First Crusade  

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"Christianity had been adopted throughout the Roman Empire in Late Antiquity, but in the 7th to 8th centuries, the Umayyad Caliphate had conquered Syria, Egypt, and North Africa from the predominantly Christian Byzantine Empire, and Hispania from the Visigothic Kingdom. In North Africa, the Umayyad empire eventually collapsed and a number of smaller Muslim kingdoms emerged, such as the Aghlabids, who attacked Italy in the 9th century. Pisa, Genoa, and the Principality of Catalonia began to battle various Muslim kingdoms for control of the Mediterranean Basin, exemplified by the Mahdia campaign of 1087 and battles at Majorca and Sardinia." --Sholem Stein

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Train wreck at Montparnasse (October 22, 1895) by Studio Lévy and Sons.
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Train wreck at Montparnasse (October 22, 1895) by Studio Lévy and Sons.

The First Crusade (1095–1099) was the first of a number of crusades that attempted to capture the Holy Land, called by Pope Urban II in 1095. It started as a widespread pilgrimage in western Christendom and ended as a military expedition by Roman Catholic Europe to regain the Holy Land taken in the Muslim conquests of the Levant (632–661), ultimately resulting in the capture of Jerusalem in 1099.

It was launched on 27 November 1095 by Pope Urban II with the primary goal of responding to an appeal from Byzantine Emperor Alexios I Komnenos, who requested that western volunteers come to his aid and help to repel the invading Seljuk Turks from Anatolia. An additional goal soon became the principal objective—the Christian reconquest of the sacred city of Jerusalem and the Holy Land and the freeing of the Eastern Christians from Muslim rule.

During the crusades, nobility, knights, peasants and serfs from many regions of Western Europe travelled over land and by sea, first to Constantinople and then on towards Jerusalem. The Crusaders arrived at Jerusalem, launched an assault on the city, and captured it in July 1099, massacring many of the city's Muslim and Jewish inhabitants. They also established the crusader states of the Kingdom of Jerusalem, the County of Tripoli, the Principality of Antioch, and the County of Edessa.

The First Crusade was followed by the Second to the Ninth Crusades. It was also the first major step towards reopening international trade in the West since the fall of the Western Roman Empire. Due to the First Crusade being largely concerned with Jerusalem, a city which had not been under Christian dominion for 461 years, and that the crusader army, on seizure of lands, had refused to honour a brokered promise before the seizure to return gained lands to the control of the Byzantine Empire, the status of the First Crusade as defensive or aggressive in nature remains unanswered and controversial. The majority view is that it had elements of both in its nature.

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