During the 11th-century, we see the rise of Islam, and they’re rising because they were united, had a strong military, they were tolerant and had tangible benefits. Muslims have control of Jerusalem at this time and Pope Urban II knows about Muslims and their faith and proposes a crusade to take back Jerusalem from the Muslims. This is the beginning of the many crusades to come. Many people went on this crusade because the pope told them that if they went they would receive remission of sins and that became a new way of salvation. Other reasons included killing non-believers, money and power, and pilgrimage. A pilgrimage was a common Christian practice by this time so, people joined as a devotion to their faith. Also, some people went for the journey, just for fun. The first crusade was also called the people’s crusades because it had 20,000 peasants participating and more people from different social statuses.
As, the following crusades occurred they gained more participants. The first crusade took place in 1096 and continued up until 1099. The First Crusade had about 50,000 to 70,000 people participating. Many people participated for various reasons some of which included, the forgiveness of sins Pope Urban II said if people went and fought in the crusades then all their sins would automatically be dismissed and that would grant them salvation and salvation would get them to heaven. Other people went for economic and political purposes. It was a success; the first crusade was considered successful because they were able to take back Jerusalem. (Crusades: A Very Short Introduction, pg.40) During, the first crusade, Christianity was a more common and practiced religion throughout the western part of Europe. They believed that Jerusalem was rightfully theirs since it was the holy land where Jesus Christ was born and died. The people who joined believed that it was their duty to join because they thought that God wanted them to fight, so, they didn’t want to betray him by not joining.
Also, people joined for economic reasons because by the late 11th-century land and opportunities were becoming scarce for second and third generations of the nobility, so, they went on the crusades in hopes for new land. By the end of the first crusade, the Christians had taken over Jerusalem from the Muslims along with other cities like Edessa, Antioch, and Tripoli. Originally, the crusaders had promised the Byzantine Empire that they would return any new city that they came to have control over to them but then broke their promise and the cities became known as the four crusaders states that were controlled by Western Europe (Crusades: A Very Short Introduction, pg. 37). The success of the first crusade also came from the weakness of the Muslims because during this time they were also fighting the Byzantine Empire who wanted to gain control over their lands like Syria, and Syria didn’t have one leader but instead, every city had their own leader making them vulnerable to fall again under the Byzantine Empire control. Some Muslims during this time also believed that the end of the world was coming which gave them little motivation to fight the crusaders (Islam and the Crusades, pg. 217).
The second crusade happened between 1147 and 1149 about four decades after the first crusade, it was an organized crusade and had about 70,000 participants some of which were noble knights. The second crusade was organized by two European kings, Louis VII of France and Conrad III of Germany after the city of Edessa had been taken over by Zengi (Zengi was a Turkish warlord who was the ruler of Mosul and Aleppo). Both kings, Louis VII, and Conrad III took their armies and went through different routes, but they were both defeated by the Muslims, King Louis VII and his army were close to Constantinople when they were attacked, and Conrad III and his army were destroyed in Dorylaeum, a city near Constantinople. The defeat of both armies led to the second crusade being a total failure because they were unable to take back the city of Edessa (Crusades: A Very Short Introduction, pg. 41).
But, it was a major victory for the Muslims. At the beginning some Muslims were unaware of the reasoning for the crusades but, others were, so, they began the Jihad, when translated means Holy War. The concept of Jihad was to carry out the command of Allah to non-believers. The idea of Jihad came from the Qur’an where it says that they should fight those who don’t believe in God. Zengi was considered to be the first great leader of the jihad because he had taken over the city of Edessa and was protecting the Muslim faith as well as spreading it. The jihad definitely influenced the Muslim responses to the Crusaders’ attacks in the way that they believed they were defending God’s honor by fighting the non-believers, Christians. One of two forms of Jihad is the defensive jihad, which is about defending the Muslim faith even if it means fighting in war. The belief of this form of Jihad led many Muslims to fight in the crusades and motivated them to defeat the Christians and led to their taking of the holy land (Islam and the Crusades, pg. 227).
Similarly, the crusading spirit among the Christians also influenced the crusades because it was a holy war and they were fighting for their faith as well. The third crusade occurred from 1189 to 1192 a couple years later after the second crusade, it was also an organized crusade to take back Jerusalem from Saladin, a Muslim leader. Saladin captured Jerusalem in 1187 by uniting the Muslims of Syria under his rule, and he formed an army who defeated the Christians in the city of Galilee and resulted in the capture of their (Christians) king and their army, so, Jerusalem surrendered. Once news spread about the taking of Jerusalem, Western Europe called for the third crusade. The third crusade was led by the kings of France, England, and Germany. The third crusade also had a great number of participants, over 50,000 people who were soldiers and pilgrims. Like the second crusade, the third crusade was also considered a failure. Many people died, and they failed to take back Jerusalem. They didn’t even get to attack Jerusalem by the end of the third crusade (Crusades: A Very Short introduction, pg.45).
King of Germany, Frederick Barbarossa drowned trying to cross the River Saleph in Cicilia and his army broke apart ending his crusade. The kings of France and England had better luck, Richard I from England was able to get to Jerusalem where he came across Saladin, who had taken over Jerusalem. Richard, I tried invading Jerusalem twice but didn’t because said he didn’t have enough men to take over the city. At, this time Saladin was also struggling to take the important port of Jaffa. Due to both struggling, they came up with the Treaty of Jaffa which granted entrance to Jerusalem for Christians, also, Muslims and Christians could move freely through Christian and Muslim territories (Crusades: A Very Short Introduction, pg. 248). The motives for the crusades varied.
All crusades happened to take over the holy land. Both Muslims and Christians were fighting for their faith. The first crusade happened because of religion, economic, and political reasons the second crusade happened because of religion and political reasons. The crusaders wanted to take back the city that the Muslims had conquered, and Muslims fought to protect their faith. During the second crusade the jihad view was born, and it inspired many Muslims to join the crusades and fight the Christians. The third crusade happened because of religion and was considered the holy war because both sides fought for the holy sites that were significant in their religion. The third crusade led to a peace treaty between both groups and conveniently for the crusaders Saladin died six months later. The death of Saladin led to the crusaders fighting more wars against Muslims for the control of the holy sites.