The Fifth Crusade lasted from until The Sixth Crusade occurred in — The Seventh Crusade began in and ended in And the Eighth Crusade took place in There were also smaller Crusades against dissident Christian sects within Europe, including the Albigensian Crusade — The Crusades were organized by western European Christians after centuries of Muslim wars of expansion. Their primary objectives were to stop the expansion of Muslim states, to reclaim for Christianity the Holy Land in the Middle East, and to recapture territories that had formerly been Christian.
Why Muslims See the Crusades So Differently from Christians
Many participants also believed that undertaking what they saw as holy war was a means of redemption and a way of achieving expiation of sins. Louis led the last two Crusades. The First Crusade, called in response to a request for help from the Byzantine emperor Alexius Comnenus , was astonishingly successful. The Crusaders conquered Nicaea in Turkey and Antioch and then went on to seize Jerusalem , and they established a string of Crusader-ruled states. Richard signed a peace treaty with Saladin allowing Christians access to Jerusalem.
The Fourth Crusade—rather than attacking Egypt , then the centre of Muslim power—sacked the Byzantine Christian city of Constantinople.
None of the following Crusades were successful. The Crusades slowed the advance of Islamic power and may have prevented western Europe from falling under Muslim suzerainty.
The Crusader states extended trade with the Muslim world, bringing new tastes and foods to Europe. But a closer examination reveals a complexity that has eluded many historians.
Aleppo and the economics of war
It was an act of holy war, a symbolic cleansing of the Holy City, later remembered in medieval chronicles, which describe the victorious Franks wading in the blood of the fallen. These gruesome events are counted among the cruellest acts of war. They are also offered as unequivocal proof that the First Crusade instigated a clash of civilisations between Christianity and Islam, which would last for centuries.
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It continues to fuel hatred nine centuries on. Yet how far is it borne out by the evidence? Was the First Crusade a war against Islam? Bringing Mosul and Aleppo together "meant taking control of a major gateway to the internal regions of the Levant and towards Mesopotamia," says Ahmad Hetait, former dean at the Faculty of Arts at Islamic University.
The Muslims' initial response had been inadequate but now it was time for a revival. The revival arose from the people, not the rulers. In effect, cutting off trade and communication routes between Antioch and Edessa, along with that of the county of Tripoli and the Kingdom of Jerusalem, posed a major obstacle to the crusaders as they confronted the Islamic world.
Now a unified front was born," says Muhammad Moenes Awad, professor of history at Sharjah University.
Tu Quoque: On Islam and the Crusades | City Journal
With Damascus protected by a truce with the Kingdom of Jerusalem, Imad Ed-Din Zengi began to prepare for what would be his greatest military achievement: On December 25, , his army attacked and captured the County of Edessa in a matter of hours. It had been the first crusader state in the region but was now the first city to be retrieved by Muslims.
- Modern view of Crusades as a clash between Islam and Christianity ignores stories of co-existence;
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Imad Ed-Din Zengi's victory in Edessa was a turning point; it lifted the Muslims' morale and enthusiasm for the fight. Two years later, however, Imad Ed-Din Zengi was killed by his own slave. He was succeeded by his son, Nour Ed-Din.
Islam and war
The loss of Edessa was not taken lightly in Europe. In the summer of , the armies set off towards the Holy Land and after almost a year, the German and French forces finally arrived in Jerusalem. They weren't defeated in some epic struggle, they just slunk away. And that's a real blow to the morale of the crusaders in the west," says Phillips. The tragic failure of the Second Crusade was by no means the last disaster to befall the Christians.
Six years later, Nour Ed-Din finally managed to annex Damascus, the very city they had failed to capture. It had begun before but at this time it became more organised, less random," concludes Afaf Sabra. Background to the holy wars and the First Crusade's conquest of Jerusalem, a holy city for Jews, Christians and Muslims.
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