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Introduction to the Medieval World: Class 15

Class 15: Crusades and European Expansion

Assigned Reading:

I.      Introduction

The Crusading Movement - one of defining features of High Middle Ages.

Sources - Many - Chronicles, Memoirs, Papal Documents, Feudal
Documents. We are in to a new world compared to the earlier

What is a Crusade? - A Holy War?. Hard to define. Much Research.
In a militarized and religious society - might seem natural.
But in fact a lot more complicated than this.
Let us try to answer this question by seeing what it was.

II.     European Expansion

Until c. 1000 a chaotic situation in Europe.
We already looked at:-
-The political rebirth
-Ecclesiastical revolution - a period of religious enthusiasm.

Also a growing population
-No plague
-Less war
-more resources with expansion of Land

Europe still less `civilized' than Byzantium or Islam,
but now strong and ready to expand.
European imperialism - never stopped (?..

Note importance of military background of upper classes,
and progressive Christianization of all classes.

III.    Christianity and Islam

Main Battles had been in Byzantium
By 11th century Byzantium was able to push its borders into
Muslim Territory.

But in Spain also, the collapse of the Caliphate in 1002
had allowed Christians to expand south. More in next class.

Muslims in heartland not really aware of any threat, but
Crusades were to condition Muslim and Christian relations for

Crusade is a conflict of Muslims and Christians, but also more
than that. It was Christians against all non-Christians.
Jews and heretics also effected.

IV.     Normans

Normandy - French and Feudal.
Tight control by Dukes of Normandy - led many to seek fortunes
elsewhere. One a pattern starts it is self perpetuating.
That's why historians look at origins so much.

England - conquered 1066

Southern Italy
-Tancred de Hautville - a minor baron. Good example of younger
 sons heading off.
-Eight went to Southern Italy in 1030a and 1040s -
 as mercenaries
-lost of conflict between Byzantine cities, Lombard states and
 Italian republics.

Robert Guiscard arrives 1047.
Bandit leader. Then by 1059 Duke. Normans looked on with
favor by Papacy. Vs the Empire

1060-90 - conquest of Sicily

1071 - Began to attack Byzantine Possessions - Took Bari.
Bad time for Byzantines.

Normans rule Sicily well - used Byzantine and Islamic forms.

Normans very involved in Crusades.

Crusades are part of purely political/booty expansion
of feudal classes in Europe. But also more than that.

V.      Byzantium

A.      11th Century
        Bureaucracy replaces a military state - it looked like
        Byzantium did not need its huge armies.

B.      1071 - Mantzikert. Seljuqs
        Turcomans invade all of Anatolia

C.      Alexius Comenus 1081- Renovatio
        Expansion in Balkans and Anatolia

        Alexius possibly appealed to the Pope for military
        aid. Used Jerusalem as an attraction + relics.
        Did not want a Crusade: Had no idea what one was.

        Byzantine attitude to Jerusalem
        -Constantinople was the new Jerusalem as well as New Rome

        Crusades a reaction to perilous situation of Christians
        in the East. But more than that.

VI.     Fatamids

Fatamids 969. Cairo.
Attacks by Hakim on Christians 1021.

Crusades are a defense of Jerusalem.

VII.    Jerusalem

Real or not real - Symbolic importance.

Pilgrimage in Europe: 1064-65 big German pilgrimage to Jerusalem.

Raid on Mahdya in 1087 by Pisa - called a `pilgrimage'.

Crusade to some extent incorporates ideas of pilgrimage
But that's not all

VIII.   The Peace and Truce of God

What I have described so far is lots of different elements that
could come together to create a conflict situation.
But a Crusade was not just a war, it was an ideology [DISCUSS}

For Byzantines and Muslims it must have looked like a standard
war, or at least plundering expeditions.

But for the western fighters it had definite religious overtones.
This is connected with the attempt by the Church to Control
and Christianize the very strong feudal forces - and stop
private warfare.

Two movements in France [NB France has largest population and
dominates crusade] sponsored by monasteries, particularly

Problem of lawless knights and private  warfare.
Church wanted peace, plus less attacks on it.
Kings and high nobles wanted war to be their privilege

The Peace of God
-no war against holy places or people
-POG aimed to put under God's protection the poor (who were
 defenseless., unarmed clerics, pilgrims, merchants, women,
 children, peasants.
 IE it defined combatants and non-combatants

It defined the milites as a military class.
Later on it tried to protect all Christians.
-Began in late 10th century, but most effective in 11th.
 An episcopal more than a papal movement.
 The Gregorian councils and synods pushed it.

The Truce of God
 Began in late 11th century (or 1127?.
-A clerical ideology of war: Holy War and Holy Peace
-no war on holy days - actually half the year

Crusades effectively diverted private warfare, and
were an expansion of peace efforts within Christendom.

Gregory VII's idea of soldiers of Christ.
[Gregory was fully part of feudal world view].
Idea of Christina Knighthood [To be expanded by St. Bernard].

Ideals of Just war and Holy war are important, and distinct

Crusade includes ideas of peace within Christendom.

IX.     Urban II 1188-99

A Monk of Cluny. Gregorian Reform

Crusades were led and encouraged by the Papacy. They were papal
wars. But more than that

X.      The First Crusade

A.      Council at Clermont-Ferrand 1095 - Deus le volt!

B.      Crusading Indulgence
        -for remission of sins
        -New concept. Very popular.

C.      Response by 1096
        Pope was surprised by response. He had offered
        no plan of action.

        1.      Popular Response
                Peter the Hermit and poor men

        2.      Noble Response
                Especially from Northern France, Normandy,
                Flanders, but also from Southern France -
                Perhaps 25,000 men

                Four Armies
                Southern France - led by papal legate and Count
                Raymond of Toulouse
                Northern France - led by Hugh or Vermandois, Count
                Robert of Flanders, Count Stephen-Henry of Blois,
                and Duke Robert of Normandy.
                Lorraine - led by Godfrey de Bouillon, Duke of
                Lower Lorraine (a supporter of Henry IV., his brother
                Italy - led by Robert Guiscard's son
                Bohemund and Tancred

        3.      German Response 1096
                Massive anti-Semitic attacks in Mainz, Koln etc.
                -effect of crusading on European Minorities.

D.      Journey - difficult - no provisions
        Destroyed a lot of Balkans.

E.      Constantinople
        Impressed by Alexius - who made leaders his vassals/douloi
        Alarmed at Norman presence

F.      In Anatolia
        Many killed at Nicea
        -Crusaders killed many Christians
        -Byzantine and Western hostility

G.      Antioch
        Got Bogged down.
        Tarfurs ate Muslims
        Finding of the Holy Lance - spurred on Army

        Had good luck - as Fatamids and Seljuqs were at war with
        each other.

H.      Jerusalem 1099 - July 15th - Massive killing

I.      The Kingdom of Jerusalem 1099-1291

        No idea what they would do once they got there.
        Set up a `perfect' Feudal state - Assizes of Jerusalem - C13
        See Map p. 180
        It used to thought it had strong nobles and weak king.
        Now its known the king was strong for first 30 years.
        Also not perfect feudalism - the nobles lived in the
        towns. Many had left wives in Europe - and so could
        not pass on lands to legitimate heirs.

        Very little settlement.

        Set up a Latin Church structure - alienated the

        Trade with Muslims - but little intellectual contact -
        which was more in Spain and Sicily

J.      Knights Hospitallers 1113
        Knights Templars 1119

        Small armies. Strong Castles - basis of security.

XI.     The End of the Crusading Movement?

Continued to 1918? Allenby's troops in Jerusalem.

Certainly throughout the Middle Ages.

XII. European Expansion: The Later Crusades

i.      Introduction

A.      Summing up Crusades from last class:
        We talked mainly of the First Crusade in 1196-99
        A Holy War - but that is not an adequate definition

B.      Summary [Q&A]

        Involved were varying concepts
        -Conflict of Christians and Muslims
        -Military adventures of the feudal classes, especially
        -The idea of Aid to eastern Christians, both those in the
        Holy land and Byzantium.
        -The idea of Pilgrimage to Jerusalem
        -Extension of the Church's ongoing attempt to control
        warfare as in Truce of God and Peace of God.
        -Papal blessing and indulgences

C.      All in all a heady mix of religious faith, religious
        symbols, and religious power, with secular adventurism.

        Once the idea got going it became an accepted part of
        medieval ideology. Only very late on did criticism start.

        Crusade defines much of European activity for the high
        middle ages.

D.      The crusades have also been seen as the first phase of
        European expansionism.

        This is the theme I want to explore in this class.
        Both by looking at the future of the Crusades to the
        Holy Land, and at other European Crusades
        In Spain, Eastern Europe and strangely enough in France.

ii.     Crusades to the Holy Land

A.      The Kingdom of Jerusalem

B.      The Second Crusade 1146-8

        1.      Fall of Edessa

        2.      St. Bernard of Clairvaux
                -Great mystical writer
                -Encourager of devotion to B.V.M
                -politically important because of his holiness

        3.      More attacks on Jews

        4.      The Crusade - Kings take over
                Louis VII, Conrad

        5.      Military Orders - promoted by St. Bernard
                to maintain kingdom of Jerusalem.
                Ultimate development of Milites Christi idea
                -Hospital 1113
                -Temple 1119 - based on Cistercians

C.      The Third Crusade

        1.      1187 - Saladin's Victory at Hattin
                fall of Jerusalem

        2.      The Crusade of Kings - the most Romantic?
                -Frederick Barbarossa (died in a ditch on the way.
                -Philip Augustus, new king of France
                -His sometime lover, Richard I the Lion Heart

        3.      Failure of Crusade
                Seen as a result on sin and antichrist

        4.      Conquest of Cyprus by Richard II
                New Latin base in the East

D.      The Kingdom of Acre
        Nobles, Castles - development of Military architecture

E.      Future Crusades to the East
        There were many more crusades. But they never quite made
        it to the Holy land.
        -Fourth destroyed the Byzantine Empire
        -Fifth Went to Egypt
        -Children's Crusade 1212 - led to slavery

F.      Reasons for Failure

        1.      Distance

        2.      Muslim Resurgence
                Beginning of cult of Jerusalem among Muslims
                This is the period when Christianity looses its
                hold in Syria and Iraq.

        3.      Size of Armies changes
                European ones remain small, but Asian ones grow big.
                Eventually the Mongols where to invade the area
                with thousands of troops - turned back at
                Ein Jalut in 1260 by the well equipped successor
                to Saladin, Sultan Baibars of Egypt.

        4.      Failure to Colonize
                -Number who went east was in fact quite small.
                -They live in the towns. Which were trading places.
                -Land cultivation continued by the original Christian
                and Muslim inhabitants
                -Few peasants went out - no reason to go
                -People did not go out on an adventure or pilgrimage
                to farm.
                -few women went.

                In short, the crusades became a small governing class
                in a basically Muslim/Arab Christian Country
                Lessons were  taken to heart by modern Israelis.

G.      The Crusades and Europe
        They were not a success.
        But Europe did benefit in many ways
        -not by intellectual contact with the superior Islamic
        and Byzantine cultures - that took place in Spain/Sicily
        -But positive benefits in growth of trade - of which more
        in future class.
        -Architectural impact of Crusader castles.
        -New awareness of the outside world.
        -the Whole theme of Crusade as a motivator.

H.      But bear in mind the failure to colonize.
        Population is probably the key to what happened in
        the east - both its failures, and its successes
        (e.g. Castles..

iii.    Spain

A.      Reconquista
        -Spain fell 711
        -Kingdom of the Asturias & County of Barcelona
        -Until decline of Caliphate in early 11th century, no
        room for Christians to do anything.
        -Then they begin to develop a distinctively Spanish
        ideology of Reconquista: The idea that Muslims were
        in Spain illegitimately, and that it was a duty to
        This is prior to Crusades. Has its own religious
        cult - Santiago de Compostella.

B.      Asturias
        Leon, Castile, Navarre, Catalonia/Aragon, [Portugal]
        States that could expand were the future.

C.      Process
        -Gradual move into Extremadura
        Helped by Muslim concentration in the South.
        -1085 - under Alfonso VI, Capture of Toledo, old
        Visigothic Capital (textbook wrong date on p. 171.
        -Period of stability: Alomohads and Almoravids
        -1212 Las Navas de Tolosa
        -South fall by 1260
        -All except Granada which remains Muslim until 1492.
        -Then Spanish move on to Americas.

D.      Assimilation to Crusades
        -Repeat - this was not a Crusade in origin. Had
        Spanish origins.
        -But once crusades got started - a general similarity
        could obviously be seen
        -Popes said Spaniards should not go on Crusade, but
        stay and fight Muslims in Spain.
        -Crusade indulgences to people fighting in Spain.

        So, gradually Reconquista, although always keeping its
        own identity, becomes assimilated to crusades.
        -This is also helped by the influence of French knights
        who would come to Spain, which was much closer than
        the Holy land, to fulfill Crusade vows.
        -Spanish Religious Orders - Santiago de C., Calatrava
        -Also epic poetry - crusading literature if you like -
        was not set in the Holy land, but in the time of
        Charlemagne's attacks on Spain.

E.      Spanish Reconquista a Success
        At least in its own terms. Muslims probably not too happy.

        What was the difference?
        -Obviously - distance was not an issue, The area conquered
        was contiguous to the aggressive area.
        -Also Muslims in Spain were isolated. In fact when they
        received help from Morocco they could stand their ground
        fairly well.
        -But the biggest difference was the official policy
        of `repobulacion'
        -Spanish Monarchs took special care that the area they
        -conquered was settled.

        Spanish Towns
        -Now the land was not always suitable for arable farming -
        so the basis of settlement was towns.
        -Spain had no real feudal system to negate the development
        of towns. No noble titles either.
        -So towns were established all over the conquered areas
        Privileges - Fueros/Forums were given which gave the
        citizens a great deal of liberty to attract settlers.
        -Also led to early representative government in Spain
        as the reps. of the towns were invited to council
        with the kings from the 1250s on.

        Spain then was not only conquered, as the Holy land,
        but it was also made Spanish.
        -The critical aspect is population in my estimation.

iv.     Germans - The Drang Nach Ostern

A.      Both Crusades and Reconquista began militarily,
        even if results are due to population effects.
        In Germany population movement is prior in expansion.

B.      Germany
        HRE and Separate states.

C.      Population growth

D.      Method of Expansion
        From 10th century to 13th -Elbe - Oder - Vistula
        -Lay lords and bishops try to attract settlers
        -From all different areas of Germany + Flanders
        -Giving Peasants freedoms + Building defensible settlements
        -Germanic settlements through Eastern Europe and Russia

E.      Eastern Europe
        Slavs - Wends, Poles
        Lithuanians, Letts
        -Resistance - big battles 983, 1018, 1060.

F.      Northern Crusades -Germans on Crusade
        1147 - Wendish Crusade
        -But they too bordered infidels
        -The Teutonic Knights
        -Expansion in Livonia and Prussia

G.      The big difference from Spain and Holy Land
        was that the Native inhabitants became Christian.
        -This meant they eventually could stand their ground
        and that the area of Germanization only extended  so far.
        -Beyond a certain point the Germans remained in towns,
        but not in the countryside.

H.      Germanization of Baltic area - continued until 1945.
        Combination of political control and population.

v.      Albigensian Crusade
Brief mention as I will discuss it under heresy.
But the notion of Crusades other than in the
Holy Land and against others than Muslims proved
attractive - in fact it possibly sapped the vitality
of the crusade in the East.

It was most dramatic in its use in 1209 against Cathar
heretics in the South of France.

This was not exactly expansion of Europe, but it was an
expansion of the political control of the French kings and
of the Northern French aristocracy over the South.

vi.     Summation
By the end of 1250, Western Europe was larger
-not in the Holy land
-In Spain and Germany and  Sicily
-also Scandinavian expansion in Iceland and Greenland
-A dramatic indication of the `rebirth' after 1050.

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© Paul Halsall, 1996.

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© Site Concept and Design: Paul Halsall created 26 Jan 1996: latest revision 12 March 2023 [CV]