A Handy (Short) Guide To The Crusades

I have been reading up on them a lot as of late (Thomas Asbridge is awesome, review coming soon), and I’ve found that it can get a bit confusing. What counts as a Crusade? Is it who ordered it? Does it have to get to the Holy Land? Who leads it?

Aren’t the Fifth and Sixth basically the same one? Ditto the Eight and Ninth? And the biggest question, which one is which?

Here’s something that I think can be quite useful, just talking the numbered ones. The general aim of these Crusades was usually ‘Take Jerusalem!/Retake Jerusalem!/Defend Jerusalem!’ though they didn’t always get that far:

The First: The succesful one. Crusaders took Edessa, Antioch and Jerusalem, setting up the ‘Crusader Kingdoms’.

The Second: Botched. Crusaders laid siege, but failed to capture, Damascus.

The Third: The famous one. Crusaders took Acre (That’s an amazing story by the way) and won at Ascolan, but the campaign ended with two aborted marches on Jerusalem. The Crusader Kingdoms were re-established, with less territory.

The Fourth: Intended to advance through Egypt. Venetian financial power over the expedition meant it sacked Constantinople instead. Never reached the Holy Land.

The Fifth: Early success in Egypt followed by a decisive defeat outside Cairo.

The Sixth: Achieved great diplomatic success, gaining temporary control over most of Jerusalem, but no lasting military victory.

The Seventh: French lead operation. Initial success turned to disaster and defeat in Egypt.

The Eight: Another attempt by the French that got to Tunisia but not the Holy Land.

The Ninth: Aborted English led operation. Didn’t get far beyond Acre.

Hope that helps.

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