The following is a brief overview of the various crusades, together with dates and details on each.
The Peasant’s or People’s Crusade is considered part of the First Crusade, and ran from April until October 1096. This ill-fated crusade, led by Peter the Hermit and Walter the Penniless, was brought to an end when the crusaders were destroyed by the army of Kilij Arslan.
The First Crusade was launched by Pope Urban II in the autumn of 1095. Although preceded by the People’s Crusade, the European nobility took their time to prepare for war, and the various Crusading armies departed for the Holy Land at different times. The crusade ended in July of 1099 with the Christian capture of Jerusalem.
The Second Crusade was called in 1145 in response to the fall of the County of Edessa in 1144. Edessa was one of the so-called Crusader States established during the First Crusade. It was during the Second Crusade that the Templars were granted permission to affix a red cross to their garments.
The Third Crusade was called in 1189 in response to the devastating loss of Jerusalem to Saladin in October of 1187. Saladin had previously defeated the Templars at the Battle of Hattin on 4 July, 1187, and proceeded to gain territory along the Palestinian Coast before turning towards Jerusalem. Although the Christians did not recapture Jerusalem, Richard I was able to capture the port city of Acre, which became the Templars’ headquarters for the next century.
Although the Fourth Crusade was intended to be a campaign against Muslim controlled Jerusalem, the crusaders turned their attention to their Eastern Christian brethren at Constantinople. In April of 1204 the crusaders ransacked and pillaged the city.
The Children’s Crusade, as the name would imply, was a crusade organized and put into play by a group of zealous children. In reality, the crusade was an apocryphal tale.
The Fifth Crusade, called by Pope Honorius III in 1217, was an attempt to recapture the Holy Land by invading and conquering Ayyubid-controlled Egypt. Although the Christians succeeded in capturing Damietta, the crusade ultimately ended in failure.
Although a considerable span of time existed between crusades, the Sixth Crusade was launched seven years after the ill-fated Fifth Crusade. This crusade was largely the work of Frederick II, Holy Roman Emperor. Although Frederick did not capture Jerusalem, he managed to establish a truce, which allowed Christians to return to the Holy City, while Muslims retained control over the Temple Mount.
The Seventh Crusade was led by Louis IX, the grandfather of King Philip IV (who persecuted the Templars). Although Louis succeeded in capturing Damietta, he was ultimately captured himself, and held for ransom in Egypt. The Templars paid part of the king’s ransom in gold.