Weird History 27 Things You Didn't Know About the Crusades  

Mike Rothschild
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What happened during the Crusades? What were the Crusades? This time is one of the most misunderstood periods of Western history. From 1095 to about 1300, successive waves of Christian knights and royals, called to action by the Catholic Church, quested to the Holy Land in an effort to capture (or re-capture) it from Muslim armies.

But facts about the Crusades are much more complicated than that. The Crusades weren't just one movement, but dozens, led by hundreds of knights, kings, and dukes, and not always bent on capturing Jerusalem. They were incredibly brave fighters, but also bloodthirsty killers. They tried to free Jerusalem, but also sacked a number of ancient cities, destroying priceless artifacts and culture.

The history of the Crusades is complicated, but also full of interesting information. Here are some of the most fascinating Crusades facts about this difficult period of time.

The Crusades Lasted Two Centuries

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The Crusades aren't so much a series of events as they are a time period. The call for what became the First Crusade went out in 1095, and the last of Europe's war against the Muslim states ended in 1303 - a period of over two centuries.

They're Inexorabily Linked with the Catholic Church

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By definition, the Crusades were Christian invasions of Muslim-held lands, that were sanctioned by the Catholic Church. The immediate goal was to guarantee pilgrims access to the Holy Land, which had been under Muslim control since it was conquered by the Rashidun Caliphate in 638. The Church also sought to reunite the Eastern and Western branches of Christendom after their split in 1054. Instead, two centuries of bloodshed began.

There Were Nine "Official" Crusades

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Starting with the First Crusade in 1095, there were nine major Crusades. While their details vary, including who exactly was crusading and where they were going, they all involved armies of Christian knights, soldiers of God who swore a public oath, traveling from Europe to the Holy Land in order to "liberate" it from Muslim control.

There Were Also Dozens of Smaller Crusades

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Beyond the nine numbered Crusades, there were numerous other minor crusades, usually involving an army raised by a king or duke going off to liberate one particular city or place. They took place all over Europe, everywhere from France to what's now Turkey.