This is Daniel Whyte III, president of Gospel Light Society International, with the History of Christianity Podcast #225, titled, “Later History of the Crusades.”
When I became a believer in Jesus Christ, I somehow had the false idea that Christianity began when I got saved. I had no concept of the hundreds of years of history that Christianity had gone through since the time of Jesus Christ over 2,000 years ago. I have found that many believers, young and old, have the same false idea. The purpose of this broadcast is to dispel this notion by sharing with listeners the history of Christianity from the ministry of Jesus Christ all the way up until the present day in an easy-to-understand format. You don’t have to worry: this is not a lecture. This is a look at the basic facts and figures of Christian history that every believer and every person needs to be aware of.
Our Scripture for today is Galatians 6:15-16 which reads: “For in Christ Jesus neither circumcision availeth any thing, nor uncircumcision, but a new creature. And as many as walk according to this rule, peace be on them, and mercy, and upon the Israel of God.”
Our History of Christianity quote today is from Nils Forsander. He said: “Church History is the record of God’s gracious, wonderful and mighty deeds, showing how by His Spirit and Word He rules His Church and conquers the world.”
Today, in the History of Christianity, we are looking at “Later History of the Crusades” from Dr. Justo L. Gonzalez’s fine book, The Story of Christianity (Volume 1).
Many of the crusaders now felt that their task was done, and prepared to return home. Godfrey of Bouillon [BOOL-YAAN] was scarcely able to retain the knights necessary to meet the Muslim army that was already marching to Jerusalem. At Ashkelon [ASH-KUH-LAAN], the crusaders defeated the Muslims, and thus the survival of the Latin Kingdom of Jerusalem was assured for a brief span. But reinforcements were sorely needed, and thus it became customary for small bands of armed men to leave Europe for a time of service in the Holy Land. While many of these remained, others simply returned after what amounted to an armed pilgrimage.
The fervor of the Crusade also continued among the masses. Repeatedly, there were those who had apocalyptic visions and collected a motley following as they marched toward Jerusalem. There were also those who claimed that, since God valued innocence, children were to play a special role in the entire enterprise. Thus developed several “Children’s Crusades,” which were no more than masses of children and adolescents marching eastward, only to die along the way or to be enslaved by those whose territories they crossed.
Since the crusading spirit, and crusading columns, were a constant feature for centuries, it is not altogether correct to speak of the “Crusades” as a series of isolated campaigns. But there were high points in the entire enterprise, which are usually referred to as the “Second Crusade,” the “Third Crusade,” and so on. An outline of these will show some of the subsequent course of the crusading spirit.
The occasion for the Second Crusade was the Fall of Edessa [UH-DEH-SUH], taken by the Sultan of Aleppo in 1144 [SUHL-TN of UH-LEH-POH]. Once again, popular preachers arose who called for the masses to invade the Holy Land. Along the way, some also said, Jews should be exterminated. The preaching of Bernard of Clairvaux [CLAIR-VOH] was very different, for it sought both to organize an army of relief for the Kingdom of Jerusalem, and to refute the fiery preaching of those who advocated a mad rush to Jerusalem. Finally, under the leadership of Louis VII (SEVENTH) of France and Conrad III (THIRD) of Germany, an army of almost two hundred thousand left for the Holy Land. They were repeatedly defeated by the Turks, and accomplished little.
For a while the kingdom of Jerusalem grew strong, and under Amalric I [UH-MAHL-RIK the FIRST) it even extended as far as Cairo. But then the Muslims began to regroup and, under the leadership of the Sultan [SUHL-TN] of Egypt, Saladin [SA-LUH-DEEN], took Jerusalem in 1187.
The news shook Christendom, and Pope Clement III (THIRD) called for a renewal of the crusading enterprise. This Third Crusade was led by three sovereigns: Emperor Frederick Barbarossa [BAAR-BR-OW-SUH], Richard the Lionhearted of England, and Philip II (SECOND) Augustus of France. This too failed. Frederick drowned, and his army dissolved. Richard and Philip achieved nothing but taking Acre after a siege that lasted two years. Philip then returned to Europe, hoping to take advantage of Richard’s absence to take some of the latter’s lands. Richard himself, on his way home, was captured by the emperor of Germany and kept a prisoner until an enormous ransom was promised.
The Fourth Crusade, called by Innocent III, was an even greater disaster. Its goal was to attack Saladin [SA-LUH-DEEN] at his headquarters in Egypt. A famous preacher, Foulques de Neuilly [FUHLK de NOO-LEE], was entrusted with the task of raising armies and funds for the Crusade. Foulques [FUHLK] was a radical opponent of usury and all forms of social injustice who was incensed at the manner in which the developing monetary economy allowed the rich to use their money to become even richer, while the poor remained in poverty. In preaching the Crusade, Foulques [FUHLK] declared that the poor were elected by God to fulfill this great task. All could participate in this project. Those who could not go on Crusade, no matter how poor, should support others who could. The rich must also join, for in so doing their exploitations were forgiven. Thus an army was raised eager to attack Saladin [SA-LUH-DEEN] in his own capital.
But, unbeknownst to Foulques [FUHLK] and even to Pope Innocent, there were other plans afoot. The throne in Constantinople was disputed by two rivals, one of whom asked Innocent to send the Crusade first to Constantinople to place him on the throne. In exchange, he would then support the Crusade against Saladin [SA-LUH-DEEN]. Innocent refused, but the Venetians [VUH-NEE-SHNZ], whose fleet was charged with the task of transporting the crusaders to Egypt, agreed to take them instead to Constantinople in exchange for large sums of money. Thus, the Crusade was rerouted to Constantinople, which the crusaders took. They then named Baldwin of Flanders emperor of Constantinople, and thus was founded the Latin Empire of Constantinople (1204-1261). A Latin patriarch of Constantinople was also named, and thus, in theory at least, East and West were reunited. Innocent III (THIRD), at first incensed by this misuse of the Crusade, eventually decided that it was God’s way of reuniting the church. But the Byzantines [BI-ZUHN-TEENZ] did not accept matters so easily, and continued a long resistance, founding various states that refused to accept the authority of the Latin emperors. Finally, in 1261, one of these splinter states, the Emperor of Nicea [NAHY-SEE-UH], retook Constantinople, and ended the Latin Empire. The net result of the entire episode was that the enmity of the Greek East toward the Latin West grew more intense.
The Fifth Crusade, led by the “King of Jerusalem”–who claimed this title even though the city had been in Muslim hands for a long time, and he had never seen it–attacked Egypt, and accomplished very little. The Sixth, led by excommunicated emperor Frederick II (SECOND), had better success than the rest, for the emperor and the sultan came to an agreement granting Jerusalem, Nazareth, and Bethlehem to Frederick, as well as the roads linking those holy places to Acre. Frederick entered Jerusalem and, since no one else would do it, crowned himself King of Jerusalem. The pope who had excommunicated him, Gregory IX (NINTH), fumed, but Europe rejoiced and called Frederick the “Liberator of Jerusalem.” The Seventh and Eighth Crusades, led by Louis IX (NINTH) of France (Saint Louis) were major disasters. The king was captured by the Muslims in the Seventh Crusade, and forced to pay a large ransom. In the Eighth, he died of fever in Tunis [TOO-NUHS]. It was the year 1270, and the Cusades had run their course.
Next time, we will begin looking at “The Spanish Reconquista [REE-KUHN-KEE-STUH].”
Dear friend, simply knowing the facts about Christian history without knowing the One on Whom this faith is based will do you no good. If you do not believe on the Lord Jesus Christ as your Savior, may I encourage you to get to know Him today. John 3:16 says, “For God so loved the world, that he gave his only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in him should not perish, but have everlasting life.” Just believe in your heart that Jesus Christ died for your sins, was buried, and rose from the dead by the power of God for you so that you can be a part of the church in this life and in the life to come. Pray and ask Him to come into your heart today, and He will. Romans 10:13 says, “For whosoever shall call upon the name of the Lord shall be saved.”
Until next time, remember that history is truly His story.