The Western View
The expansion of Islam and the Arab empire through the Seljuk Turks in the 11th century caused a note of distress to the clergy of Christianity. The conquest of areas in the Christian Byzantium empire helped to spur anger and resentment against Muslims. With an ever increasing population in the western world and the papal state’s need for power and territory the Crusades was the end result. There were a series of campaigns against Islam and against heretics and troublemakers in Europe itself.

They were led by kings, princes, knights and papal legates as well as by shepherds and hermits. Frequently, they were under the control of the Church but in some instances they were not. The Church also offered many incentives to encourage men to take the Cross and conquer the Muslims. There were altogether seven crusades that were launched to conquer or regain land from the Arabs. However, while the Crusades began as a move to conquer the Muslims, they became a battle within the Christian faith itself. Many of the Europeans lost their values and religious beliefs and thus the Crusades became a time of re-identifying their faith.

The First Crusade in 1096 was sprung from Pope Urban II’s sermon in 1095. This was the only crusade that the westerners successfully won. Future Crusades lacked disorganization and while many battles were won by the western world, the eventual outcome had the Arabs at the head. However, with thousands of dead from all faiths, Christianity, Islam, and Judaism, who was the real victor?

The Eastern View

"Regard the Franj! Behold with what obstinacy they fight for their religion, while we, the Muslims, show no enthusiasm for waging holy war."-Salah Al-Din.*

To those of the Eastern world, the invasion of the Frankish people was not one of enlightenment. It was instead an attempt to conquer a land that was for centuries in the hands of eastern civilizations ranging from Arabs, Kurds, Armenians, and many more people of different ethnic descent. To the Muslims and the non-Muslims of the east, the Crusades was a war of a barbarous nature that needed to be repelled. It was a war against their faith and their customs. However, the decline of the Arab civilization soon after coming out victorious in the Crusades suggests that there were deeper issues in the conflict between the west and east. While the Crusades opened up new horizons and new trading areas for the west, the eastern world’s establishments began to decline and deteriorate and the lands they conquered became lost in the political power struggle between the Arabs.

*Quote Taken From

Maalouf, Amin. The Crusades Through Arab Eyes. Translated by Jon Rothschild, 1984. Al Saqi Books, 26 Wetbourne Grove, London W2.




The First Crusade

1096 Kilij Arslan, sultan of Nicaea, crushes a
crusaders invasion led by Peter the Hermit.
1097 First great expedition by the Crusaders, known as
Franj in Arabia.
1098 The Crusaders take Edessa and then Antioch, and
triumph over a Muslim rescue army commanded by Karbuqa, ruler of Mosul. The incident of
cannibalism by the crusaders in Maarra.

"For three days they put people to the
sword, killig more than a hundred thousand people and taking many prisoners." (Ibn

"In Maarra our troops boiled pagan adults in cooking pots; they impaled children on
spits and devoured them grilled." (Radulph of Caen)

1099 Fall of Jerusalem, followed by massacres and
plunder by the crusaders.

The population of the holy city was put to the sword, and the
crusaders spent a week massacring Muslims. They killed more than seventy thousand people
in Al-Aqsa Mosque. The Jews had gathered in their synagogue and the crusaders burned them
alive. They also destroyed the monuments of saints, the mosque of Umar and the tomb of




Baldwin, count of Edessa, escapes an ambush
near Beirut and proclaims himself king of Jerusalem.

1104 Muslim victory at Harran, which checks the
Crusaders' eastward advance.
1108 Two coalitions made up of Crusaders and Muslims
confront one another near Tel Bashir.
1109 Fall of Tripoli after a 2000-day siege.
1110 Fall of Beirut and Saida.
1111 Ibn al-Khashab, the qadi of Aleppo, organizes a
riot against the caliph of Baghdad to demand intervention against the Frankish occupation.
1112 Victorious resistance at Tyre.
1115 Alliance of Muslim and Frankish princes of Syria
against an army dispatched by the sultan.
1119 Ilghazi, ruler of Aleppo, crushes the Crusaders
at Sarmada.
1124 The Crusaders take Tyre. They now occupy the
entire coast, except for Ascalon.
1125 Ibn al-Khashab is murdered by the Assassins sect.
1128 Failure of crusaders thrust at Damscus. Zangi the
ruler of Aleppo.
1135 Zangi fails to take Damascus.
1137 Zangi captures Fulk, king of Jerusalem, then
releases him.
1140 Alliance of Damascus and Jerusalem against Zangi.
1144-1155 The Second Crusade
1144 Zangi takes Edessa, destroying the first of the
four Frankish states of the Orient.
1146 Murder of Zangi. His son Nur al-Din replaces him
in Aleppo.




Debacle at damascus for a new Frankish
expedition led by Conrad, emperor of Germany, and Louis VII, king of France.

1154 Nur al-Din takes control of Damascus, unifying
Muslim Syria under his authority.
1163-69 The struggle for Egypt. Shirkuh, lieutenant of
Nur al-Din, finally wins. Proclaimed vizier, he dies two months later. He is succeeded by
his nephew Saladin (Salahuddin).
1171 Saladin proclaims the overthrow of the Fatimid
caliphate. Sole master of Egypt, he finds himself in conflict with Nur al-Din.
1174 Death of Nur al-Din. Saladin takes Damascus.
1183 Saladin takes Aleppo. Egypt and Syria now
reunited under his aegis.
1187-1192 The Third Crusade
1187 The year of victory.  Saladin crushes the
crusaders armies at Hittin, near Lake Tiberias. He reconquers Jerusalem and the greater
part of the crusaders territories. The crusaders now hold only Tyre, Tripoli and Antioch.
1190-92 Setback for Saladin at Acre. Intervention of
Richard the Lionheart, king of England, enables the crusaders to recover several cities
from the sultan, but not Jerusalem.
1193 Saladin dies in Damascus at the age of 55. After
several years of civil war, his empire is reunited under the authority of his brother
1194-1201 The Fourth and Fifth Crusade
1204 The crusaders take Constantinople. Sack of the
1216-1218 The Sixth Crusade
1218-21 Invasion of Egypt by the crusaders. They take
Damietta and head for Cairo, but the sultan al-Kamil, son of al-Adil, finally repels them.
1227-1229 The Seventh Crusade
1229 Al-Kamil delivers Jerusalem to the emperor
Frederick II of Hohenstaufen, arousing a storm of indignation in the Arab world.




The crusaders lose Jerusalem for the last

1245-1247 The Eighth Crusade
1248-50 Invasion of Egypt by Louis IX, King of France,
who is defeated and captured. Fall of the Ayyubid dynasty; replaced by the rule of the
1258 The Mongol chief Hulegu, grandson of Genghis
Khan, sacks Baghdad, massacring the population and killing the last Abbasid caliph.
1260 The Mongol army, after occupying first Aleppo and
then damascus, is defeated at the battle of Ayn Jalut in palestine. Baybars at the head of
the Mamluk sultanate.
1268 Baybars takes Antioch, which had been allied with
the Mongols.
1270 Louis IX dies near Tunis in the course of a
failed invasion.
1289 The mamluk sultan Qalawun takes Tripoli.
1291 The sultan Khalil, son of Qalawun, takes Acre,
putting an end to two centuries of crusaders presence in the Orient.


Main reference: The Crusades Through Arab Eyes by Amin Maalouf, translated by Jon Rothschild, 1984. Al Saqi Books, 26 Wetbourne Grove, London W2.