|Christ died so we could write articles on|
“”Kill them all. God will know his own.
|—Abbot Arnold Amaury|
The Crusades were a series of military expeditions aimed at the conquest, maintenance and restoration of the Latin Kingdom of Jerusalem. Yes, the followers of Jesus openly stating that they would kill millions for political power.
They might have been considered a response to Islam's four hundred years of unbridled expansion, had they been aimed at, for example, the conquered Christian lands in Spain, rather than the relatively peaceful and enlightened areas in the Levant. However this 'analysis' fails to take into account that the first crusade was in essence a papal response to a request from the Byzantine Roman Emperor to help him against the expansionist Seljuk Turks, who had whupped his predecessor's ass at the battle of Manzikert in 1071. The first one worked remarkably well. After that, they all went downhill. One even attacked the city of Byzantium (was Constantinople, now Istanbul), dealing the last remnant of the Roman Empire a devastating blow from which it never recovered.
Crusades were also launched against pagan tribes in eastern Germany and Poland, and one (the Albigensian Crusade) was sent against a heretic Christian group, the Cathars (it is this crusade that the famous quote at the top of the page was from).
 Consequences of the Crusades
The importance of the Crusades (at least the first four) in European history cannot be understated. The Crusades helped to re-link Western Europe to the Silk and Spice roads. After the fall of the Western Roman Empire that part of the world remained largely isolated and outside of various trade routes (too unstable). Crusaders returning home often brought with them "exotic" eastern goods and Western Europeans were willing to trade for them. The desire for silks and spices encouraged the Western Europeans to try and find ways to cut out the middlemen and trade directly with China and India, basically encouraging Western European countries to begin exploring the world. Along with the flow of goods came a flow of ideas.
Many ancient Greek and Latin texts had been forgotten about in the West but were preserved, studied and commented on by the Byzantines and Arabs. These "new" ideas flowed west and found a ready home for them in Medieval Europe's trading hubs (especially the Italian city states). The rediscovery of these texts, as well as a renewed appreciation for the ancient heritage helped to spark the Italian Renaissance.
Of course, it wasn't all silks, spices, and books that the new trade routes brought west: the new trade routes also brought the Black Death to western Europe, resulting in the death of roughly one third of its population.
In modern usage, a crusade is any mission or movement based on strong moral or ideological backing, such as Campus Crusade for Christ. Often, it denotes a foolish endeavour.
 Know your Crusades
- 1095-1099: Pope gets a bright idea to stop Christians from fighting each other and start fighting Muslims. Amateur soldiers pillage communities across Europe and the Middle East; pros do the same, but capture Jerusalem.
- 1147-1149: Christians forgot that they actually had to defend the land they took in the Middle East.
- 1187-1192: Muslims take Jerusalem back, Christians almost take it back if it weren't for the fact that Prince John of England was ticking off Robin Hood, forcing Richard I to cut it short.
- 1202-1204: I thought the Pope said we were going to Jerusalem?! Well, we have no money for boat fares, so we'll just sack Constantinople for our Venetian sponsors.
- 1209: DIE, CATHARS (in Southern France)! Every last one -- over a million.
- 1212: Children's Crusade, cute except for the fact that the kids were way too young to be doing this sort of thing.
- 1217-1221: Wait a minute, Cairo isn't in the Holy Land!
- 1248-1254: King Louis IX of France gets captured in battle, then bankrupts his country bailing him out.
- 1270: Louis IX captures Tunis (weren't these about Jerusalem?)
- 1271-1272: Crusaders finally realize it isn't worth the trouble.
- ↑ Pg. 1, The Crusades: A Short History, Jonathan Riley-Smith. ISBN 0-300-04700-2
- ↑ Pg. 139, The Crusades: A Short History, Jonathan Riley-Smith. ISBN 0-300-04700-2 ("...by 1324 southern French Catharism was dead."
- ↑ http://www.fas.org/irp/world/para/docs/980223-fatwa.htm World Islamic Front Statement, courtesy of The Federation of American Scientists
- ↑ Possibly fictitious.