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The Crusades, a terrible project?

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hugoestr View Drop Down
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    Posted: 16 Jun 2011 at 01:11
Hi, there,

I have been reading a book on medieval Europe, and I am reading about the crusades. The first thing that I realized is that my Catholic history that I read back when I was a kid was surprisingly accurate, although heavily biased about the actions of the Roman Church.

Reading it as an adult, though, I find then more sinister than holy. For starters, this is the biggest Europe-wide holy war that I know was waged in the name of religion. The book claims that the first ones were more idealistic, but I tend to doubt that.

Overall, they seem to be horrible projects of conquest.

Am I wrong?
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote pinguin Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 16 Jun 2011 at 01:33
As I see it, the Crusades was only the reaction to the Muslim military invasion, first by the Arabs and Moors, and afterwords by the Turks.

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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote hugoestr Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 16 Jun 2011 at 01:43
But there was a lot more. The early crusade did have a big amount of religious piety connected to it.
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote Al Jassas Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 16 Jun 2011 at 04:10
Originally posted by pinguin pinguin wrote:

As I see it, the Crusades was only the reaction to the Muslim military invasion, first by the Arabs and Moors, and afterwords by the Turks.

 
Pure crap.
 
If we begin the blame game where should we begin? The Roman/Byzantine conquest and subsequent colonisation of the middle east including the several invasion attempts against Arabia? Or the Persian advance on Greece and Egypt which Alexander made payback a couple of centuries later? Or should we consider the Hittites as the ones who started all these problems? Oh waite, wasn't it the Assyrians?
 
The crusades were begun by the popes for political and economic (europe was suffering a population explosion) reasons and the only way to convince people of the sacredness of the mission was to use ideology, here it was religion. The middle east suffered from a massive power vaccuum that has been going on for nearly a century.
 
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote hugoestr Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 16 Jun 2011 at 04:33
The first ones were purely a military endeavor? What would the popes win from the first crusade? And why should they care if there was a population explosion? Could anyone join the crusade, or did one have to be a knight?
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote fantasus Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 16 Jun 2011 at 07:42
The Crusades could not in any way "solve population pressure", since we can only imagine a very small proportion of Europeans were directly involved (especially if we exclussively discuss the campaigns and "colonies" in the eastern Meditteranean), though perhaps they left a little genetic imprint. And how wealthy was the conquered territories even then?
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote gcle2003 Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 16 Jun 2011 at 10:53

You need to be more specific, really, though I gather you only mean the Midlle Eastern crusades. The crusading phenomenon existed also in the north-east with the Teurtonic knights (cf Eisenstein's Alexander Nevsky) where the enemy were nominally the Slav and Balt pagans, and in the south-east, where you had the internal crusade against the Cathars, as well as the campaigns against the Moors in Iberia. I'm not even sure that after 1570 the Anglo-Spanish wars didn't count as a crusade.

I don't know why al Jassas got so het up about the 'blame game'. Obviously the first crusade was a response to the Muslim conquest of Palestine. If there hadn't been such a conquest there wouldn't have been any crusade, though there could quite conceivably have been war between the HRE and Byzantium at some point. That's not apportioning 'blame' because blame has nothing to do with it: it's merely commenting on the sequence of events.

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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote hugoestr Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 16 Jun 2011 at 12:29
Thanks for bringing up the other crusades, Graham. The European crusades are interesting in that they were not attacking Muslims or attempting to regain Jerusalem, which was the main goal of most crusades. The only element that made them a crusade was that it was a Roman Church sanctioned "Just War", and that you got plenary indulgence if you fought or died in it. In other words, you would go to heaven.

That last point is interesting in that, as modern commercial products promising huge benefits yet having a lot of conditions in the fine print, many crusaders believed that they were going to go straight to heaven if they participated in a crusade. The popes would then qualify this that you wouldn't have to be in purgatory if you went to purgatory AND if you died in battle.
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote gcle2003 Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 16 Jun 2011 at 13:45
As a detail, the Iberian crusades were against Muslims. I also didn't mention the Bohemian crusades against the Hussites.
 
Generally speaking, one could 'take the cross' against anyone that threatened the Roman Catholic Church, irrespective of religion or lack of it - join, in fact, in an unorthodox sense, the Church truly 'militant'.
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote pikeshot1600 Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 16 Jun 2011 at 14:26
There are two aspects of "Crusades" that sometime are overlooked.  One military; one economic, and the latter proceeding from the former. 
Crusades were carried out by force.  A consequence of the first crusade was the understanding that mere plunder by knights and retainers was inadequate.  Although that was always much of a soldier's "income," the basis of the feudal knight as the weapons system of the time required the income from land to support him and those retainers.  A force of knights as individuals, and led by princes whose interests lay at home, was insufficient. 
Regardless of piety (there was some), the establishment of the Crusading Military Orders developed a standing military presence.  That military presence could occupy, or be called upon to open new territory not only for the faith, but for income from the land to support such a military presence.  Actually, the Military Orders often acquired control of much larger areas than individual knights could have occupied and managed.  The Orders became wealthy.  Religious legitimacy for military force has usually been advantageous; the acquisition of wealth frequently derived from the application of military force.
The Sorbs and Letts of the Baltic region were not threats to the Church.  Their territories were substitutes for those of the Holy Land where by the later 13th century the "Saracens" were pushing back, and there was less prospect (if any) for more lands that could be acquired by "Franks." 
 
The areas of Prussia and Livonia had no powerful civilization, the land was more arable over all, there were timber and fishing to be exploited by tenants, etc.  By the later 13th century, the focus of that "crusading zeal" was to provide a collective purpose, and of course collective wealth, for warrior monks mostly from Saxony and the Rhineland.
 
So, as usual, there was power directed to get wealth, and the wealth entrenched the power.  It was like a hostile corporate takeover.  The acquired eventually accepted baptism as their their compensation - a really good deal for the Order - and it made the Livonian Order look respectable and legitimate with the sanction of Rome.  Smile
 
 
(Editing function seems a little wacky.  Bad paragraphs above.)
 

Edited by pikeshot1600 - 16 Jun 2011 at 14:45
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote pinguin Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 16 Jun 2011 at 14:36
Originally posted by Al Jassas Al Jassas wrote:

Originally posted by pinguin pinguin wrote:

As I see it, the Crusades was only the reaction to the Muslim military invasion, first by the Arabs and Moors, and afterwords by the Turks.

 
Pure crap.
 

Nope. The fanatic reaction of the Reconquest and the Crusades wouldn't have happened without the model they saw of invaders fighting to the end in the name of Allah.
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote hugoestr Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 16 Jun 2011 at 15:40
Was the Iberian reconquest a crusade? I believe that they set up the precedent of grand scale Roman church war, and if we list their characteristics, they are crusades, but traditionally they are not considering crusades. Do you know why?
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote Al Jassas Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 16 Jun 2011 at 16:06
Originally posted by pinguin pinguin wrote:

Originally posted by Al Jassas Al Jassas wrote:

Originally posted by pinguin pinguin wrote:

As I see it, the Crusades was only the reaction to the Muslim military invasion, first by the Arabs and Moors, and afterwords by the Turks.

 
Pure crap.
 

Nope. The fanatic reaction of the Reconquest and the Crusades wouldn't have happened without the model they saw of invaders fighting to the end in the name of Allah.
 
What about the colonisation movement in South America which was supported by "God"? They were a response to what? the Aztec invasion of the Azores? Wat about the Pagans of the North or the Hussites and the half dozen other crusades that had nothing to do with muslims?
 
Crusades happened 500 years after the fact. The conquest movement ended 400 years before the crusades began. The reconquista has been going on for 350 years and consuests and raids on muslim territory began when they were under the Byzantines (Gothic invasion of North Africa), continued when they were under muslims until the crusades came.
 
In the late 11th century europe was transforming. The period of growth ended with the mini ice-age which destroyed the economy and was creating agony. Religious dissent was growing with a religious movement popping every 50 years. People had to be destracted, jewish pogroms didn't work and so a new vent had to be found and this was the conquest of the holy land to save them. For them the crusades was a way to settle european problems on somebody else's turf. No pope ever went to Jerusalem, hell the church in Jerusalem had less power and influence than the bishop of Paris or even Lyon.
 
When the mini ince-age was over and a warming period came (vinyards were as far north as Scotland) the crusades veered to the north against Orthodox and pagan slavs. Everyone forgot about the holy land.
 
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote pinguin Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 16 Jun 2011 at 16:16
Originally posted by Al Jassas Al Jassas wrote:

 
What about the colonisation movement in South America which was supported by "God"? They were a response to what? the Aztec invasion of the Azores? Wat about the Pagans of the North or the Hussites and the half dozen other crusades that had nothing to do with muslims?


They were a reaction to the 7 centuries of brutal invasion. You can't understand the brutality of the Spanish of the time without knowing why they developed into a warrior society in the first place. A clue, Santiago was the symbolic saint of theirs freedom and the defeat of the Moors.
Once you have a brutal society in place, it is hard to stop it though. So, the conquest of the North Africa, Europe and the New World can be seen just a new chapters of the reconquest.

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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote Al Jassas Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 16 Jun 2011 at 16:55
Originally posted by pinguin pinguin wrote:

Originally posted by Al Jassas Al Jassas wrote:

 
What about the colonisation movement in South America which was supported by "God"? They were a response to what? the Aztec invasion of the Azores? Wat about the Pagans of the North or the Hussites and the half dozen other crusades that had nothing to do with muslims?


They were a reaction to the 7 centuries of brutal invasion. You can't understand the brutality of the Spanish of the time without knowing why they developed into a warrior society in the first place. A clue, Santiago was the symbolic saint of theirs freedom and the defeat of the Moors.
Once you have a brutal society in place, it is hard to stop it though. So, the conquest of the North Africa, Europe and the New World can be seen just a new chapters of the reconquest.

 
BS again.
 
The Iberian conquest ended 40 years after it began. Since then it was a reconquist by choice. No one forced the Iberian princedoms to go on the offensive and the moors were certainly not initiating any since they were isolated from the rest of the Islamic world nor anyone forced the Iberians to go to war between themselves too. Plus the reconquist effectively ended around 1250. After that the moors were mere vassals paying tribute for the remainder of their existence and the Iberian peninsula was in a relative peace (compared with the rest of europe) that lasted until the late 1480s.
 
The conquests of the new world were plunder pure and simple. Religious herecy was growing in europe and people needed to rally behind the pope so they went on to conquer the Americas in the name of god.
 
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote hugoestr Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 16 Jun 2011 at 16:56
Let's keep the focus on the proper crusades. I don't think that the conquest of the Americas were a crusade in the sense that they were conducting holy war. The spread of Christianity of the Americas was a nice side effect, but not the main reason why it happened.

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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote pinguin Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 16 Jun 2011 at 17:18
Originally posted by hugoestr hugoestr wrote:

Let's keep the focus on the proper crusades. I don't think that the conquest of the Americas were a crusade in the sense that they were conducting holy war. The spread of Christianity of the Americas was a nice side effect, but not the main reason why it happened.



I just pointed out that the Christian military violence was tough upon them.
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote pinguin Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 16 Jun 2011 at 17:24
Originally posted by Al Jassas Al Jassas wrote:

The Iberian conquest ended 40 years after it began. Since then it was a reconquist by choice. No one forced the Iberian princedoms to go on the offensive and the moors


The Spaniards waited 7 centuries for the revenge.

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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote gcle2003 Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 16 Jun 2011 at 18:14
Originally posted by hugoestr hugoestr wrote:

Was the Iberian reconquest a crusade? I believe that they set up the precedent of grand scale Roman church war, and if we list their characteristics, they are crusades, but traditionally they are not considering crusades. Do you know why?
 
I think the answer is that they are generally considered crusades. In fact the Pope gave the right to the papal standard and a plenary indulgence to all who died in battle against the Moors in Spain some time before what is known as the 'first crusade' in the East.
 
Of course the Holy Land gets the headlines.
 
Something that should not be overlooked is the story of the Sixth Crusade, in which Frederick II negotiated the return of Jerusalem to the Christian Kingdom of Jerusalem, despite being excommunicated for lack of crusading zeal, and was then pretty well ostracised for, one feels, having broken with the spirit of the thing by not fighting for it (bit like winning by punching the ball through the goalposts Shocked ).
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote hugoestr Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 16 Jun 2011 at 19:04
Hmm, maybe my book is too old? They don't consider the Reconquista as part of the crusades, only those that started with the goal of winning Jerusalem.

Hi, Pinguin,

Since la reconquista seems to have generated interest, I am forking that topic to another thread.
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote fantasus Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 16 Jun 2011 at 20:13
 What is the origin of the word "crusade"? Perhaps they were not as well-defined as we later habve become used to think? Even the conquest of England 1066 had(so I have heard) Papal blessing in advance.
The most famous saints of Norway and Denmark (other coutries?) were kings that were very much "mens of arms" - ended their lives by the sword and were "martyred". One could get the idea that what we knows as the "first crusade" had a prehistory in the 11.th century of a gradually increasedly militant view - and practice - of the christian faith.


Edited by fantasus - 18 Jun 2011 at 20:37
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote Parnell Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 17 Jun 2011 at 22:43
When we really get down to it, the Crusades were a result of the primogeniture inheritance system within European aristocracy. It is no coincidence that most of the great new magnates in the Levant were the children of European nobility who were not in a position to inherit their parent's lands or titles.

Edited by Parnell - 17 Jun 2011 at 22:44
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote drgonzaga Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 18 Jun 2011 at 00:24
Is not everyone ignoring a little fact here: The appeal of Alexios I Comnenus sent to Rome requesting the assistance of the "West" against the Seljuks? After all this bit about Jerusalem is a tad anachronistic given the fact that in 1095 it had been under Muslim rule for some few centuries! One could just as easily posit that the ovearching principle here is an effort to externalize the inherent propensity toward violence that marred the political landscape of Europe by the 11th century--feudalism in a new light (sorry I could not resist). One might even posit that calling them "Crusades" and addressing them as Holy Wars is swallowing whole the religious veneer employed by a certain pope who had rather more important social and political objectives with respect to his "sheep". We will not discuss the role of the later Romantic historians here. Has anyone even bothered to read the "speech" delivered at Clermont in 1095?
 
You have seen for a long time the great disorder in the world caused by these crimes. It is so bad in some of your provinces, I am told, and you are so weak in the administration of justice, that one can hardly go along the road by day or night without being attacked by robbers; and whether at home or abroad one is in danger of being despoiled either by force or fraud. Therefore it is necessary to reenact the truce, as it is commonly called, which was proclaimed a long time ago by our holy fathers. I exhort and demand that you, each, try hard to have the truce kept in your diocese. And if anyone shall be led by his cupidity or arrogance to break this truce, by the authority of God and with the sanction of this council he shall be anathematized.
...
Although, O sons of God, you have promised more firmly than ever to keep the peace among yourselves and to preserve the rights of the church, there remains still an important work for you to do. Freshly quickened by the divine correction, you must apply the strength of your righteousness to another matter which concerns you as well as God. For your brethren who live in the east are in urgent need of your help, and you must hasten to give them the aid which has often been promised them. For, as the most of you have heard, the Turks and Arabs have attacked them and have conquered the territory of Romania [the Greek empire] as far west as the shore of the Mediterranean and the Hellespont, which is called the Arm of St. George. They have occupied more and more of the lands of those Christians, and have overcome them in seven battles. They have killed and captured many, and have destroyed the churches and devastated the empire. If you permit them to continue thus for awhile with impurity, the faithful of God will be much more widely attacked by them. On this account I, or rather the Lord, beseech you as Christ's heralds to publish this everywhere and to persuade all people of whatever rank, foot-soldiers and knights, poor and rich, to carry aid promptly to those Christians and to destroy that vile race from the lands of our friends. I say this to those who are present, it meant also for those who are absent.
 
Fulcher of Chartres. Gesta Dei per Francos (11th c.)


Edited by drgonzaga - 18 Jun 2011 at 00:26
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote Parnell Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 18 Jun 2011 at 01:22
Yes yes, we know the basic call to arms, the council of Clermont, the march of the Princes, what is your point exactly? 
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote drgonzaga Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 18 Jun 2011 at 20:12
Originally posted by Parnell Parnell wrote:

Yes yes, we know the basic call to arms, the council of Clermont, the march of the Princes, what is your point exactly? 
 
My point is a simple one: Events at Clermont and the purported papal call for a Holy War is factually wrong and a blatant misinterpretation of why the pope was there in the first place! The work of Fulcher not only details the Council but also makes no mention whatsoever of any Holy War or "God Wills it". Care to try for the December 1095 papal letter on this subject?
 


Edited by drgonzaga - 18 Jun 2011 at 20:24
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote Parnell Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 18 Jun 2011 at 21:43
Originally posted by drgonzaga drgonzaga wrote:

Originally posted by Parnell Parnell wrote:

Yes yes, we know the basic call to arms, the council of Clermont, the march of the Princes, what is your point exactly? 
 
My point is a simple one: Events at Clermont and the purported papal call for a Holy War is factually wrong and a blatant misinterpretation of why the pope was there in the first place! The work of Fulcher not only details the Council but also makes no mention whatsoever of any Holy War or "God Wills it". Care to try for the December 1095 papal letter on this subject?
 


I've read Fulcher's history before, thanks for the refresher course though.

Next thing you're going to point out that medieval histories are full of retrospective justifications and outright falsehoods. Are you a member of the 'pointing-out-the-bleeding-obvious-association'?

I don't mean to be aggressive or anything, I usually enjoy reading your Nabokovian style posts, but I don't have a clue what you are trying to get at.


Edited by Parnell - 18 Jun 2011 at 21:44
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote drgonzaga Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 18 Jun 2011 at 22:20
Why Parnell, I am simply adding some flesh to the correct direction intimated by Fantasus. After all, even etymology gives a strong clue since the word does not even arise in French until the 16th century. The term itself originates in Medieval Latin cruciata--to mark with a cross--but the entire subject is far more complex and you really do not want me to raise the implications of the Cluniac Reforms... 
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote Two Tail Lion Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 31 Mar 2012 at 21:53
Originally posted by pinguin pinguin wrote:

As I see it, the Crusades was only the reaction to the Muslim military invasion, first by the Arabs and Moors, and afterwords by the Turks.



The situation was a little more complicated. If we talk about Holy Land, the Arabs were usually allies of crusaders in wars against Turks:).
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote Anton Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 01 Apr 2012 at 09:36
Originally posted by gcle2003 gcle2003 wrote:

You need to be more specific, really, though I gather you only mean the Midlle Eastern crusades. The crusading phenomenon existed also in the north-east with the Teurtonic knights (cf Eisenstein's Alexander Nevsky) where the enemy were nominally the Slav and Balt pagans, and in the south-east, where you had the internal crusade against the Cathars, as well as the campaigns against the Moors in Iberia. I'm not even sure that after 1570 the Anglo-Spanish wars didn't count as a crusade.



There were massive crusades against Hussites as well.
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote LouisFerdinand Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 05 Aug 2015 at 01:31
Matilda of Boulogne, Queen Consort of King Stephen of England (reigned 1135-1141), supported the order of Templars, who protected and financed the crusaders.       
Providing for the Crusades was an active form of piety that appealed to Queen Matilda's dauntless and decisive nature.
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