The Third Crusade, known as The Kings Crusade, was an attempt by European leaders to reconquer the Holy Land from Saladin. After the failure of the Second Crusade, the Zengid dynasty controlled a unified Syria, the Egyptian and Syrian forces were ultimately unified under Saladin, who employed them to reduce the Christian states and recapture Jerusalem in 1187. Spurred by religious zeal, King Henry II of England and King Philip II of France ended their conflict with other to lead a new crusade. The death of Henry in 1189, meant the English contingent came under the command of his successor and his death caused tremendous grief among the German Crusaders, and most of his troops returned home. After the Crusaders had driven the Muslims from Acre, Philip in company with Fredericks successor, Leopold V, Duke of Austria, on 2 September 1192, Richard and Saladin finalized a treaty granting Muslim control over Jerusalem but allowing unarmed Christian pilgrims and merchants to visit the city. Richard departed the Holy Land on 2 October, the successes of the Third Crusade allowed the Crusaders to maintain considerable states in Cyprus and on the Syrian coast.
However, the failure to recapture Jerusalem would lead to the Fourth Crusade, after the failure of the Second Crusade, Nur ad-Din Zangi had control of Damascus and a unified Syria. Eager to expand his power, Nur ad-Din set his sights on the Fatimid dynasty of Egypt, in 1163, Nur ad-Din sent his most trusted general, Shirkuh, on a military expedition to the Nile. Accompanying the general was his nephew, Saladin. With Shirkuhs troops camped outside of Cairo, Egypts sultan Shawar called on King Amalric I of Jerusalem for assistance, in response, Amalric sent an army into Egypt and attacked Shirkuhs troops at Bilbeis in 1164. Nur ad-Din sent the scalps of the Christian defenders to Egypt for Shirkuh to proudly display at Bilbeis for Amalrics soldiers to see and this action prompted both Amalric and Shirkuh to lead their armies out of Egypt. In 1167, Nur ad-Din again sent Shirkuh to conquer the Fatimids in Egypt, Shawar again opted to call upon Amalric to defend his territory. The combined Egyptian-Christian forces pursued Shirkuh until he retreated to Alexandria, Amalric breached his alliance with Shawar by turning his forces on Egypt and besieging the city of Bilbeis.
Shawar pleaded with his enemy, Nur ad-Din, to save him from Amalrics treachery. Lacking the resources to maintain a siege of Cairo against the combined forces of Nur ad-Din and Shawar. This new alliance gave Nur ad-Din rule over all of Syria. Shawar was executed for his alliances with the Christian forces, in 1169, Shirkuh died unexpectedly after only weeks of rule. Shirkuhs successor was his nephew, Salah ad-Din Yusuf, commonly known as Saladin, Nur ad-Din died in 1174, leaving the new empire to his 11-year-old son, As-Salih
The First Crusade was the first of a number of crusades that attempted to capture the Holy Land, called by Pope Urban II in 1095. An additional goal became the principal objective—the Christian reconquest of the sacred city of Jerusalem and the Holy Land. During the crusades, knights and serfs from many regions of Western Europe travelled over land and by sea, first to Constantinople and on towards Jerusalem. The Crusaders arrived at Jerusalem, launched an assault on the city and they established the crusader states of the Kingdom of Jerusalem, the County of Tripoli, the Principality of Antioch, and the County of Edessa. The First Crusade was followed by the Second to the Ninth Crusades and it was the first major step towards reopening international trade in the West since the fall of the Western Roman Empire. The majority view is that it had elements of both in its nature, the origin of the Crusades in general, and particularly that of the First Crusade, is widely debated among historians.
The confusion is due to the numerous armies in the first crusade. The similar ideologies held the armies to similar goals, but the connections were rarely strong, the Umayyad Caliphate had conquered Syria and North Africa from the predominantly Christian Byzantine Empire, and Hispania from the Visigothic Kingdom. In North Africa, the Umayyad empire eventually collapsed and a number of smaller Muslim kingdoms emerged, such as the Aghlabids, who attacked Italy in the 9th century. Pisa and the Principality of Catalonia began to battle various Muslim kingdoms for control of the Mediterranean Basin, exemplified by the Mahdia campaign and battles at Majorca and Sardinia. Essentially, between the years 1096 and 1101 the Byzantine Greeks experienced the crusade as it arrived at Constantinople in three separate waves, in the early summer of 1096, the first large unruly group arrived on the outskirts of Constantinople. This wave was reported to be undisciplined and ill-equipped as an army and this first group is often called the Peasants’ or People’s Crusade.
It was led by Peter the Hermit and Walter Sans Avoir and had no knowledge of or respect for the wishes of Byzantine Emperor Alexios I Komnenos. The second wave was not under the command of the Emperor and was made up of a number of armies with their own commanders. Together, this group and the first wave numbered an estimated 60,000, the second wave was led by Hugh I, Count of Vermandois, the brother of King Philip I of France. Also among the wave were Raymond IV, Count of Toulouse. It was this wave of crusaders which passed through Asia Minor, captured Antioch in 1098 and finally took Jerusalem 15 July 1099. ”The third wave, composed of contingents from Lombardy, France. At the western edge of Europe and of Islamic expansion, the Reconquista in the Iberian Peninsula was well underway by the 11th century and it was intermittently ideological, as evidenced by the Codex Vigilanus compiled in 881
The lands on the eastern shores of the Baltic Sea were the last corners of Europe to be Christianized. After the success of the crusade, the German- and Danish-occupied territory was divided into six feudal principalities by William of Modena, Christianity had come to Latvia with the settlement of Grobiņa by Swedes in the 7th century and the Danes in the 11th. By the time German traders began to arrive in the half of the 12th century to trade along the ancient trade route from the Varangians to the Greeks. Saint Meinhard of Segeberg arrived in Ikšķile in 1184 with the mission of converting the pagan Livonians, in those days the riverside town was the center of the upcoming missionary activities in the Livonian area. The first prominent Livonian to be converted was their leader Caupo of Turaida, Pope Celestine III had called for a crusade against pagans in Northern Europe in 1193. When peaceful means of conversion failed to produce results, the impatient Meinhard plotted to convert Livonians forcibly and he died in 1196, having failed in his mission.
His appointed replacement, bishop Berthold of Hanover, a Cistercian abbot of Loccum arrived with a contingent of crusaders in 1198. Shortly afterward, while riding ahead of his troops in battle, Berthold was surrounded and killed, to avenge Bertholds defeat, Pope Innocent III issued a bull declaring a crusade against the Livonians. Albrecht von Buxthoeven, consecrated as bishop in 1199, arrived the year with a large force. In 1202 he formed the Livonian Brothers of the Sword to aid in the conversion of the pagans to Christianity and, more importantly, to protect German trade, as the German grip tightened, the Livonians and their christened chief rebelled against the crusaders. Caupos forces were defeated at Turaida in 1206, and the Livonians were declared to be converted, Caupo subsequently remained an ally of the crusaders until his death in the Battle of St. Matthews Day in 1217. By 1208 the important Daugava trading posts of Salaspils, Koknese, in 1209 Albert, leading the forces of the Order, captured the capital of the Latgalian Principality of Jersika, and took the wife of the ruler Visvaldis captive.
Visvaldis was forced to submit his kingdom to Albert as a grant to the Archbishopric of Riga, and received back a portion of it as a fief. Tālava, weakened in wars with Estonians and Russians, became a state of the Archbishopric of Riga in 1214. With the help of the newly converted local tribes of Livs and Latgalians, the Estonian tribes fiercely resisted the attacks from Riga and occasionally sacked territories controlled by the crusaders. Hill forts, which were the key centers of Estonian counties, were besieged, captured, a truce between the war-weary sides was established for three years. It proved generally more favourable to the Germans, who consolidated their political position and they were led by Lembitu of Lehola, the elder of Sackalia, who by 1211 had come to the attention of German chroniclers as the central figure of the Estonian resistance. The Livonian leader Caupo was killed in the Battle of St. Matthews Day near Viljandi on September 21,1217, but Lembitu was killed, the Christian kingdoms of Denmark and Sweden were eager for expansion on the eastern shores of the Baltic
Boniface I, Marquess of Montferrat
Boniface I, usually known as Boniface of Montferrat, was Marquess of Montferrat, the leader of the Fourth Crusade and the King of Thessalonica. Boniface was the son of William V of Montferrat and Judith of Babenberg. He was a brother of William Longsword, Count of Jaffa and Ascalon. His youthful exploits in the late 1170s are recalled in the famous letter, Valen marques, senher de Monferrat, by his good friend and court troubadour. These included the rescue of the heiress Jacopina of Ventimiglia from her uncle Count Otto, Boniface arranged a marriage for her. When Albert of Malaspina abducted Saldina de Mar, a daughter of a prominent Genoese family, Boniface rescued her and restored her to her lover, Ponset dAguilar. Like the rest of the family, he supported his cousin Frederick I Barbarossa in their wars against the independent city communes of the Lombard League. Bonifaces eldest brother, had died in 1177, soon after marrying Sibylla, in 1179, the Byzantine emperor Manuel I Comnenus offered his daughter Maria Porphyrogenita as a bride to one of the sons of William V.
In 1183, Bonifaces nephew Baldwin V was crowned co-king of Jerusalem, William V went out to the Latin Kingdom to support his grandson, leaving Conrad and Boniface in charge of Montferrat. In 1189, Boniface joined the council of regency for Thomas I of Savoy, son of his cousin Humbert III, in 1191, after the new Emperor Henry VI granted him the county of Incisa, a fifteen-year war broke out against the neighbouring communes of Asti and Alessandria. Boniface joined the Cremona League, while the two joined the League of Milan. Boniface defeated the cities at Montiglio in June that year, at Quarto, he and Vaqueiras saved his brother-in-law Alberto of Malaspina when he was unhorsed. The first phase of the war ended with a truce in April 1193, by now, Boniface was Marquess of Montferrat, following the deaths of his father in 1191 and of Conrad, the newly elected King of Jerusalem, in 1192. In June 1194, Boniface was appointed one of the leaders of Henry VIs expedition to Sicily, in October 1197, the truce with Asti ended.
Boniface made an alliance with Acqui in June 1198, there were numerous skirmishes and raids, including at Ricaldone and Caranzano, but by 1199 it was clear the war was lost, and Boniface entered into negotiations. Throughout the 1180s and 1190s, despite the wars, Boniface had nevertheless presided over one of the most prestigious courts of chivalric culture, in the 12th century, the Piedmontese language was virtually indistinguishable from the Occitan of Southern France and Catalonia. Besides Vaqueiras, visitors included Peire Vidal, Gaucelm Faidit, to Gaucelm, he was Mon Thesaur. Curiously, Vaqueiras sometimes addressed him as NEngles, but the in-joke is never explained and his sister Azalaïs, Marchioness of Saluzzo, shared this interest and was mentioned by Vidal
It survived the fragmentation and fall of the Western Roman Empire in the 5th century AD and continued to exist for an additional thousand years until it fell to the Ottoman Turks in 1453. During most of its existence, the empire was the most powerful economic, several signal events from the 4th to 6th centuries mark the period of transition during which the Roman Empires Greek East and Latin West divided. Constantine I reorganised the empire, made Constantinople the new capital, under Theodosius I, Christianity became the Empires official state religion and other religious practices were proscribed. Finally, under the reign of Heraclius, the Empires military, the borders of the Empire evolved significantly over its existence, as it went through several cycles of decline and recovery. During the reign of Maurice, the Empires eastern frontier was expanded, in a matter of years the Empire lost its richest provinces and Syria, to the Arabs. This battle opened the way for the Turks to settle in Anatolia, the Empire recovered again during the Komnenian restoration, such that by the 12th century Constantinople was the largest and wealthiest European city.
Despite the eventual recovery of Constantinople in 1261, the Byzantine Empire remained only one of several small states in the area for the final two centuries of its existence. Its remaining territories were annexed by the Ottomans over the 15th century. The Fall of Constantinople to the Ottoman Empire in 1453 finally ended the Byzantine Empire, the term comes from Byzantium, the name of the city of Constantinople before it became Constantines capital. This older name of the city would rarely be used from this point onward except in historical or poetic contexts. The publication in 1648 of the Byzantine du Louvre, and in 1680 of Du Canges Historia Byzantina further popularised the use of Byzantine among French authors, however, it was not until the mid-19th century that the term came into general use in the Western world. The Byzantine Empire was known to its inhabitants as the Roman Empire, the Empire of the Romans, the Roman Republic, and as Rhōmais. The inhabitants called themselves Romaioi and Graikoi, and even as late as the 19th century Greeks typically referred to modern Greek as Romaika and Graikika.
The authority of the Byzantine emperor as the legitimate Roman emperor was challenged by the coronation of Charlemagne as Imperator Augustus by Pope Leo III in the year 800. No such distinction existed in the Islamic and Slavic worlds, where the Empire was more seen as the continuation of the Roman Empire. In the Islamic world, the Roman Empire was known primarily as Rûm, the Roman army succeeded in conquering many territories covering the entire Mediterranean region and coastal regions in southwestern Europe and north Africa. These territories were home to different cultural groups, both urban populations and rural populations. The West suffered heavily from the instability of the 3rd century AD
Constantinople was the capital city of the Roman/Byzantine Empire, and of the brief Latin, and the Ottoman empires. It was reinaugurated in 324 AD from ancient Byzantium as the new capital of the Roman Empire by Emperor Constantine the Great, after whom it was named, Constantinople was famed for its massive and complex defences. The first wall of the city was erected by Constantine I, Constantinople never truly recovered from the devastation of the Fourth Crusade and the decades of misrule by the Latins. The origins of the name of Byzantion, more known by the Latin Byzantium, are not entirely clear. The founding myth of the city has it told that the settlement was named after the leader of the Megarian colonists, Byzas. The Byzantines of Constantinople themselves would maintain that the city was named in honour of two men and Antes, though this was likely just a play on the word Byzantion. During this time, the city was called Second Rome, Eastern Rome, and Roma Constantinopolitana. As the city became the remaining capital of the Roman Empire after the fall of the West, and its wealth and influence grew.
In the language of other peoples, Constantinople was referred to just as reverently, the medieval Vikings, who had contacts with the empire through their expansion in eastern Europe used the Old Norse name Miklagarðr, and Miklagard and Miklagarth. In Arabic, the city was sometimes called Rūmiyyat al-kubra and in Persian as Takht-e Rum, in East and South Slavic languages, including in medieval Russia, Constantinople was referred to as Tsargrad or Carigrad, City of the Caesar, from the Slavonic words tsar and grad. This was presumably a calque on a Greek phrase such as Βασιλέως Πόλις, the modern Turkish name for the city, İstanbul, derives from the Greek phrase eis tin polin, meaning into the city or to the city. In 1928, the Turkish alphabet was changed from Arabic script to Latin script, in time the city came to be known as Istanbul and its variations in most world languages. In Greece today, the city is still called Konstantinoúpolis/Konstantinoúpoli or simply just the City, apart from this, little is known about this initial settlement, except that it was abandoned by the time the Megarian colonists settled the site anew.
A farsighted treaty with the emergent power of Rome in c.150 BC which stipulated tribute in exchange for independent status allowed it to enter Roman rule unscathed. The site lay astride the land route from Europe to Asia and the seaway from the Black Sea to the Mediterranean, and had in the Golden Horn an excellent and spacious harbour. He would rebuild Byzantium towards the end of his reign, in which it would be briefly renamed Augusta Antonina, fortifying it with a new city wall in his name, Constantine had altogether more colourful plans. Rome was too far from the frontiers, and hence from the armies and the imperial courts, yet it had been the capital of the state for over a thousand years, and it might have seemed unthinkable to suggest that the capital be moved to a different location. Constantinople was built over 6 years, and consecrated on 11 May 330, Constantine divided the expanded city, like Rome, into 14 regions, and ornamented it with public works worthy of an imperial metropolis
The First Crusade arose after a call to arms in a 1095 sermon by Pope Urban II. Urban urged military support for the Byzantine Empire and its Emperor, Alexios I, the response to Urbans preaching by people of many different classes across Western Europe established the precedent for Crusades. Volunteers became Crusaders by taking a vow and receiving plenary indulgences from the church. Some were hoping for apotheosis at Jerusalem, or forgiveness from God for all their sins, others participated to satisfy feudal obligations, gain glory and honour, or find opportunities for economic and political gain. Many modern Historians have polarised opinions of the Crusaders behaviour under Papal sanction, to some it was incongruous with the stated aims and implied moral authority of the papacy and the Crusades, to the extent that on occasions that the Pope excommunicated Crusaders. Crusaders often pillaged as they travelled, while their leaders retained control of captured territory rather than returning it to the Byzantines.
During the Peoples Crusade thousands of Jews were murdered in what is now called the Rhineland massacres, Constantinople was sacked during the Fourth Crusade rendering the reunification of Christendom impossible. These tales consequently galvanised medieval romance and literature, but the Crusades reinforced the connection between Western Christendom and militarism. Crusade is not a term, instead the terms iter for journey or peregrinatio for pilgrimage were used. Not until the word crucesignatus for one who was signed with the cross was adopted at the close of the century was specific terminology developed. The Middle English equivalents were derived from old French, croiserie in the 13th–15th centuries, croisade appeared in English c1575, and continued to be the leading form till c1760. By convention historians adopt the term for the Christian holy wars from 1095, the Crusades in the Holy Land are traditionally counted as nine distinct campaigns, numbered from the First Crusade of 1095–99 to the Ninth Crusade of 1271/2.
Usage of the term Crusade may differ depending on the author, pluralists use the term Crusade of any campaign explicitly sanctioned by the reigning Pope. This reflects the view of the Roman Catholic Church that every military campaign given Papal sanction is equally valid as a Crusade, regardless of its cause, generalists see Crusades as any and all holy wars connected with the Latin Church and fought in defence of their faith. Popularists limit the Crusades to only those that were characterised by popular groundswells of religious fervour – that is, only the First Crusade, Medieval Muslim historiographers such as Ali ibn al-Athir refer to the Crusades as the Frankish Wars. The term used in modern Arabic, ḥamalāt ṣalībiyya حملات صليبية, campaigns of the cross, is a loan translation of the term Crusade as used in Western historiography. The Islamic prophet Muhammad founded Islam in the Arabian Peninsula, the resulting unified polity in the seventh and eighth centuries led to a rapid expansion of Arab power.
This influence stretched from the northwest Indian subcontinent, across Central Asia, the Middle East, North Africa, southern Italy, tolerance and political relationships between the Arabs and the Christian states of Europe waxed and waned
The Fifth Crusade was an attempt by Western Europeans to reacquire Jerusalem and the rest of the Holy Land by first conquering the powerful Ayyubid state in Egypt. Later in 1218, a German army led by Oliver of Cologne, in order to attack Damietta in Egypt, they allied in Anatolia with the Seljuk Sultanate of Rûm which attacked the Ayyubids in Syria in an attempt to free the Crusaders from fighting on two fronts. After occupying the port of Damietta, the Crusaders marched south towards Cairo in July 1221, a nighttime attack by Sultan Al-Kamil resulted in a great number of crusader losses, and eventually in the surrender of the army. Al-Kamil agreed to a peace agreement with Europe. Pope Innocent III had already planned since 1208 a crusade to recapture Jerusalem, in April 1213 he issued the papal bull Quia maior, calling all of Christendom to join a new crusade. This was followed by another bull, the Ad Liberandam in 1215. Pope Innocent wanted it to be led by the papacy, as the First Crusade should have been, to avoid the mistakes of the Fourth Crusade, which had been taken over by the Venetians.
Pope Innocent planned for the crusaders to meet at Brindisi in 1216, every crusader would receive an indulgence, including those who simply helped pay the expenses of a crusader, but did not go on crusade themselves. Oliver of Cologne had preached the crusade in Germany, and Emperor Frederick II attempted to join in 1215, Frederick was the last monarch Innocent wanted to join, as he had challenged the Papacy. Innocent died in 1216 and was succeeded by Pope Honorius III, who barred Frederick from participating, Andrew had the largest royal army in the history of the crusades. The first to take up the cross in the Fifth Crusade was King Andrew II of Hungary and his troops embarked on 23 August 1217, in Split. They were transported by the Venetian fleet, which was the largest European fleet in the era, until his return to Hungary, king Andrew remained the leader of Christian forces in the Fifth Crusade. In Jerusalem, the walls and fortifications were demolished to prevent the Christians from being able to defend the city, if they did manage to reach it, Muslims fled the city, afraid that there would be a repeat of the bloodbath of the First Crusade in 1099.
King Andrews well-mounted army defeated sultan Al-Adil I at Bethsaida on the Jordan River on 10 November 1217, muslim forces retreated in their fortresses and towns. The crusaders catapults and trebuchets did not arrive in time, so they had fruitless assaults on the fortresses of the Lebanon and on Mount Tabor, Andrew spent his time collecting alleged relics. At the beginning of 1218 Andrew, who was very sick and his army departed to Hungary in February 1218, and Bohemund and Hugh returned home. Later in 1218 Oliver of Cologne arrived with a new German army, with Leopold and John they discussed attacking Damietta in Egypt. To accomplish this, they allied with Keykavus I, the leader in Anatolia, in July 1218 the crusaders began their siege of Damietta, and despite resistance from the unprepared sultan Al-Adil, the tower outside the city was taken on August 25
The Seventh Crusade was a crusade led by Louis IX of France from 1248 to 1254. Approximately 800,000 bezants were paid in ransom for his return, in 1244, the Khwarezmians, recently displaced by the advance of the Mongols, took Jerusalem on their way to ally with the Egyptian Mamluks. This time, despite calls from the Pope, there was no popular enthusiasm for a new crusade, there were many conflicts within Europe that kept its leaders from embarking on the Crusade. Pope Innocent IV and Frederick II, Holy Roman Emperor continued the papal-imperial struggle, Frederick had captured and imprisoned clerics on their way to the First Council of Lyon, and in 1245 he was formally deposed by Innocent IV. Pope Gregory IX had earlier offered King Louis brother, count Robert of Artois, the German throne, the Holy Roman Emperor was in no position to crusade. Béla IV of Hungary was rebuilding his kingdom from the ashes after the devastating Mongol invasion of 1241, Henry III of England was still struggling with Simon de Montfort and other problems in England.
Louis IX had invited King Haakon IV of Norway to crusade, sending the English chronicler Matthew Paris as an ambassador, the only man interested in beginning another crusade therefore was Louis IX, who declared his intent to go East in 1245. France was perhaps one of the strongest states in Europe at the time, poitou was ruled by Louis IXs brother Alphonse of Poitiers, who joined him on his crusade in 1245. Another brother, Charles I of Anjou, joined Louis, Louis IXs financial preparations for this expedition were comparatively well organized, and he was able to raise approximately 1,500,000 livres tournois. However, many nobles who joined Louis on the expedition had to borrow money from the treasury. Nonetheless, Egypt was the object of his crusade, and he landed in 1249 at Damietta on the Nile, Egypt would, Louis thought, provide a base from which to attack Jerusalem, and its wealth and supply of grain would keep the crusaders fed and equipped. On 6 June Damietta was taken with little resistance from the Egyptians, who withdrew further up the Nile.
The flooding of the Nile had not been taken into account, and it soon grounded Louis and his army at Damietta for six months, where the knights sat back and enjoyed the spoils of war. A force led by Robert of Artois and the Templars attacked the Egyptian camp at Gideila and advanced to Al Mansurah where they were defeated at the Battle of Al Mansurah, and Robert was killed. Meanwhile, Louis main force was attacked by the Mameluk Baibars, the commander of the army and a future sultan himself. Louis was defeated as well, but he did not withdraw to Damietta for months, preferring to besiege Mansourah, which ended in starvation and death for the crusaders rather than the Muslims. In showing utter agony, a Templar knight lamented, In March 1250 Louis finally tried to return to Damietta, Louis fell ill with dysentery, and was cured by an Arab physician. In May he was ransomed for 800,000 bezants, half of which was to be paid before the King left Egypt, upon this, he immediately left Egypt for Acre, one of few remaining crusader possessions in Syria
The Albigensian Crusade or Cathar Crusade was a 20-year military campaign initiated by Pope Innocent III to eliminate Catharism in Languedoc, in the south of France. The reforms were a reaction against the scandalous and dissolute lifestyles of the Catholic clergy in southern France. They became known as the Albigensians, because there were many adherents in the city of Albi, Innocent IIIs diplomatic attempts to roll back Catharism met with little success. After the murder of his legate, Pierre de Castelnau, in 1208 and he offered the lands of the Cathar heretics to any French nobleman willing to take up arms. After initial successes, the French barons faced an uprising in Languedoc which led to the intervention of the French royal army. The Albigensian Crusade had a role in the creation and institutionalization of both the Dominican Order and the medieval inquisition. By the 12th century, organized groups of dissidents, such as the Waldensians and Cathars, were beginning to appear in the towns and cities of newly urbanized areas.
In western Mediterranean France, one of the most urbanized areas of Europe at the time, the Cathars grew to represent a mass movement. Relatively few believers took the consolamentum to become full Cathars, the theology of the Cathars was dualistic, a belief in two equal and comparable transcendental principles, the force of good, and Satan, or the demiurge, the force of evil. They held that the world was evil and created by this demiurge. Rex Mundi encompassed all that was corporeal and powerful, the Cathar understanding of God was entirely disincarnate, they viewed God as a being or principle of pure spirit and completely unsullied by the taint of matter. He was the God of love and peace, jesus was an angel with only a phantom body, and the accounts of him in the New Testament were to be understood allegorically. As the physical world and the body were the creation of the evil principle. Civil authority had no claim on a Cathar, since this was the rule of the physical world, deriving from earlier varieties of gnosticism, Cathar theology found its greatest success in the Languedoc.
The Cathars were known as Albigensians because of their association with the city of Albi, in Languedoc, political control was divided among many local lords and town councils. Before the crusade there was fighting in the area and it had a fairly sophisticated polity. Western Mediterranean France itself was at that time divided between the Crown of Aragon and the county of Toulouse, on becoming Pope in 1198, Innocent III resolved to deal with the Cathars and sent a delegation of friars to the province of Languedoc to assess the situation. One of the most powerful, Count Raymond VI, Count of Toulouse, openly supported the Cathars and he refused to assist the delegation
The Peoples Crusade was the prelude to the First Crusade and lasted roughly six months from April to October 1096. It is known as the Peasants Crusade, Paupers Crusade or the Popular Crusade as it was not part of the official Catholic Church-organised expeditions that came later. Led primarily by Peter the Hermit with forces of Walter Sans Avoir, there has been much debate over whether Peter was the real initiator of the Crusade as opposed to Pope Urban II. The expeditions independence has been used by historians such as Hagenmeyer to prove this. Pope Urban II planned the departure of the crusade for 15 August 1096, before this, a number of unexpected bands of peasants and low-ranking knights organized and set off for Jerusalem on their own. The peasant population had been afflicted by drought and disease for years before 1096. An outbreak of ergotism had occurred just before the Council of Clermont, the belief that the end of the world was imminent, popular in the early 11th century, experienced a resurgence in popularity.
The list of known Crusaders who fought with Peter can be found in Riley-Smith, et al, a charismatic monk and powerful orator named Peter the Hermit of Amiens was the spiritual leader of the movement. He was known for riding a donkey and dressing in simple clothing and he had vigorously preached the crusade throughout northern France and Flanders. He claimed to have appointed to preach by Christ himself. While the majority were unskilled in fighting, there were some well-trained minor knights leading them, such as Walter Sans-Avoir, a list of known members of Peters army can be found in Riley-Smith, et al, A Database of Crusaders to the Holy Land. Eleven Jews were murdered in Speyer, where the Bishop saved the rest of the Jews for a large payment, in Mainz, over one thousand Jews were murdered, as well as more in Trier, Metz and elsewhere. Others were subjected to forced baptism and conversion, the preacher Folkmar and Count Emicho of Flonheim were the main inciters and leaders of the massacre.
The major chroniclers of the 1096 killings are Solomon bar Simson, estimates of the number of Jewish men and children murdered or driven to suicide by crusaders vary, ranging from 2,000 to 12,000. Julius Aronius put the number killed at 4,000, regarding other figures as too high, norman Cohn puts the number at between 4,000 and 8,000 from May to June 1096. Gedaliah ibn Yahya estimated that some 5,000 Jews were killed from April to June 1096. Edward H. Flannerys estimate is that 10,000 were murdered over the longer January-to-July period, probably one-fourth to one-third of the Jewish population of Germany, the Church opposed these attacks, and local clergy often came to the defense of Jews in their community. The pogroms were decried by many Christians of the day, some even pointed to these crimes as the reason God forsook their fellow crusaders at Nicaea and Civetot