Krak Des Chevaliers: A Crusader Castle in Medieval Syria

Considered virtually impregnable, it was the largest Crusader castle in the Middle East. By Mark CartwrightHistorian Introduction Krak des Chevaliers (also spelt Cracs des Chevaliers, and known in Arabic as Hisn al-Akrad) is a castle in Syria originally built for the Emir of Aleppo in 1031 CE but acquired and extensively rebuilt by the Knights[…]

The Crusades: Consequences and Effects

Many exaggerated claims have been made concerning the effects and consequences of the crusades on life in the Middle Ages and later. By Mark CartwrightHistorian Introduction The crusades of the 11th to 15th century CE have become one of the defining events of the Middle Ages in both Europe and the Middle East. The campaigns[…]

The Crusades: Causes and Goals

What were the motivating factors for crusaders, from the Pope to the humblest warrior? By Mark CartwrightHistorian Introduction The Crusades were a series of military campaigns organised by Christian powers in order to retake Jerusalem and the Holy Land back from Muslim control. There would be eight officially sanctioned crusades between 1095 CE and 1270[…]

The Sultan of Byzantium: A Byzantine Past Hiding in Plain Sight

The journey begins with a quiet academic living in Istanbul who receives a cryptic message that will change his life. Introduction Istanbul makes an exotic first impression: Boat traffic on the Bosporus sends waves brushing up against the shores of both Europe and Asia as enormous mosques and monuments from previous empires stand guard. The[…]

The Failure of the Third Crusade, 1189-1192

The Third Crusade failed to put Jerusalem back in Christian hands. Introduction In 1187 Outremer (the collective lands conquered by the crusaders) experienced its first major loss since Edessa in 1147 – the loss of Jerusalem at the hands of Saladin. Jerusalem was the primary aim of the First Crusade, and after this event would[…]

Crusader States in the Medieval Levant

The Westerners managed to maintain a political presence in the region until 1291 CE but were constantly hampered by dynastic rivalries. By Mark CartwrightHistorian Introduction The Crusader States (aka the Latin East or Outremer) were created after the First Crusade (1095-1102 CE) in order to keep hold of the territorial gains made by Christian armies[…]

The Armies of the Crusades

The armies could have involved over 100,000 men on either side who came from all over Europe. By Mark CartwrightHistorian Introduction The armies of the Crusades (11th-15th centuries CE), which saw Christians and Muslims struggle for control of territories in the Middle East and elsewhere, could involve over 100,000 men on either side who came[…]

The Crusades: Motivations, Administration, and Cultural Influence

Exploring how the motives, organization, and effects of the Crusades change over time. Introduction The Crusades were a series of religious and political wars fought between 1096 and 1291 for control of the Holy Land. Pope Urban II initiated the First Crusade (1096–1102) in order to aid the Christian Byzantine Empire, which was under attack[…]

A History of the Medieval Knights Templar

The order was formed c.1119 CE when seven knights, led by French nobleman Hugh of Payns, swore to defend Christian pilgrims in Jerusalem and the Holy Land. By Mark CartwrightHistorian Introduction The Knights Templar, established c. 1119 CE and given papal recognition in 1129 CE, was a Catholic medieval military order whose members combined martial prowess[…]