A Brief History
On April 28, 1192, the Hashshashin (Assassins) assassinated Conrad of Montferrat (Conrad I), King of Jerusalem, in Tyre, just two days after his title to the throne was confirmed by election. The incident was one of many bizarre and violent episodes to occur during the Crusades. These wars rank among the longest religious conflicts in human history. This article presents a timeline of some of the most bizarre incidents to occur in the roughly two hundred years long conflict between Christians and Muslims for control of the Holy Land.
In late April 637, Jerusalem was officially surrendered by the Christian Patriarch of Jerusalem (St. Sophronius) to the Muslim Caliph Umar (r. 634–644), thereby solidifying Arab control over Palestine, control which would not again be threatened until the First Crusade in the late 11th century.
The First Crusade (1095-1099)
On November 27, 1095, Pope Urban II’s speech at the Council of Clermont included the call to arms that would result in the First Crusade.
On May 18, 1096, Christians in Europe heeded the call of Pope Urban II and joined up with the throngs following local noblemen in a Crusade to regain the Holy Land of Jerusalem from the Muslims that occupied what is now Israel and the Levant, but on this day the Crusading zeal went in a horribly different direction.
On October 21, 1096, a Seljuk Turk army led by Sultan Kilij Arslan I massacred a Christian army from Europe, known as the People’s Army, ending the first of the religious wars known as the Crusades.
On December 12, 1098, in what is now Syria, Crusaders massacred 20,000 Muslims and ate some of them!
On July 15, 1099, during the First Crusade, Christian soldiers took the Church of the Holy Sepulchre in Jerusalem after the final assault of a difficult siege.
On February 15, 1113, the reigning Pope of the Catholic Church, Pope Paschal II, issued a Papal Bull titled “Pie Postulatio Voluntatis,” recognizing the Order of Hospitallers, a military order of Catholic knights that had existed in the Holy Land since about 1099.
On October 11, 1138, the city that would one day become the most populous city in modern Syria, Aleppo, was hit with a catastrophic earthquake.
The Second Crusade (1147–1149)
On May 22, 1176, The Hashshashin (Assassins) made an attempt on the life of Saladin, the First Sultan of Egypt and Syria.
On September 20, 1187, the Islamic forces of the famous Kurdish Muslim leader Saladin laid siege to the capital of the Christian Kingdom of Jerusalem, the holiest city in the Christian world and likewise in the Jewish world, and the third holiest city in Islam.
On October 2, 1187, one of history’s most significant sieges ended, The Siege of Jerusalem in which Sultan Saladin of Egypt and Syria (r. 1174–1193) captured Jerusalem after 88 years of Crusader rule.
The Third Crusade (1189–1192)
On July 27, 1189, Friedrich Barbarossa (also known as Frederick), the Holy Roman Emperor, arrived at the capital of the Serbian King Stefan Nemanja, a city called Nis.
On June 10, 1190, during the Third Crusade, Holy Roman Emperor Frederick I Barbarossa (r. 1155-1190) drowned in the river Saleph while leading an army to Jerusalem.
On July 4, 1190, King Richard of England (r. 1189–1199) and King Philip II of France (r. 1180–1223) met in France at Vézelay and set out together as far as Lyon where they parted after agreeing to meet in Sicily; Richard with his retinue, said to number 800, marched to Marseille and Philip to Genoa.
On April 28, 1192, the Hashshashin (Assassins) assassinated Conrad of Montferrat (Conrad I), King of Jerusalem, in Tyre, only two days after his title to the throne was confirmed by election.
On September 2, 1192, Richard and Saladin finalized a treaty granting Muslim control over Jerusalem but allowing unarmed Christian pilgrims and merchants to visit the city.
On March 24, 1199, while fighting in France at Limousin, an administrative region in the South-Central part of France that is now Nouvelle-Aquitaine, the King of England known as Richard I, the Lionheart, was struck in the shoulder by a bolt launched by a crossbow, leading to the King’s death on April 6, 1199.
The Fourth Crusade (1202–04)
On November 10, 1202, despite letters from Pope Innocent III (a much more popular pope than Pope Guilty III!) forbidding the action and threatening excommunication, Catholic crusaders on the Fourth Crusade began a siege of the Catholic city of Zara (now Zadar, Croatia).
On April 12, 1204, the Crusaders’ conquest of Constantinople marked the culmination of the Fourth Crusade.
The Fifth Crusade (1217–1221)
On August 25, 1218, despite resistance from the unprepared sultan Al-Adil of Egypt, the tower outside the city of Damietta, Egypt was taken by crusaders.
The Sixth Crusade (1228–1229)
On February 18, 1229, a treaty resulted from the diplomatic maneuvering of Holy Roman Emperor Frederick II (r. 1220–1250), which allowed the Christian Kingdom of Jerusalem to regain some control over Jerusalem for much of the ensuing fifteen years (1229–39, 1241–44) as well as over other areas of the Holy Land.
The Seventh Crusade (1248–1254)
On April 6, 1250, The Battle of Fariskur, the last major battle of the Seventh Crusade, resulted in the complete defeat of the crusader army and the capture of King Louis IX of France (r. 1226–1270).
On June 19, 1269, the King of France, Louis IX, ordered that any Jew found in any public place not wearing the obligatory yellow badge would be fined 10 livres of silver.
The Eighth Crusade (1270)
On August 25, 1270, Louis IX died, in penitence, on a bed of ashes during the siege of Tunis in North Africa.
The Ninth Crusade (1271–1272)
On May 9, 1271, English Prince Edward arrived at Acre with a small but not insignificant contingent of no more than 1,000 men, including 225 knights.
On September 24, 1272, Edward left Acre for Sicily and, while recuperating on the island, he first received news of the death of his son John, and then a few months later news of the death of his father.
On July 18, 1290, King Edward I of England, also known as “Edward Longshanks” or alternatively “The Hammer of the Scots,” issued the Edict of Expulsion, a royal decree ordering all Jews out of England.
On May 18, 1291, the Fall of Acre resulted in the loss of the Crusader-controlled city of Acre to the Mamluks after being in the hands of the Franks for 100 years.
On February 17, 1370, the Teutonic Knights fought a great battle against the Grand Duchy of Lithuania, a battle known as the Battle of Rudau.
Question for students (and subscribers): Were the Crusades justified? Please let us know in the comments section below this article.
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For more information, please see…
Oldenbourg, Zoé. The Crusades. Pantheon Books, 1966.
The featured image in this article, a 14th-century miniature from William of Tyre‘s Histoire d’Outremer of a battle during the Second Crusade, is in the public domain in its country of origin and other countries and areas where the copyright term is the author’s life plus 70 years or fewer. This media file is in the public domain in the United States. This applies to U.S. works where the copyright has expired, often because its first publication occurred prior to January 1, 1925, and if not then due to lack of notice or renewal. See this page for further explanation.
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