Crusades - Dates and Chronology (1095-1291)

Crusades - Dates and Chronology (1095-1291)

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The crusades were military expeditions organized by Western Christians to liberate the Holy Land and the tomb of christ in Jerusalem, then under Muslim rule. Sometimes diverted from their initial objective, these crusades will last more than two centuries. Great feudal lords and European monarchs, such as Richard the Lionheart, Frédéric Barberousse or Philippe Auguste, will be illustrated there with more or less success. On the military level, the great epic of the crusades will end in failure. By attacking the Muslim world, until then tolerant of Christians, the Crusades would revive the idea of ​​holy war and the spirit of revenge, which would later be exploited by the Ottomans.

Prelude to the Crusades

Thecrusades can be considered a true epic, fascinating for a host of reasons: this warlike pilgrimage takes place in a more global context of the expansion of the West, due firstly to demographic growth, then to economic growth; it is also a period of progressive assertion of royal powers, and the will of certain lords to go to war and get rich elsewhere ... It is finally, obviously, the growing importance of the Church on societies, in the straight line of Gregorian reforms, and competition with political powers but also other religions: Byzantine Christianity, and of course Islam. These "holy wars" are therefore much more than a "clash of civilizations", or of religions, and they will last 200 years ...

1071: the defeat of the Roman Emperor IV Diogenes at Manzikert facing the Seljuks of Alp Arslan confirms the latter's domination of the region, and their placing under the supervision of the Abbasid caliphate. However, their rivals are the Turcomans in Anatolia, but especially the Fatimid caliphate of Cairo. While the Byzantine Empire is therefore greatly weakened, the Muslim world is not for all that united. The battle of Manzikert nevertheless strikes in the West, and is sometimes mentioned as one of the pretexts for the appeal of Urban II.

1076: The assembly of Worms is generally regarded as the beginning of the Investiture Quarrel, that is, the culmination of the struggle between the German emperor and the Pope. The latter seeks political independence, and therefore legitimacy. Which is fundamental in the future context of the Crusades.

1085: first the capture of Toledo by Alfonso VI of Castile, first key date of the Reconquest, often considered a "crusade" in the West. Then, the death of the great Pope Gregory VII, which aggravates the conflict between the papacy and the Empire.

1086: the Almoravid response to the Reconquista, to the battle of Zallaqa. The Spaniards must stop their advance.

1087 : the looting of Mahdiya by a coalition of Genoese, Pisans and Normans of Sicily is sometimes seen as a foretaste of the First Crusade. Indeed, the fighters received an indulgence from Pope Victor III ...

1092: the death of the Seljuk sultan Malik shah marks the end of Turkish expansion. Power is divided between competing emirs, as the Fatimids become more pressing, and the Byzantine Empire stabilizes with the advent of Alexis Comnenus.

The First Crusade

1095: elected pope in turmoil in 1088, conqueror of Rome in 1093, Urban II is at the Council of Clermont to establish its legitimacy, in a country from which he excommunicated the king, Philippe Ier. On November 27, Pope Urban II launched an appeal to liberate the Holy Places and the tomb of Christ, and to come to the aid of Eastern Christians. He promises the pilgrims salvation. This is the start of the first crusade, even if the term is not used. One party, the so-called "popular" crusade, led by Pierre l'Ermite, chose the route to central Europe; the other, the barons' crusade, passes through the South. Their common goal: Constantinople. Before Jerusalem ...

1097: After being illustrated by looting and massacres of Jews, the Popular Crusade is quickly transported by the Byzantines to the other side of the Bosphorus, where it is massacred by the Turks. The barons in turn reached Constantinople, and tense negotiations began with Alexis Comnenus. Arrived in Anatolia, the Crusaders know their first victories.

1098: the Fatimids recapture Jerusalem from the Seldjoukids. In the North, the Crusaders founded Edessa County and take Antioch with difficulty. They do not return it to the Byzantines as expected, angering the basileus.

1099: the crusade reaches its goal, Jerusalem. The city was taken on July 15 and "purified" in the blood. Godefroy de Bouillon is elected "lawyer of the Holy Sepulcher", but many barons and pilgrims return to the West. Begins the difficult construction of Eastern Latin States : the Kingdom of Jerusalem, the Principality of Antioch and the counties of Tripoli and Edessa.

1100-1118: reign of the first king of Jerusalem, Baudouin I. He conquered important places, like Acre (1104) or Beirut (1110), while keeping the Turkish and Fatimid counter-attacks in check. In 1115, he built the famous castle of Montreal. At the same time, the king must manage internal rivalries in the other Latin States ...

1105: At Harran, the Latins experience their first major loss to Mosul atabeg Mawdud.

1118-1131: reign of Baldwin II of Jerusalem. He tried to continue the work of his predecessor, but encountered difficulties, even being taken prisoner in 1123.

1119 : the battle of the Ager Sanguinis is a terrible rout for the Crusaders. This is the beginning of the problems for Edessa County.

1127-1144: Sultan Mahmud makes a certain Zankî (or Zengi) his atabeg in 1127. This new strong man seeks first to subdue the emirs, like that of Damascus; then, he turns against the Franks. Zankî harasses the county of Edessa, taking advantage of the Latins' problems with the Byzantine Empire, which demands the restitution of Antioch. Turkish troops take Edesse easily in 1144: it is the end of the first Latin state.

1145-1146: Pope Eugene III calls for the crusade (1145), charging Bernard de Clairvaux with his preaching. But the volunteers did not rush ... It was not until the following year that the King of France Louis VII engages, while persuading the emperor Conrad III to accompany him.

The Second Crusade

1147-1149: The difficulties do not cease throughout the expedition of the Second Crusade. Tensions are still high with the Byzantines, who are also busy facing the Normans of Sicily. To make matters worse, the Crusaders arrive in a kingdom of Jerusalem undermined by rivalry, and under the influence of the Queen Melisende, Baudouin III being too young to reign. In addition, there are rumors of infidelity fromEleanor of Aquitaine, wife of Louis VII! Badly advised, the two Crusader sovereigns failed in front of Damascus. Conrad III decided to return to the West in the fall of 1148, and Louis VII followed suit in the spring of 1149.

1146-1163: the death of Zankî (assassinated in 1146) does not revive the divisions within this dynasty. His son succeeds him Nûr al-Din, which continues its fight against the emirs, and the jihad against the Franks. In 1149, he heavily defeated Raymond of Poitiers, strongly threatening the principality of Antioch; in 1154, he subdued Syria. However, he experienced some difficulties (loss of Ascalon in 1153, defeat of Harim in 1157, or failure by Krak in 1163). Nûr al-Dîn then decides to turn to the Fatimid rivals ...

1163-1174 : reign of Amaury I of Jerusalem. His obsession: Egypt. He tries to invade it several times, but fails. He died during his last attempt, while the kingdom of Jerusalem was threatened in the north by Nûr al-Dîn, and in the south by Saladin.

1164-1174: Nûr al-Dîn charges Shirkûh to take Egypt; he is accompanied by his nephew Saladin. This one becomes vizier in 1169, and presents himself more and more like a rival of Nûr al-Dîn. When he died in 1174, Saladin was determined to unite the Muslims to wage jihad and reconquer Jerusalem.

1174-1185 : reign of Baldwin IV of Jerusalem. The leper king courageously tries to resist the threat Saladin, whom he defeats at Montgisard (1177). If he is relatively successful in handling the case Renaud de Châtillon, he can't do anything against the ambitious people around him, starting with his sister Sibyl and her husband Guy de Lusignan, who get their hands on the crown after his death and the short reign of his nephew.

1174-1187: Saladin spends these years simultaneously fighting the Franks and subduing his Zankîdes rivals. In the mid-1180s, he managed to unify the Muslims behind his banner, with the support of the caliph of Baghdad (he himself deposed the Fatimid caliph), and launched the jihad for Jerusalem. Taking advantage of the divisions within the Latin kingdom, he defeated the crusaders at Hattîn (July 1187), where he took King Guy de Lusignan prisoner. On October 2, 1187, he victoriously entered Jerusalem.

1183-88: the Germanic emperor Frédéric Barbarossa assert its power with the peace of constance (1183). When the Empire was pacified, he decided to take the Cross at the Diet of Mainz in 1188.

1186-89: in the West, the struggle rages within the dynasty Plantagenet, between King Henry and his son Richard. The latter is supported by the King of France, Philip II Augustus. In July 1189, Richard Lion's Heart ascends the throne of England and decides to honor his father's vow of crusade.

The Third Crusade

1187-1192: Pope Gregory VIII, then his successor Etienne III, call for the third crusade after the shock of the news of the reconquest of Jerusalem by Saladin. Philippe Auguste and Richard Cœur de Lion set off together, but their rivalry exploded during their stopover in Sicily in 1190. The same year, in March, Frédéric Barberousse drowned in the Dardanelles. In 1191, after having got his hands on Cyprus, Richard the Lionheart took Acre with the King of France; in September, he beats Saladin at Arsouf. In the meantime, Philippe Auguste has returned to his kingdom. The year 1192 saw the struggle continue between the English sovereign, who still hesitated to attack Jerusalem, and an aging Saladin. After signing a truce with the Sultan, Richard returns to the West where his brother Jean and Philippe have taken advantage of his absence ...

1193: death of Saladin. The Ayyubid Empire is entering a great period of division.

The Fourth Crusade

1198-1204: the pope Innocent III has no intention of honoring the agreements signed between Richard the Lionheart and Saladin, and he calls for a new crusade. However, the Fourth Crusade struggles to mount and the Crusaders must seek help from Venice. Under the influence of the doge Dandolo, the crusade is then diverted, first on Zara (1202), then on Constantinople, again plagued by divisions. The "second Rome" is taken and plundered April 13, 1204, the Byzantine Empire is dislocated, the divorce between Catholics and Orthodox consummated.

1204-1211: in the Holy Land, the situation is mixed. Each camp is divided. On the side of Western Christians, the military orders are pushing them not to respect truces and every pretext is good for attacking enemy places. On the Muslim side, Saladin's successors are torn apart, weakening the empire created by the sultan at a time when, in the East, danger is brewing ...

1206-1227: conquests of the Mongols of Genghis khan in Asia.

1209: crusade against the Albigenses. The priority is no longer the East for Western rulers.

1212: among other minor or original warrior pilgrimages stands out the children's crusade. It concerns young people from France or the Empire who, seized with a sort of mystical fever, decide to leave for Jerusalem. Most end up sold as slaves or stop along the way, but the spirit of the crusade is revived for a time. The same year is marked by the decisive victory of the Spaniards over the Almohads at Las Navas de Tolosa, which heralds the inexorable advance of the Reconquista.

The Fifth Crusade

1213-1221: Innocent III insists on repairing the fiasco of the Fourth Crusade. He united a Lateran Council in this direction, in 1213. Once again, volunteers were few in number, in a context of war mixing France, England and the Empire (French victory at Bouvines, 1214). Innocent III died in 1216, and his successor Honorius iii restart the call. The emperor Frederick II is desired, so it is Leopold VI of Austria leading the Fifth Crusade, once again without a major ruler. Taking advantage of divisions among Muslims, the Crusaders took Damietta, in Egypt, in 1219. However, too isolated, they had to abandon their conquest in 1221 ...

The Sixth Crusade

1215-1229: elected emperor in 1215, Frederick II constantly postpones his departure on a crusade, despite pressure from the Pope. Finally, Gregory IX excommunicated him in 1227! Frederick II nevertheless left the following year for the Holy Land, where he found himself in the midst of rivalries between barons and in the face of hostility from military orders, the Teutonics excepted. Skillfully, he plays on Ayyubid weaknesses to negotiate a treaty, signed at Jaffa February 18, 1229; it is a great diplomatic victory as he manages to reclaim Jerusalem! He goes there in March for his pilgrimage and to be crowned, then returns to the West.

1239-1240: Pope Gregory IX sends the Count of Champagne, Thibaud IV, to protect Jerusalem. Tensions are growing, both between the Orders and the supporters of the Germanic Emperor Frederick, and between the Franks and the Syrians.

1243: the Mongols defeat the Seljuks in Kose dagh, in Anatolia.

1244: Sultan al-Salîh uses Khwarezmiens, who fled the Mongols, to retake Jerusalem by force on August 23. On October 17 of the same year, most of the Frankish army was destroyed. The King of France, Louis IX, decides to cross paths.

The Seventh Crusade

1248-1254: Part of Aigues-Mortes, Louis IX’s crusade landed in Egypt and in turn took Damietta in 1249. The Crusader army was however defeated in Mansoura the following year by the Mamluk Baybars ; Louis IX is taken prisoner. Freed against a heavy ransom, he must return Damietta. He nevertheless decided to go to the Latin States, where he remained until 1254.

1250: The Mameluks assassinate Turan Shah and take over Egypt. The Ayyubids guard Syria.

1256-1264: Rivalries reach their paroxysm among the Latins, with struggles for influence between barons, Templars and Hospitallers, in which the Italian cities of Genoa and Venice are mingled, vying for control of the eastern Mediterranean. This is the war of Saint-Sabas (named after a monastery of Acre), essentially naval, and whose stakes are Tire and Acre.

1258: the Mongols raze Baghdad and execute the Abbasid Caliph!

1259: the Mameluks stop the Mongols in Aïn Jalût, and appropriate Ayyubid Syria.

1260-1271: Baybars becomes the Sultan of the Mamluks. He takes from the Franks: Caesarea, Arsouf, and especially Antioch (1268) and Krak (1271).

1261: The Byzantine emperor Michel Paléologue takes Constantinople back from the Latins.

1266 : Charles of Anjou King of Sicily.

1267: Louis IX takes the Cross again.

The Eighth Crusade

1270: advised by his brother Charles d´Anjou, the King of France attacks Tunisia. But the Crusader camp was decimated by disease during the siege of Tunis, and Louis IX himself died on August 25.

1272: the prince Edward of England, supposed to be Louis IX's reinforcement, landed in the Holy Land for a few unsuccessful rides. He quickly turns around ...

1277: death of Baybars, and respite for the Latins.

1278: Charles of Anjou is crowned king of Jerusalem.

1282-1285 : The Sicilian Vespers have consequences until the Holy Land, where the Angevins are in difficulty against the Italians. War resumes between Acre and Tripoli. The Mamluk Sultan Qalawûn took the opportunity to take the latter in 1289.

1291: Qalawûn's successor, al-Ashraf Khalil, after Tire, takes Saint John of Acre following a siege of five weeks. This is the end of the Latin States in the Holy Land.

After the crusades

1297: Louis IX is canonized, he becomes Saint Louis.

1453: Capture of Constantinople by the Ottomans.

1461: end of the Greek Empire of Trebizond, defeated by the Turks.

1492: capture of Granada by the Catholic Monarchs: end of the Reconquista.

1517: The Ottomans expel the Mamluks from Egypt.

1571: battle of Lepanto. The same year, the last Frankish place in the East, Cyprus, also fell.


Fundamental works : these are basic books (in French) with different or even opposing angles on the Crusades in general to get an idea of ​​the different approaches to the subject (we will put aside the more thematic works, on military orders or holy war for example):

- M. BALARD, Les Latins en Orient, XI-XVè century, PUF, 2006.

- C. CAHEN, East and West at the time of the crusades, Aubier, 1983 (reissue 2010).

- R. GROUSSET, History of the Crusades and the Frankish Kingdom of Jerusalem, Paris, 1934-1941 (Perrin reissue, 2006).

- C. MORRISSON, The Crusades, PUF, 2006 (reed).

- J. PRAWER, History of the Latin kingdom of Jerusalem, 1969-1971 (CNRS reissue, 2000).

- J. RILEY-SMITH, Atlas of the Crusades, Otherwise, 1996.

- S. RUNCIMAN, History of the Crusades, 1951-1954 (reissue Tallandier, 2006).

Video: Holy War in the Holy Land: A Short History of the Crusades by Dr. Andrew Latham