Great Schism: Crusades



The Islamic threat:

             Review the story of Mohammed, the camel driver? What were his followers called? Review the conquests of his followers in the century after his death. All thru the ages, Christians from all over the world would come to see the places where Jesus had lived, but these lands were now in the hands of Moslems. While we may look back now on many of the actions and results of the Crusades as futile, and even evil, imagine the sadness of the Christian pilgrim in the West unable to visit the places where Jesus lived for veneration, even as today many Christians travel to the Holy Land in the love of the Lord Who once walked there. As WB Bolmer states in his history of the Western Church, “Is it impossible for us to comprehend at all the indignation with which loving hearts saw themselves excluded from the spots once hallowed by the presence of Him who came to purchase a Church with His own blood?”


Response of the West:

              Christians in the Western lands of Europe were very angry about the rule of the Moslems in the Holy Land. Pope Urban called on his people to leave their homes and families behind and go to attack the Moslems. These new soldiers sewed great crosses on their clothes and painted them on their shields and armor; they were called Crusaders. Crusade means a war for the cross. While the Eastern Emperor had many times used Western soldiers in his battles with the Turks, he never expected the West to send an army across his land, complete with generals and bishops carrying weapons.


The Crusades, One by One, in Broad Strokes: As with the martyrs, the monks, etc., copy this page and divide into a crusade for each student to read and report on. Follow the progress of the Crusaders on your maps.


             1. The First Crusade: Before long, thousands and thousands of people, young and old, men and women had joined the Crusade to go to Jerusalem. Poor people left their farms and huts, nobles and princes left their castles. Some rode on horses; some walked by foot. Emperor Alexius looked on these invaders with alarm and created a special body of police to accompany them across his territories. They traveled for four years and finally reached the walls of Jerusalem in 1099 AD. There they thanked God for bringing them safely to the end of their journey and then they attacked the city. The first Crusaders captured Jerusalem! They built castles and claimed the land for themselves. Godfrey of Bouillon named himself King of Jerusalem. But, the Crusaders showed little concern for Eastern Christians; cities along the way were pillaged (in spite of the police force) and the Patriarchs of Antioch and Jerusalem were deposed in favor of a Latin bishop.

             But, soon the Moslems won the city back. It didn’t stay captured for many years. So, over the next two hundred years, every so often there would be another Crusade. Sometimes the Western Christians would win the city back again, but not for long; sometimes they didn’t win it back at all.


2. The Second Crusade: A monk named Bernard of Clairvaux appealed to the French and Germans to launch another Crusade to defend the Latin territories in the East. The armies, under the leadership of Louis VII of France and Conrad III of Germany set out in 1147 AD. Emperor Manual of Constantinople was as nervous as his grandfather had been. But the German troops arrived before the French and Manual hurried them through his land by offering them transport. They were defeated by the Turks, as were the French who arrived later. But, in the years after the disastrous Crusade, Norman armies attacked Macedonia and the Balkans. They took advantage of the confusion of the Crusades to take Athens and Corinth and impose Latin worship and bishops in Greece itself. They sacked Thessalonica and burned the city. They finally threatened Constantinople itself, but were turned back in a decisive sea battle.

3. The Third Crusade in 1189 AD was a famous one – three kings led the Crusade. The talented Turk, Saladin, had taken back the Holy Land. Frederick Barbarossa (Red Beard) of Germany started out, but drowned in a river along the way. Philip of France ran away back home because he was jealous of the third king. The third king was Richard of England. He was known as Richard the Lion-Hearted and loved by all. In fact, Richard even made friends with Saladin, the Moslem ruler of Jerusalem, who decided to let the Crusaders worship at Jesus’s tomb without even fighting with them! But, on the way home, Richard was captured by his enemies. He took so long coming home, that Robin Hood had to save England from his wicked brother, Prince John. Do you know the story of Robin Hood and his merry men? Did you know that the Crusades were the reason for King Richard’s disappearance?

4. The fourth Crusade will go down in infamy. The famous Pope Innocent III ruled in Rome and called for another Crusade. The Crusaders, under Boniface, depart from Venice, where Enrico Dandalo, doge (ruler), offers free transport and his fleet if they will first take Constantinople. Meanwhile, Philip of Swabia, has asked Boniface to return his son-in-law, Alexius, to the throne in Constantinople that was taken earlier from his father Isaac II Angelus by Alexius III. Boniface and Innocent see an opportunity to reunite the Empire under the leadership of Rome. The Crusaders broke into the city on Good Friday of 1204 and sacked Constantinople for 3 days. Irreplaceable treasures of classical antiquity and relics were destroyed or stolen. A wild crowd of drunken soldiers pillaged, killed, and raped the citizens of Constantinople. Even monasteries and orphanages were sacked. The Crusaders proceeded to install their own Emperor and Patriarch, both of whom recognized the supremacy of the Pope. The Latins ruled Constantinople for 50 years; the Eastern bishops and Patriarch moved to Nicea. The Venetians made out well; they took the most important harbors and islands. Boniface ruled Thessalonica and Macedonia.


The Children’s Crusade -- it was a crusade of children only in 1212 AD. Children from all over France left their homes and mothers and fathers and marched to the sea. There some sailors told them they would take them to Jerusalem. But, they were really pirates and sold the children as slaves! (Do you remember another child sold by pirates as a slave? St. Patrick)

5. Fifth Crusade – in about 1220 AD took the city of Damietta in Egypt but gave it up to the Turks in a truce.

6. Sixth Crusade: Emperor Frederick II led the Crusade himself in 1228 AD and negotiated a treaty with the sultan giving Jerusalem to the Christians.  The Moslems took it back in 1244.

7. Seventh Crusade: launched by King Louis IX of France to try to take Jerusalem back. The Moslems captured Louis and his army and held them for a huge ransom.

8. Eighth and final Crusade: Louis again tried, this time landing at Tunis in northern Africa. Louis himself died of the plague soon afterward and the Crusade fell apart.


Results of the Crusades:

  1. There were eight Crusades in all, and in the end the Holy Land was still ruled by the Moslems!
  2. The weakened Byzantine Empire would last another 200 years – a slow and agonizing death. The Christian East has been delivered to the oppressors.
  3. The Moslems developed a lasting hatred and scorn for the Christian name.

             Did anything good come out of the Crusades?


Quiz Questions:

  1. Identify these people: Pope Urban, Emperor Alexius, Richard I, Pope Innocent, Doge Dandalo, Boniface
  2. Identify these places on a map: Constantinople, Rome, Venice, Tunis, England, France, Germany
  3. Give the date of the sack of Constantinople. Which Crusade sacked it?
  4. List 3 results of the Crusades.