Christianity, a universal institution for the feudal order

The High Middle Ages corresponded to the consolidation of the Church as a universal institution. The union between the royal power and the Church proved to be actually important during this period.

| 09/05/2020 | Last update:


The High Middle Ages corresponded in time with the consolidation of the Church as a universal institution. Christianity became institutionalized. The alliance between the political power and the Church (which were almost the same thing) played a major role as a means of this process.

The Church helped to consolidate the power of several feudal kings through the royal anointing. In addition, it bought patrimony and acquired goods from bankrupt people. There was a strong process of Christianization of the rural peasant communities.

The consolidation of the authority of the Church

The Church became an integral part of the feudal power. It regulated almost every aspect of society. In the family sphere, it forced a break with the old extended family structures of solidarity, replacing them with nuclear ones (reduced nuclei that favoured the possibilities of granting property through inheritance). The Church also regulated the activity of the aristocracy and royalty, giving the monarchies a sacred character (indispensable collaboration). During the medieval period, there were endless struggles for hegemony of power between Church and Monarchies.

During the feudal period, the expansion of the military orders, the monastic fiefs, also took place throughout Europe…

Throughout the feudal period the Church accumulated great patrimonies. It also administered the wealth of the people. As to take over these estates, it did not use violence, but rather coercion (through ideology). The Church obtained immunities from the political power, such as the power not to have to contribute any taxes or duties. It also had a cultural monopoly, through the drafting of documents and therefore the preservation of knowledge.

Through the hierarchization of society, the feudal model was built. People had to obey two higher instances. Meanwhile, the Church was expanding throughout the territory via the creation of new ecclesiastical provinces: a process of parochialization, a phenomenon parallel to the formation of castles. The aim was to strengthen the centres of worship and pilgrimage, often through the use of icons.

The construction of the whole Christian ideological apparatus was strengthened by the imagination and literature. Around the year 1000 the idea of apocalyptic terror was promoted. Everything revolved around the Holy Trinity and the theory of the three orders: harmonious, natural and balanced world. The idea was to avoid tensions. The medieval imaginary was formed by a set of symbols at the service of the transmission of the Church’s message. Its aim was persuading society to favour the theory of the three orders and their immutability in time.

In a time of great violence, how could the aggressiveness of the nobility be regulated and conveyed? Who had warfare as a trade? The religious answer: the Movement of the Peace and Truce of God

The aim of the Church was to eliminate the violence that the nobility exerted on the farmers and the Church itself. It was a double objective: to preserve the ecclesiastical patrimonies and the objects that generated income for the Church, which were the farmers.

How could all this violence be stopped? The Church’s response was the creation of the Movement of Peace and Truce of God, which began in 989 after the Council of Bishops of Aquitaine in Charroux (Poitiers), in which private warfare and pillaging were explicitly condemned, and the “Peace of God” was established for the first time. In the years 1023 and 1027, two other important councils took place whose key figures were two religious: Bishop Oliba of Vic and Bishop Berenguer of Elna.

La Paz y Tregua de Dios
The Peace and Truce of God

During the Toluges Synod, this movement was perfected. The councils were attended by bishops, feudal lords, clergy and bourgeoisie and dealt with feudal violence.

Paz de Dios
Map of the distribution of God’s peace, inspired by the map The participation of the bishops in God’s peace According to Hans-Werner Goetz, “La paix de Dieu en France, Le roi de France et son Royaume en l’année Mille,” Picard, Paris, 1992, p. 138. Original source:

Agreements that were made during the Peace and Truce Assemblies:

From that moment on, how should aristocratic violence be channelled? An alternative had to be found. The solution was to convert the noblemen’s private warriors into the Militia Christi (soldiers of Christ) and seek a military objective for them abroad: the Crusades.

The Peace and Truce movement led to the first crusade, held in 1096.

Rome’s Pontifical Reform or “Gregorian Reform”

The Pontifical Reformation was a movement of the Church starting in the 11th century with the aim of renewing the institution internally which lasted a century. The most transcendental part of this movement evolved around the pontifical curia.

During the 11th century the following popes followed:

And in the 12th century:

Gregorio VII
Gregory VII

The movement of ecclesiastical reform coincided in time with the feudal process. This was no accident. The movement to reform the Church came about because it was necessary. For what reason? Since the 10th century, the Church had fallen into a very pejorative situation. The 9th and 10th centuries coincided with the fragmentation of the Carolingian Empire. The Church needed to adapt to the new social order.

The reform movement consisted in the establishment and institutionalization of the Church within the new feudal order.

What was the Reformation about? The spiritual reform had to be addressed:

Through the Reformation, Rome was to become the primary seat of the Church. The Bishopric of Rome was to have power over others. And the Bishop of Rome would become the Pope. To achieve the proposed objectives, the scope of the problem had to be made public, visualized. It was necessary to make the purges with the means at hand to give an image of exemplariness.

Spiritual reform

Before the Reformation, there was a certain relaxation of the clergy and the Church as a whole. The number of clergy was insufficient. They were people who had become religious for economic reasons, who were poorly prepared and more concerned with living well than carrying out pastoral work. The rural areas were not very Christianized. Those who preached were not exemplary.

Two main problems had been detected in the clergy:

In addition, there was the problem of the politicization of ecclesiastical offices through lay investiture (granting of Church offices by lay people) and simony (buying and selling of offices in exchange for money). The monk Abbo of Fleury said that “what belongs to God cannot be sold.”

One of the models that suited them best was the Monastery of Cluny, France, founded in 909 by William I, Duke of Aquitaine. The first abbot was Berno of Cluny. This monastery was taken as a model of sanctity, as they opted for the complete renunciation regarding the earthly world, relinquishing earthly pleasures, meanwhile proselytizing (to gain followers).

The Monastery of Cluny obeyed the Rule of St. Benedict on the basis of prayer and work. One of the things that was admired was its autonomy. There was no dependence on the political powers, the only link was with the Papacy. The organization was completely hierarchical, reproducing the feudal models, in the form of a pyramid (abbot, prior…) and also with the other dependent monasteries (mother house and its branches).

Monasterio de Sant Benet de Montserrat
Monastery of Sant Benet of Montserrat

The Reformation process also triggered the elaboration of critical works carried out from within the Church, such as those of Saint Peter Damian with his “Liber Gomorrhianus” or Cardinal Humbert of Silva Candida and his “Adversus Simoniacus.” There are also compilations of the law to find ways to repress abusive practices by the clergy. When the laws did not provide for certain punishments, new laws were added, which is known in jurisprudence as canon law. The most important decree was the Decree of Gratian (Concordia discordantium canonum).

Synods were also organized, which were very important for building the doctrine of the Church. The Synod of Sutri was one of the first to highlight the problem, held between 1046-1047. In Sutri, simony was considered a heresy. All ordinations, consecrations and sacraments made by a simoniac were invalidated, since he was not inspired by the Holy Spirit.

A few years later a second synod was held, the Lateran Synod (Rome, 1059), which explicitly forbade marriage and life as a couple for priests. As not getting married was a sacrifice, it became a virtue, which gave an example to the population.

The Lateran Synod of 1059 contained the first provision on the election of the Pope by the College of Cardinals. And the Papacy tried to put these principles into all the Church’s offices. But they found that many bishops were simoniacs. Rome didn’t know how it could impose these new principles on the other sees. So, the Pope chose to institute the key figure of the “Papal Legate,” appointed by the Pope himself and having more authority than any bishop in a council. He became a leading figure.

The resistance that Rome encountered prevented the development of these reforms. How did the Reformation make its way despite the resistance? In two ways: by creating new episcopal seats and by occupying new territories.

It was then that the conquest of al-Andalus made sense. Rome had many interests in this conquest because it took advantage of it to place bishops already committed to the Reformation in the new conquered territories. Another objective was the great conquest of Eastern Germany with the excuse of Christianizing the pagan Slavs. Little by little the principles of the Reformation were imposed. There was talk of restoring the seats of the bishops and of the Reconquest.

Political Dimension of the Reform. The Investiture Controversy

The “Investiture Controversy” was a major conflict between the Pope and the European monarchies, especially the German Emperor. Lay investiture was seen as a moral decay. The most spectacular case was that of Pope Formosus, who was exhumed dead and tried in a post-mortem trial. He was convicted of simoniac. The Emperor could also put Popes in and take them out.

From 1040 to 1059, there were five different popes. Attempts were made from Rome to bring order through the Lateran Synod of 1059 in Rome. Pope Nicholas II brought about a momentous change when it was decreed that papal election was incumbent on the College of Cardinals and was enshrined in law. Later this idea was outlined and at the Second Council of the Lateran it was said that the Pope would be elected by 2/3 of the College of Cardinals.

As to have authority over the lay princes, the Church developed the notion of theocracy (the power of the Church over the laity). The Church was spiritually responsible for the Emperor and therefore the lay investiture did not make sense. This reproduced the scheme of St. Augustine‘s “City of God,” where everything revolved around “the soul superior to the body.”

Querella de las Investiduras
Investiture Controversy

Politically, how was the Church’s reassertion of power interpreted? For the Church, the temporal powers (monarchies) were only legitimate if they submitted to the power of God (lord-shepherd relationship of the feudal order).

God’s interpreter was the Pope. The problem there was who was the lord and who was the vassal. The Church was the lord and the secular power was the vassal. The climax of the conflict between the monarchies and the Papacy came with the writing of the Dictatus Papae (1075). This was the starting point of the war of the Investitures.

The Investiture Controversy

The Church elaborated the notion of theocracy: “A form of civil government in which God himself is recognized as the head. The laws of the commonwealth are the commandments of God, and they are promulgated and expounded by the accredited representatives of the invisible Deity, real or supposed—generally a priesthood,” source: Wikipedia. In this way, a discourse was constructed that sought to adopt the role as a feudal lord.

Who was subordinate to the Church? From the Emperor to all the other monarchies. This new conception of power was elaborated in the time of Pope Gregory VII. He was the ideologue of the “Dictatus Papae,” which contained 27 very brief but extraordinarily forceful points that created a great conflict with the monarchies.

The “Dictatus Papae” revolved around three main axes:

The Pope was free from earthly judgment and was judged by God alone. This document, especially the point that the Pope could depose the Emperor, created a huge conflict. This was the beginning of the Investiture Controversy.

The Pope could hand over the vassals of an excommunicated lord. If the Emperor was excommunicated, his vassals were automatically released. The Emperor could hardly accept it. And it led to an armed confrontation with the Papacy.

1st Stage of the Investment Controversy (1075-85)

Confrontation between Emperor Henry IV (Habsburg) and Pope Gregory VII. Henry IV convened a Synod in Worms in 1076 (Worms was an Imperial city). There, the Emperor succeeded in deposing Pope Gregory VII. In response, the Pope excommunicated him. This created a tremendous shock, and was the real trigger for the Investiture Controversy.

Emperor Henry IV had to ask the Pope’s forgiveness, and the Pope told him that if he wanted his forgiveness, he had to go and see him in Rome. The Emperor agreed and, after a long penance, he was pardoned. This initial pardon did not mean the end of the conflict because later came a second excommunication.

Gregory VII’s decision made him very unpopular. The succession of Gregory VII was in Urban II (1088-1099), a cultured and very diplomatic man. Urban II cooled the conflict with the Emperor through the definitive formulation of the idea of the Crusade, as a “rescue” of the Holy Land. He turned the private armies of the lords into armies of God, so that the lords could divert the fighting energy to the Muslims.

2nd Stage of the Investment Controversy

With the capture of Jerusalem, the first experience of the Crusade over the Holy Land came to an end. In the years 1080-1090 the first attacks on other populations took place: Zawila and al-Mahdia.

When the military operations ended and the conquered territory was being organized, the second phase of the Investiture Controversy began. After Urban II, he was succeeded by Pope Paschal II, a very stubborn reformer. Henry V was the new Emperor, son of Henry IV. A second confrontation took place with major military actions. Henry V was about to force the Pope to eliminate his prerogatives. On 1122, an agreement was reached at the Concordat of Worms.

At that time the Pope was Callixtus II, a Pope closely linked to the Iberian Peninsula. The agreement between the Papacy and the German Empire was set out in two documents and involved: the Pope granting a papal bull to the Emperor while the Emperor disassociating himself from a number of rights he had.

Henry V recognized that the election of the pontiff was the responsibility of the College of Cardinals. Finally, the investiture by the Emperor would be done only by the concession of land goods. The bishops had to take an oath for the land. The agreement included the principles of St. Augustine’s “City of God” and Ivo of Chartres‘ idea of spiritual care and temporal care.

In 1123 one of the great medieval councils was convened, the First Ecumenical Council of the Lateran. In this Council, the Treaty of Worms was ratified. This meant the triumph of the Church. The hegemony passed to it.

The Gregorian Reform: the primacy of Rome over the other Churches

The centralization of the Church in Rome implied developing the precepts of the Reformation: unifying criteria with the different territorial Churches. In 1054, the patriarch of Constantinople, Michael I Cerularius, had led a movement to dissociate himself from Rome: the Church of Rome had broken with that of Constantinople.

The East-West Schism, which gave rise to the Eastern Orthodox Church, was the first great rupture in Christianity. The reason was caused by a question of hierarchy. Byzantium did not accept the supremacy of Rome.

Rome’s aim was bind and control all the territorial Churches. It was about unifying all of them. It was necessary to merge the organization of the masses, prayers, sacraments, devotions… Rome was also actually interested in obtaining the economic support of the Catholic Church. The fixed contributions had to be assured: tithes, first fruits… It was a complicated matter, since the enrichment of the institution was always associated with a relaxation of moral principles.

While the Reformation was going on, movements critical of the Church arose, which wanted to return to the origins. They criticized the wealth and hierarchy of the Church. The Church of Rome reacted by emptying these movements of content and attracting them. And if they couldn’t, they made them heretical and persecuted them. At the First Council of the Lateran, the Ecclesiastical Tribunal of the Holy Inquisition was established to persecute heresy. The Church, in this period, had as its main enemy the Cathars.

Accepted reform movements: The Order of Cistercians, born in the Cîteaux Abbey, and the Mendicant orders, centred in the cities (specialized in the exchange of gifts) were two of the critical movements within the Church that were accepted.

The unaccepted (heretical) movements were:

The expansion of Feudal order by conquest: the Crusades and their effects

The Crusader movement occurred in the central years of the Middle Ages (1095-1291). Nevertheless, before 1095 some expeditions in the form of a crusade had already taken place. The Crusades were interventions of the Christian armies on the Holy Land.

What did define the word Crusade? The appearance of the “milites Christi” (soldiers of Christ). These soldiers of Christ did not begin to be used until well into the 12th century, when the initial spirit of the Crusade had begun to wane.

What did the Crusades used to be?

The Crusades were military expeditions led by the European feudal nobility, inspired and promoted by the Church (specifically the Papacy) with the aim of conquering Muslim territories, preferably the Holy Land, although other objectives were not excluded, for example North Africa: Egypt, Tunisia and the territory of the Iberian Peninsula of al-Andalus.

Sometimes the Crusades had other objectives, such as Byzantium, the Cathars of Occitania, and also the expeditions of the German Empire in Slavic lands. In the 15th century, the German Empire’s expeditions against the Hussites took the form of a crusade.

Two dimensions of the Crusades must be considered:

  1. The Church as the instigator of the movement, through preaching. The papal bull, as its most important element. Then through the sermons of the priests… Extension of spiritual benefits: everyone who participated in the crusade came under the protection of the Church.
  2. And the nobility as the executing arm of the crusade. The ecumenical character of Christianity as a whole stands out. They are not troops belonging to one territory but from all over: they are the soldiers of Christ.
Caída de acre, 1189-1191
Fall of Acre, 1189-1191, during the Third Crusade in the Holy Land

What were the reasons for the Crusades?

Or rather, what were the excuses to justify it? On the one hand, the demographic causes. There was talk of a supposed demographic saturation of Central Europe. But this justification does not hold up. There was no demographic surplus. Another justification was the fight against Muslim piracy (here piracy is confused with commercial interests). Until the 11th century there was an absolute hegemony of Muslim trade.

Finally, there was the spiritual reason (the difficulties that the Muslim authorities put in the way of Christian pilgrims who wanted to reach the Holy Land). In general, these pilgrimages were not hindered. There was no adverse policy towards pilgrimage.

These were not convincing causes for initiating a crusade movement. In fact, the crusade had to be seen as a liberation. The preaching of the Crusade carried great popular devotion. In the years 1212-1213 there was a crusade with children. Crusades were manifestations of the Church’s power and control of society.

Among the authentic reasons for the Crusades, there was a synthesis of the interests of the Church and the nobility. From the beginning, the role of the Church was actually important. The Crusade was set in the context of the new spirituality of the Gregorian Reform. It was an alternative to the Peace and Truce of God insofar as it prohibited fighting among Christians. The crusade channelled the impulse for war outwards.

From the prohibition of violence by the nobility against farmers and members of the Church, where was violence to be projected? Outwards. Warrior activity became a spiritual cause. It became sacred.

There was even a symbolism of its own, which reflected this spirit: to turn the cross into the sword. And the other symbol, the ceremony of arming the knight, which consisted of an act of oath where the warrior had to make the candle of arms for a night as to become a knight. It was a kind of priestly ordination ceremony. Chivalry became a sacred order.

During this period, military orders were formed: warrior monks who had their origin in the Holy Land. With a double function: religious and military orders. They stand out:

These military orders had to be financed. They sent the monks to Europe and proselytized. They created an “encomienda,” a request to receive goods. The whole of Christian Europe was being filled with military orders that originated in the Holy Land. At the end of the 13th century, they disappeared. The Templars were eliminated. The patrimonial goods passed to the order of the Hospitals.

How did the Christians act in the Crusades?

Once the territory was conquered, wherever there was a Muslim population, it became Mudéjar.” Certain prerogatives were respected. They could maintain the cults in some limited way, always subordinated to the Feudal Christian power. Little by little, all the patterns of Muslim society were being lost. There came a time when the Mudéjares became Moriscos (baptized Mudéjares). They were finally expelled, during the reign of Philip III (the expulsion of the Moriscos took place between 1609 and 1613).

The local aristocracy was the executing arm of the Crusades. As the Crusades became more widespread and the participation of the local aristocracy was massive, the first expansion of Europe took place.

It was the first great experience of outward expansion and the first precedent of European hegemony in the world.

What was driving this expansion? At a certain point, a kind of blockade of the Feudal order took place, produced by the increasing of the aristocracy’s troops, and the impossibility of obtaining more revenue (it had reached the ceiling). The monarchies used to reward the services of the people below. On the other hand, there were the laws of primogeniture. The estate was reserved only for the first child.

The sole way to make patrimony was to conquer it, wherever it went. There was the aristocratic diaspora. The process of conquest was the only real alternative that allowed them to obtain heritage. It was a matter of seeking resources.

The Crusades were conceived as a process of unblocking the feudal order, when in the interior it was no longer possible to obtain more feudal income. The only alternative to obtain patrimony was none other than to obtain territories outside: conquest. And it was done in a joint struggle of the armies of Christendom.

The participation of the aristocracy in the Crusades was part of the “aristocratic diaspora.” The Crusades regenerated the Feudal order. As territories were conquered, that order was reproduced.

Apart from regenerating the system, the Crusades rejuvenated the group that played a leading role in this action. They were the instrument that allowed the system to be unblocked, which would surely have led to internal conflicts for the capture of income. The Crusades were a synthesis of interests: of the Church and of the aristocracy.

Mercantile interests in the Crusades

The urban bourgeoisie had many interests in the development of the crusades. Historically, the established trade routes with the East allowed luxury products to be brought into Europe. But the spread of Islam meant that these trade routes were controlled by the Muslims.

The interest of the European bourgeoisie was to take over the Mediterranean routes to deal with this commercial activity themselves. They wanted to be in charge of trading in oriental luxury products such as silk, spices, etc. The intention was to take over this trade.

The urban bourgeoisie intervened in the crusades by providing material means: ships, boats and other elements to facilitate the transport of the crusaders. They also helped to recruit people to join the army and finally they also helped by making financial contributions. Genoa played a key role in the First Crusade and Venice in the Fourth.

The emerging Feudal Monarchies also played an important role in the Crusades. What were the interests of these Feudal Monarchies? The fact that it was a king who led fighters to the Crusade was of extreme relevance. Taking part in the Crusade meant consolidating his position. But it also brought material benefits in the form of new lands, income… From the Second Crusade onwards, it was the monarchies that carried the weight of the organization.

It has been shown that military intervention failed. The eventual goal of conquering territory were not those desired all over. The Holy Land was the only place that was not colonized by Christianity. There was no continuous movement of settlers. So, the local crop cycle, society, could not be altered. There was no substitution of population.

Did the Crusades benefit the peasant population?

Excepting the case of the Holy Land, we must ask ourselves to what extent the peasantry’s situation could be improved by the Crusades. We are aware that there were incentives to colonize new lands. People were unlikely to leave their place of residence, unless it offered them prospects for a better life. The feudal lords offered advantages in the form of land and tax benefits to all those who were going to colonize the conquered lands.

Did the farmers’ situation improve for those who remained on their territory? The feudal lords had to ease the pressure on the farmers to keep them from leaving.

There are two types of documents that describe the situation:

Yet, in general, the benefits that the peasants could obtain were rather limited. On the contrary, we understand that many feudal lords imposed harsher conditions on their servants to prevent them from leaving their land. In the list of “bad uses” was now added the right to mistreatment. The Catalan remença made it possible to prevent the escape of the peasants to the newly conquered areas.

The military deployment of the Crusader was extremely spectacular. The process began with preaching. These sermons awakened an impressive popular fervour. It was especially evident at the beginning. This fervour led to situations of extraordinary fanaticism: a significant number of anti-Semitic outbreaks occurred, especially in Germany.

How could the troops be maintained during the development? Wherever the troops roamed, there was actual destruction. They were living on the ground, day by day. Central role of Byzantium in the Crusades. Constantinople was responsible for the reception of the troops, their maintenance and transport.

Geopolitical context for the 1st Crusade

In the mid-11th century the Byzantine Empire was under a double pressure: the Normans who had settled in southern Italy and, secondly, the Turks of the Seljuk Empire, who were progressively conquering territories.

Around 1060, the Turks occupied Armenia. From here they began to penetrate Asia Minor. In 1071, the Turks and Byzantines clashed in the Battle of Manzikert. The Turks defeated the Byzantines. The first settlements in Asia Minor were beginning to be formalized. In 1078, the Sultanate of Rum was formed. Rüm was the name the Muslims gave to the Christians. From this initial nucleus, the whole region was occupied, heading towards Asia Minor, as well as towards Syria and Jerusalem.

It was in this context that the Emperor of Byzantium, Alexios I, decided to ask the West for help. This was the pretext for a military intervention to reintegrate the Orthodox Church into the Roman one. The idea from the West was to defend the Christians in the Holy Land and to liberate the Holy Sepulchre. In 1095, the First Crusade was preached, by Urban II. The military machine was set in motion.

First crusade (1095 – 1099)

Mapa de la primera cruzada
Map of the 1st Crusade

During the First Crusade, it was not the kings who participated, instead the feudal lords. Pure essence of the Crusade. Warriors from all over Feudal Europe took part:

In the First Crusade, the spirit of papal preaching, ecumenism, reigned supreme. The feudal lords threw themselves into the Crusade and when they arrived in Constantinople, in 1096, Emperor Alexios I managed to get each of the military leaders to swear allegiance to him, except for Bohemond.

Alexios I obtained the commitment to return the conquered territories, in exchange for the transportation of the troops and the maintenance (feeding), the quartermaster. The commitment to return territories was not fulfilled except for the city of Nicaea.

In 1099, Jerusalem was taken, with impressive plundering. The different Feudal Christian states were constituted:

They established two marking zones: the Mark of Armenia and the Lord of Transjordan.

Mapa de los Estados cruzados
Map of the Crusader States. Source:

The First Crusade represented the first intrusion into Muslim territories, attacking right in the heart of the Islamic world. From this point on, a very narrow strip of territory was occupied. It did not go beyond the mountains. Damascus was never conquered. This space was divided into four Christian states and two defensive marks.

It was characterized by its instability and the disagreements between the Christian princes. There was no transfer of Christian settlers to these lands. Christian rule in the Holy Land was a political domain: subjugation of the Muslim people already existing there, without transforming the productive and social patterns that existed before.

The crusader domination was limited to being a political domination, but without producing a break with the previous society. It is easy to understand that the neighbouring Muslims tried to reconquer territories. In 1146, the reconquest of the territories of the County of Edessa took place, giving rise to the Second Crusade. Pope Eugene III issued the papal bull of the crusade in 1148. There was a novelty: for the first time there was the intervention of the European Feudal Monarchs. It proved to be a failure.

Second Crusade (1147 – 1149)

Mapa segunda Cruzada
Map of the Second Crusade

Crusader detachments in al-Andalus: Lisbon, Faro, Almeria, Tortosa. Several crusaders decided to stay on the Peninsula, in Tortosa. The two kings then tried to rebuild alliances and attack Damascus, though they failed. Nothing was achieved in the two years that followed. With the failure of the Second Crusade, in 1187 it was decided to conquer Jerusalem. But it fell under Muslim rule again, giving rise to the Third Crusade, preached by Clement III. Conrad of Montferrat was the first person to give support. He organized the defence of Tyre (Lebanon).

Third Crusade (1189 – 1192)

Mapa tercera cruzada
Map of the Third Crusade

The kings participating are: Richard the Lionheart (England), Frederick Barbarossa (Germany) and Philip Augustus (France). There were disputes over direction the Crusade should take. Frederick Barbarossa died on June 10, 1190, drowned in the Saleph River (in present-day Turkey). He was succeeded by Henry VI. Richard the Lionheart conquered St. John of Acre and obtained permission for pilgrims to journey to Jerusalem. As the maximum pressure of the Muslim power came from Egypt, the Pope preached to carry out a new crusade: the Fourth Crusade.

Fourth crusade (1202 – 1204)

Mapa cuarta cruzada
Map of the Fourth Crusade

A fundamental role of the city of Venice. In exchange for occupying a number of cities on the Adriatic coast such as Zara and Split, Venice gave up its ships to transport the army and all the logistics involved. The Crusade was diverted. Instead of going to Egypt, it ended up in Byzantium. Historiography is still unclear as to why. Hypothesis: religious interests of Rome to reintegrate Byzantium under Roman hierarchy.

Venice’s commercial interest was to monopolize trade. An earlier violent dynastic change caused the defeated dynasty to collaborate with the Crusaders.

In 1204, the city of Constantinople fell to the Crusaders after an indiscriminate sacking. Formation of the Latin Empire of Constantinople, installed for almost 60 years (1204-1261). In 1261, Michael VIII Palaiologos recovered Constantinople and managed to restore the Byzantine Empire.

In 1244, the Crusaders conquered Jerusalem again, giving rise to the 6th Crusade.

In 1260, the Muslims recovered Jerusalem. In the end the Crusaders failed. The territorial occupation by the 1st Crusade was not consolidated.

In 1291, the last Christian stronghold was lost. The benefits of the Crusades for Christian Europe were the control of the sea. It meant the first break in Muslim hegemony. From that moment the Mediterranean Sea became feudal, Christian.

All articles of the course: Medieval History in Europe

The crisis of the 3rd century and the collapse of the Roman EmpireThe conversion of Constantine, the Christian EmpireAfter the Roman Empire: the Barbarian KingdomsExpansion of Islam in the Mediterranean (8th — 10th centuries)Peasants, agriculture and food before the Feudal RevolutionCharlemagne, Emperor. The Kingdom of the Franks (481-987)The origins of the new Feudal systemChristianity, a universal institution for the feudal orderThe origin of the Feudal MonarchiesMedieval cities under feudalism and commercial expansionThe Question of Medieval Growth (11th — 13th century)The crisis of the Late Middle AgesThe Hundred Years' War (1337 – 1453)Economic and social effects of the crisis of the Late Middle AgesPeasant revolts and urban conflicts in the Late Middle AgesThe Western Schism (1378-1417)

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