The Crusades were a series of Holy Wars launched by the Christian states of Europe against the Saracens. The Crusades started in 1095 when Pope Claremont preached the First Crusade at the Council of Claremont.
There were a total of nine crusades! The first four crusades were seen as the most import and scant reference is made to the other crusades - with the exception of the Children's crusade which effectively led to the decline of the crusades. For a period of two hundred years Europe and Asia were engaged in almost constant warfare. Throughout this period there was a continuous movement of crusaders to and from the Moslem possessions in Asia Minor, Syria, and Egypt.
The reason for the crusades was a war between Christians and Moslems which centered around the city of Jerusalem. The City of Jerusalem held a Holy significance to the Christian religion. In 1065 Jerusalem was taken by the Turks and 3000 Christians were massacred starting a chain of events which contributed to the cause of the crusades.
The first crusade, which lasted from 1095-1099, established the Latin Kingdom of Jerusalem, providing more lands for the crusading knights, who often traveled across Europe to try their fortunes and to visit the Holy Sepulchre
The success of the Christians in the First Crusade had been largely due to the disunion among their enemies. But the Moslems learned in time the value of united action, and succeeded in capturing Edessa, one of the principal Christian outposts in the East. The fall of the city of Edessa, followed by the loss of the entire county of Edessa, aroused western Europe to the danger which threatened the Latin Kingdom of Jerusalem and led to another crusading Enterprise
Not many years after the Second Crusade, the Moslem world found in the famous Saladin a leader for a holy war against the Christians. Saladin in character was a typical Mohammedan, very devout in prayers and fasting, fiercely hostile toward unbelievers, and full of the pride of race. To these qualities he added a kindliness and humanity not surpassed, if equaled, by any of his Christian foes. The Third Crusade was caused by the capture of Jerusalem in 1187 by Saladin, the sultan of Egypt.
The real author of the Fourth Crusade was the famous pope, Innocent III. Young, enthusiastic, and ambitious for the glory of the Papacy, he revived the plans of Pope Urban II and sought once more to unite the forces of Christendom against Islam. No emperor or king answered his summons, but a number of knights (chiefly French) took the crusader's vow. None of the Crusades, after the Third, effected much in the Holy Land; either their force was spent before reaching it, or they were diverted from their purpose by different objects and ambitions. The crusaders of the Fourth expedition captured Constantinople instead of Jerusalem.
The so-called Children's Crusade illustrates at once the religious enthusiasm and misdirected zeal which marked the whole crusading movement. During the interval between the Fourth and the Fifth Crusade, the epidemical fanaticism that had so long agitated Europe seized upon the children, resulting in what is known as the Children's Crusade.