The Crusades were military campaigns sanctioned by the Latin Catholic Church during the High Middle Ages through to the end of the Late Middle Ages. In 1095 Pope Urban II proclaimed the first crusade, with the stated goal of restoring Christian access to the holy places in and near Jerusalem. Many historians and some of those involved at the time, like Saint Bernard of Clairvaux, give equal precedence to other papal-sanctioned military campaigns undertaken for a variety of religious, economic, and political reasons, such as the Albigensian Crusade, the Aragonese Crusade, the Reconquista, and the Northern Crusades. Following the first crusade there was an intermittent 200-year struggle for control of the Holy Land, with six more major crusades and numerous minor ones. In 1291, the conflict ended in failure with the fall of the last Christian stronghold in the Holy Land at Acre, after which Catholic Europe mounted no further coherent response in the east.

Some historians see the Crusades as part of a purely defensive war against the expansion of Islam in the near east, some see them as part of long-running conflict at the frontiers of Europe and others see them as confident aggressive papal led expansion attempts by Western Christendom. The Byzantines had been contesting for centuries for territory in the region with mixed success in the Arab–Byzantine Wars, the Byzantine–Seljuq Wars and in 1071 had lost the sparsely occupied plains of Anatolia after their defeat by the Seljuk Turks at the Battle of Manzikert. Urban II sought to reunite the Christian church under his leadership by providing Emperor Alexios I with military support. Several hundred thousand soldiers became Crusaders by taking vows and by receiving plenary indulgences. These crusaders were Christians from all over Western Europe under feudal rather than unified command, and the politics were often complicated to the point of intra-faith competition leading to alliances between combatants of different faiths against their coreligionists, such as the Christian alliance with the Islamic Sultanate of Rûm during the Fifth Crusade.

The course will enable the participants to have firm understanding of the following points:

1. The causes and effects of crusades.

2. The history of major Latin as well as Muslim leaders.

3. Historians of crusades.

4. Accounts of atrocities and chivalry from both sides.

5. History of major Muslim leaders such as Salah al-Din and Nur al-Din.

This course will cover the history of the crusades from 1095 – 1291.

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