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The Crusades

The Crusades

The Crusades

This in-depth special edition explores the stories behind the infamous medieval religious wars in the Holy Land and beyond. Discover: - How the leaders of the First Crusade captured Jerusalem - The fascinating relationship between Richard the Lionheart and his adversary Saladin - How violent crusades against heresy unfolded thousands of miles from the Middle East - The Islamic perspective of the crusades - Expert analysis on the legacy of the crusades and their impact on the modern world

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United Kingdom
Immediate Media Company London Limited
$15.09(Incl. tax)

in this issue

1 min.

Few areas of medieval history have managed to capture the popular imagination quite like the crusades. In everything from 19th-century novels to Hollywood blockbusters, tales of valiant Christian warriors riding towards the Holy Land have been romanticised and scrutinised in equal measure. In this collector’s edition of BBC History Magazine, we’ll separate fact from fiction, beginning by looking at the chain of events that sparked the crusading movement in the 11th century. We’ll offer expert insight into the lives of the ordinary people who went on crusade, and the variety of factors – both religious and financial – that motivated them to join the fight. We’ll meet the cast of characters whose stories still loom large, including Richard the Lionheart and Saladin, assessing the qualities that made both men such effective leaders.…

9 min.

1071 Turks overrun the Byzantine border After taking control of Iraq and Syria, the Seljuk Turks under the command of Sultan Alp Arslan defeat Byzantine forces at the battle of Manzikert and conquer Anatolia. March 1095 A call from the east A papal council at Piacenza receives an envoy from the Byzantine emperor, Alexius I Comnenus. Assailed and desperate, the Byzantines plead for military assistance against the Seljuks – and Pope Urban II determines to respond. 1095 The crusading movement is born Pope Urban II summons a council at Clermont and charges the crowd of knights and churchmen to aid the Greeks in the east and stop the molestation of pilgrims and the desecration of Christian sites in the Holy Land. 1096 The First Crusade gets underway Christian knights and pilgrims from the west, known as the Franks, journey towards the…

11 min.
launching the first crusade

When Pope Urban had said these and very many similar things in his urbane discourse, he so influenced to one purpose the desires of all who were present that they cried out, ‘It is the will of God! It is the will of God!’’’ So wrote the monk Robert of Rheims in his Historia Hierosolymitana (‘History of Jerusalem’) during the early 1100s. Some years earlier, on 27 November 1095, Urban II preached a public sermon outside the town of Clermont in central France, summoning Christians to take part in the First Crusade, a new form of holy war. It was a carefully stage-managed event, in which the pope’s representative, the papal legate Adhémar of Le Puy, supposedly moved by the pope’s eloquence, tore up strips of cloth to make crosses for…

1 min.
anti-semitism and the people’s crusade

The first wave of the First Crusade, the People’s Crusade of 1096, was a mixture of peasants and knights led by dynamic and persuasive rabble-rousers such as Peter the Hermit, Walter the Penniless, Count Emicho of Leiningen, the priest Volkmar, and the monk Gottschalk. Although many of these crusaders got no further than the Balkans, they often took part in ferocious persecution of Jews, particularly in the Rhineland, in towns such as Cologne, Mainz, Speyer and Worms, but also in France, Hungary, Bavaria and Bohemia, where they sacked Jewish quarters, massacred the inhabitants and destroyed whole communities. Some tried forcibly to baptise Jews, despite the fact that forced baptism was contrary to canon law. In response, some Jews preferred to martyr themselves – the practice of Kiddush ha-Shem (‘sanctifying the Name of…

8 min.
“religious war isn’t an irrational act, and we shouldn’t dismiss it as irrational”

BBC History Magazine: The crusades were massive military enterprises involving thousands of people. Who answered the call to go? Christopher Tyerman: The social reach was very broad. There were the military elites, the urban elites, military households and those from the wider community who had been recruited to fight as infantry. Beyond that, there’s evidence of modest farmers, urban and rural artisans and rich peasants, all of whom could hope to earn some money on crusade. And poor peasants could have gone, but would have needed someone else’s funds. So it was socially quite embracing – not just knights and soldiers. Women went too: lists of crusaders from the late 12th century feature around 10 per cent women. Some were wives, but others went by themselves or in groups – in other…

11 min.
crusade super heroes

On Easter Sunday 1146, the most important nobles and churchmen in France gathered on a hillside below the beautiful abbey church of Vézelay in northern Burgundy. A rough wooden stage had been set up (the crowd was too big to fit in the church), and sitting there, already bearing the sign of the cross, were King Louis VII of France and his wife, Eleanor of Aquitaine. Yet the royal couple were not the star attractions of this pious congregation. The centre of attention was, in fact, a short, frail man, undernourished due to fasting and abstinence. Bernard, Abbot of Clairvaux, was the most charismatic orator of the age and he began a passionate speech to recruit warriors for the Second Crusade. He urged the knighthood of France to fulfil their…