How did the crusaders “know” that they found the Holy Blood?

The Basilica of the Holy Blood, a church in Bruges, claims they hold the Holy Blood and the main thesis is that it was brought to Bruges by the Second Crusade. Note that in 1964, Nicolas Huyghebaert published a study in which he claims that the Holy Blood was brought to Bruges later.

My question is not whether it is indeed the Holy Bood. My question is more whether something is known about what made the Crusaders believe that it was indeed the Holy Blood (and how they "convinced" the locals that they indeed brought back the Holy Blood). Of course the odds are high this is the blood of some knight who participated in the Crusade, but in that case he still had to convince his fellow Crusaders that it was the blood of Christ.

Well, if it was found in Constantinople being venerated as a relic of the Holy Blood, that would have been quite good enough. The events of Christ's life and the legends surrounding it were very immediate and personal for many Crusaders, and there was an expectation that traces of them would be found.

If it was presented by Baldwin III of Jerusalem, that would again have been more than good enough. He was King of Jerusalem. If anyone would have such relics, he would, and there was an expectation that these things would exist.

Yes, these beliefs could be exploited by the unscrupulous. There are beliefs that can be exploited at any time in history. It's a human characteristic.

Venetian Crusade

The Venetian Crusade of 1122–24 was an expedition to the Holy Land launched by the Republic of Venice that succeeded in capturing Tyre. It was an important victory at the start of a period when the Kingdom of Jerusalem would expand to its greatest extent under King Baldwin II. The Venetians gained valuable trading concessions in Tyre. Through raids on Byzantine territory both on the way to the Holy Land and on the return journey, the Venetians forced the Byzantines to confirm, as well as extend, their trading privileges with the empire.


The term "crusade" first referred to military expeditions undertaken by European Christians in the 11th, 12th, and 13th centuries to the Holy Land. The conflicts to which the term is applied has been extended to include other campaigns initiated, supported and sometimes directed by the Roman Catholic Church against pagans, heretics or for alleged religious ends. [1] These differed from other Christian religious wars in that they were considered a penitential exercise, and so earned participants forgiveness for all confessed sins. [2] The term's usage can create a misleading impression of coherence, particularly regarding the early crusades, and the definition is a matter of historiographical debate among contemporary historians. [3] [4] [5]

At the time of the First Crusade, iter, "journey", and peregrinatio, "pilgrimage" were used for the campaign. Crusader terminology remained largely indistinguishable from that of Christian pilgrimage during the 12th century. Only at the end of the century was a specific language of crusading adopted in the form of crucesignatus—"one signed by the cross"—for a crusader. This led to the French croisade—the way of the cross. [3] By the mid 13th century the cross became the major descriptor of the crusades with crux transmarina—"the cross overseas"—used for crusades in the eastern Mediterranean, and crux cismarina—"the cross this side of the sea"—for those in Europe. [6] [7] The modern English "crusade" dates to the early 1700s. [8] The Arabic word for struggle or contest, particularly one for the propagation of Islam—jihād—was used for a religious war of Muslims against unbelievers, and it was believed by some Muslims that the Quran and Hadith made this a duty. [9]

Constantinople was founded in 324 by the first Christian Roman Emperor, Constantine the Great, going on to develop into the largest in the Christian world. The city and the Eastern Roman Empire are more generally known as Byzantium, the name of the older Greek city it replaced. [10] "Franks" and "Latins" were used by the peoples of the Near East during the crusades for western Europeans, distinguishing them from the Byzantine Christians who were known as "Greeks". [11] [12] "Saracen" was used for an Arab Muslim, derived from a Greek and Roman name for the nomadic peoples of the Syro-Arabian desert. [13] Crusader sources used the term "Syrians" to describe Arabic speaking Christians who were members of the Greek Orthodox Church, and "Jacobites" for those who were members of the Syrian Orthodox Church. [14] The Crusader states of Syria and Palestine were known as the "Outremer" from the French outre-mer, or "the land beyond the sea". [15]


By the end of the 11th century the period of Islamic Arab territorial expansion had been over for centuries. Its’ remoteness from the focus of Islamic power struggles enabled relative peace and prosperity for the Holy Land in Syria and Palestine. The conflict in the Iberian Peninsula was the only location where Muslim-Western European contact was more than minimal. [16] The Byzantine Emperor Basil II had extended the Empire’s territorial recovery to its furthest extent in 1025, with frontiers stretching east to Iran. It controlled Bulgaria, much of southern Italy and suppressed piracy in the Mediterranean Sea. The Empire's relationships with its Islamic neighbours were no more quarrelsome than its relationships with the Slavs or the Western Christians. The Normans in Italy to the north Pechenegs, Serbs and Cumans and Seljuk Turks in the east all competed with the Empire and the emperors fought this challenge utilising mercenaries that were even occasionally recruited from their enemies [17]

The emergence of Shia Islam—the belief system that only descendants of Muhammad's cousin and son-in-law, Ali, and daughter, Fatimah, could lawfully be caliph— had led to a split with Sunni Islam Islam on theology, ritual, and law. The Shi'ite Fatimid dynasty ruled North Africa, swathes of Western Asia including Jerusalem, Damascus, and parts of the Mediterranean coastline from 969. [18] Total submission to Islam from Jews or Christians was not required. As People of the Book or dhimmi they could continue in their faith on payment of a poll tax. It was a minority Muslim elite that ruled over indigenous Christians—Greeks, Armenians, Syrians and Copts. [19]

The political situation in Western Asia was changed by waves of Turkish migration. In particular, the arrival of the Seljuk Turks in the 10th century. Previously a minor ruling clan from Transoxania, they were recent converts to Islam who migrated into Iran to seek their fortune. In two decades, they conquered Iran, Iraq, and the Near East. The Seljuks and their followers were from the Sunni tradition which brought them into conflict in Palestine and Syria with the Shi'ite Fatimids. [20] They were nomadic, Turkish speaking and occasionally shamanistic, very different from the sedentary, Arabs. This and the governance of territory based on political preference, and competition between independent princes, rather than geography, weakened power structures. [21] The Byzantine Emperor attempted confrontation in 1071 to suppress the Seljuks sporadic raiding, leading to his defeat at the Battle of Manzikert. Historians once considered this a pivotal event but now Manzikert is regarded as only one further step in the expansion of the Great Seljuk Empire. [22]

At the start of the 11th century the papacy’s decline in power and influence left it as little more than a localised bishopric, but its’ assertion grew under the influence of the Gregorian Reform in the period from the 1050s until the 1080s. The doctrine of papal supremacy conflicted with the view of the Eastern church that considered the pope as only one of the five patriarchs of the Church, alongside the Patriarchates of Alexandria, Antioch, Constantinople and Jerusalem. In 1054 differences in custom, creed, and practice spurred Pope Leo IX to send a delegation to the Patriarch of Constantinople, which ended in mutual excommunication and an East–West Schism. [23]


The use of violence for communal purposes was not alien to early Christians. The evolution of a Christian theology of war was inevitable when Roman citizenship became linked to Christianity and citizens were required to fight against the Empire's enemies. This was supported by the development of a doctrine of holy war dating from the works of the 4th-century theologian Augustine. Augustine maintained that an aggressive war was sinful, but acknowledged a "just war" could be rationalised if it was proclaimed by a legitimate authority such as a king or bishop, was defensive or for the recovery of lands, and without an excessive degree of violence. [24] [25] Violent acts were commonly used for dispute resolution in Western Europe, and the papacy attempted to mitigate it. [26] Historians, such as Carl Erdmann, thought the Peace and Truce of God movements restricted conflict between Christians from the 10th century the influence is apparent in Pope Urban II's speeches. Later historians, such as Marcus Bull, assert that the effectiveness was limited and it had died out by the time of the crusades. [27]

Pope Alexander II developed a system of recruitment via oaths for military resourcing that Gregory VII extended across Europe. [28] Christian conflict with Muslims on the southern peripheries of Christendom was sponsored by the Church in the 11th century, including the siege of Barbastro and fighting in Sicily [29] In 1074 Gregory VII planned a display of military power to reinforce the principle of papal sovereignty. His vision of a holy war supporting Byzantium against the Seljuks was the first crusade prototype, but lacked support. [30] Theologian Anselm of Lucca took the decisive step towards an authentic crusader ideology, stating that fighting for legitimate purposes could result in the remission of sins. [31]

Elected pope in 1198, Innocent III reshaped the ideology and practice of crusading. He emphasised crusader oaths and penitence, and clarified that the absolution of sins was a gift from God, rather than a reward for the crusaders' sufferings. Taxation to fund crusading was introduced and donation encouraged. [32] [33] In 1199 he was the first pope to deploy the conceptual and legal apparatus developed for crusading to enforce papal rights. With his 1213 bull Quia maior he appealled to all Christians, not just the nobility, offering the possibility of vow redemption without crusading. This set a precedent for trading in spiritual rewards, a practice that scandalised devout Christians and later became one of the causes of the 16th-century Protestant Reformation. [34] [35] From the 1220s crusader privileges were regularly granted to those who fought against heretics, schismatics or Christians the papacy considered non-conformist. [36] When Frederick II's army threatened Rome, Gregory IX used crusading terminology. Rome was seen as the Patrimony of Saint Peter, and canon law regarded crusades as defensive wars to protect theoretical Christian territory. [37]

Innocent IV rationalised crusading ideology on the basis of the Christians' right to ownership. He acknowledged Muslims' land ownership, but emphasised that this was subject to Christ's authority. [38] In the 16th century the rivalry between Catholic monarchs prevented anti-Protestant crusades but individual military actions were rewarded with crusader privileges, including Irish Catholic rebellions against English Protestant rule and the Spanish Armada's attack on Queen Elizabeth I and England. [39]

Causes and precursors

The First Crusade was an unexpected event for contemporary chroniclers, but historical analysis demonstrates it had its roots in developments earlier in the 11th century. Clerics and laity increasingly recognised Jerusalem as worthy of penitential pilgrimage. In 1071, Jerusalem was captured by the Turkish warlord Atsiz, who seized most of Syria and Palestine as part of the expansion of the Seljuk Turks throughout the Middle East. The Seljuk hold on the city was weak and returning pilgrims reported difficulties and the oppression of Christians. Byzantine desire for military aid converged with increasing willingness of the western nobility to accept papal military direction. [40] [41]

The desire of Christians for a more effective Church was evident in increased piety. Pilgrimage to the Holy Land expanded after safer routes through Hungary developed from 1000. There was an increasingly articulate piety within the knighthood and the developing devotional and penitential practises of the aristocracy created a fertile ground for crusading appeals. [28] Crusaders' motivations may never be understood. One factor may have been spiritual – a desire for penance through warfare. The historian Georges Duby's explanation was that crusades offered economic advancement and social status for younger, landless sons of the aristocracy. This has been challenged by other academics because it does not account for the wider kinship groups in Germany and Southern France. The anonymous Gesta Francorum talks about the economic attraction of gaining "great booty". This was true to an extent, but the rewards often did not include the seizing of land, as fewer crusaders settled than returned. Another explanation was adventure and an enjoyment of warfare, but the deprivations the crusaders experienced and the costs they incurred weigh against this. One sociological explanation was that crusaders had no choice as they were embedded in extended patronage systems and obliged to follow their feudal lords. [42] The motivations of the First Crusade also included a "messianism of the poor" inspired by an expected mass ascension into heaven at Jerusalem. [43]

From 1092 the status quo in the Middle East disintegrated following the death of the vizier and effective ruler of the Seljuk Empire, Nizam al-Mulk. This was closely followed by the deaths of the Seljuk Sultan Malik-Shah and the Fatimid khalif, Al-Mustansir Billah. The Islamic historian Carole Hillenbrand has described this as analogous to the fall of the Iron Curtain in 1989 with the phrase "familiar political entities gave way to disorientation and disunity". [44] The confusion and division meant the Islamic world disregarded the world beyond this made it vulnerable to, and surprised by, the First Crusade. [45]

First Crusade

In 1095, Byzantine Emperor Alexios I Komnenos requested military aid from Pope Urban II at the Council of Piacenza, probably a small body of mercenary reinforcements he could direct and control. Alexios had restored the Empire's finances and authority but still faced numerous foreign enemies. Most significant were the migrating Turks, in particular the Seljuks and their followers, who had colonised the sparsely populated areas of Anatolia. Later that year at the Council of Clermont, Urban raised the issue of military support again and preached for a crusade, promising absolution for the participants' sins. [46] Almost immediately, the French priest Peter the Hermit led thousands of mostly poor Christians out of Europe in what became known as the People's Crusade. [47] In transit through Germany these crusaders spawned German bands who massacred Jewish communities in what became known as the Rhineland massacres. This was part of wide-ranging anti-Jewish activities, extending from limited, spontaneous violence to full-scale military attacks. [48] Jews were perceived to be as much an enemy as Muslims: they were held responsible for the crucifixion, and were more immediately visible than the distant Muslims. Many people wondered why they should travel thousands of miles to fight non-believers when there were already non-believers closer to home. [49] The end of the Peoples' Crusade was abrupt. Almost immediately after leaving Byzantine controlled territory on their journey to Nicaea the crusaders were annihilated in a Turkish ambush at the Battle of Civetot. [50]

Conflict with Pope Urban II meant that King Philip I of France and Holy Roman Emperor Henry IV declined to participate in the crusade. But members of the high aristocracy from France, western Germany, the Low Countries, Languedoc and Italy led independent military contingents in loose, fluid arrangements based on bonds of lordship, family, ethnicity and language. Foremost amongst these was the elder statesman, Raymond IV, Count of Toulouse. He was rivalled by the relatively poor but martial Italo-Norman Bohemond of Taranto and his nephew Tancred. They were joined by Godfrey of Bouillon and his brother Baldwin and forces from Lorraine, Lotharingia, and Germany. These five princes were pivotal to the campaign, which was also joined by a northern French army led by: Robert Curthose, Count Stephen II of Blois, and Count Robert II of Flanders. [51] The armies, which may have contained as many as 100,000 people including non-combatants, travelled eastward by land to Byzantium where they were cautiously welcomed by the Emperor. [52] Alexios persuaded many of the princes to pledge allegiance to him he also convinced them their first objective should be Nicaea, the capital of the Sultanate of Rum. The over-confident Sultan Kilij Arslan left the city to resolve a territorial dispute, thus enabling its capture after a crusader siege and a Byzantine naval assault. This was a high point in Latin and Greek co-operation and the beginning of crusader attempts to take advantage of disunity in the Muslim world. [53]

The first experience of Turkish tactics, using lightly armoured mounted archers, occurred when an advanced party led by Bohemond and Robert was ambushed at Dorylaeum. The Normans resisted for hours before the arrival of the main army caused a Turkish withdrawal. [54] The crusader army marched for three arduous months to the former Byzantine city Antioch, that had been in Muslim control since 1084. Numbers were reduced by starvation, thirst and disease, combined with Baldwin's decision to leave with 100 knights and their followers to carve out his own territory in Edessa which became one of the crusader states. [55] The crusaders besieged Antioch for eight months but lacked the resources to fully invest the city the residents lacked the means to repel the invaders. Finally, Bohemond persuaded a guard in the city to open a gate. The crusaders entered, massacring the Muslim inhabitants as well as many Christians amongst the Greek Orthodox, Syrian and Armenian communities. [56]

A force to recapture the city was raised by Kerbogha, the effective ruler of Mosul. The Byzantines did not march to the assistance of the crusaders because the deserting Stephen of Blois told them the cause was lost. Instead Alexius retreated from Philomelium, where he received Stephen's report, to Constantinople. The Greeks were never truly forgiven for this perceived betrayal and Stephen was branded a coward. [57] Losing numbers through desertion and starvation in the besieged city, the crusaders attempted to negotiate surrender but were rejected. Bohemond recognised that the only remaining option was open combat and launched a counterattack. Despite superior numbers, Kerbogha's army — which was divided into factions and surprised by the Crusaders commitment and dedication— retreated and abandoned the siege. [58] The crusaders then delayed for months while they argued over who would have the captured territory. The debate ended when news arrived that the Fatimid Egyptians had taken Jerusalem from the Seljuk Turks, making it imperative to attack before the Egyptians could consolidate their position. Bohemond remained in Antioch, retaining the city, despite his pledge to return it to Byzantine control, while Raymond led the remaining crusader army rapidly south along the coast to Jerusalem. [59]

An initial attack on the city failed, and the siege became a stalemate, until the arrival of craftsmen and supplies transported by the Genoese to Jaffa tilted the balance. Crusaders constructed two large siege engines the one commanded by Godfrey breached the walls. For two days the crusaders massacred the inhabitants and pillaged the city. Historians now believe the accounts of the numbers killed have been exaggerated, but this narrative of massacre did much to cement the crusaders' reputation for barbarism. [60] Godfrey further secured the Frankish position by defeating an Egyptian relief force at Ascalon. [61] Now, most of the crusaders considered their pilgrimage complete and returned to Europe. When it came to the future governance of the city it was Godfrey who took leadership and the title Defender of the Holy Sepulchre. The presence of troops from Lorraine ended the possibility that Jerusalem would be an ecclesiastical domain and the claims of Raymond. [62] At that point Godfrey was left with a mere 300 knights and 2,000 infantry to defend Palestine. Tancred was the other prince who remained. His ambition was to gain a Crusader state princedom of his own. [63] When Godfrey died in 1100 the Lorrainers foiled the attempt of Jerusalem's Patriarch, Daimbert to seize power and enabled Godfrey's brother, Baldwin, to take the crown. [64]

The Islamic world seems to have barely registered the crusade certainly, there is limited written evidence before 1130. This may be in part due to a reluctance to relate Muslim failure, but it is more likely to be the result of cultural misunderstanding. Al-Afdal Shahanshah, the new vizier of Egypt, and the Muslim world mistook the crusaders for the latest in a long line of Byzantine mercenaries, rather than religiously motivated warriors intent on conquest and settlement. [65] The Muslim world was divided between the Sunnis of Syria and Iraq and the Shi'ite Fatimids of Egypt. Even the Turks remained divided, they had found unity unachievable since the death of Sultan Malik-Shah in 1092, with rival rulers in Damascus and Aleppo. [66] In Baghdad the Seljuk sultan, Barkiyaruq, vied with an Abbasid caliph, Al-Mustazhir, in a Mesopotamian struggle. This gave the Crusaders a crucial opportunity to consolidate without any pan-Islamic counter-attack. [67]

Crusader states

Following the crusade most crusaders considered their pilgrimage complete and returned home. [61] Historians now think the Muslim and native Christian populations were less integrated than previously thought. Christians lived around Jerusalem and in an arc stretching from Jericho and the Jordan to Hebron in the south. [68] Maronites were clustered in Tripoli, Jacobites in Antioch and Edessa. There were Armenians in the north and communities in all major towns. Central areas had a Muslim majority population. This was predominantly Sunni with Shi'ite communities in Galilee and Druze in the mountains of Tripoli. The Jewish population resided in coastal towns and some Galilean villages. [69] [70] The Frankish population of the Kingdom of Jerusalem clustered in three major cities. In the 13th century the population of Acre probably exceeded 60,000, next largest was Tyre and the smallest, Jerusalem, had a population between 20,000 and 30,000. [71] The Latin population peaked at around 250,000 with the kingdom’s population around 120,000 and the combined total in Tripoli, Antioch and Edessa being broadly comparable. [72] In context, Josiah Russell estimates the population of what he calls "Islamic territory" as 12.5 million in 1000 with the European areas that provided crusaders having a population of 23.7 million. By 1200 that these figures had risen to 13.7 million in Islamic territory while the Crusaders' home countries population was 35.6 million. He acknowledges much of Anatolia was Christian or Byzantines ruled and "Islamic" areas such as Mosul and Baghdad had significant Christian populations. [73] This was a frontier society where a Frankish elite ruled a native population that was related to the often-hostile neighbouring communities. [74] Society was politically and legally stratified and ethnic communities self-governing, although inter-communal relations were Frankish controlled. [75] The fundamental divisions in society were between Frank and non-Frank, rather than between Christian and Muslim and between urban and rural dwellers. The Franks imposed officials in the military, legal and administrative systems using the law and lordships for control. Few spoke better than basic Arabic, so Dragomans—interpreters—and ruʾasāʾ—village headmen— mediated. Natives administered civil disputes and minor criminality, but the cour des bourgeois administered major offences and those involving Franks. Native Christians gained status and wealth through commerce and industry in towns, but beyond servants few Muslims resided in urban areas. [76]

Near constant warfare in the early decades of the 12th century meant the king of Jerusalem's foremost role was leader of the feudal host. They rewarded loyalty with city incomes bur rarely granted land. The conflict's high mortality rate frequently allowed vacant to revert to the crown resulting in the royal domain of the first five rulers being greater than the combined holdings of the nobility. Thus, the rulers of Jerusalem had greater internal power than comparative western monarchs. However, there was not the necessary administrative machinery to govern a large realm. [77] Baronial dynasties evolved in the second quarter of the century acting as autonomous rulers. Royal powers were abrogated and effectively governance undertaken locally. Remaining central control was exercised through the Haute Cour or High Court where the king met his tenants in chief. The duty of the vassals to give counsel became a privilege until the legitimacy of the monarch depended on the agreement of the court. [78] The barons have been poorly regarded by both contemporary and modern commentators who note their superficial rhetoric, pedantry, and spurious legal justification for political action. [79] Before 1187 and the defeat at Hattin, the laws developed were documented as Assises in Letters of the Holy Sepulchre. [80] The entire body of written law was lost in the fall of Jerusalem leaving a legal system largely based on the custom and memory of the lost legislation. A myth was created of an idyllic early 12th century legal system that the barons to constrain the monarch. After the territorial loss, the barons became an urban mercantile class whose knowledge of the law was a valuable skill and career path to higher status. [81] The leaders of the Third Crusade disregarded the monarchy of Jerusalem, granting land and even the throne itself in 1190 and 1192. [82] Emperor Frederick II claimed the throne on his marriage to Queen Isabella and on her death the couple’s son Conrad was legally king. [83] Frederick left the Holy Land to defend his Italian and German lands meaning monarchs were absent from 1225 until 1254. Western monarchies became powerful, with centralised bureaucracies, but governance in Jerusalem developed in the opposite direction. Jerusalem's royalty had title but little power. [84] Magnates fought for regency control with an Italian army led by Frederick's viceroy Richard Filangieri in the War of the Lombards. For twelve years the rebels held a surrogate parliament in Acre before prevailing in 1242, leading to a succession of Ibelin and Cypriot regents. [85] [86] Centralised government collapsed and the nobility, military orders and Italian communes took the lead. Three Cypriot Lusignan kings succeeded without the resources to recover the lost territory. The title of king was sold to Charles of Anjou who gained power for a short while but never visited the kingdom. [87]

Largely based in the ports Italian, Provençal, and Catalan communes had distinct cultural characteristics and significant political power. They monopolised foreign trade, most banking and shipping. Power derived from the communards' native cities rather than their number, which never reached more than hundreds. By the middle of the 13th century, the rulers of the communes barely recognised crusader authority and divided Acre into several fortified miniature republics. [88] [89]

John of Ibelin records in around 1170 that the military strength of Jerusalem was foundered on a feudal host of about 647 to 675 heavily armoured knights. Each would provide their own armed retainers. Non-noble light cavalry and infantry were known as serjants and numbered around 5,025. These were augmented by mercenaries such as the Turcopoles recruited from the natives. [90] Prawer estimated that the military orders matched this force giving a total force of around 1,200 knights and 10,000 serjants. This was sufficient for territorial gain, but fewer than the required for military domination. Raising a field army required draining castles and cities of every able-bodied fighting man. In the event of defeat, no one remained. The Franks adopted delaying tactics when faced with an invading Muslim force, avoiding direct confrontation, retreating to strongholds, and waiting for the Muslim army to disperse. Muslim armies were incohesive and seldom campaigned beyond a period between sowing and harvest. It was generations before the Muslims identified that to conquer the Crusader states the destruction the Frankish fortresses was required. This forced the crusaders to change strategy the gain of territory to neutralising the regional challenge of Egypt. [91]

Islamic recovery of Edessa and the Second Crusade

The Crusader states were almost constantly at defensive or expansionist war in the early 12th century. This led to high mortality rates among the nobility as well as a policy of encouraging settlers from the West and Christians from across the Jordan. [92] Bohemond seized Christian cities in Cilicia, refused to return Antioch and in 1108 organised a Crusade against the Byzantine Empire. The Crusade ended in failure after Alexius starved Bohemond of supplies by cutting his supply lines. The resulting Treaty of Devol, although never implemented, forced Bohemond to acknowledge Alexius as his feudal overlord. [93] Relations between Edessa and Antioch were variable: they fought together in the defeat at Battle of Harran, but the Antiocheans claimed suzerainty and attempted to block the return of Count Baldwin—later king of Jerusalem—from his captivity after the battle. [94] This conflict demonstrates the Crusader involvement in Near East politics with Muslims and Christians fighting on both sides. The expansion of Norman Antioch came to an end in 1119 with a major defeat by the Turks at the battle of the Field of Blood. [95]

Under the papacies of successive popes, smaller groups of crusaders continued to travel to the eastern Mediterranean to fight the Muslims and aid the crusader states. The third decade of the 12th century saw campaigns by French nobleman Fulk V of Anjou, the Venetians who captured Tyre, and King Conrad III of Germany, as well as the foundation of the Knights Templar, a military order of warrior monks which became international and widely influential. The Templars, along with the other Military Orders, are estimated to have provided half the military strength of the kingdom of Jerusalem. [96]

For the first time, the rise of Imad ad-Din Zengi saw the Crusaders threatened by a Muslim ruler attempting to restore jihad to Near Eastern politics. After his father was executed for treason in the Seljuk succession crisis little is known of his early years. He became Atabeg of Mosul in 1127 and used this to expand his control to Aleppo and then Damascus. In 1144 he conquered Edessa. After a delay of nearly two years preaching began for what subsequently became known as the Second Crusade. Initially, support was sluggish, partly because Pope Eugenius III delegated the preaching. The French Benedictine abbot, Bernard of Clairvaux spread the message that the loss was the result of sinfulness, and redemption was the reward for crusading. Simultaneously, the anti-Semitic crusade preaching of a Cistercian monk called Rudolf initiated further massacres of Jews in the Rhineland. [97] This formed part of a general increase in crusading activity, including in Iberia and northern Europe. [98]

Zengi was murdered in uncertain circumstances. His elder son Saif ad-Din succeeded him as atabeg of Mosul while a younger son Nur ad-Din succeeded him in Aleppo. [99] For the first time ruling monarchs were campaigning—King Louis VII of France and Conrad III—but the crusade was not a success. Edessa had been destroyed, making its recovery impossible, and the crusade's objectives were unclear. Hostility developed between the French and the Byzantines. The French blamed the Byzantines for defeats suffered against the Seljuks in Anatolia, while the Byzantines laid claims on future territorial gains in northern Syria. As a result, in a decision that historians now criticise, the crusaders attacked the Seljuks of Damascus. This broke a long period of cooperation and coexistence between Jerusalem and Damascus. Bad luck, poor tactics and a feeble five-day siege of Damascus led to internal arguments the barons of Jerusalem withdrew support and the crusaders retreated before the arrival of a relief army led by Zengi's sons. Morale fell, hostility to the Byzantines grew and distrust developed between the newly arrived crusaders and those that had made the region their home after the earlier crusades. [100]

Rise of Saladin and the Third Crusade

In 1153 the conquest of Ascalon opened a strategic road south from Palestine and Jerusalem demonstrated an increasing interest in expanding into Egyptian territory. In 1160 King Baldwin III’s planned invasion was only halted by an Egypt tribute payment of 160,000 gold dinars. [101] In 1163 Shawar visited Nur ad-Din in Damascus. He had been deposed as vizier in an outbreak of systemic and murderous Egyptian political intrigue. He wanted political and military support that would aid in regaining the viziership. Nur ad-Din prevaricated, but responded when it became apparent that the crusaders might otherwise gain a strategic foothold on the Nile. Some historians consider this decision a visionary attempt to surround the crusaders. [102] Nur ad-Din provided his Kurdish general, Shirkuh, who stormed Egypt and restored Shawar. However, Shawar asserted his independence. He formed an alliance with Baldwin's brother and successor King Amalric. When Amalric broke the alliance in a ferocious attack, Shawar again requested military support from Syria. Nur ad-Din sent Shirkuh for a second time. Shirkuh was joined by his nephew, Yusuf ibn Ayyub, who became known by his honorific 'Salah al-Din' ('the goodness of faith'), which has been westernised as Saladin. Amalric retreated and Saladin captured and executed Shawar. Saladin successfully intrigued to be appointed vizier in succession to Shirkuh when his uncle died two months later. [103] Nur ad-Din died in 1174, the first Muslim to unite Aleppo and Damascus in the crusading era. Saladin assumed control and had the strategic choice of establishing Egypt as an autonomous power or attempting to become the pre-eminent Muslim in the eastern Mediterranean he chose the latter. [104]

While Nur al-Din's territories fragmented, Saladin legitimised his ascent by positioning himself as a defender of Sunni Islam, subservient to both the Caliph of Baghdad and to Nur al-Din's 11-year-old son and successor, As-Salih Ismail al-Malik. [105] He claimed to be the young prince's regent until the boy died seven years later, at which point Saladin seized Damascus and much of Syria but failed to take Aleppo. [106] After building a defensive force to resist a planned attack by the Kingdom of Jerusalem that never materialised, his first contest with the Latin Christians was not a success. Overconfidence and tactical errors led to defeat at the Battle of Montgisard. [107] Despite this setback, Saladin established a domain stretching from the Nile to the Euphrates through a decade of politics, coercion and low-level military action. [108] In 1186 his survival of a life-threatening illness provided the motivation to make good on his propaganda as the champion of Islam. He increased campaigning against the Latin Christians. [109] King Guy responded by raising the largest army that Jerusalem had ever put into the field. Saladin lured the force into inhospitable terrain without water supplies, surrounded the Latins with a superior force, and routed them at the Battle of Hattin. Guy was amongst the Christian nobles taken prisoner, but he was later released. Saladin offered the Christians the option of remaining in peace under Islamic rule or taking advantage of 40 days' grace to leave. As a result of his victory, much of Palestine quickly fell to Saladin, including—after a short five-day siege—Jerusalem. [110] On the 19 October 1187 Pope Urban III died of deep sadness after hearing of the defeat according to Benedict of Peterborough. [111]

Urban III's successor as pope, Gregory VIII, issued a papal bull titled Audita tremendi that proposed what became known as the Third Crusade to recapture Jerusalem. In August 1189, the freed King Guy attempted to recover Acre from Saladin by surrounding the strategic city, only for his own forces to be besieged in turn. [112] [113] Both armies could be supplied by sea, so a long stalemate commenced. The crusaders became so deprived at times they are thought to have resorted to cannibalism. [114] Holy Roman Emperor Frederick I drowned in the Saleph River travelling overland to crusade and few of his men reached their destination. [115] Richard the Lionheart, King of England, travelled by sea. In 1191, he conquered Cyprus when his sister and fiancée were captured by the Cypriot ruler, Isaac Komnenos. [116] Philip II of France was the first king to arrive at the siege of Acre Richard arrived on 8 June 1191. [112] The arrival of the French and Angevin forces turned the tide in the conflict, and the Muslim garrison of Acre finally surrendered on 12 July. Philip considered his vow fulfilled and returned to France to deal with domestic matters, leaving most of his forces behind. But Richard travelled south along the Mediterranean coast, defeated the Muslims near Arsuf, and recaptured the port city of Jaffa. He twice advanced to within a day's march of Jerusalem. Richard judged that while Saladin had a mustered army he lacked the resources to successfully capture the city or defend it in the unlikely event of a successful assault. This marked the end of Richard's crusading career and was a calamitous blow to Frankish morale. [117] A three-year truce was negotiated that allowed Catholics unfettered access to Jerusalem. [118] Politics in England forced Richard's departure, never to return Saladin died in March 1193. [112]

Fourth Crusade and the sack of Constantinople

In 1198, the recently elected Pope Innocent III announced a new crusade, organised by three Frenchmen: Theobald of Champagne Louis of Blois and Baldwin of Flanders. After Theobald's premature death, the Italian Boniface of Montferrat replaced him as the new commander of the campaign. They contracted with the Republic of Venice for the transportation of 30,000 crusaders at a cost of 85,000 marks. However, many chose other embarkation ports and only around 15,000 arrived in Venice. The Doge of Venice Enrico Dandolo proposed that Venice would be repaid with the profits of future conquests beginning with the seizure of the Christian city of Zara. Pope Innocent III's role was ambivalent. He only condemned the attack when the siege started. He withdrew his legate to disassociate from the attack but seemed to have accepted it as inevitable. Historians question whether for him, the papal desire to salvage the crusade may have outweighed the moral consideration of shedding Christian blood. [119] The crusade was joined by King Philip of Swabia, who intended to use the Crusade to install his exiled brother-in-law, Alexios IV Angelos, as Emperor. This required the overthrow of Alexios III Angelos, the uncle of Alexios IV. [120] Alexios IV offered the crusade 10,000 troops, 200,000 marks and the reunion of the Greek Church with Rome if they toppled his uncle Emperor Alexios III. [121]

When the crusade entered Constantinople, Alexios III fled and was replaced by his nephew. The Greek resistance prompted Alexios IV to seek continued support from the crusade until he could fulfil his commitments. This ended with his murder in a violent anti-Latin revolt. The crusaders were without ships, supplies or food leaving them with little option other than to take by force what Alexios had promised. The Sack of Constantinople involved three days of pillaging churches and killing much of the Greek Orthodox Christian populace. [122] While not unusual behaviour for the time, contemporaries such as Innocent III and Ali ibn al-Athir saw it as an atrocity against centuries of classical and Christian civilisation. [123]

The majority of the crusaders considered continuation of the crusade impossible. Many lacked the desire for further campaigning and the necessary Byzantine logistical support was no longer available. The result was that the Fourth Crusade never came within 1,000 miles (1,600 km) of its objective of Jerusalem. [122] Instead it increased Latin territory in the East including Constantinople, demonstrated that poor organisation could wreck an expedition and set a precedent that crusades could legitimately attack not only Muslims but other enemies of the Papacy. [124] A council of six Venetians and six Franks partitioned the territorial gains, establishing a Latin Empire. Baldwin became Emperor of seven-eighths of Constantinople, Thrace, northwest Anatolia and the Aegean Islands. Venice gained a maritime domain including the remaining portion of the city. Boniface received Thessalonika, and his conquest of Attica and Boeotia formed the Duchy of Athens. His vassals, William of Champlitte and Geoffrey of Villehardouin, conquered Morea, establishing the Principality of Achaea. Both Baldwin and Boniface died fighting the Bulgarians, leading the papal legate to release the crusaders from their obligations. [125] [126] As many as a fifth of the crusaders continued to Palestine via other routes, including a large Flemish fleet. Joining King Aimery on campaign they forced al-Adil into a six-year truce. [127]

The Latin states established were a fragile patchwork of petty realms threatened by Byzantine successor states—the Despotate of Epirus, the Empire of Nicaea and the Empire of Trebizond. Thessaloniki fell to Epirus in 1224, and Constantinople to Nicaea in 1261. Achaea and Athens survived under the French after the Treaty of Viterbo. [128] [129] The Venetians endured a long-standing conflict with the Ottoman Empire until the final possessions were lost in the Seventh Ottoman–Venetian War in the 18th century. This period of Greek history is known as the Frankokratia or Latinokratia ("Frankish or Latin rule") and designates a period when western European Catholics ruled Orthodox Byzantine Greeks. [130]

Conflict with Egypt including the Fifth and Sixth Crusades

In the 13th century the Mongols became a new military threat to the Christian and Islamic worlds. They defeated the Seljuks and threatened the crusader states while sweeping west from Mongolia through southern Russia, Poland and Hungary. The Mongols were predominately pagans, but some were Nestorian Christians giving the Papacy hope they were possible allies. [131] Saladin's brother Al-Adil supplanted Saladin's sons in the Ayyubid succession, but lacked the authority required to unite the Muslim world of his brother. As a result, the kingdom of Jerusalem revived in a period of peace between 1194 and 1217. in 1213, Innocent III called for another Crusade at the Fourth Lateran Council. In the papal bull Quia maior he codified existing practice in preaching, recruitment and financing the crusades. The plenary indulgence was defined as forgiveness of the sins confessed to a priest for those who fought in, or even provided funding for, crusades. Geoffrey Chaucer's The Pardoner's Tale may demonstrate a cynical view of vow commutation but it was a pragmatic approach that led to more people taking the cross and raising more money in the following century than in the previous hundred years. [132] Innocent died and in 1217 crusading resumed on the expiration of a number of treaties. [133]

A force—primarily raised from Hungary, Germany, Flanders—led by King Andrew II of Hungary and Leopold VI, Duke of Austria achieved little in what is categorised as the Fifth Crusade. The strategy was to attack Egypt because it was isolated from the other Islamic power centres, it would be easier to defend and was self-sufficient in food. Leopold and John of Brienne, the King of Jerusalem and later Latin Emperor of Constantinople, besieged and captured Damietta, but an army advancing into Egypt was compelled to surrender. [134] Damietta was returned, and an eight-year truce agreed. [135] [136]

Holy Roman Emperor Frederick II was excommunicated for frequently breaking an obligation to the pope to join the crusade. In 1225, his marriage to Isabella II of Jerusalem, John of Brienne's daughter and heir, meant he had a claim to the kingdom of Jerusalem. In 1227 he embarked on crusade but was forced to abandon it due to illness but in 1228 he finally reached Acre. Culturally, Frederick was the Christian monarch most empathetic to the Muslim world, having grown up in Sicily, with a Muslim bodyguard and even a harem. Despite his excommunication by Pope Gregory IX, his diplomatic skills meant the Sixth Crusade was largely a negotiation supported by force. [137] A peace treaty granted Latin Christians most of Jerusalem and a strip of territory that linked the city to Acre. The Muslims controlled their sacred sites and an alliance was made with Al-Kamil, Sultan of Egypt, against all his enemies of whatever religion. This treaty, and suspicions about Frederick's ambitions in the region, made him unpopular, and when Pope Gregory IX attacked his Italian domains he was compelled to return and defend them. [138]

The conflict between the Holy Roman Empire and the papacy meant that the responsibility for the campaigns in the Crusader states often fell to secular, rather than papal, leadership. What is known as the Barons' Crusade was led first by Count Theobald I of Navarre and when he returned to Europe, by the king of England's brother, Richard of Cornwall. The death of Sultan al-Kamil and resulting succession conflict in Egypt and Syria allowed the crusaders to follow Frederick's tactics of combining forceful diplomacy with playing rival factions off against each other. [139] Jerusalem was sparsely populated but in Christian hands and the kingdom's territorial reach was the same as before the 1187 disaster at Hattin. This brief renaissance for Frankish Jerusalem was illusory. The Jerusalem nobility rejected the succession of the Emperor's son to the kingdom's throne. The kingdom could no longer rely on the resources of the Holy Roman Empire and was left dependent on Ayyubid division, the crusading orders and other western aid for survival. [140]

The Mongols displaced a central Turkish Asian people, the Khwarazmian, providing Al-Kamil's son As-Salah with useful allies. [141] The Khwarazmians captured Jerusalem and only 300 Christian refugees reached safety at Ramla. A combined Egyptian-Khwarazmian army then defeated a Frankish-Damascene army at the battle of La Forbie. This was the last occasion the Crusader State nobility had the resources to put an army in the field. The Patriarch of Jerusalem put the total losses at 16,000 only 36 out of 348 Templars, 26 out of 351 Hospitallers and 3 out of 400 Teutonic knights escaped alive. [142]

Crusades of Saint Louis

Politics in the 13th-century eastern Mediterranean were complex, with numerous powerful and interested parties. The French were led by the very devout Louis IX, king of France, and his ambitiously expansionist brother Charles. Communication with the Mongols was hindered by the enormous distances involved. Louis sent an embassy to the Mongols in Iran in 1249 seeking a Franco-Mongol alliance. [143] When the reply found him in Palestine in 1251 it was again only a demand for tribute. Louis organised a new crusade, called the Seventh Crusade, to attack Egypt, arriving in 1249. [144] He was defeated at Mansura and captured as he retreated to Damietta. Another ten-year truce was agreed. Louis and his nobles were ransomed while the other prisoners were given a choice between conversion to Islam or beheading. [145] He remained in Syria until 1254 to consolidate the crusader states. [146] A brutal power struggle developed in Egypt between various Mamluk leaders and the remaining weak Ayyubid rulers. The Mamluks were slave soldiers that had been used by Muslim rulers for centuries. Most of them were Turks from the Eurasian Steppe or Christians from Anatolia kidnapped as boys, converted to Islam and given military training. [147] [148] The threat presented by an invasion by the Mongols led to Qutuz seizing the sultanate in 1259 and uniting with another faction led by Baibars to defeat the Mongols at Ain Jalut. The Mamluks then quickly gained control of Damascus and Aleppo before Qutuz was assassinated, most probably by Baibers. [149]

Between 1265 and 1271, Sultan Baibars drove the Franks to a few small coastal outposts. [150] Baibars had three key objectives: to prevent an alliance between the Latins and the Mongols, to cause dissension among the Mongols (particularly between the Golden Horde and the Persian Ilkhanate), and to maintain access to a supply of slave recruits from the Russian steppes. He supported King Manfred of Sicily's failed resistance to the attack of Charles and the papacy. Dissention in the crusader states led to conflicts such as the War of Saint Sabas. Venice drove the Genoese from Acre to Tyre where they continued to trade with Baibars' Egypt. Indeed, Baibars negotiated free passage for the Genoese with Michael VIII Palaiologos, Emperor of Nicaea, the newly restored ruler of Constantinople. [151] In 1270 Charles turned his brother King Louis IX's crusade, known as the Eighth, to his own advantage by persuading him to attack his rebel Arab vassals in Tunis. The crusader army was devastated by disease, and Louis himself died at Tunis on 25 August. The fleet returned to France. Prince Edward, the future king of England, and a small retinue arrived too late for the conflict but continued to the Holy Land in what is known as the Ninth Crusade. Edward survived an assassination attempt, negotiated a ten-year truce, and then returned to manage his affairs in England. This ended the last significant crusading effort in the eastern Mediterranean. [152]

The causes of the decline in crusading and the failure of the crusader states are multi-faceted. The nature of crusades was unsuited to the defence of the Holy Land. Crusaders were on a personal pilgrimage and usually returned when it was completed. Although the ideology of crusading changed over time, crusades continued to be conducted without centralised leadership by short-lived armies led by independently minded potentates, but the crusader states needed large standing armies. Religious fervour was difficult to direct and control even though it enabled significant feats of military endeavour. Political and religious conflict in Europe combined with failed harvests reduced Europe's interest in Jerusalem. The distances involved made the mounting of crusades and the maintenance of communications difficult. It enabled the Islamic world, under the charismatic leadership of Zengi, Nur al-Din, Saladin, the ruthless Baibars and others, to use the logistical advantages of proximity. [153]

Decline and fall of the Crusader States

The causes of the decline in crusading and the failure of the crusader states are multi-faceted. Historians have attempted to explain this in terms of Muslim reunification and jihadi enthusiasm but Thomas Asbridge, amongst others, considers this too simplistic. Muslim unity was sporadic and the desire for jihad ephemeral. The nature of crusades was unsuited to the conquest and defence of the Holy Land. Crusaders were on a personal pilgrimage and usually returned when it was completed. Although the philosophy of crusading changed over time, the crusades continued to be conducted by short-lived armies led by independently minded potentates, rather than with centralised leadership. What the crusader states needed were large standing armies. Religious fervour enabled significant feats of military endeavour but proved difficult to direct and control. Succession disputes and dynastic rivalries in Europe, failed harvests and heretical outbreaks, all contributed to reducing Latin Europe's concerns for Jerusalem. Ultimately, even though the fighting was also at the edge of the Islamic world, the huge distances made the mounting of crusades and the maintenance of communications insurmountably difficult. It enabled the Islamic world, under the charismatic leadership of Zengi, Nur al-Din, Saladin, the ruthless Baibars and others, to use the logistical advantages of proximity to victorious effect. [153]

The mainland Crusader states were finally extinguished with the fall of Tripoli in 1289 and Acre in 1291. It is reported that many Latin Christians evacuated to Cyprus by boat, were killed or enslaved. Despite this, Ottoman census records of Byzantine churches show that most parishes in the former Crusader states survived at least until the 16th century and remained Christian. [154] [68]

The military expeditions undertaken by European Christians in the 11th, 12th, and 13th centuries to recover the Holy Land from Muslims provided a template for warfare in other areas that also interested the Latin Church. These included the 12th and 13th century conquest of Muslim Al-Andalus by Spanish Christian kingdoms 12th to 15th century German Northern Crusades expansion into the pagan Baltic region the suppression of non-conformity, particularly in Languedoc during what has become called the Albigensian Crusade and for the Papacy's temporal advantage in Italy and Germany that are now known as political crusades. In the 13th and 14th centuries there were also unsanctioned, but related popular uprisings to recover Jerusalem known variously as Shepherds' or Children's crusades. [155]

Urban II equated the crusades for Jerusalem with the ongoing Catholic invasion of the Iberian Peninsula and crusades were preached in 1114 and 1118, but it was Pope Callixtus II who proposed dual fronts in Spain and the Middle East in 1122. [156] By the time of the Second Crusade the three Spanish kingdoms were powerful enough to conquer Islamic territory—Castile, Aragon and Portugal. [157] In 1212 the Spanish were victorious at the Battle of Las Navas de Tolosa with the support of 70,000 foreign fighters responding to the preaching of Innocent III. Many of these deserted because of the Spanish tolerance of the defeated Muslims, for whom the Reconquista was a war of domination rather than extermination. [158] In contrast the Christians formerly living under Muslim rule called Mozarabs had the Roman Rite relentlessly imposed on them and were absorbed into mainstream Catholicism. [68] Al-Andalus, Islamic Spain, was completely suppressed in 1492 when the Emirate of Granada surrendered. [159]

In 1147, Pope Eugene III extended Calixtus's idea by authorising a crusade on the German north-eastern frontier against the pagan Wends from what was primarily economic conflict. [156] [160] From the early 13th century, there was significant involvement of military orders, such as the Livonian Brothers of the Sword and the Order of Dobrzyń. The Teutonic Knights diverted efforts from the Holy Land, absorbed these orders and established the State of the Teutonic Order. [161] [162] This evolved the Duchy of Prussia and Duchy of Courland and Semigallia in 1525 and 1562, respectively. [163]

By the beginning of the 13th century Papal reticence in applying crusades against the papacy’s political opponents and those considered heretics. Innocent III proclaimed a crusade against Catharism that failed to suppress the heresy itself but ruined the culture the Languedoc. [164] This set a precedent that was followed in 1212 with pressure exerted on the city of Milan for tolerating Catharism, [165] in 1234 against the Stedinger peasants of north-western Germany, in 1234 and 1241 Hungarian crusades against Bosnian heretics. [164] The historian Norman Housley notes the connection between heterodoxy and anti-papalism in Italy. Indulgence was offered to anti-heretical groups such as the Militia of Jesus Christ and the Order of the Blessed Virgin Mary. [166] Innocent III declared the first political crusade against Frederick II’s regent, Markward von Annweiler, and when Frederick later threatened Rome in 1240, Gregory IX used crusading terminology to raise support against him. On Frederick II's death the focus moved to Sicily. In 1263, Pope Urban IV offered crusading indulgences to Charles of Anjou in return for Sicily's conquest. But these wars had no clear objectives or limitations making them unsuitable for crusading. [37] The 1281 election of a French pope, Martin IV, brought the power of the papacy behind Charles. Charles's preparations for a crusade against Constantinople were foiled by the Byzantine Emperor Michael VIII Palaiologos, who instigated an uprising called the Sicilian Vespers. Instead, Peter III of Aragon was proclaimed king of Sicily, despite his excommunication and an unsuccessful Aragonese Crusade. [167] Political crusading continued against Venice over Ferrara Louis IV, King of Germany when he marched to Rome for his imperial coronation and the free companies of mercenaries. [168]

The threat of the expanding Ottoman Empire prompted further campaigns. In 1389, the Ottomans defeated the Serbs at the Kosovo, won control of the Balkans from the Danube to the Gulf of Corinth, in 1396 defeated French crusaders and King Sigismund of Hungary at the Nicopolis, in 1444 destroyed a crusading Serb and Hungarian force at Varna, four years later again defeated the Hungarians at Kosovo and in 1453 captured Constantinople. The 16th century saw growing rapprochement. The Habsburgs, French, Spanish and Venetians and Ottomans all signed treaties. Francis I of France allied with all quarters, including from German Protestant princes and Sultan Suleiman the Magnificent. [169] Anti-Christian crusading declined in the 15th century, the exceptions were the six failed crusades against the religiously radical Hussites in Bohemia and attacks on the Waldensians in Savoy. [39] Crusading became a financial exercise precedence was given to the commercial and political objectives. The military threat presented by the Ottoman Turks diminished, making anti-Ottoman crusading obsolete in 1699 with the final Holy League. [170] [171]

The crusaders' propensity to follow the customs of their Western European homelands meant that there were few innovations developed in the crusader states. Three notable exceptions to this were the military orders, warfare and fortifications. [172] The Knights Hospitaller, formally the Order of Knights of the Hospital of Saint John of Jerusalem, had a medical function in Jerusalem before the First Crusade. The order later adding a martial element and became a much larger military order. [173] In this way knighthood entered the previously monastic and ecclesiastical sphere. [174] The Templars, formally the Poor Fellow-Soldiers of Christ and the Temple of Solomon were founded around 1119 by a small band of knights who dedicated themselves to protecting pilgrims en route to Jerusalem. [175] King Baldwin II granted the order the Al-Aqsa Mosque in 1129 they were formally recognised by the papacy at the 1129 Council of Troyes. Military orders like the Knights Hospitaller and Knights Templar provided Latin Christendom's first professional armies in support of the Kingdom of Jerusalem and the other crusader states. [176]

The Hospitallers and the Templars became supranational organisations as papal support led to rich donations of land and revenue across Europe. This, in turn, led to a steady flow of new recruits and the wealth to maintain multiple fortifications in the crusader states. In time, they developed into autonomous powers in the region. [177] After the fall of Acre the Hospitallers relocated to Cyprus, then ruled Rhodes until the island was taken by the Ottomans in 1522, and Malta until Napoleon captured the island in 1798. The Sovereign Military Order of Malta continues in existence to the present-day. [178] King Philip IV of France probably had financial and political reasons to oppose the Knights Templar, which led to him exerting pressure on Pope Clement V. The Pope responded in 1312 with a series of papal bulls including Vox in excelso and Ad providam that dissolved the order, explaining that the order has been defamed by accusations of sodomy, heresy and magic, although he did not condemn it on theses contested charges. [179] [180]

According to the historian Joshua Prawer no major European poet, theologian, scholar or historian settled in the crusader states. Some went on pilgrimage, and this is seen in new imagery and ideas in western poetry. Although they did not migrate east themselves, their output often encouraged others to journey there on pilgrimage. [181]

Historians consider the crusader military architecture of the Middle East to demonstrate a synthesis of the European, Byzantine and Muslim traditions and to be the most original and impressive artistic achievement of the crusades. Castles were a tangible symbol of the dominance of a Latin Christian minority over a largely hostile majority population. They also acted as centres of administration. [182] Modern historiography rejects the 19th-century consensus that Westerners learnt the basis of military architecture from the Near East, as Europe had already experienced rapid development in defensive technology before the First Crusade. Direct contact with Arab fortifications originally constructed by the Byzantines did influence developments in the east, but the lack of documentary evidence means that it remains difficult to differentiate between the importance of this design culture and the constraints of situation. The latter led to the inclusion of oriental design features such as large water reservoirs and the exclusion of occidental features such as moats. [183]

Typically, crusader church design was in the French Romanesque style. This can be seen in the 12th-century rebuilding of the Holy Sepulchre. It retained some of the Byzantine details, but new arches and chapels were built to northern French, Aquitanian and Provençal patterns. There is little trace of any surviving indigenous influence in sculpture, although in the Holy Sepulchre the column capitals of the south facade follow classical Syrian patterns. [184]

In contrast to architecture and sculpture, it is in the area of visual culture that the assimilated nature of the society was demonstrated. Throughout the 12th and 13th centuries the influence of indigenous artists was demonstrated in the decoration of shrines, paintings and the production of illuminated manuscripts. Frankish practitioners borrowed methods from the Byzantines and indigenous artists and iconographical practice leading to a cultural synthesis, illustrated by the Church of the Nativity. Wall mosaics were unknown in the west but in widespread use in the crusader states. Whether this was by indigenous craftsmen or learnt by Frankish ones is unknown, but a distinctive original artistic style evolved. [185]

Manuscripts were produced and illustrated in workshops housing Italian, French, English and local craftsmen leading to a cross-fertilisation of ideas and techniques. An example of this is the Melisende Psalter, created by several hands in a workshop attached to the Holy Sepulchre. This style could have both reflected and influenced the taste of patrons of the arts. But what is seen is an increase in stylised, Byzantine-influenced content. This extended to the production of icons, unknown at the time to the Franks, sometimes in a Frankish style and even of western saints. This is seen as the origin of Italian panel painting. [186] While it is difficult to track illumination of manuscripts and castle design back to their origins, textual sources are simpler. The translations made in Antioch are notable, but they are considered of secondary importance to the works emanating from Muslim Spain and from the hybrid culture of Sicily. [187]

Until the requirement was abolished by Innocent III married men needed to obtain their wives' consent before taking the cross, which was not always readily forthcoming. Muslim and Byzantine observers viewed with disdain the many women who joined the armed pilgrimages, including female fighters. Western chroniclers indicated that female crusaders were wives, merchants, servants and sex workers. Attempts were made to control the women's behaviour in ordinances of 1147 and 1190. Aristocratic women had a significant impact: Ida of Formbach-Ratelnberg led her own force in 1101 Eleanor of Aquitaine conducted her own political strategy and Margaret of Provence negotiated her husband Louis IX's ransom with an opposing woman—the Egyptian sultana Shajar al-Durr. Misogyny meant that there was male disapproval chroniclers tell of immorality and Jerome of Prague blamed the failure of the Second Crusade on the presence of women. Even though they often promoted crusading, preachers would typecast them as obstructing recruitment, despite their donations, legacies and vow redemptions. The wives of crusaders shared their plenary indulgences. [188] [189]

The Crusades created national mythologies, tales of heroism, and a few place names. [190] Historical parallelism and the tradition of drawing inspiration from the Middle Ages have become keystones of political Islam encouraging ideas of a modern jihad and a centuries-long struggle against Christian states, while secular Arab nationalism highlights the role of western imperialism. [191] Modern Muslim thinkers, politicians and historians have drawn parallels between the crusades and political developments such as the establishment of Israel in 1948. [192] Right-wing circles in the western world have drawn opposing parallels, considering Christianity to be under an Islamic religious and demographic threat that is analogous to the situation at the time of the crusades. Crusader symbols and anti-Islamic rhetoric are presented as an appropriate response. These symbols and rhetoric are used to provide a religious justification and inspiration for a struggle against a religious enemy. [193]

Crusade finance and taxation left a legacy of social, financial, and legal institutions. Property became available while coinage and precious materials circulated more readily within Europe. Crusading expeditions created immense demands for food supplies, weapons, and shipping that benefited merchants and artisans. Levies for crusades contributed to the development of centralised financial administrations and the growth of papal and royal taxation. This aided development of representative bodies whose consent was required for many forms of taxation. [194] The Crusades strengthened exchanges between oriental and occidental economic spheres. The transport of pilgrims and crusaders notably benefitted Italian maritime cities, such as the trio of Venice, Pisa, and Genoa. Having obtained commercial privileges in the fortified places of Syria, they became the favoured intermediaries for trade in goods such as silk, spices, as well as other raw alimentary goods and mineral products: [195] trade with the Muslim world was thus extended beyond existing limits. Merchants were further advantaged by technological improvements, and long-distance trade as a whole expanded. [196] The increased volume of goods being traded through ports of the Latin Levant and the Muslim world made this the cornerstone of a wider middle-eastern economy, as manifested in important cities along the trade routes, such as Aleppo, Damascus and Acre. It became increasingly common for European merchants to venture further east, and business was conducted fairly despite religious differences, and continued even in times of political and military tensions. According to English historian Thomas Asbridge, "even in the midst of holy war, trade was too important to be disrupted". [197]

How did the crusaders &ldquoknow&rdquo that they found the Holy Blood? - History

I n the year 637 the armies of Islam lead by the Caliph Omar conquered the city of Jerusalem, the center of the Christian world and a magnet for Christian pilgrims. The city's Muslim masters exhibited a certain level of religious tolerance. No new churches were to be built and crosses could not be publicly displayed outside church buildings, but the pilgrims were allowed to continue their treks to the holiest shrines of Christendom (the pilgrims were charged a toll for access). The situation remained stable for over 400 years. Then, in the latter part of the 11th century, the Turks swarmed westward out of Central Asia overrunning all that lay in their path. Jerusalem fell to them in 1076. The atmosphere of tolerance practiced by the followers of Omar was replaced by vicious attacks on the Christian pilgrims and on their sacred shrines in the Holy City. Reports of robberies, beatings, killings, degradation of holy sites and the kidnapping for ransom of the city's patriarch made their way back to Europe. To the Europeans the Holy Land was now in the smothering grip of the Infidel and something must be done.

In response, Pope Urban II called a conference at the city of Clermont, France in 1095, concluding the eight days of deliberation with one of history's most influential speeches. Mounting a lofty scaffold, the Pope exhorted the assembled multitude to wrest the Holy Land from the hands of the Infidel and assured them that God would absolve them from any sin associated with the venture. His words fell on receptive ears as the crowd responded with cries of "It is the will of God!", "It is the will of God!". The Crusades had begun.

The First Crusade was the most successful in that it actually accomplished what it set out to do - conquer Jerusalem. But it had its problems. Responding to the Pope's challenge, thousands of peasants rallied to the cause motivated by a combination of religious fervor and the desire to escape their squalid condition at home. Led by Peter the Hermit and Walter the Penniless the hapless rabble marched across Europe to Constantinople, only to be slaughtered by the Turks soon after crossing the Bosphorus into Asia Minor.

In the meantime, the nobility of Europe raised an army of thousands that made its way through various routes and with much mishap to Constantinople. Unfortunately, many of these crusaders could not wait until they met the Muslims on the field of battle to demonstrate their religious zeal. As they progressed through Europe many Jewish communities became the target of their wrath and thousands were massacred.

In the spring of 1097, a host of over 100,000 crusaders joined forces on the eastern side of the Bosphorus. The combined army then fought its way along the coast of the Mediterranean reaching the gates of Jerusalem in June of 1099.

Capture of the Christian "Navel of the World"

The name of the author of the following eyewitness account is unknown, but it is considered a reliable description published before 1101:

During the siege we were unable to find any bread to buy for about the space of ten days, until a messenger came from our ships also we were afflicted by great thirst, so much so that in fear and terror we had to water our horses and other animals six miles away. The fountain of Siloam, at the foot of Mount Sion, sustained us, but the water was sold among us at a high price. . . . We sewed up skins of oxen and buffaloes in which we brought the water six miles. The water we drank from such receptacles was fetid, and what with foul water and barley bread we daily suffered great affliction and distress. Moreover the Saracens hid near all the springs and wells and ambushed our men, killing and mutilating them and driving off the animals into their dens and caverns.

Then our leaders planned to attack the city with machines, in order to enter it and adore the sepulchre of our Saviour. They made two wooden towers and many other machines. . . . Day and night on the fourth and fifth days of the week we vigorously attacked the city on all sides but before we made our assault the bishops and priests persuaded all by their preaching and exhortation that a procession should be made round Jerusalem to God's honour, faithfully accompanied by prayers, alms and fasting. Early on the sixth day we attacked

19th century illustrator
Gustave Dore's conception
of the seige of Jerusalem
the city on all sides and could do nothing against it. We were all surprised and alarmed. Then, at the approach of the hour at which our Lord Jesus Christ deigned to undergo the passion of the cross for us, our knights in one of the towers fought bravely, amongst them Duke Godfrey and his brother, Count Eustace.

One of our knights, Letholdus by name, climbed on to the wall of the city. When he reached the top, all the defenders of the city quickly fled along the walls and through the city. Our men followed and pursued them, killing and hacking, as far as the temple of Solomon, and there there was such a slaughter that our men were up to their ankles in the enemy's blood. . . .

The emir who commanded the tower of David surrendered to the Count [of St. Gilles] and opened the gate where pilgrims used to pay tribute. Entering the city, our pilgrims pursued and killed the Saracens up to the temple of Solomon. There the Saracens assembled and resisted fiercely all day, so that the whole temple flowed with their blood. At last the pagans were overcome and our men seized many men and women in the temple, killing them or keeping them alive as they saw fit. On the roof of the temple there was a great crowd of pagans of both sexes, to whom Tancred and Gaston de Beert gave their banners [to provide them with protection] . Then the crusaders scattered throughout the city, seizing gold and silver, horses and mules, and houses full of all sorts of goods. Afterwards our men went rejoicing and weeping for joy to adore the sepulchre of our Saviour Jesus and there discharged their debt to Him. . . .

On the eighth day after the capture of the city they elected Duke Godfrey prince of the city, to fight the pagans and protect the Christians. Also, on the day of St. Peter in chains, they elected as Patriarch a most wise and honourable man, named Arnulf. The city was captured by the Christians on Friday, July 15."

How did the crusaders &ldquoknow&rdquo that they found the Holy Blood? - History

Wikimedia Commons Inside the chapel of St. Stanislaus.

Archaeologists have uncovered a hidden crypt beneath a Polish church that not only yielded secret tunnels and the remains of numerous Knights Templar — but might also be the resting place of the Holy Grail itself. As one of the most sought after historical items of all time, the discovery is unimaginable.

From their participation in the Crusades to the secret initiation rites that led to their decline, the mysterious band of Catholic warriors has captivated historians for centuries. Said to be keepers of the Holy Grail, the secret passageways of this hidden crypt could bring this legendary artifact closer than ever.

“The legend says that Templars, under cover of darkness, sunk a wooden box with golden coins and the Holy Grail [into a since-dried lake mentioned in the stories],” said local historian Marek Karolczak, “and the treasure has either been stolen or lost forever in the swamp.”

According to Smithsonian, the ongoing archaeological dig began in 2004 — with last year’s use of ground-penetrating radar (GPR) responsible for the promising development. If found, the Holy Grail has been sitting under Chwarszczany’s chapel of Saint Stanislaus all along.

Wikimedia Commons The St. Stanislaus chapel in Chwarszczan was built by the Knights Templar in 1232.

The Knights Templar were formed in 1119, as the Christian Crusades ravaged the Middle East in hopes of wrestling the Holy Land from Muslim control. It was French knight Hugues de Payens who established the secret sect, as a small military order aimed to protect pilgrims traveling east.

While the group has inspired endless speculation and creatively liberated depiction in both literature and film ever since, their tangible contributions are quite real. Traces of this sect are visible all over Europe — namely in the Chwarszczany church constructed to testify to their permanence.

“Our GPR has detected gothic crypts with the remnants of Templar Knights beneath the chapel,” said lead archaeologist Przemyslaw Kolosowski.

With no more than 100 residents comprising the West Pomeranian village, Chwarszczany is a disarmingly quiet and uneventful place for such a find. Nonetheless, GPR doesn’t lie — and it’s indicated that a number of crypts, human remains, and an underground tunnel lies beneath.

“According to legends and medieval documents, there was a well in the vicinity of the chapel,” said Kolosowski. “Rumor has it that the well served as an entrance to a secret tunnel. This still requires an exhaustive archaeological investigation.”

WIkimedia Commons It was ground-penetrating radar that yielded the remarkable discovery of secret passageways, crypts, and human remains.

Though renovations and excavations at the church have continued for the last 16 years, the most captivating strides were made in July 2019. Kolosowski’s team began with an exhaustively comprehensive scan of the premises and surrounding fields, with around 100 volunteers helping out.

While experts were disappointed that their suspicions of a medieval fortress beneath the ground were dashed, unforeseen developments proved even more enthralling. Centuries-old cobblestone was uncovered. An 18th-century distillery. Bronze Age pottery. A 1757 coin left behind by Russian troops.

What archaeologists uncovered thereafter, of course, has been the most astonishing find of all. Studying a small depression beneath the stone floors, researchers uncovered seven vaulted crypts. Though some involved claim these “cannot be dated back to Templar times,” the debate is ongoing.

The Knights Templar not only built this church in 1232, but used its chapel as “both a place of worship and a defensive fortification.” As such, it is highly plausible that those buried beneath — and the uncovered passageways — are Templar-related.

To make matters even more enthralling, a secret underground tunnel has also been found beneath the town of Myślibórz. Settled by the Templars in 1238 — Myślibórz is half an hour away from Chwarszczany.

Wikimedia Commons “From the Creation of the World until 1384,” depicting the Knights Templar being burned at the stake.

“Back in those days, the appearance of Knights Templar on this soil was a popular trend,” said Karolczak. “This is the time of Crusades. Local rulers wanted to strengthen their power by inviting military orders to settle on their land and build commanderies.”

Though the Knights Templar had staunch support of the Pope and consequently enjoyed lavish donations and tax breaks, the tides began to turn in the early 14th century. Some believe their increasing secrecy and ominous initiation rites led to their arrest — others believe it was the money.

According to Ancient History Encyclopedia, King Philip IV of France ultimately ordered the Knights Templar arrested. Whether out of sheer desperation to seize the group’s enormous wealth for himself or make it clear that his political dominance outranked the papacy — the secret order was no more.

In 1312, King Philip IV ordered these detained men tortured, yielding presumably false confessions of sacrilege and homosexuality. Pope Clement V disbanded the group as a result, relegating the legacy of the Knights Templar to modern-day mystery and archaeological work.

Of course, the theory that this group managed to recover the Holy Grail during the Crusades has been most hypnotizing to those involved in this research. Said to be guardians of the Cup of Christ, it’s alarmingly possible that we’re about to find it.

After learning about the hidden crypt and remains of Knights Templar uncovered beneath a Polish church, take a look at 28 photos of the world’s biggest crypt — the Paris Catacombs. Then, learn about Otto Rahn and the Nazi crusade for the Holy Grail.


Expeditions from western Europe to recover Jerusalem and the holy sepulcher from the control of the infidel. The undisciplined mobs accompanying the first three Crusades attacked the Jews in Germany, France, and England, and put many of them to death, leaving behind for centuries strong feelings of ill will on both sides. The social position of the Jews in western Europe was distinctly worsened by the Crusades, and legal restrictions became frequent during and after them. They prepared the way for the anti-Jewish legislation of Innocent III., and formed the turning-point in the medieval history of the Jews. The outbursts did not come unexpectedly. Soon after Peter the Hermit and Urban II. had aroused the enthusiasm of French chivalry at the Council of Clermont in 1094, Godfrey de Bouillon declared that he would avenge the blood of Jesus on that of the Jews, and leave none of them alive, while his companions threatened to exterminate the Jews if they would not become converted. The Judæo-French communities accordingly sent letters to those on the Rhine, who thereupon appointed a fastday to avert the evil (Jan., 1096) and when Godfrey de Bouillon came to Cologne and Mayence each community made him a present of 500 silver marks to secure his protection. When Peter of Amiens arrived with the crusaders at Treves early in 1096, he did not directly arouse the people against the Jews, but left a general ill will against them throughout Lorraine, especially through the influence of the knight Volkmar, who declared that he would not leave the kingdom until he had slain at least one Jew. In the spring of 1096 twenty-two Jews were slain at Metz, and on May 3 the crusaders and accompanying rabble attacked the Jews of Speyer, slaying eleven of them and only being restrained by the exertions of Bishop John from putting them all to death in the synagogue. On May 18 the Jews of Worms were all slain except a few who were forcibly baptized or who took refuge with the bishop. Their houses were destroyed, and even the corpses denuded. Many slew themselves rather than fall into the hands of the mob. The bishop's palace was stormed a week later, and all those within it were put to death. The number of the slain is said to have amounted to 800, though the extant list of names reaches only 400 (Salfeld, "Martyrologium," p. 107). One of the richest Jewesses, named Minna, when surrounded by the mob and implored by some of her friends among the nobles to accept baptism, resolutely refused and was put to death. Several were drowned, and Mar Shemariah with his whole family was buried alive amid the jeers of the mob, who nevertheless during the entombment offered in vain to grant them safety if they would become converted.

Map of Rhine Region, Showing Sites, with Dates, of Anti-Jewish Outbreaks During the First Crusade, 1096. Mayence.

On the same day Count Emicho arrived at Mayence with a numerous band of crusaders, but he was not admitted by the archbishop Ruthard, who had promised protection to the Jews. Two days later, however, Emicho forced admission through a side gate, and, notwithstanding the armed defense of the Jews, succeeded in destroying them all except Kalonymus, the president of the congregation, and fifty-three others, who hid themselves in the treasure-house of the cathedral. A number of Jews who had defended themselves all day in a fortified position found it untenable as night came on, and, rather than fallinto the hands of the enemy, killed themselves. The corpses after being stripped were cast into nine graves they are said to have numbered 1,014. Mar Isaac ben David, after having submitted to baptism, burned down his own house and the synagogue and perished in the flames, because it had been rumored that the Christians intended to turn the synagogue into a church. Kalonymus and his 53 companions were taken by bishop Ruthard in boats to Rüdesheim and kept there for some time but on June 1 he declared he could not protect them unless they submitted to baptism. They determined to slay themselves rather than do this, and Kalonymus put his own son Joseph to death, and then, wild with grief, attempted to kill the archbishop, but was prevented and killed.

The crusaders again attacked the houses and synagogue of the Jews of Cologne on May 30 but here the citizens protected the Jews in their own houses until Archbishop Hermann, on June 3, sent them for safety to seven neighboring villages, Neuss, Wevelinghofen, Altenahr, Xanten, Geldern, Mörs, and Kerpen. The crusaders followed them to these places, killing 200 in Neuss and Altenahr, in several cases throwing old women and young children into the river (Salfeld, "Martyrologium," p. 133) forcing them to be baptized at Geldern and Kerpen while in Wevelinghofen, Altenahr, and Xanten the Jews slew themselves rather than change their faith. The 300 Jews of Cologne who found themselves at Altenahr selected five men to slay the rest. In the month of June the crusaders reached Treves, and some of the Jews at once slew themselves, a number of Jewesses throwing themselves into the river. The rest betook themselves to the palace of Archbishop Egbert, who attempted in a sermon to persuade the people to spare the Jews, but was himself maltreated and besieged in his palace for a week, at the end of which he told the Jews there was no hope for their lives but in baptism. When they still remained obdurate some of them were exposed by him to the crusaders, who immediately slew them. The rest thereupon accepted baptism. The same fate befell the Jews of Regensburg, while those of Magdeburg were expelled. The crusaders on their march through Bohemia forced the Jews to become baptized, killing those who refused, notwithstanding the remonstrances of Bishop Cosmas. Next year, however, on the return of Emperor Henry from Italy, he granted them permission to revert to their ancestral faith (Pertz, "Monumenta," ii. 181), notwithstanding the protests of Pope Clement III. (Jaffe, "Regesta," No. 5336). The Jews of the Rhine district were decimated: it has been calculated that about 4,000 were killed or slew themselves. The few survivors of Mayence who had taken refuge at Speyer did not return to their old homes until 1104, when a new synagogue was dedicated (September 22). When the crusaders at last stormed Jerusalem, July 15, 1099, they drove all the Jews into one of the synagogues and there burned them alive.

During the preparations for the Second Crusade a narrow-minded monk named Radulph preached the Cross in the Rhine valley, and declared that the Jews should be slain as the enemies of the Christian religion. Bernard of Clairvaux protested energetically against the unchristian behavior of Radulph, and only a few isolated cases of outrage occurred. The Jews were expelled from Magdeburg and Halle. Bernard went to Germany to preach the Cross, and met the monk Radulph in open disputation at Mayence in the beginning of November, 1146, but failed to influence the people in favor of the Jews. He accordingly addressed a letter to the peoples of western Christendom, protesting against the persecution of the Jews. Notwithstanding this, when the crusaders came to Würzburg they slew the rabbi, Isaac ben Eliakim, and about twenty-one men, women, and children, whose bodies were buried by the bishop in his garden. This was ultimately purchased by Hezekiah, the brother of the rabbi, as a graveyard for the Jews (see Würzburg).

At the coronation on Sept. 3, 1189, of Richard I., before he started for the Third Crusade, a severe riot occurred, and after he had left the country the crusaders who were preparing to follow him attacked, with the aid of the populace, the Jews at Lynn, Stamford (March 7), Bury St. Edmunds (March 18), Colchester, Thetford, and Ospringe. The chief tragedy, however, occurred at York on the night of March 16, 1190, when 150 Jews of all ages, headed by Rabbi Yom-Tob of Joigny, immolated themselves to escape slaughter or baptism (see York).

Before the Crusades the Jews had practically a monopoly of trade in Eastern products, but the closer connection between Europe and the East brought about by the Crusades raised up a class of merchant traders among the Christians, and from this time onward restrictions on the sale of goods by Jews became frequent (Höniger, in "Zeit. Gesch. Juden Deutsch." i. 94 et seq.). The religious zeal fomented by the Crusades burned as fiercely against the Jews as enemies of Christ as against the Moslems. Thus both economically and socially the Crusades were disastrous for European Jews.

Historians claim to have recovered Holy Grail

Spanish historians say they have discovered what Monty Python could not — the Holy Grail, the legendary cup Jesus supposedly drank from at the Last Supper.

The Spaniards — Margarita Torres and José Ortega del Río — believe the 2,000-year-old vessel is in a church in León in northern Spain.

The pair spent three years studying the history of the chalice and last week published a book, “The Kings of the Grail,” making their case.

The onyx chalice, they explained, was concealed within another antique vessel known as the Chalice of Doña Urruca, which is located in León’s basilica of Saint Isidore.

The historians said it has been there since the 11th century.

The 2,000-year-old vessel is on display in a church in León, Spain. AFP/Getty Images

“This is a very important discovery because it helps solve a big puzzle,” Torres told The Irish Times. “We believe this could be the start of a wonderful stage of research.”

She said the duo had been researching the history of some Islamic remains in the Saint Isidore basilica. But their discovery of two medieval Egyptian documents that mentioned the chalice of Christ caused them to change direction, the paper reported.

Those parchments told a tale of how Muslims took the sacred cup from the Christian community in Jerusalem to Cairo.

It was then given to an emir on Spain’s Mediterranean coast in return for help he gave to Egyptians who were suffering a famine.

The historians’ research has been backed up by scientific dating, which estimates that the cup in question was made between 200 BC and 100 AD.

The scientists admit the first 400 years of the cup’s history remain a mystery, and they can’t prove the chalice ever actually touched Christ’s lips.

But they insist there is no doubt that this is the cup that early Christians revered as the chalice used at the Last Supper.

“The only chalice that could be considered the chalice of Christ is that which made the journey to Cairo and then from Cairo to León — and that is this chalice,” said Torres, who teaches medieval history at the University of León.

Countless scientists and historians have pursued the Holy Grail, an effort chronicled in Arthurian legend, made into pulp adventure with “Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade,” and satirized by the British comedy troupe Monty Python in 1975’s “Monty Python and the Holy Grail.”

Crusading They Went: The deeds and Misdeeds of Our Spiritual Kin

In spirit and in values, though at an immense distance, the Crusaders were our kin. While not forgetting their many transgressions, we should weep for what they lost and remember with pride their few astonishing victories. Ville gagnée!

As a child I was given the stories of Alfred Duggan to read. Duggan, who lived from 1903 to 1964, was an English eccentric and playboy, a college acquaintance of Evelyn Waugh's. Through the 1950s and early 1960s he produced a stream of vivid historical novels, none of them, I think, set any later than the 13th century. One of my great favorites was Knight with Armour, in which Roger de Bodeham, landless second son of an obscure Anglo-Norman family, goes off with Robert of Normandy on the First Crusade. Roger makes it all the way to Jerusalem, taking part in the final, victorious assault on the city. While fighting on the walls, he suffers an unlucky stroke from an enemy's sword and falls to the street below, breaking his back.

Dazed, sick and dying, he raised himself on his sound right arm and looked about him. To right and left the ramparts were black with pilgrims someone had tied one end of a rope round a merlon, and was sliding down inside the city. He landed just beside Roger, waved his sword in the air, and uttered a great roar of "Ville Gagnée!" ["The city is won!"] Roger was scarcely conscious now, but that familiar triumphant cry raised a feeble echo in his mind "Ville Gagnée," he groaned in answer, as his head fell forward and his spirit took flight. The pilgrimage was accomplished.

We have been hearing rather a lot about the Crusades recently. Our bearded adversary Osama bin Laden, in his taped speeches, never fails to warn the faithful that the Western world is intent on a new crusade, on breaking into "the abode of Islam," seizing Muslim lands and forcing our odious way of life on the pious adherents of the Prophet. In 1998, he dubbed his network of terrorist groups the "International Islamic Front for Jihad Against Jews and Crusaders," using "Crusaders" here as a synonym for "Christians." Even in the West, the word "crusade" dwells in the shadow of political incorrectness. George W. Bush's offhand remark on September 16 that "this crusade, this war on terrorism, is going to take a while" met with a storm of indignation, not all of it from Muslims. A stern editorial in the St. Louis Post-Dispatch reminded the president that the Crusades were "the equivalent of Christian jihads" and that "through centuries of bitter fighting, the word 'crusade' became freighted with intolerance and religious persecution." Bush promptly apologized for his use of the word, which has now been expunged from the White House vocabulary.

It is extraordinary that events of seven and eight hundred years ago should still excite passions. Were the Crusades really such a brazen assault on the integrity of the Muslim world? Or were they what the fictional Roger de Bodeham believed them to be: pilgrimages, in which brave men selflessly took it upon themselves to bring the holy places of Christianity back under Christian rule? If, as seems to be the case, we have to take some sort of position on the Crusades, what position should we take?

We can begin by noticing that Duggan killed off his hero at an opportune moment, just before the First Crusade got nasty. Having entered Jerusalem, the Crusaders sacked the city with terrible gusto. They killed every Muslim they found, man, woman, and child. The Jews were all burned alive in their synagogue, whence they had fled to escape the terror. (Crusaders generally did not distinguish between Jews and Muslims in Palestine.) When Raymond of Aguilers went to visit the Temple area the following morning he had to pick his way through corpses and blood that reached to his knees.

Even worse was to follow in the nearly 200 years of crusading in the Holy Land. During the assaults on Egypt after the fiasco of the Second Crusade, a Frankish army took the town of Tanis in the Nile delta and slaughtered its inhabitants practically all of whom were Coptic Christians. And yet worse: In the Fourth Crusade a combined force of Franks and Venetians sacked Constantinople, the very seat of Eastern Christianity. They looted the Hagia Sophia cathedral of everything with value, and seated a French prostitute on the patriarch's throne to entertain them with ribald songs as they drank from the altar-vessels. A senator of Byzantium who witnessed the events thought that the city would have fared better if it had fallen to Saladin.

It would seem as though the Muslims, and also Christians of the Eastern confession, and even the guardians of political correctness, have a point in damning the Crusades as a blot on Western civilization. There are other charges brought against the Crusaders, too: Were they not mostly, like Roger de Bodeham, junior sons left landless by the custom of primogeniture, gone on Crusade to find a fief for themselves in the East? Was it not all, therefore, little more than an exercise in greed? Is there anything at all redeeming that can be said about these sorry episodes?

Well, yes. The massacres, though appalling, were not sensational in their time, and were matched by the Saracens at Antioch and Acre. Even before the First Crusade showed up, in fact, Palestine had been consumed by savage wars between the Turkish (and Sunni Muslim) Seljuks and the Arab (and Shiite Muslim) Fatimid dynasty, with massacres by both sides. Before that, the mad Fatimid caliph Al-Hakim, who ruled 996-1021, had wantonly persecuted both Jews and Christians, leveling the Church of the Resurrection in Jerusalem and even destroying the cave that was supposed to be the Holy Sepulchre itself.

It must also be remembered that Palestine and Syria, and Egypt, and North Africa, and Spain too had long been Christian before the Muslim armies seized them in the 7th and 8th centuries, as Urban II pointed out when he preached the First Crusade. The Crusaders sought to recover by force one small part of what had been taken by force.

Nor do the accusations of land-greed stand up well under modern scholarship. In his recent book A Concise History of the Crusades, Thomas Madden refers to computer-aided analyses of documents relating to the men and women who took up the cross. Of those men of knightly rank, the vast majority were not spare sons, but lords of their estates. Says Madden: "It was not those with the least to lose who took up the cross, but rather those with the most." Alfred Duggan was wrong to assume that a typical Crusader would have been a second son. He was, however, right to make the last thought in Roger's mind: "The pilgrimage was accomplished." The Crusades were, above all, pilgrimages, with a much higher spiritual quotient than is commonly assumed. This was one reason that the Crusader kingdoms could not be sustained. In contrast with colonialists, who emigrate to stay, pilgrims, when their pilgrimage is accomplished, go back home, and that is what all too many of the Crusaders did. In fact, thirty years before the First Crusade, a huge pilgrimage of 7,000 Germans had made its way to the Holy Land without any intention of conquest. They had met with brutal mistreatment at the hands of the Fatimids. Gibbon says that only 2,000 returned safely.

Above and beyond this, if we are to take sides on the Crusades after all these centuries, we should acknowledge that, for all their many crimes, the Crusaders were our spiritual kin. I do not mean only in religion, though that of course is not a negligible connection: I mean in their understanding of society, and of the individual's place in it. Time and again, when you read the histories of this period, you are struck by sentences like these, which I have taken more or less at random from Sir Steven Runciman's History of the Crusades: "[Queen Melisande's] action was regarded as perfectly constitutional and was endorsed by the council." "Trial by peers was an essential feature of Frankish custom." "The King ranked with his tenant-in-chief as primus inter pares, their president but not their master."

If we look behind the cruelty, treachery, and folly, and try to divine what the Crusaders actually said and thought, we see, dimly but unmistakably, the early flickering light of the modern West, with its ideals of liberty, justice, and individual worth. Gibbon:

No sooner had Godfrey of Bouillon been elected supreme ruler of Jerusalem, eight days after the Crusader victory (he declined the title of "king," declaring that he would not wear a crown of gold in the place where Christ had worn a crown of thorns), than his first thought was to give the new state a constitution. This was duly done, and the Assize of Jerusalem "a precious monument of feudal jurisprudence," Gibbon calls it after being duly attested, was deposited in the Holy Sepulchre (which had been reconstructed some decades before).

That is what they were like, these men of Western Europe. Brutish, coarse, ignorant, often insanely cruel yes: but peer into their inner lives, their thoughts, their talk among themselves, so far as it is possible to do so, and what do we find? What were their notions, their obsessions? Faith, of course, and honor, and then: vassalage, homage, fealty, allegiance, duties and obligations, genealogies and inheritances, councils and "parlements," rights and liberties. The feudal order is easy to underestimate. In part this is because feudal society was so at odds with many modern ideals the ideal of human equality, for example. In part, also, I believe, because the sheer complexity of it, and of its laws and customs, deters study and sometimes confounds analysis. (Define and differentiate the following: champerty, maintenance, embracery.) A certain dogged application is required to get to grips with feudal society, and few who are not professional historians are up to the task, Karl Marx being one honorable exception. Yet it is in this knotty tangle of heartfelt abstractions spelled out in Old French that can be found, in embryo, so much of what we cherish in our own civilization today.

None of the other players in the great drama of the Crusades had anything like this to show. The Fatimids were a degraded and lawless despotism, in which none but the despot had any rights at all. The aforementioned caliph Al-Hakim, for example, took to working at night and sleeping in the daytime. Having embraced this habit, he then imposed it on his subjects, forbidding anyone in his dominions, on pain of death, from working during daylight hours. He also, to enforce the absolute confinement of women, banned the making of women's shoes. (Thirteenth-century Muslims were just as shocked by the freedom and equality of Western women as fundamentalist Muslims today are.) The Seljuk Turks, who held Jerusalem from 1078 to 1098, were very little better. They still retained some of the vigor and independence of their nomadic origins, and the rough honor code of the steppe, but of debate and compromise they had only the sketchiest notions. Of the separation of spiritual and secular jurisdictions, they had no notion at all, any more than any other Muslim had. This latter point, so crucial in the development of medieval European society, was also lost on the Byzantines, whose ruler was stuck in the late-Roman style of "Pontiff-Emperor," the font of ecclesiastical as well as of temporal authority.

Man for man, there is little to choose between the Crusaders and the Saracens. Saladin, for example, was a true natural gentleman: courteous, chivalrous, brave, and pious. When his mortal enemy Richard Lionheart was lying sick of a fever in August of 1192, Saladin had him sent peaches and pears, and snow from Mount Hermon to cool his drinks. Contrariwise, the crusader Reynald of Châtillon was a thuggish sociopath, no better than a brigand. (Saladin had the pleasure of decapitating him personally.) Yet the virtues of men like Saladin rose as lone pillars from a level plain. They were not, as the occasional virtues of the Crusaders were, the peaks of a mountain range. The Saracens had, in a sense, no society, no polity. Says the Marquis to the Templar in another great Crusader novel, Sir Walter Scott's The Talisman: "I will confess to you I have caught some attachment to the Eastern form of government: A pure and simple monarchy should consist but of king and subjects. Such is the simple and primitive structure a shepherd and his flock. All this internal chain of feudal dependence is artificial and sophisticated." Well, artificial and sophisticated it may have been, but in its interstices grew liberty, law, and the modern conscience.

If we are to have the Crusades thrown at us by the likes of Osama bin Laden, let us at least not abjure them. It is true that we can barely recognize anything of ourselves in the Crusaders. They were coarse and unwashed. Most of them were illiterate. Of the physical world, they were ignorant beyond our imagining, believing the earth to be flat and the sky a crystal dome. Such medicine as they had was far more likely to kill than to heal — Richard Lionheart and Amalric, sixth king of Jerusalem, were both killed by the ministrations of their surgeons. Their honor was often truculent, their loyalty sometimes fickle, their piety was barnacled with the grossest kinds of superstition. We turn in disgust from the spectacle of them wading through blood to the Holy Sepulchre of Christ, and wonder if we would not have found their enemies the silk-clad viziers of Islam, or the suave, scented courtiers of Constantinople more to our liking. Well, perhaps we would but let us at least acknowledge that these rough soldiers carried with them to the East the germ-seeds of modern civil society. Palestine proved to be stony ground: but that is the East's loss, as the eventual flowering of those seeds elsewhere was all of humanity's immeasurable gain. In spirit and in values, though at an immense distance, the Crusaders were our kin. While not forgetting their many transgressions, we should weep for what they lost and remember with pride their few astonishing victories. Ville gagnée!

John Derbyshire. "Crusading They Went The deeds and misdeeds of our spiritual kin." National Review (November 15, 2001).

25. Brotherly Blood

The original crusades were meant to support the Byzantine empire from the Seljuks, but by the time the Fourth Crusades in the early 13th century came around, the tide had turned. While on their way to Jerusalem in 1204, the crusaders were convinced by powerful Venetian elites to sack Constantinople, capital of the Christian Byzantines, which they did in bloody fashion. They ultimately never made it even close to Jerusalem.


The Truth About the Crusades

The Crusades cause people too much confusion. The view seems to be, there is little to defend in them, and even many Catholics tend to grow weary of “Crusades apologists.” Weren’t the Crusades an appalling example of an excess of violent zeal to beat down infidels? (For the Church only sent warriors after the Muslims because they were not Catholic. That is what we are told.) Even John Paul II apologized for them*, and surely no one wants to repeat that sad episode in Church history.

[*That’s the presumption, anyway. The pope did not apologize for the Crusades of themselves, but only for misdeeds done in battle.]


Outside the Church, the view seems to be that the Crusades are to blame for radical Islam today. If that statement seems far-fetched, consider that it was made just last year, on a prominent anti-Catholic blog, by an ex-Catholic named John Bugay. Read the wild things he says.

In Rome’s historical quest to dominate the world, it has perpetuated all kinds of falsehoods. Insofar as Rome disfigured the gospel … it was an enabler of Mohammad. And through some of its machinations in the Middle Ages (such as the quest for world domination—domination of the east—and the Crusades, the Inquisition, and the opponent of Jews), it became a teacher of, a motivation for, and an example to, radical Islam today: that heretics must be tortured and killed.

In a follow-up post the very same day, Bugay went further, claiming that “Roman crusading fossilized Islam into a fanatic posture.” The Crusaders, we are asked to think, so hardened the hearts of Muslims toward Christians that, even today, one thousand years later, they are sawing off heads. The Crusades are to blame for ISIS!

Now, if this kind of thinking were to be found only on wild sites like Triablogue, it could probably be laughed at and ignored, but in fact it is a very common myth about the Crusades. In the wake of 9/11, no less a person than Bill Clinton said the following, in a 2001 speech at Georgetown:

[W]hen the Chris­t­ian sol­diers took Jerusalem [in 1099], they … pro­ceeded to kill every woman and child who was Mus­lim on the Tem­ple Mount. … [T]his story [is] still being told today in the Mid­dle East and we are still pay­ing for it.

“We are still pay­ing for it.” The idea here, in what Mr. Clin­ton said, is that not only are Chris­tians guilty of atroc­ity too, but that Islamic vio­lence today can be blamed directly on the Cru­sades.


This view of the Crusades is false, and medieval historians have long known it to be false. President Clinton’s speech prompted a reply in the Intercollegiate Review by Dr. Paul Crawford, an expert in the Crusades. Here are some facts that seldom get mentioned by Mr. Bugay, Mr. Clinton, and those who share their jaded view of Church history.

In A.D. 632, Egypt, Pales­tine, Syria, Asia Minor, North Africa, Spain, France, Italy, and the islands of Sicily, Sar­dinia, and Cor­sica were all Chris­t­ian ter­ri­to­ries. Inside the bound­aries of the Roman Empire, which was still fully func­tional in the east­ern Mediter­ranean, ortho­dox Chris­tian­ity was the offi­cial, and over­whelm­ingly major­ity, reli­gion. …

By A.D. 732, a cen­tury later, Chris­tians had lost Egypt, Pales­tine, Syria, North Africa, Spain, most of Asia Minor, and south­ern France. Italy and her asso­ci­ated islands were under threat, and the islands would come under Mus­lim rule in the next cen­tury. The Chris­t­ian com­mu­ni­ties of Ara­bia were entirely destroyed in or shortly after 633, when Jews and Chris­tians alike were expelled from the penin­sula. Those in Per­sia were under severe pres­sure. Two-thirds of the for­merly Roman Chris­t­ian world was now ruled by Mus­lims.

Now, what hap­pened in the hun­dred years between 632 and 732 was that Mus­lims invaded and con­quered every one of those lands. Only now and then did Chris­tians push back. And it did not end in 732. Let us read more.

In the hun­dred years between 850 and 950, Bene­dic­tine monks were dri­ven out of ancient monas­ter­ies, the Papal States were over­run, and Mus­lim pirate bases were estab­lished along the coast of north­ern Italy and south­ern France, from which attacks on the deep inland were launched. Des­per­ate to pro­tect vic­tim­ized Chris­tians, popes became involved in the tenth and early eleventh cen­turies in direct­ing the defense of the ter­ri­tory around them.

The popes were “des­per­ate,” but not to do ill deeds. Their pur­pose was “to pro­tect vic­tim­ized Chris­tians.” That’s the his­tory. That’s the truth. It was not until 1095—more than 450 years after all this Mus­lim plun­der of Chris­t­ian nations began—that Pope Urban II at last called the First Cru­sade to drive the enemy out of their lands.

Dr. Diane Moczar also writes about all this. The title of her book is Seven Lies About Catholic His­tory. Here is some of what she says.

Unpro­voked Mus­lim aggres­sion in the sev­enth cen­tury brought parts of the south­ern Byzan­tine Empire, includ­ing Syria, the Holy Land, and Egypt under Arab rule. Chris­tians who sur­vived the con­quests found them­selves sub­ject to a spe­cial poll tax and dis­crim­i­nated against as an infe­rior class known as the dhimmi. Often their churches were destroyed and other harsh con­di­tions imposed. For cen­turies their com­plaints had been reach­ing Rome, but Europe was hav­ing its own Dark Age of mas­sive inva­sion, and noth­ing could be done to relieve the plight of the east­ern Chris­tians.

… By the eleventh cen­tury, under the rule of a new Mus­lim dynasty, con­di­tions wors­ened. The Church of the Holy Sepul­chre, site of the Cru­ci­fix­ion, was destroyed, and Chris­t­ian pil­grims were mas­sa­cred. In 1067 a group of seven thou­sand peace­ful Ger­man pil­grims lost two-thirds of their num­ber to Mus­lim assaults. By this time the popes, includ­ing St. Gre­gory VII, were actively try­ing to rally sup­port for relief of the east­ern Chris­tians, though with­out suc­cess. It was not until the very end of the cen­tury, in 1095, that Pope Urban’s address at Cler­mont in France met with a response.

But let us not for­get the mis­deeds of the Cru­saders. They were really a bad lot. I am sure glad people like Bill Clinton are always bringing this up with wagging finger, since it is no doubt right to point out how truly evil is the man who fights to free a nation from tyrants and aggres­sors. I am all broke up about the men who threw the tea off the ships. I am all broke up about the men who stormed the beach and took the cliffs. That kind of thing just should not be stood for.

Dr. Moczar gives us a few more facts to bear in mind here.

The Mus­lim occu­piers of Jerusalem, from inside and on top of the walls, kept pace with the Chris­t­ian army as it moved slowly around the city, jeer­ing at and mock­ing the sol­diers. They went fur­ther: they took cru­ci­fixes and pro­faned them in full view of the troops. Hor­ri­fied, out­raged, and nearly mad­dened at the sac­ri­leges, the armed groups stormed the city furi­ously. Lack of coor­di­na­tion among the sev­eral units of the army made for a chaotic sit­u­a­tion, with com­man­ders los­ing track (and often con­trol) of their men.

Bru­tal the fight­ing was, as no doubt it is in any city in war­fare. But were large num­bers really slaugh­tered unmer­ci­fully? Did the horses really wade in blood up to their knees and the men up to their ankles? The answer to both ques­tions is, most prob­a­bly not. … The troops who were left to defend Jerusalem were there to fight, and they did so. …

As it was, the cap­ture of Jerusalem, although a blot on the cru­saders’ record, hardly viti­ates the whole cru­sad­ing enter­prise. Yes, the siege should have been bet­ter orga­nized so that the indi­vid­ual com­man­ders had bet­ter con­trol of their men, which would have pre­vented what­ever indis­crim­i­nate killing of non-combatants took place and also caused less phys­i­cal dam­age to the city. We would like it to have been oth­er­wise, but we were not there and we are cer­tainly not obliged to apol­o­gize for it: only the guilty them­selves can do that, and both they and those who fought the enemy hon­or­ably have long since answered to God for their behav­ior.

We need to keep in mind what this kind of taunt­ing, blas­phe­mous ges­ture would have meant to a medieval Catholic who had already had his home­land con­quered by Mus­lims. They were fight­ing not for their own cause, but for all that the Cross meant to them. Con­text mat­ters. Nor do we have to answer for what they did. They have already done so.

But keep in mind one more thing. Noth­ing the cru­saders did was out of char­ac­ter for the nature of war­fare at the time. That can not be said about ISIS. That can­not be said about the demons and mon­sters who cut off heads, with a knife, in front of a cam­era. That can­not be said about the demons and mon­sters who make a video show­ing a man being caged and torched. That is the kind of thing the Cru­saders were try­ing to stop.

But what can we say of Mus­lim atti­tudes toward the Cru­sades? Dr. Crawford’s arti­cle helps us there too. “Up until quite recently,” he says, “Mus­lims remem­bered the cru­sades [only] as an instance in which they had beaten back a puny west­ern Chris­t­ian attack.” The Cru­saders lost. There was no Ara­bic word for the Cru­sades until the nine­teenth cen­tury. In fact, all the his­to­ries before that time were by Chris­tians, and their atti­tude toward the Cru­sades was pos­i­tive. The first Mus­lim his­tory would not be writ­ten until 1899. That is hardly what one would expect if there had been all this vio­lent anger wait­ing to boil over. Dr. Craw­ford tells us more. Note this.

What we are pay­ing for is not the First Cru­sade, but west­ern dis­tor­tions of the cru­sades in the nine­teenth cen­tury which were taught to, and taken up by, an insuf­fi­ciently crit­i­cal Mus­lim world.

Imag­ine that! The Mus­lims have been get­ting all their ideas about the Cru­sades from anti-Catholics. So if the vio­lence today has any­thing at all to do with the Cru­sades, it has to do with myths about them. It does not have to do with any­thing based in fact.

The facts show why Islam is an inher­ently vio­lent and mur­der­ous ide­ol­ogy. It has been from the start. Far from the Church being eager to take up arms and send people into battle to kill the infidel, it had the supernatural patience of waiting through 450 years of plunder before Pope Urban II called the first Crusade.

But if radical Islam is ris­ing up and get­ting out of con­trol once more, it is the wrong time for a game of false equiv­a­lence. It is, instead, time, once again, for a serious moral evaluation of the causes for just war to protect the lives and homes of Christians.

Watch the video: Μητροπολίτης: Βλέπετε να έχω κορωνοϊό; - A few λειτουργίες later. Luben TV (January 2022).