The First Crusade    

The First Crusade had a very difficult journey getting to the Middle East.
There were about 30,000 foot soldiers and
10,000 knights on horseback.

They could not use the Mediterranean Sea as the Crusaders did not control the ports on the coast of the Middle East. Therefore, they had to cross land. They travelled from France through Italy, then Eastern Europe and then through what is now Turkey. They covered hundreds of miles, through scorching heat and also deep snow in the mountain passes.

The Crusaders ran out of fresh water and according to a survivor of the First Crusade who wrote about his experiences after his return, some were reduced to drinking their own urine, drinking animal blood or water that had been in sewage. Food was bought from local people but at very expensive prices. 

Odo of Deuil claims that these men who were fighting for God were reduced to pillaging and plunder in order to get food. 
Disease was common especially as men were weakened by the journey and drinking dirty water. Dysentery was common. Heat stroke also weakened many Crusaders. Disease and fatigue affected rich and poor alike. 

 Source E
              By 1097, nearly 10,000 people had gathered at Constantinople ready for the journey to the Holy Land. 
7. Why didn't the Crusaders in the first Crusade sail around to the Middle East? Why did they choose to go overland?
8. Pretend you are a Knight on the first Crusade, and you have just reached the city of Antioch.
    Write a two or three paragraph letter to your family back home, describing your journey to the Middle East.
The first target of the Crusaders was the important fortress city of Nicea. This city was taken by the Crusaders without too much trouble as the man in charge of it was away fighting! 

The next target for the Crusaders was Antioch - a strongly protected Turkish city. (picture on right)

They were four separate proper Crusader armies in the First Crusade but also a large number of smaller armies. However, there was no proper command structure and  problems with communications. It took a seven month siege before the city fell. 

The next target was Jerusalem.
5107377.jpg (79102 bytes) 80090731.jpg (48055 bytes) Crusades_Weapons.jpg (77142 bytes)          The attack and capture of Jerusalem started in the summer of 1099. Jerusalem was well  defended with high walls around it. The first attacks on the city were not successful as the Crusaders were short of materials for building siege machines. Once logs had arrived, two siege machines were built.
(Left: Images of siege warfare - click to enlarge)
9. Describe the tactics the Crusaders used to wage war against Antioch and Jerusalem?

        A monk called Fulcher was on the First Crusade. He wrote about the attack on the Holy City and he can be treated as an eye-witness as to what took place.

Fulcher claimed that once the Crusaders had managed to get over the walls of Jerusalem, the Muslim defenders there ran away. Fulcher claimed that the Crusaders cut down anybody they could and that the streets of Jerusalem were ankle deep in blood. The rest of the Crusaders got into the city when the gates were opened.

The slaughter continued and the Crusaders "killed whoever they wished". Those Muslims who had their lives spared, had to go round and collect the bodies before dumping them outside of the city because they stank so much. The Muslims claimed afterwards that 70,000 people were killed and that the Crusaders took whatever treasure they could from the Dome of the Rock.

The Crusaders took Jerusalem in 1099. They created the Kingdom of Jerusalem and its first king was Godfrey of Bouillon who was elected by other crusaders.
The Crusaders held the city and the land around it for the next 87 years.

10. According to the Monk Fulcher and surviving Muslims, what did the Crusaders do when they entered the city of Jerusalem?
The Second Crusade  
            The crusaders built strong castles in the Middle East, that seemed safe from attack; And although Jerusalem remained safe during this time, in 1144 a combined Arab and Turkish army did rise up and attack and capture the city of Edessa (see map below). The Pope reacted by ordering Bernard of Clairvaux (in France) to preach a second
BernardPreaches-l.jpg (60935 bytes) crusade to take Edessa back and return its control to the Christians.

The young king of France, Louis VII, agreed to go, along with queen Eleanor of Aquitaine. So did Conrad III of Germany, the Holy Roman Emperor. At this time Louis was 23 years old and Eleanor was 22.

But this second crusade was a failure. Most of Conrad's soldiers were killed as they marched through Turkey. The Crusaders then decided to attack the Muslim controlled city of Damascus instead of Edessa, but the attack failed.  The kings and queens went home defeated.
Despite this defeat, the Crusaders still retained control of many cities in the Middle east and Jerusalem.
1. Under the heading 'The Second Crusade', explain why the Pope called for a second Crusade?
2. Who were the three leaders of the second Crusade, and why did it fail?

       However, in the 1180ís the Arabs found a new, strong leader, Saladin, who wiped out the crusaders main army at the Battle of Hattin 1187. Soon the crusaders had almost been pushed into the sea.

(click to enlarge) Bernard preaching 


      Saladin was a great Muslim leader. His real name was Salah al-Din Yusuf. He united and lead the Muslim world and in 1187, he recaptured Jerusalem for the Muslims after defeating the King of Jerusalem at the Battle of Hattin near the Lake of Galilee. When his soldiers entered the city of Jerusalem, they were not allowed to kill civilians, rob people or damage the city. The more successful Saladin was, the more he was seen by the Muslims as being their natural leader.
1. Under the Heading 'Saladin', write in your book four key facts about this new Muslim leader.
2. Mark on your map of the Middle East the location of the Battle of Hattin.
3. How was the behaviour of Saladin's soldiers different to that of the Crusaders, when Saladin's soldiers entered Jerusalem? 

       Continue on  The Third Crusade