The medieval Crusades left a significant impact on future centuries. In How the Crusades Changed History, you’ll assess the Crusades’ history and legacy, as you study the events of the eight crusades; track the history of the four crusader kingdoms; witness how crusading turned inward to the European interior; and observe how the Crusades unwittingly facilitated the rise of the Ottomans and weakened the foundations of Catholicism.
How the Crusades Changed History
Philip Daileader is a Professor of History at William & Mary. He earned his PhD in History from Harvard University. He is the author of two historical monographs: True Citizens: Violence, Memory, and Identity in the Medieval Community of Perpignan, 1162–1397, and the award-winning Saint Vincent Ferrer, His World and Life: Religion and Society in Late Medieval Europe. He is the coeditor of French Historians 1900–2000: New Historical Writing in Twentieth-Century France, and The Princeton Review named him one of the 300 best professors in the US.
01: What Were the Crusades?
Consider the spirit of the Crusades, as they melded the medieval conception of pilgrimage with that of holy war. Examine the idea of plenary indulgence, the remission of penalties due to sin, and the notion of avoiding Purgatory, both of which were understood as spiritual rewards for going on Crusade. Learn about the history of pilgrimage and holy war within Christianity before the Crusades.
02: Before the Crusades—Deep Background
Explore long-term historical developments that underlay the Crusades. Take account of the tensions between the Christian West and the eastern Byzantine Empire, and how Arab expansion served to drive them further apart. Look into the conception of jihad (holy war) formulated by Islamic jurists. Then, follow the political and religious schism between the Byzantine Empire and the Roman papacy.
03: Before the Crusades—Immediate Circumstances
Witness how the migration of Turks into Islamic and Byzantine lands set in motion the events that led to the Crusades. Study the geopolitical factors within the Byzantine Empire that led the emperor to call on the papacy for military aid. Learn about Pope Urban II’s call for the first Crusade, the galvanizing and preparations of the participants, and the motives that impelled crusaders to join the expedition.
04: The First Crusade and Conquest of Jerusalem
Follow the dramatic unfolding of the First Crusade, beginning with the Popular Crusade, comprising common people inspired by notions of an apocalyptic confrontation, and leading to a disastrous campaign against the Turks. Then, trace the Barons’ Crusade, a noble-led delegation joining Byzantine troops in besieging Nicaea, Antioch, and finally Jerusalem, fulfilling the Crusade’s paramount goal.
05: The Rise of the Templars
Enter the world of the Templars and the Hospitallers, Christian religious-military orders with an important presence in the crusader kingdoms. Grasp how these new orders created an unusual fusion of the features of knighthood with those of monasticism. Learn about their networks of support, their functions during the Crusades, and the challenges they posed to the crusaders and local rulers.
06: Defending the Crusader States, 1099–1144
The First Crusade saw the founding of the crusader kingdoms of Jerusalem, Antioch, and the counties of Edessa and Tripoli. Trace the surprising alliances the rulers of the crusader states made with Muslim leaders, to better defend crusader territories. Witness the debacle of the first European attempt to reinforce the crusader states, and the shifting alliances and conflicts that led to the fall of Edessa.
07: The Second Crusade—False Steps and Failure
Relive the launching of the Second Crusade, triggered by the loss of Edessa and led by the kings of France and Germany. Follow the disjointed path of the crusaders toward Jerusalem, leading to their ill-fated siege of Damascus and the disintegration of the Crusade. Examine the struggle of Westerners to come to terms with the Crusade’s failure and territorial gains of Muslim leaders in its wake.
08: Saladin—General and Sultan
Take the measure of Saladin, the legendary Muslim military leader renowned for his fairmindedness and generosity in times of war. Trace his unusual and improbable rise to power, culminating in his roles as Vizier of Egypt and ruler of Syrian territories. Learn about his long-held dream of driving the Franks from the Holy Land, and his ultimate conquest and capture of Jerusalem.
09: The Third Crusade—We Three Kings
The fall of Jerusalem resulted in the Third Crusade, led by the kings of France, England, and Germany. Relive the unfolding of the conflict, in which Richard Lionheart of England emerged as the de facto leader. Explore the interactions and mutual esteem between Richard and Saladin, and the fortunes of the Crusade, leaving the Kingdom of Jerusalem in crusader hands but without the city itself.
10: The Fourth Crusade—Conquest of Constantinople
Examine the course of the controversial Fourth Crusade, originally planned as a strategic attack on Egypt with Venetian support. Track the crusader’s path, and the subsequent refocusing of the crusade on Constantinople. Study the complex political events that led to the sacking of the city and the imposition of a Latin Empire of Constantinople. Assess the divisive aftermath and consequences of the crusade.
11: Crusades in Spain
Crusading extended into Spain as early as the First Crusade. Learn about Muslim presence on the Iberian Peninsula, and how the Christian capture of Muslim kingdoms was justified as re-conquest and given crusade status by popes. Grasp how crusades in Spain complicated crusading in the Holy Land. Witness the campaign to end Islamic rule in Spain, and the ultimate expulsion of Jews and Muslims.
12: The Northern Crusades
Crusades also reached into Central and Eastern Europe between the 12th and 14th centuries. Take account of the peoples that crusaders fought in these very brutal conflicts, pagan and tribal cultures very different from their opponents in the Holy Land. Follow the campaigns against the Livonians, Balts, Prussians, and others, and the crusaders’ policy of conversion or destruction.
13: The Children’s and Albigensian Crusades
Encounter the Cathars, a European religious sect accused by Catholics of heresy, leading to the 20-year Albigensian Crusade against them. Investigate Cathar beliefs and practices and visualize the crusade as it transformed southern France. Also, examine the Children’s Crusade, a movement of youths aimed at reclaiming Jerusalem, and how they posed a threat to religious authorities.
14: Fifth and Sixth Crusades—Tragedy and Oddity
Delve into the fraught events of the Fifth Crusade, called by a 1213 papal bull and aimed at attacking Egypt. In the ensuing siege of Damietta, unpack the negotiations between the crusaders and the Egyptian sultan, and the ultimate resounding defeat of the crusading army. Then study the Sixth Crusade of 1227, and its short-lived retaking of Jerusalem under highly unusual circumstances.
15: Louis IX—The Crusader Saint
Louis IX of France, later canonized, led both the Seventh and Eighth Crusades. Learn about the massive planning for the Seventh Crusade, and witness its ill-fated campaign within Egypt, ending with the king and his army being taking prisoner. Then, trace the Eighth Crusade and its ineffectual effort to conquer of Tunis, the death of Louis IX, and the crusade’s termination under Charles of Anjou.
16: The Hohenstaufen and Shepherds’ Crusades
In the mid-13th century, further crusades unfolded within Europe. Follow the crusades against the Hohenstaufen rulers of Germany, seen by the papacy as political enemies, and culminating with the overthrow of the Hohenstaufen dynasty. Then, uncover the events of the two Shepherds’ Crusades, unauthorized movements that clashed with clergy, and that royal authorities repressed by force.
17: The Fall—1291
Investigate the factors that made the crusader states increasingly vulnerable during the 13th century. Then, follow the sequential fall of the states, beginning with Antioch and Tripoli. Finally, study the 1291 demise of Acre and Tyre, the remaining territories of the Kingdom of Jerusalem. Learn about the subsequent era of the crusading treatise, writings that envisioned future crusades.
18: The Crusades and Their Critics
Throughout the course of the crusades, crusading and individual crusades came under critical attack from many voices. Review the variety of moral, practical, and political criticism leveled at crusading, and assess the impact of its critics on the activity of crusading. Witness how mounting criticism of the religious-military orders contributed to the suppression and eradication of the Templars.
19: War and Travel—The Experience of Crusading
Crusaders faced numerous challenges in carrying out their vows. Look first at the preparations for going on crusade, from raising financial resources to settling one’s worldly affairs. Observe the hardships of crusading on the ground, in provisioning, hunger, disease, and unfamiliar warfare, balanced for some by idealistic convictions and the mind-opening discovery of new culture and peoples.
20: Life in the Crusader East
Discover how Christian settlers in the crusader states forged a new identity. Observe the settlers’ adoption of features of Eastern life and explore their relations and tensions with both the local Muslim populations and with newly arrived Western crusaders. Grasp the differences in legal status between the settlers and locals and assess whether the crusades were an early form of colonialism.
21: Cultural Contact and Exchange
The presence of crusaders in the Eastern Mediterranean gave rise to new points of contact between the Islamic world and the Christian West. See how persistent Muslim military power spurred an interest in the West to understand Islam, overturning longtime misconceptions. Witness the impact of Islamic culture on European scholarship, as well as on language, technologies, trade, and more.
22: Crusade and Mission
During the crusades, the relationship between crusading and proselytizing the faith was much debated. Examine the currents of thought that considered the violence of crusading antithetical to missionary work, and those that thought it complementary. Learn about the pioneers of Christian missionary work in the Islamic world, and how discord regarding crusading and missionary work coalesced.
23: The Crusades and the Course of History, Part 1
Conclude the course with two lectures highlighting the long-term impact and repercussions of the Crusades. Here, track the declining fortunes of the Byzantine Empire, as it attempted to bolster itself against crusading from the West and to regain lost territories. Grasp how the Fourth Crusade and its legacy contributed to the fall of the Byzantine Empire and the rise of the Ottomans.
24: The Crusades and the Course of History, Part 2
As a final historical consequence of the Crusades, investigate the issues and practices surrounding indulgences, the remission of sins in return for crusading. Grasp how the redeeming of indulgences in return for monetary payments and the widespread selling of indulgences weakened the moral authority of Catholicism, forming a key grievance against the Catholic Church during the Protestant Reformation.