If you're seeing this message, it means we're having trouble loading external resources on our website.

If you're behind a web filter, please make sure that the domains *.kastatic.org and *.kasandbox.org are unblocked.

Main content

An overview of the Crusades (part 2)

An overview of the 2nd through 9th Crusades. Saladin retakes Jerusalem after nearly 90 years as a Crusader Kingdom in 1179. The sacking of Constantinople and the possible Children's Crusade. The Reconquista in what will eventually be Spain.

Want to join the conversation?

Video transcript

- [Instructor] Where we left off in the last video, we had seen what would eventually be called The First Crusades, and it was, from a European point of view, seemed successful. They were able to take back much of the Holy Land from Muslim rule. The Byzantine Empire was able to take back a significant chunk of the Anatolian Peninsula from the Seljuk Turks, who were also Muslim, and over the next few decades, this European rule over the Holy Land only gets consolidated. This is a zoomed in version of what it looked like, and you can see these Crusader states that were set up, or these Crusader kingdoms, and, as I pointed out in the last video, even though the Crusades were apparently to help the Byzantines reclaim land, as you can see, when the Crusaders took the Holy Land, they, for the most part, kept it for themselves and sat up these kingdoms. So, we are about here. We are about here on our timeline. Now, as we fast forward a little over a decade, as we get to the middle of the 12th century, you do have the Muslims being able to take back some of the territory. In particular, Edessa and Aleppo, and so this spawns what will eventually be known as the Second Crusade, and it's really the second of many crusades. Now, these are what historians consider the official numbered crusades, but there were many other crusades in this time period, in roughly this 200 year time period during the High Middle Ages. You had crusades against Germanic non-Christians in Northern Europe. You had crusades in Spain in order to retake land from the Muslims, which they had for several hundred years, what's known as the Reconquista. So, after Aleppo and Edessa were taken, you have the Second Crusades, which end up being quite unsuccessful, and it really doesn't change what the Middle East looks like, but then, as you get to the end of the 12 century, you have a significant event. In 1187, you have the Sultan Salah ad-Din, often known as Saladin, being able to retake Jerusalem and much of the Holy Land. Remember, this is after roughly 90 years of rule of Jerusalem by the Western Europeans, by these Crusader kingdoms, so this really strikes a chord with the west, and so they decide to launch what will be known as the Third Crusade. The Third Crusade does make some gains. In fact, this is a crusade that gets significant buy-in from the king of Western Europe. Philip the Second of France gets involved. The English king, Richard the First, or Richard the Lionheart, gets involved. The Holy Roman Emperor Fredrick Barbarossa gets involved. When I say Holy Roman Emperor and the empire, you should really think of medieval Germany. Now, as they go there, Fredrick Barbarossa, he drowns in a river. This is very dispiriting for his soldiers, so many of them turn around, but Philip the Second and Richard the Lionheart are able to engage with Salah ad-Din, and they are able to gain some land. In particular, the region around Acre, and they're able to get some concessions from Salah ad-Din for unarmed Christian pilgrims to visit the Holy Land, especially Jerusalem. Now, Salah ad-Din dies as we approach the end of the 12 century, so in the beginning of the 13th century, the Fourth Crusades get launched, and these are interesting because the Crusaders, with the help of Venetian traders, they actually engage with the claimant to the throne of the Byzantine Empire, with the hope that if they can help them come back to the throne, then they can provide them the necessary resources in order to continue on with the Crusades. Well, they are able to put the claimant on the throne, but then an uprising takes that claimant down from the throne, and so the Crusaders don't get their payment, but they want that payment badly, and so, they decide to take Constantinople themselves, and as we mention in other videos, this is really the dagger in the heart between the relationship between the East and the West. We already talked about the Great Schism of 1054, but now, you have the West, who are followers of the Latin Church, which eventually gets known as the Roman Catholic Church. They are sacking Constantinople, the capital of the Byzantine, or the Eastern Roman Empire, the most important city in Eastern Christiandom, and once they successfully sack the city in bloody fashion, they break up the Byzantine Empire amongst themselves, and you can see how they break it up. So, the Fourth Crusade had very little effect on the actual Holy Land, but it does cause a temporary end to the Byzantine Empire. As we get to 1261, Constantinople is retaken by the Byzantines, but once again, this is the beginning of the end of the Byzantine Empire. The fact that for half a century, it was taken over by the West, so you can imagine, with Jerusalem still in the hands of the Muslims, many in the West are not satisfied, and in 1212, an interesting event may have occurred. There are some accounts of what is known as a Children's Crusade. The stories of the Children Crusade are that a child, and there's different accounts as to exactly the story, but something to the effect that Jesus has told them to go with other pure children to the Holy Land and convert the Muslims to Christianity, and so then, they go on this march, and there's tens of thousands of children, but they don't make it to the Holy Land. They either die of starvation or they get sold into slavery on the way. Historians today aren't sure whether it really happened as that account implies. That's why I put these question marks next to the Children's Crusade, but regardless of the actual facts here, as we go into the first quarter of the 13th century, Jerusalem remains in the hands of the Muslims. A Fifth Crusade is launched to retake Jerusalem, which is a failure. Eventually, a Sixth Crusade is launched, and this is reasonably successful at retaking some land in the Holy Land, but shortly thereafter, you have a non-numbered crusade, the Barrens Crusade, that rivals the First Crusade in its success in taking territory, and so you can see, after the Barrens Crusade right over here, they're able to take back a good amount of territory, but then, in 1244, Jerusalem is retaken by the Muslims, and then you have the Seventh and Eighth and Ninth Crusades afterwards, and you have these other efforts that are sometimes called Crusades, but for the most part, these are unsuccessful, and as we get into the end of the 13th and early 14th centuries, the Holy Land falls back under Muslim control. This is a map of the region as we enter into the 14th century, and you can see that the Muslims have retaken not just the Holy Land, but most of the Anatolian Peninsula, with only Constantinople being in control of the Byzantines, and that lasts until 1453, when the Turks finally take Constantinople as well. When you look at the map at the beginning of this video and look at the map here, you can see that the Crusades weren't really successful at changing the picture in the Holy Land. There were areas where the Crusades were successful, or that Crusader mentality was successful. You can see that, now that we're in the 14th century, much of the Iberian Peninsula has been taken by Christian kingdoms from the Muslims. The Muslims, at this period, are left with only Grenada, so the Reconquista, to some degree, was successful, and it's going to continue until 1492, when the last Muslims are expelled from Spain. Now, one thing that I felt when I study the Crusades is it's very confusing how Jerusalem in particular goes back and forth between different parties, and just to get an overview of what actually happened, this timeline might be helpful. Green shows Jerusalem under Muslim control. Red shows it under Christian control, so at the end of the First Crusades, it switches hands. The Christians are in control all the way until Salah ad-Din takes it back. Now, the Muslims are in control all the way until you get to the Sixth Crusade, where they're able to take some territory back and even parts of Jerusalem, and especially in the Barrens Crusades, they're able to take significant territory back, but in 1244, Jerusalem is retaken again by the Muslims.