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What were the Crusades?

Crusader soldiers on the marchCrusader soldiers on the marchThe Crusades were wars fought between Christians and Muslims in the Middle Ages. They began when the great Christian city of Constantinople was threatened by a Muslim invasion in the 11th century. Pope Urban II, the leader of the Christian Church, called upon Christians to protect the city and to recapture Palestine. Known as the “Holy Land” because it was where Jesus Christ had lived, Palestine had been captured by the Muslims.


Crusader knights set off for battle.Crusader knights set off for battle.From all over Europe, kings, nobles, knights and ordinary men volunteered to become Crusaders. They formed armies and set off for Constantinople. These armies fought many battles and, in 1099, succeeded in recapturing Jerusalem from the Muslim forces. The Crusaders held on to Jerusalem and the surrounding lands for nearly 100 years. They built castles to defend their lands.

Many people set off on the First Crusade because of two promises made by Pope Urban II. First, all Crusaders would be instantly forgiven their sins, however serious. Second, all Crusaders would be released from their debts.

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