The Crusades were a series of military campaigns waged between Christians and Muslims, Christians and pagans (the Northern Crusades), and Christians against Christians (the Fourth Crusade and the Albigensian Crusade). This complex series of religious wars began in 1095 CE and, running on for centuries, they would involve such diverse territories as the Holy Land, the Baltic, North Africa and southern Spain. In this collection, we untangle the complex reasons why the Crusades began in the first place, who were the key figures in all eight official crusades and a good few others, and what was the political and religious fallout across the medieval Mediterranean and northern Europe.
On 27 November 1095 CE, Urban II called for a crusade in a speech during the Council of Clermont, France. The message, known as the Indulgence and aimed specifically at knights, was loud and clear: those who defended Christendom would be embarking on a pilgrimage, all their sins would be washed away and their souls would reap untold rewards in the next life.