Middle Ages Holy War: The Crusades: Part 3

About the long and violent wars in the Middle Ages known as the Crusades, a series of holy wars between Christians and Muslims in the fight for Jerusalem.


WHEN: 1095-1272

One batch of Crusaders went to Constantinople and took possession of it. They drove out the Greek Emperor of the Eastern Empire and established a Latin kingdom and the Roman Church. Terrible massacres also took place in Constantinople and the city itself was partly burned by the Crusaders. But this Latin kingdom did not last long. The Greeks of the Eastern Empire, weak as they were, came back and drove away the Latins after a little over 50 years. The Eastern Empire of Constantinople continued for another 200 years, till 1453, when the Turks finally put an end to it.

This capture of Constantinople by the Crusaders brings out the desire of the Roman Church and the Pope to extend their influence there. Although the Greeks of this city had, in a moment of panic, appealed to Rome for help against the Turks, they helped the Crusaders little, and disliked them greatly.

The most terrible of these Crusades was what is called the Children's Crusade. Large numbers of young boys, chiefly French and some from Germany, in their excitement left their homes and decided to go to Palestine. Many of them died on the way, many were lost. Most of them reached Marseilles, and there these poor children were tricked and their enthusiasm was taken advantage of by scoundrels. Under the pretext of taking them to the Holy Land, slave traders took them on their ships, carried them to Egypt, and sold them into slavery.

Richard of England on his way back from Palestine was captured by his enemies in eastern Europe and a very heavy ransom had to be paid for his release. A King of France was captured in Palestine itself, and had to be ransomed. An Emperor of the Holy Roman Empire, Frederick Barbarossa, was drowned in a river in Palestine. Meanwhile, as time went on, all the glamour went out of these Crusades. People got fed up with them. Jerusalem remained in Muslim hands, but the Kings and people of Europe were no longer interested in wasting more lives and treasure for its recovery. Since then for nearly 700 years, Jerusalem continued to be under the Muslims. It was only recently, during the Great War in 1918, that it was taken from the Turks by an English general.

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