The Crusades were a series of holy wars between the Christians of Western Europe and the Muslims of the Middle East. Traditionally, there were nine major Crusades, which took place between the 11th and 13th centuries. These military expeditions were aimed primarily at the recapture of Jerusalem and the Holy Land.
The Crusades are remembered chiefly for the military aspect and the battles won and lost by each side. Nevertheless, the impact of the conflict went well beyond that and had an influence on various other aspects of life at that time.
There were also other ‘minor’ crusades apart from the nine ‘major’ ones in the Holy Land. These crusades were fought against various peoples considered to be the enemies of Christendom, including the Muslims of the Iberian Peninsula (the Reconquista), the pagans around the southern and eastern shores of the Baltic Sea (the Northern Crusades), and even Christians labelled as heretics (the Albigensian Crusade, for example).
14th-century miniature from William of Tyre’s ‘Histoire d’Outremer’ of a battle during the Second Crusade, National Library of France, Department of Manuscripts. (Public Domain)