2.3 The Crusades: Overview
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In 1097 AD an army of 30,000 Christians crossed over the Straits of Bosporus into Asia Minor from Constantinople. The Crusader Army was disorganized from the start: the Christian leaders could not agree on a single person to be their leader. The Christians spent precious time arguing with one another and lost the element of surprise. Luckily for the crusading Christians the Turks were just as disorganized. The crusaders marched relatively unopposed from Constantinople to Antioch.

first crusadeThe first target for the crusaders on their way to the Holy Land was Antioch. Although the city was governed by the Turks, Antioch was actually a Christian city. Antioch was captured with the assistance of Muslims inside the city walls. After capturing the city the crusaders massacred the city's inhabitants. Just like Jesus would do...

As bad as the massacre at Antioch was, the city of Ma'aara actually faired much worse. The Ma'aara massacre was particularly violent: hungry Christians apparently killed 20,000 of the city's inhabitants and ate many of the dead to stay alive.

The chronicler Radulph of Caen wrote the following words describing the massacre at Ma'aara: "In Ma'arra our troops boiled pagan adults in cooking-pots; they impaled children on spits and devoured them grilled."

In 1099, Jerusalem was finally captured putting an end to the First Crusade. After Jerusalem was taken most of the crusading knights returned to Europe. The lords who remained in the Holy Land established new feudal kingdoms patterend on the basis of those found in Western Europe.

crusader kingdomsThe Muslim population of the Holy Land (Palestine) greatly outnumbered the Christians. Thus, Christian kings of the Crusader Kingdoms were forced to rely on mercenaries to help maintain crusder authority. In the end, there was never any hope of the French gaining any wide or long-term support from the locals. The culture and beliefs of the French were too foreign to the indigenous Arab population. The Palestinians, however, lacked the power or organization to push the Christians out themselves. So for the next 100 years Muslims resisted Christian authority through guerrilla warfare.