Saylor.org's Ancient Civilizations of the World/The Crusades
Overview[edit | edit source]
The Crusades were a series of conflicts between the 10th and 13th centuries that largely took the form of Christians fighting Muslims for control of the Holy Lands, with the Holy City of Jerusalem being the main objective. The First Crusade followed a call from Pope Urban II at the Council of Clermont in 1095. Urban's call followed the ever increasing power of the Muslim Seljuk Turks as they pushed back territory once controlled by the Orthodox Christian Byzantine Empire. The crushing defeat at the hands of the Turks at the battle of Manzikert in 1071 drastically reduced Byzantine control on the Anatolian Peninsula. In the twenty years which followed the Battle of Manzikert, Christian pilgrims crossing the Anatolian Peninsula towards Jerusalem, the Holiest of Christian cities, came under attack or were otherwise hindered by the Muslim Turks now in control of the routes.
First Crusade (1096-1099)[edit | edit source]
The First Crusade did not commence until after Pope Urban's call at Clermont in 1095. While Christian kingdoms prepared their armies for departure, an ill-equipped mob of peasants under the leadership of the charismatic monk Peter the Hermit attempted to make the crusade on their own. This disorganized event known as the People's Crusade was marked by violence against Jews as the mob made its way across Europe and by its quick defeat at the hands of the Turks.
Although the First Crusade was plagued with hardships ranging from hunger to disease, it nonetheless ended favorably for the Crusaders with the capture of Nicea, Antioch and, most importantly, Jerusalem in 1099. The siege of Antioch, for instance, went on for months until an Armenian and Christian guard, Firouz, was bribed to open the gates to the city. In Antioch, the crusaders were purportedly questioning whether they should continue on their journey when they discovered a holy relic buried in the Antioch Cathedral. It was the "Holy Lance," the spear used by a Roman centurion Longinus to pierce Christ on the crucifix. The discovery of this relic renewed the spirit and desire of the crusaders to continue on their perilous journey to Jerusalem. Historical records indicate that following the capture of Jerusalem, a great massacre of Jews and Muslims residing in the town ensued. The records disagree over the extent of the slaughter, however either by massacre, expulsion, enslavement or escape, Jerusalem quickly became a Christian city.
Separately from the main group of crusaders, Baldwin of Boulogne took his men to the City of Edessa, where he was adopted as heir to the throne in 1098 and shortly became the ruler soon after, establishing the County of Edessa as the first crusader state.
Second Crusade (1145-1149)[edit | edit source]
The Second Crusade (1145–1149) was the second major crusade launched from Europe. The Second Crusade was started in response to the fall of the County of Edessa the previous year to the forces of Zengi. The county had been founded during the First Crusade (1096–1099) by Baldwin of Boulogne in 1098. While it was the first Crusader state to be founded, it was also the first to fall.
The Second Crusade was announced by Pope Eugene III, and was the first of the crusades to be led by European kings, namely Louis VII of France and Conrad III of Germany, with help from a number of other European nobles. The armies of the two kings marched separately across Europe. After crossing Byzantine territory into Anatolia, both armies were separately defeated by the Seljuq Turks. The main Western Christian source, Odo of Deuil, and Syriac Christian sources claim that the Byzantine emperor Manuel I Comnenus secretly hindered the crusaders' progress, particularly in Anatolia where he is alleged to have deliberately ordered Turks to attack them. Louis and Conrad and the remnants of their armies reached Jerusalem and, in 1148, participated in an ill-advised attack on Damascus. The crusade in the east was a failure for the crusaders and a great victory for the Muslims. It would ultimately have a key influence on the fall of Jerusalem and give rise to the Third Crusade at the end of the 12th century.
The only success of the Second Crusade came to a combined force of 13,000 Flemish, Frisian, Norman, English, Scottish, and German crusaders in 1147. Travelling from England, by ship, to the Holy Land, the army stopped and helped the smaller (7,000) Portuguese army in the capture of Lisbon, expelling its Moorish occupants.
The major outcome of these failures would be the fall of Jerusalem in 1187.
The Fall of Jerusalem[edit | edit source]
The Kingdom of Jerusalem, weakened by internal disputes, was completely defeated at the Battle of Hattin on 4 July 1187. Most of the nobility of the kingdom was taken prisoner, including King Guy, and throughout the summer Saladin quickly overran the kingdom. By mid-September, Saladin had taken Acre, Nablus, Jaffa, Toron, Sidon, Beirut, and Ascalon. The survivors of the battle and other refugees fled to Tyre, the only city able to hold out against Saladin, due to the fortuitous arrival of Conrad of Montferrat. Saladin then moved to reclaim Jerusalem. Saladin preferred to take the city without bloodshed, but those inside refused to leave their holy city, vowing to destroy it in a fight to the death rather than see it handed over peacefully. Thus the siege began.
At the end of September, Balian rode out with an embassy to meet with the sultan, offering the surrender that he had initially refused. Saladin would not accept this, seeing that as they spoke, his men had scaled the walls and planted their banners. Soon, however, the Crusaders repelled their attack. Saladin acquiesced, and the two agreed that the city would be handed over to Saladin peacefully, preventing the sort of massacre that had occurred when the crusaders captured the city in 1099. The sultan allowed a ransom of twenty bezants for men, ten for women, and five for children, but those who could not pay were to be sold into slavery. Balian argued in vain that there were far more people who could not pay, as there were perhaps as many as 20,000 refugees from elsewhere in the kingdom.
After returning to Jerusalem, it was decided that seven thousand of the poor inhabitants could be ransomed from money drawn from the treasury that Henry II of England had established there, which was being guarded by the Hospitallers. This money was meant to be used by Henry on a pilgrimage or a crusade, in penance for the murder of Thomas Becket, but the king never arrived, and his treasury had already been used to pay mercenaries for the Battle of Hattin.
Balian met with Saladin again and the sultan agreed to lower the ransom to ten bezants for men, five for women, and one for children. Balian argued that this would still be too great, and Saladin suggested a ransom of 100,000 bezants for all the inhabitants. Balian thought this was impossible, and Saladin said he would ransom seven thousand people for no lower than 50,000 bezants. Finally, it was decided that Saladin would free the seven thousand for 30,000 bezants; two women or ten children would be permitted to take the place of one man for the same price.
Surrender of Jerusalem Balian handed over the keys to the Tower of David, the citadel, on October 2. It was announced that every inhabitant had about a month to pay their ransom, if they could (the length of time was perhaps 30 to 50 days, depending on the source). Saladin was generous and freed some of those who were forced into slavery; his brother Saphadin did the same, and both Balian and Heraclius freed many others with their own money. They offered themselves as hostages for the remaining citizens (at least several thousand) whose ransoms had not been paid, but Saladin refused.
Saladin allowed for an orderly march away from Jerusalem. The ransomed inhabitants marched away in three columns; the Templars and Hospitallers led the first two, with Balian and the Patriarch leading the third. Balian was permitted to join his wife and family in Tripoli. Heraclius was allowed to evacuate a number of church treasures and reliquaries, which scandalised the Muslim chronicler Imad ad-Din al-Isfahani – although he had already contributed to the ransoms.
Third Crusade (1189-1192)[edit | edit source]
Following the fall of Jerusalem to Saladin in 1187, there was renewed religious zeal to reclaim the lost Holy Lands for the Christians. Inspired by religious zeal, Henry II of England and Philip II of France ceased their fighting over territory in France (at the time, England's ruling House of Plantagenet held dominion over north-eastern regions in France including Normandy and Anjou). Yet Henry II would never see action during the crusade as he died in 1189, leaving the command of the English crusaders to his son and heir, Richard I (Richard the Lionheart). The Third Crusade is notable for being influenced directly by the leadership of European monarchs, as joining Richard's and Philip's forces were to be those of the German king and Holy Roman Emperor, Frederick Barbarossa. When the commanding figure of Barbarossa attempted to cross the Saleph River on the Anatolian Peninsula, his horse slipped, throwing the Emperor against the rocks, causing him to drown. Most of the 100,000 men who had originally set out for the crusade decided to return to Germany following the death of their leader in anticipation of the election of the next Holy Roman Emperor.
Richard arrived at Acre on June 8, 1191 and immediately began supervising the construction of siege weapons to assault the city. The city was captured on July 12.
Richard, Philip, and Leopold quarreled over the spoils of their victory. Richard cast down the German standard from the city, slighting Leopold. Also, in the struggle for the kingship of Jerusalem, Richard supported Guy, while Philip and Leopold supported Conrad, who was related to them both. It was decided that Guy would continue to rule, but that Conrad would receive the crown upon his death.
Frustrated with Richard (and in Philip's case, in poor health), Philip and Leopold took their armies and left the Holy Land in August. Philip left 10,000 French crusaders in the Holy Land and 5,000 silver marks to pay them.
Despite the treaty at Acre, Richard had the garrison (including women and children) massacred in full view of Saladin's camp. Not one prisoner could be saved in the subsequent effort Saladin made to rescue them by military force
After the capture of Acre, Richard decided to march to the city of Jaffa, where he could launch the attack on Jerusalem but on September 7, 1191, at Arsuf, 30 miles (50 km) north of Jaffa, Saladin attacked Richard's army.
Saladin attempted to lure Richard's forces out to be easily picked off, but Richard maintained his formation until the Hospitallers rushed in to take Saladin's right flank, while the Templars took the left. Richard then won the battle.
Following his victory, Richard took Jaffa and established his new headquarters there. He offered to begin negotiations with Saladin, who sent his brother, Al-Adil to meet with Richard. Negotiations (which had included an attempt to marry Richard's sister Joan to Al-Adil) failed, and Richard marched to Ascalon. Richard's forces were halted nearly 12 times by the forces of Saladin commanded by Ayaz al-Tawil a powerful Mamluk leader, who died in combat.
Richard called on Conrad to join him on campaign, but he refused, citing Richard's alliance with King Guy. He too had been negotiating with Saladin, as a defence against any attempt by Richard to wrest Tyre from him for Guy. However, in April, Richard was forced to accept Conrad as king of Jerusalem after an election by the nobles of the kingdom. Guy had received no votes at all, but Richard sold him Cyprus as compensation. Before he could be crowned, Conrad was stabbed to death by two Hashshashin in the streets of Tyre. Eight days later, Richard's nephew Henry II of Champagne married Queen Isabella, who was pregnant with Conrad's child. It was strongly suspected that the king's killers had acted on instructions from Richard.
In July 1192, Saladin's army suddenly attacked and captured Jaffa with thousands of men, but Saladin had lost control of his army because of their anger for the massacre at Acre. It was believed that Saladin even told the Crusaders to shield themselves in the Citadel until he had regained control of his army.
On September 2, 1192, Richard and Saladin finalized a treaty by which Jerusalem would remain under Muslim control, but which also allowed unarmed Christian pilgrims and traders to visit the city. Richard departed the Holy Land on October 9.
Neither side was entirely discontent nor satisfied with the results of the war. Though Richard had deprived the Muslims of important coastal territories as a result of his consistent victories over Saladin, many Christians in the Latin West felt disappointed that he had elected not to pursue Jerusalem. Likewise, many in the Islamic world felt disturbed that Saladin had failed to drive the Christians out of Syria and Palestine. Trade, however, flourished throughout the Middle East and in port cities along the Mediterranean coastline.
Saladin's servant and biographer Baha al-Din recounted Saladin's distress at the successes of the Crusaders:
'I fear to make peace, not knowing what may become of me. Our enemy will grow strong, now that they have retained these lands. They will come forth to recover the rest of their lands and you will see every one of them ensconced on his hill-top,' meaning in his castle, 'having announced, “I shall stay put” and the Muslims will be ruined.' These were his words and it came about as he said.
Richard was arrested and imprisoned in December 1192 by Duke Leopold, who suspected him of murdering his cousin Conrad of Montferrat, and had been offended by Richard casting down his standard from the walls of Acre. He was later transferred to the custody of Henry VI, Holy Roman Emperor, and it took a ransom of one hundred and fifty thousand marks to obtain his release. Richard returned to England in 1194 and died of a crossbow bolt wound in 1199 at the age of 41.
In 1193, Saladin died of yellow fever. His heirs would quarrel over the succession and ultimately fragment his conquests.
Fourth Crusade (1202-1204)[edit | edit source]
The events of the Fourth Crusade rank among the most historically controversial of the entire Crusading Age. Although the intent when Pope Innocent III called for a Fourth Crusade had been to re-capture Jerusalem after traveling through Egypt, nothing of the sort happened. The crusaders were set to meet up in Venice, the port from which they would sail across the Mediterranean to Egypt. The Venetians had been commissioned to construct fifty ships to carry the ambitious number of 33,500 crusaders expected to show up. When only about 12,000 crusaders arrived in Venice, they brought not nearly enough money to cover the Venetian expenses incurred in the construction of the fleet. Therefore, the 12,000 crusaders were to pay off their debt by essentially becoming the personal army of the elderly Doge of Venice, Enrico Dondalo.
The shrewd and financially-minded Donaldo would use the crusaders to intimidate local ports and towns into doing business with the Venetians. The height of this intimidation would come in the form of attacking the Dalmatian city of Zara, which after years of being dominated by Venice had rebelled and joined an alliance with the Kingdoms of Hungary and Croatia in 1181. The crusaders attacked and successfully sacked Zara, the problem was that the residents of Zara were Roman Catholic and Crusaders had been forbidden to use violence against fellow Christians. Following the attack on Zara, Pope Innocent III excommunicated the Crusaders but quickly rescinded the act of excommunication, fearing that it would dissolve the army before they could complete their goal of re-taking Jerusalem.
Shortly after the debacle over Zara, the Fourth Crusade took yet another unexpected turn when Prince Alexios Angelos, the son of the recently deposed Byzantine Emperor Isaac II Angelos. Alexios promised that if the crusaders were to help reinstate his father to the throne in Constantinople, the Byzantine Empire would pay off the debt owed to Venice, raise an addition 10,000 Byzantine troops to assist on the crusade, provide the naval transportation to Egypt and, most tempting, bring the Eastern Orthodox Church under the authority of the Pope in Rome. Unable to resist these tempting offers, the crusaders sailed to Constantinople and set siege to the city's defenses from 1203 to April 1204. When Constantinople at last fell, the crusaders plundered or destroyed many holy relics or works from Ancient Greece and Rome. The famous Horses of St. Mark's Cathedral in Venice were originally plundered from Constantinople in 1204.
In addition to the slaughter and plunder of their fellow Christians, the crusaders who took Constantinople reneged on their promise to Prince Alexios to grant him control of the Byzantine Empire. Instead, the crusaders carved up a large chunk of the Byzantine Empire for themselves and called it the Latin Empire, installing the Count of Flanders, Baldwin I, as the first emperor. The Byzantine Empire in exile took the form of a couple of successor states, notably the Empire of Nicaea and the Despotate of Epirus. Much to Pope Innocent III's delight, the Latin Empire attempted to prop up the Roman Catholic church in the long Orthodox region in an attempt to end the Great Schism (to say nothing of his delight with the vast treasures plundered). However, the Latin Empire was short lived, with the Byzantine Empire gaining control of Constantinople once more in 1261. However, the sack of Constantinople in 1204 was an indication that things would only go further downhill for the eastern remnant of the Ancient Roman Empire. Byzantine land would be continually threatened until the fall of Constantinople in 1453 to the Turks, officially ending the Byzantine Empire.
The Fourth Crusade's controversy comes not just from the fact that the crusaders never came close to Jerusalem but from the nature of the killing and plundering from other Christians. In 1954, the Medieval historian Steven Runciman went so far as to say that "There was never a greater crime against humanity than the Fourth Crusade." The sack of Constantinople served as the culminating act of centuries of 'The Great Schism' between the Roman and Greek churches. The blood spilled in 1204 remained a painful memory and it was not until 2001 that Pope John Paul II expressed sorrow over the actions of the crusaders to Orthodox Church leaders.
Military Orders[edit | edit source]
The crusades inspired a new form of soldiery, that of the Christian military order. While the crusades were in a sense a combination of military and spiritual life, the Christian military orders were a natural extension of this. These were men who had taken monastic vows to help the poor and sick, as well as to fight for the glory of God. Although there were many orders, the most important were the Knights Hospitaller, Templar and Teuronic.
The Knights Hospitaller Following the European conquest of Jerusalem in 1099, a group of individuals associated with a hospital dedicated to St. John the Baptist to found the military of the Hospitallers. Initially the Hospitallers were charged with caring for Pilgrims in Jerusalem (i.e. at the Hospital of St. John the Baptist), however the Hospitallers took to providing military escorts for pilgrims traveling around the Holy Land. In this role, the Hospitallers soon grew in power and prestige, making a name for themselves in battle against Muslim forces. They were distinguishable by their black surcoats with white crosses and by the large castles/forts they controlled, notably the Krak des Chevalliers in Syria.
Following the fall of Jerusalem and the rollback of Christian controlled territory in the Holy Lands, the order moved to the isle of Cyprus, then Rhodes and finally to Malta, where it would administer a vassal state of Sicily.
The Knights Templar
Perhaps the most infamous, and misunderstood, of the military orders, the Knights Templar began their role in the Crusades much in the same way as the Hospitallers, by assuring the protection of pilgrims traveling in the Holy Land. In 1119, they began their order and were granted permission to operate out of one wing of the palace on the Temple Mount in Jerusalem, hence the name of the order. The official name of the Templars was the Poor Fellow-Soldiers of Christ and of the Temple of Solomon and emphasized their poverty by making their logo that of two knights riding on the same horse.
However, a series of events turned the impoverished knights into one of the wealthiest and most influential groups of the crusades. First, in 1129, when the Templars became officially endorsed by the Roman Catholic Church. With this endorsement, the Templars became a favorite charity of the day, bringing money, land, business and noble-born knights came flowing in to assist the knights in their duties. In 1139, Pope Innocent II exempted the Templars from all local jurisdiction, exempting them from all taxes and authority short of the Pope, himself.
The Knights Templar often served as an expeditionary force in the crusades, leading the charge of battles in the front line, notably in the turning point battle of the Horns of Hattin in 1187. However, only a portion of the Templars served as combatants. Many more managed the vast wealth accumulated by their order and developed a proto-banking system through letters of credit. Essentially, before embarking on pilgrimage or crusade, one could deposit ones valuables with Templars and receive a letter of credit stating how much those valuables were worth. Once in the Holy Land, the pilgrims could redeem their funds with the letter of credit. This allowed pilgrims to travel unencumbered and appear as less tempting targets for robbery and increased the ever growing Templar wealth. The Templars began acting like a medieval version of a multinational corportation: they acquired large tracts of land, both in Europe and the Middle East; they bought and managed farms and vineyards; they built churches and castles; they were involved in manufacturing, import and export; they had their own fleet of ships; and at one point they even owned the entire island of Cyprus.
Naturally, the influence of the Templars, particularly on the battlefield, began to wane as the Crusades in the Holy Land took a disappointing turn for the Christians after the Third Crusade. For over another century, the Templars continued to manage their influential financial system in Europe. In 1307, Pope Clement V met with Jacques de Molay, the Grand Master of the Templars, where the Pope discussed accusations about the Templars leveled by an ousted member of the order. The charges were largely false, but Pope Clement sent a letter to the King of France, Philip IV, to help in his investigation of these charges. The problem was the King had accumulated a substantial amount of debt to the Templars in conducting his war against the English. Seeing this as an opportunity to rid himself of the Templars, and thus his debts, Philip convinced the Pope to take action.
On Friday the 13th of October, 1307 (often used to explain the origin of the Friday the 13th superstition), Philip ordered de Molay and scores of other Templars to be arrested. The Templars were charged with a variety of offences to the faith including apostasy, idolatry, heresy, homosexuality, corruption, fraud and secrecy. Under the pain of torture, many Templars admitted to these largely made up accusations, including spitting on the cross. After more bullying from Philip, Pope Clement then issued the papal bull Pastoralis Praeeminentiae on November 22, 1307, which instructed all Christian monarchs in Europe to arrest all Templars and seize their assets. Pope Clement called for papal hearings to determine the Templars' guilt or innocence, and once freed of the Inquisitors' torture, many Templars recanted their confessions. Some had sufficient legal experience to defend themselves in the trials, but in 1310 Philip blocked this attempt, using the previously forced confessions to have dozens of Templars burned at the stake in Paris.
With Philip threatening military action unless the pope complied with his wishes, Pope Clement finally agreed to disband the Order, citing the public scandal that had been generated by the confessions. At the Council of Vienne in 1312, he issued a series of papal bulls, including Vox in excelso, which officially dissolved the Order, and Ad providam, which turned over most Templar assets to the Hospitallers.
The Teutonic Knights
In 1143 Pope Celestine II ordered the Knights Hospitaller to take over management of a German hospital in Jerusalem, which, according to the chronicler Jean d’Ypres, accommodated the countless German pilgrims and crusaders who could neither speak the local language (i.e. old French) nor Latin (patriæ linguam ignorantibus atque Latinam). Although formally an institution of the Hospitallers, the pope commanded that the prior and the brothers of the domus Theutonicorum (house of the Germans) should always be Germans themselves, so a tradition of a German-led religious institution could develop during the 12th century in Palestine.
After the loss of Jerusalem in 1187, some merchants from Lübeck and Bremen took up the idea and founded a field hospital for the duration of the siege of Acre in 1190, which became the nucleus of the order; Celestine III recognized it in 1192 by granting the monks Augustinian Rule. Based on the model of the Knights Templar it was, however, transformed into a military order in 1198 and the head of the order became known as the Grand Master (magister hospitalis). It received papal orders for crusades to take and hold Jerusalem for Christianity and defend the Holy Land against the Muslim Saracens. During the rule of Grand Master Hermann von Salza (1209–1239) the Order changed from being a hospice brotherhood for pilgrims to primarily a military order. Hermann von Salza served as the fourth Grand Master of the Teutonic Knights (1209 to 1239).
Originally based in Acre, the Knights purchased Montfort (Starkenberg), northeast of Acre, in 1220. This castle, which defended the route between Jerusalem and the Mediterranean Sea, was made the seat of the Grand Masters in 1229, although they returned to Acre after losing Montfort to Muslim control in 1271. The Order also had a castle at Amouda in Armenia Minor. The Order received donations of land in the Holy Roman Empire (especially in present-day Germany and Italy), Frankish Greece, and Palestine.
Emperor Frederick II elevated his close friend Hermann von Salza to the status of Reichsfürst, or "Prince of the Empire", enabling the Grand Master to negotiate with other senior princes as an equal. During Frederick's coronation as King of Jerusalem in 1225, Teutonic Knights served as his escort in the Church of the Holy Sepulchre; von Salza read the emperor's proclamation in both French and German. However, the Teutonic Knights were never as influential in Outremer as the older Templars and Hospitallers.
In 1211, Andrew II of Hungary accepted their services and granted them the district of Burzenland in Transylvania. Andrew had been involved in negotiations for the marriage of his daughter with the son of Hermann, Landgrave of Thuringia, whose vassals included the family of Hermann von Salza. Led by a brother called Theoderich, the Order defended the South-Eastern borders of Kingdom of Hungary against the neighbouring Cumans and settled new German colonists among those who were known as the Transylvanian Saxons, living there before. In 1224 the Knights petitioned Pope Honorius III to be placed directly under the authority of the Papal See, rather than that of the King of Hungary. Angered and alarmed at their growing power, Andrew responded by expelling them in 1225, although he allowed the new colonists to remain.
In 1226, Konrad I, Duke of Masovia in north-eastern Poland, appealed to the Knights to defend his borders and subdue the pagan Baltic Prussians, allowing the Teutonic Knights use of Chełmno Land (Culmerland) as a base for their campaign. This being a time of widespread crusading fervor throughout Western Europe, Hermann von Salza considered Prussia a good training ground for his knights for the wars against the Muslims in Outremer. With the Golden Bull of Rimini, Emperor Frederick II bestowed on the Order a special imperial privilege for the conquest and possession of Prussia, including Chełmno Land, with nominal papal sovereignty. In 1235 the Teutonic Knights assimilated the smaller Order of Dobrzyń, which had been established earlier by Christian, the first Bishop of Prussia.
The conquest of Prussia was accomplished with much bloodshed over more than 50 years, during which native Prussians who remained unbaptised were subjugated, killed, or exiled. Fighting between the Knights and the Prussians was ferocious; chronicles of the Order state the Prussians would "roast captured brethren alive in their armour, like chestnuts, before the shrine of a local god".
The native nobility who submitted to the crusaders had many of their privileges affirmed in the Treaty of Christburg. After the Prussian uprisings of 1260–83, however, much of the Prussian nobility emigrated or were resettled, and many free Prussians lost their rights. The Prussian nobles who remained were more closely allied with the German landowners and gradually assimilated. Peasants in frontier regions, such as Samland, had more privileges than those in more populated lands, such as Pomesania. The crusading knights often accepted baptism as a form of submission by the natives. Christianity along western lines slowly spread through Prussian culture. Bishops were reluctant to have Prussian religious practices integrated into the new faith, while the ruling knights found it easier to govern the natives when they were semi-pagan and lawless. After 50 years of warfare and brutal conquest the end result meant that most of the Prussian natives were either killed or deported.
The Order ruled Prussia under charters issued by the Pope and the Holy Roman Emperor as a sovereign monastic state, comparable to the arrangement of the Knights Hospitallers in Rhodes and later in Malta.
Historiography[edit | edit source]
Historiographical debate exists between historians who believe the term 'crusade' should only be used to describe conflicts in the Holy Land and those who believe the term applies to a wider range of conflicts against all the perceived "enemies of Christ". This broader interpretation of the Crusades includes violence perpetrated against Jews during the People's Crusade, the Spanish Reconquista, the Albigensian Crusade against Cathar heretics in the south of France and the crusades along the Baltic coast.
Other historiographical debates surrounding the crusades concern the intentions of the crusaders and the sincerity of their beliefs. 20th century Marxist historians, in particular, were prone to seeing the Crusades a form of proto-imperialism; indicating that long before the Scramble for Africa or the conquest of the New World, Europeans were looking for the control of lands and resources to benefit their kingdoms. The counter argument to this position uses primary sources to make a case for the sincerity of Christian belief, whether right or wrong, as a motivating force. These historians argue that the crusades often times left those who went on them either poor, sick or dead, indicating that there had to be a greater goal in mind than the pursuit of riches.
Legacy[edit | edit source]
One of the first noticeable legacies of the crusades in Europe was the strengthening of centralized bureaucracies. The organizing of men and resources of the crusades necessitated the strengthening of bureaucracies, laying the foundation for the modern European centralized nation-state, particularly in France, England and Spain.
Much more contact with the Islamic world led to an increase in scientific and medical knowledge for the Europeans. The interaction with the east seemingly reopened Europe's eyes, not just to the scientific but to the economic possibilities of lands beyond European shores, either through trade or later conquest.
In the wake of September 11th, 2001 and the beginning of the American War on Terror, it became popular for individuals to draw comparisons between the modern "clash of cultures" and the crusades. To much controversy, President George W. Bush called the War on Terror a 'crusade', sparking debate about the appropriateness of the term. Many academic historians of the crusade point out how misleading the analogy to the Crusades is. That being said, the most prominent crusade historian in the United States, Thomas Madden, was often called upon as a historical consultant after the events of September 11th, to discuss the connections between Jihad, the medieval Crusades and modern Islamic terrorism.