The Crusade movement must be understood as part of the process of changing feudalism during the Lower Middle Ages.
Feudal society was agricultural, self-sufficient, subsistence-oriented only. Such an organization could not meet the needs of a growing population. Thus, part of this population was marginalized, with many people carrying out attacks and looting of castles and villages.
Thus, if for the Catholic Church the Crusades presented themselves as an opportunity to regain the Holy Land and strengthen the power of the Pope, for many others they represented both an economic and social alternative. Some people, for example, joined the Crusades just because they saw them as an opportunity to get out of their miserable life.
Among the nobles, most saw in the Crusades a possibility of increasing their fortune, since the region of Palestine was considered of great wealth. Many young people of the nobility saw an opportunity to achieve something for themselves, since, as they were not firstborn children, they would not inherit feuds.
Fighting by faith
In all, eight Crusades were held over a period of about 200 years. The first, organized by Pope Urban II, was successful.
For this Crusade, armies were organized throughout Europe. Officially, she met in Constantinople in November 1096. It was a huge army led by feudal lords. This Crusade succeeded in driving the Turks out of much of the Holy Land and founding the kingdom of Jerusalem.
Of the 300,000 crusaders who left Constantinople, only 40,000 arrived in Palestine. The others died on the way, in combat or victims of disease, hunger, thirst and heat; others have returned to Europe. On the part of the Turks, the losses were also huge: about 10,000 ended up massacred in Jerusalem.
14th century miniature depicting the seizure of Jerusalem by the Crusaders
After the defeat, the Turks attacked the Crusaders frequently and were able to win back the Holy Land. New expeditions were then called by the Christians. However, they were not as successful as the first.
Poorly organized, without leadership, and internally divided by rivalries between nobles, several Crusades failed to reach Palestine. In the Second Crusade, for example, fighters from various parts of Europe formed isolated groups and were easily defeated by the Turks.
The king of France Louis VII and the emperor Conrad III depart for the Second Crusade.