a religious order
    5. Eventually, the European powers got tired of them
      1. Over the years, they developed several secret rituals
      2. Since so many people were in debt to them, they had lots of enemies
      3. In 1307, Pope Clement and the King Philip of France colluded to have them arrested, tried, and executed for various religious crimes
      4. This spread throughout Europe and most of the Templars were killed or went underground
    6. Freemasonry may have evolved from the Templars
      1. Some modern Freemasons claim to be from those Templars that went into hiding
      2. This may explain much of the Islamic and Eastern influence on Freemasonry
        1. Order of the Eastern Star is a women’s Freemason group
        2. The Shriners are a branch of Freemasonry
        3. Some symbols include wearing fez, scimitars, and Arabic words

Who was Saladin?

  1. Full name was Salahuddin Al-Ayyubi
    1. He was Kurdish
  2. Started as a servant under the Turkish king, Nur al-Deen
    1. Nur ad-Deen recognized Crusader threat and tried to unite Muslims against them
    2. Nur ad-Deen captured most of Crusader strongholds in Syria, Jordan, and Iraq
    3. By 1154, Nur ad-Deen’s territory almost completely surrounded Jerusalem
  3. Nur ad-Deen sent Saladin as advisor to the Fatimids
    1. The Fatimids wanted to get Jerusalem back from the Crusaders
    2. Saladin led various campaigns against the Crusaders on behalf of the Fatimids
    3. Saladin eventually became the Fatimid Prime Minister
  4. The Fatimid Dynasty was already falling apart
    1. Infighting still hurt the Fatimids
    2. When the last Fatimid Caliph died, Saladin assumed control of their empire (mostly Egypt)
    3. Saladin was Sunni and brought the administration under Sunni control
    4. Gave bay’ah to the Abbasid Caliph in Baghdad
  5. Saladin’s success would not have been possible without Nur ad-Deen’s success
    1. Most of the reversal against the Crusaders was done by Nur ad-Deen
    2. After Nur ad-Deen died, Saladin assumed control of those lands also
    3. Christian kingdom of Jerusalem was now just Palestine and Lebanon
    4. They were almost completely surrounded by Saladin’s empire
  6. Saladin recaptured Jerusalem in 1187
    1. Starting in 1182, Saladin began pushing to wipe out the final Crusader state
    2. Even though surrounded, Jerusalem had held out against Muslim attacks for over 80 years
    3. The Christian King of Jerusalem tried to divert Saladin’s attention by attacking Muslim pilgrims to Mecca
      1. That only served to make Saladin even more determined
    4. Saladin’s forces defeated a combined Crusader and Templar army at the Battle of Hittin
    5. With no army to defend them, Jerusalem was besieged
    6. Eventually, Saladin and the Christians reached an agreement where they could peacefully leave Jerusalem

Show Notes


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