The First Crusade

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Christian pilgrimage – In medieval Europe it became common for the people to collect relics or remnants of Saints. These relics became so popular that it caused huge movements in people. So like the Muslims on their hajj, the Christians travel to these places that had these relics to honor these saints. Most of the pilgrimages centered on Italy and Spain, but some people went as far as Jerusalem. With this common movement to honor saints an industry centered on these travels emerged. Inns began to dot along the routes to these places and guide books were sold.
Since the time of Constantine, Christians had gone on pilgrimages to the Holy Land. Even though Moslems had ruled Jerusalem since 638, Christians were still allowed to visit the city. By the 11th century, however, the situation had changed. Just as the number and frequency of pilgrimages to Jerusalem was at new peaks, the Seljuk Turks took over control of Jerusalem and prevented pilgrimages.
The First Crusade

Pope Urban II (1088-1099, see art below) was responsible for assisting Emperor Alexus I (1081-1118) of Constantinople in launching the first crusade. He made one of the most influential speeches in the Middle Ages, calling on Christian princes in Europe to go on a crusade to rescue the Holy Land from the Turks. In the speech given at the Council of Clermont in France, on November 27, 1095, he combined the ideas of making a pilgrimage to the Holy Land with that of waging a holy war against infidels.1

Since the beginning of the Christian Era, the city of Jerusalem remained a central focus of pilgrimages for those wanting to find a guarantee for the forgiveness of sins, or seeking a healing of their bodies or souls by touching places where Jesus was known to have been. This was also a Holy City for Moslems and Jews, who peacefully shared the Holy Land with the Christians. In 1071, an intolerant tribe of Moslem Turks captured the city, desecrating Christian shrines, killing Christian settlers and persecuting pilgrims. At the same time other Turkish tribes threatened to conquer the Byzantine Empire and drive out all the Christian influences. The Byzantine Emperor at Constantinople appealed to the Pope at Rome for assistance. In 1095, Pope Urban II called upon all the Christian faithful to "take up the cross" and rescue Christ’s Sepulcher from the infidels.

In the spring of 1096 the First Crusade was begun by a collection of peasants, beggars, vagrants, women and children left their homes in France and the Rhineland led by Peter the Hermit. Many of them were killed and scattered in Hungary after the motley Crusaders looted, murdered and committed other atrocities as they passed through. Others continued on to Constantinople where further disturbances were recorded. Most were later slaughtered by Turks as they pushed into Asia Minor.

The Prince’s Crusade was conducted by European princes, barons and knights who sailed to Asia Minor in 1097 along with a company of monks, professional warriors, merchants, farm hands, vagabonds and criminals. They captured Jerusalem in 1098 but were besieged by a powerful Turkish army. The morale of the Crusaders was dampened by deaths and desertions until the Spear of Destiny was discovered. On July 15, 1099 they recaptured the city and knelt at the Sepulcher of Christ, covered in Turkish blood. The Celtic nobility established a Kingdom of Jerusalem and ruled for nearly 100 years until the Moslems once again captured the Holy City.
The Second Crusade was led by the kings of France and Germany in 1147 to 1149. It was a poorly managed campaign that accomplished little, but allowed thousands of Celtic Crusaders to migrate into Asia Minor. The Third Crusade, in 1189 was led by the most powerful leaders in Europe: The German Emperor Frederick I, called Barbarossa; Philip Augustus, King of France, and King Richard the Lion-Hearted of England. The German emperor drowned while crossing a river in Asia Minor, and a longstanding hatred between Philip and Richard caused the French king to return home. King Richard continued on to Jerusalem and finally succeeded in negotiating a three year treaty with the Turkish king, Saladin to permit Christians to visit the Holy City undisturbed.
Later Crusades were conducted through the Thirteenth Century to attempt a capture of Jerusalem and the Holy Land, but none were successful. The Crusades did accomplish other changes however, by introducing a flow of Eastern trade into Europe, with such imports as Oriental rugs and perfumes, cane sugar, rice, garlic, lemons, muslin, silk and satin. It also weakened the feudal system of Europe, allowing an increase in small landowners and merchants. Interest in geography and other cultures increased as well, and many Crusaders converted to the Moslem religion. The exposure of thousands of Celtic warriors to Eastern lands also gave the people a more Compassionate view of the world. Romans and Celts fought side by side, and eventually gained a more compassionate view of the Moslems through the wisdom of their king, Saladin. Three powerful religious military orders grew out of this era to become the Knights Templar, The Teutonic Knights, and the Knights of St. John (Hospitalers). Other Crusaders returned home to lead violent campaigns of persecution against religious minority groups.
Introduction: Muslim civilization always has been mobile (moving). Both the Arabs and the conquerors from Central Asia were originally nomadic (able to move or travel around) and inherited a tradition of travel. Large armies were constantly on the move. Students and scholars went on long journeys to sit at the feet of famous teachers, for the Prophet Muhammad himself encouraged travel even "as far as China" for learning. The wealth of cities depended upon trade. And the Faith of Islam asked of the Faithful the most powerful of all reasons for travel -- the Pilgrimage. So Muslims traveled the length and breadth (width) of the vast (large, extensive, widespread) Islamic Empires and beyond, especially for trade purposes. Muslims traveled by land and by sea and through their trips they began an Age of Travel and Exploration far beyond their homelands.

Ibn Battuta was perhaps the greatest traveler of the Middle Ages, having traveled about 75,000 miles in 29 years! He is especially important to history because of his written accounts (reports) of his travels. From these records we can learn about the cultures that he visited. The book about his travels is the only historical source of information about many of the places he visited which included the East African coast, the Empire of Mali in West Africa, Arabia, Iraq, Iran, Turkey, India, China, Spain, and many, many more! As a Muslim, he took advantage of the generosity shown to pilgrims and travelers in the Empire. He was often given gifts (of horses, gold, and even slaves) and stayed for free in dormitories, private homes, and even in the palaces of Muslim rulers. For seven years he worked for the Sultan in Delhi, India. On his travels he met several Sultans who welcomed him into their company. His descriptions are filled with adventures - he almost died several times. He survived robbers, shipwrecks, pirates, wars, and the Black Death (or Bubonic Plague).

Mansa means "king" and Musa is the Arabic name for Moses) - Mansa Musa was an extremely rich ruler of the Mali Empire. Mansa Musa was either the grandson or the grandnephew of Sundiata, the founder of his dynasty. He became "Mansa" or king in 1307. In 1324, he began his famous pilgrimage to Mecca. It was this pilgrimage that awakened the world to the incredible wealth of Mali, or "put Mali on the map." He traveled from his capital of Niani on the Upper Niger River to Walata (Oualâta, Mauritania) and on to Tuat (now in Algeria) before making his way to Cairo. Then he continued on to Medina and Mecca. Accounts vary, and some may be exaggerated, but according to some: Mansa Musa was accompanied in his caravan by 60,000 men including of 12,000 personal slaves finely dressed in silk. The emperor himself rode on horseback and was preceded by 500 slaves, each carrying a gold-decorated staff. In addition, Mansa Musa had a baggage train of 80 camels, each carrying 300 pounds of gold. He generously gave away or spent so much gold that Cairo's gold market didn't recover for several decades. Mansa Musa was able to impress the rest of the Islamic world by his wealth and by his commitment to Islam. As a result he was able to bring Islamic scholars and other Arab settlers to Timbuktu and other towns in Mali and bring it more firmly and with respect into the World of Islamic Nations, or "Dar al-Islam".
. Zheng He [or Cheng Ho], a Chinese Muslim under the authority of Ming Emperor made several trips of exploration and diplomacy from 1405 - 1433. He even made a hajj to Mecca!
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