The Crusades were a series of religious wars fought between Christians and Muslims over control of the Holy Land. Traditionally, they took place between 1095 and 1291. The Holy Land was and still is a place that is very important for the three major monotheistic religions: Islam, Judaism, and Christianity. There are many important religious sites in the Holy Land. This is the land now called Israel or Palestine. Jerusalem, Nazareth, Bethlehem and other religious sites fell under the control of Muslims during the Caliphate of Omar (634-44).Many Crusades

There were many different crusades. The most important and biggest Crusades took place from the 11th century to the 13th century. There were 9 large Crusades during this time. They are numbered 1 through 9. There were also many smaller Crusades. Some crusades were even within Europe (for example, in Germany, Austria and Scandinavia). The smaller Crusades continued to the 16th century, until the Renaissance and Reformation.

The word “Crusade” is related to the word “Cross”, and means a Christian holy war. There is also the Arabic word “Jihad”, referring to a holy war fought by Muslims. All sides (Christians, Muslims, and Jews) believed very much in their religions. They also had political reasons for fighting. The strong belief made people less able to understand other people during times when there was no peace. The Crusades and Jihads caused very much loss of life and property for all sides.

Alexius I, a ruler of the Byzantine Empire, called for help to defend his empire against the Seljuk Turks in 1095, Pope Urban II asked all Christians to join a war against the Turks. The Pope told the Christians that fighting the war would repay God for their sins and that if they died on a crusade they would go straight to heaven. The Christian soldiers were called “crusaders”. The armies marched to Jerusalem, attacking several cities on their way. In 1099 they won the battle for Jerusalem.

In 1187, Saladin recaptured Jerusalem. Pope Gregory VIII called for a new crusade, led by several of Europe’s kings: Philip II of France, Richard I of England and Frederick I, Holy Roman Emperor. Richard defeated Saladin at Arsuf and Jaffa but lacked the men needed to attempt recapturing Jerusalem. Richard and Saladin made a truce that let the Christians travel safely through Jerusalem.

The Children’s Crusade is a crusade of 1212. An outburst of the old popular enthusiasm led a gathering of children in France and Germany. A boy, from either France or Germany, said that Jesus had visited him, and told him to peacefully convert Muslims to Christianity. Following this vision, many children formed bands, and marched to Italy. There, they were put onto ships which either capsized in a storm, or which went to Morocco. Most of the children either starved to death or were sold into slavery.

In time, the people went on Crusades for other purposes. The Crusades ended two centuries after they had begun, achieving mixed results.

Adapted from Crusades Facts for Kids. Kiddle Encyclopedia.